Hollande’s visit to Ewha is significant in that it was the first time a French president visited a Korean university since the Korea-France treaty of amity, signed in 1886. Moreover, Ewha was the only university that he visited during his two-day stay in Korea, proving Ewha’s status as an internationally acknowledged academic institution, and of the amicable relationship between Ewha and France.
Ewha is currently carrying out cultural exchange agreements with 36 French universities, and France has the second largest number of exchange students from Ewha among European countries. Furthermore, Ewha holds strong connections with important French figures. Le Clezio, a French novelist who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2008, is currently a chair professor of Ewha, and Dominique Perrault, a French architect and businessman, designed Ewha’s renowned ECC.
Upon reaching Ewha at 10 a.m., Hollande was welcomed by president Choi Kyung-hee and a student orchestra playing traditional Korean music. He also met Perrault, who showed him around ECC. Afterwards, he went to Aryeong-dang, where the discussion meeting began with president Choi’s welcoming speech.
“I am delighted that Ewha has been selected as a place for such an important meeting,” president Choi said. “I concur with the meeting’s agenda and with Hollande’s view on the matter of climate change.”
Subsequently, Hollande made an introductory speech. He clarified the purpose of the discussion meeting, which was to talk about the agendas of the 21st United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNCCC), scheduled to take place from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 in Paris.
“Korean government and UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon have been highly supportive of the preparations for UNCCC,” Hollande said. “Also, Lee Hoe-sung, president of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has generously aided us. I am grateful for their efforts.”
Following Hollande, six influential Korean figures representing the four groups of Korean government, Korean National Assembly, non-governmental organizations and private businesses spoke. Among them were the president of the IPCC, Lee Hoe-sung, and the chairperson of the Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee, Na Gyeong-won. Each group offered various possible solutions to the problems caused by climate change, including the forestation project currently being planned for North Korea. They were follwed by the chairperson of the Green Climate Fund, Youssef Arfaoui. They also reported on the current state concerning the execution of the solutions.
The meeting concluded with a closing speech from Hollande. He complimented Korea’s current efforts, and hoped those efforts would produce good and tangible results.
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