Smaller but still committed

French ambassador Sujiro Seam. Picture: SUPPLIED

French ambassador Sujiro Seam. Picture: SUPPLIED

Update: 5:02PM CULTURAL events to encourage sharing between Fiji and France may have been crippled by the downsizing of the country’s mission in Fiji but the new envoy is creative about alternative ways to provide services.

Cut down in August last year from more than 30 staff to the seven people it now has, the French Embassy removed departments including the visa and cultural sections.

The new Ambassador, Sujiro Seam, came to Suva from Houston, Texas, in the USA where he was Consul General and familiar with working with relatively small teams.

“We still have high ambitions in the Pacific because France is a country of the Pacific,” Mr Seam said.

The French mission was in the past 20 years a popular patron of the arts in Fiji and the other four Pacific countries the mission is accredited to.

Ambassador Seam said the French government through its foreign office now funded the Alliance Francaise in Suva directly to conduct many of its socio-cultural activities here.

“The Alliance Francaise promotes French language and teaches about French culture and they partner with us on all our events,” Ambassador Seam said.

“So even though the format is reduced and the service charge of cultural and cooperation no longer exists, it doesn’t matter so much because we have a very active partner in the Alliance Francaise to do this,” he said.

The ambassador said it was also a top priority of his term to strengthen the relationship between French territories in the Pacific, namely Wallis and Futuna, French Polynesia and New Caledonia with other Pacific countries as a way of sharing French lifestyle here.

To enhance formal efforts, the ambassador’s wife, Jane Seam – a former curator of an art gallery – is keen to make the official French residence a centre of artistic exchange.

Ambassador Seam said Mrs Seam had actively hosted artistic exchange in all their postings and wanted to do the same here.