Celebrating the Franco-German Friendship Treaty

Jan 22, 2017

To commemorate the signing of the Élysée Treaty on 22nd January 1963, Mrs. Stéphanie Rivoal, Ambassador of France to Uganda, and Dr. Peter Blomeyer, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Uganda, hosted a Peace & Reconciliation Award Ceremony and a Musical Brunch at the French Residence on Sunday.

Peace and Reconciliation Award Event Enlarge image From left to right: Mrs. Stéphanie Rivoal, Mr. Victor Ochen, Dr. Peter Blomeyer (© German Embassy Kampala) The treaty signed by President Charles de Gaulle and Chancellor Konrad Adenauer sealed the reconciliation between France and Germany for the benefit of a long and lasting era of peace and friendship between the two countries.

In their speeches the Ambassadors referred to the long history of relation between the two countries, once defined by hatred and war, which is nowadays characterized by cooperation, joint efforts and partnership.

This could set an example to regions in Uganda with a history of conflict. To encourage reconciliation and fruitful cooperation in Uganda, both Embassies jointly introduced a Peace and Reconciliation Award. This year’s award winner was Victor Ochen, Executive Director of the African Youth Initiative Network (AYINET). Victor Ochen grew up in an IDP Camp where he lived for 20 years. This traumatic experience let him to founding AYINET in 2005 to empower young people and their communities by promoting a healthy, peaceful and just society. In 2015 he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Price 2016, Ban Ki-Moon named him to be an SDG 16 (Sustainable Development Goal 16) Ambassador for Peace and in May 2016 he opened the World Humanitarian Summit, in Istanbul, Turkey.

The lawyer proudly accepted this award and in his strong speech, he pointed out: “Uganda has had a difficult past, we have a history to heal and the future to protect. I believe we can reconcile and must reconcile as a country; and we have to reconcile now when we still have power to do so. And, proudly I want to dedicate this Peace and Reconciliation award to those victims of war, brothers and sisters whose stories have always inspired us to continue doing our best to restore their dignity. This award is yours!”  He also urged Ugandans to stay in their country and try to improve matters from within instead of leaving: “My biggest call to all of us is, we have to work hard and address what compels these people to leave the continent. We must stay home and live life of dignity. I am not going anywhere; I will remain in Africa.”

The Party Enlarge image The French and German Ambassador dancing together (© German Embassy Kampala) The two Ambassadors had also invited several activists from Gulu, who promote reconciliation in Northern Uganda to share their experiences and engage with the guests. (Find a full list of the representatives of NGOs recognized for their work during the event below.)

After the official part Afrie & Band entertained the guests and even made them dance in the heat of the day.

Find below the speeches of the two Ambassadors and the Awardee.

Representatives of NGOs present at the event:
-Eric ODONG, Director of Pathways to Peace Uganda
-Rosalba OYWA, Executive Director of People's Voice for Peace
-Francis OPIO, Program manager of Grassroots Reconciliation Group
-Lino OWOR OGORA, Director of Foundation for Justice and Development Initiative
-Pamela ANGWECH, Executive Director of Gulu Women Economic Development & Globalization (GWED-G)
-Ms. Janet ARACH, Watye Ki Gen Project
-Mr. Ronald RWANKANGI, Advance Afrika
-Mr. Okumir Isaak ODIYA, Justice and Reconciliation Project
-Ms. Stella Angel LANAM, Women's Advocacy Network
-Geoffrey Otema, Drop in the Bucket

German Ambassador's speech

The Ambassador's Speech at the Peace and Reconciliation Award Ceremony - Élysée Treaty Commemoration

The German-French reconciliation is the result of an enormous collective effort to overcome the enmity between our peoples passed on by our ancestors. It needed indefinitely more strength and courage to confront the old stereotype bogeymen than to cultivate them. But our example shows that it is possible. We can reject the heritage of our parents and grandparents if it is evil and destructive. (...) We can shake them off and reshape our relationships. And this is a message we deem worthwhile to deliver elsewhere, and this is why we invited you today.

Speech by French Ambassador

For me, today is a special and emotional celebration. It is an opportunity for us to witness and always remember the possible ways to find in our hearts forgiveness and reconciliation, to find peace, stability and friendship. (...) We are very proud to celebrate today the 54th Anniversary of the signing of the Elysée Treaty. This bold, ambitious text has crossed history and has been guiding our willing and acts for decades. So far, this strong friendship between our two countries has proven to be solid, reliable in good times and in bad times.

Acceptance Speech

Today, I am personally humbled to be the recipient of this prestigious award for Peace and Reconciliation in 2017. As you might wonder, I was not the likeliest candidate to receive this recognition. But, along the years of painful struggles through my organisation the African Youth Initiative Network (AYINET) which I founded on the peak of war in northern Uganda, we have been able to mobilise and restore hope, healing and dignity of war wounded victims in northern Uganda.

© German Embassy Kampala

Peace & Reconciliation Award Ceremony

Peace and Reconciliation Award Event