“The most beautiful day for me was when I was given the honour to lead the Embassy in Macedonia, because there is so much that we can do here”, Christian Thimonier, Ambassador of France to Macedonia, emphasizes. With a diplomatic career of 33 years, he is proud to personally witness that, in the quarter century of the Macedonian independence, France has always been committed to helping the country to become a full member of the European Union and NATO.
European Times: Which priority areas in bilateral relations are in the focus of your Embassy?
Christian Thimonier: I just had the letter of mission given by our government which contains three clusters of priorities. The first one concerns activities aimed at helping the consolidation of Macedonia, in various fields. The second one is the development of economic and trade relations and the third concern our activities within the Francophonie. These priority areas lay on the fundaments of a vibrant bilateral cooperation in the fields of administrative cooperation in the European integration process, justice and home affairs, partnerships with civil society, human rights protection and care for the environment. Municipalities cooperate as well, through sister city programmes and the decentralisation cooperation with Lower Normandy. Educational, scientific and cultural cooperation are blooming, through bilateral and EU programmes, as well as with the assistance of the French Institute in Skopje and the French school.
European Times: Do French businesses look at Macedonia as an attractive investment opportunity? What is your personal message to our readers?
Christian Thimonier: Everybody knows that the Macedonian investment framework and ease of doing business are very favourable. The level of the Macedonian workforce is excellent. People here are well educated andskilled. Foreign companies enjoy extended benefits, and French companies are very interested. Sociéte Générale which is considered a powerful bank in Macedonia and was designated as one of the best banks in the world has been operating here for more than a decade. We are very proud of this achievement, and so are the several hundred employees. I would like to stress the success of the company FAME created by young Frenchentrepreneurs, who use the exceptional talents of Macedonian musicians to provide musical services for the entertainment industry worldwide. They just invested in a new studio to record their performances here in Skopje. A strong signal! There are several others companies, such as Lactalis which is in the agro-food industry, the Mr. Bricolage chain, as well as Hotel Ibis in Skopje which is also a success and an exceptional combination of “the French touch” and the Macedonian hospitality. These companies, as well as the numerous businesses, educational and cultural ties, serve as a strong bridge between France and Macedonia, which is made easier by the regular cheap direct flights between Skopje and Paris. Macedonia is a country with a long past, a complicated history and bright European future. Come and see for yourselves.