Nice, Côte d’Azur, France. 17 September 2015. The Philippine Ambassador to France, Her Excellency Ma. Theresa P. Lazaro, accompanied by Third Secretary and Vice Consul Andre Peter C. Estanislao, visited Nice in the south of France to meet with key government, private and education officials to promote Philippine national interests in the region as well as to explore potential Philippine partnerships and areas of cooperation especially in education and research. Ambassador Lazaro and Vice Consul Estanislao also met with some Filipino community members living in the French Riviera. Nice, the capital of the Alpes-Maritimes region, is one of the most thriving cities of France and was recently named one of the key Smart-cities of the world.

The Ambassador visited the prestigious University of Nice Sophia-Antipolis, Trotabas Campus and met with Mr. Jean-Christophe MARTIN, Vice President for International Relations and Cooperation and concurrent Director of the university’s Institute of Law, Peace and Development as well as with administrators and faculty from the university’s Departments of Law, Political Science, Economics and Tourism. The university already has a standing partnership with the University of the Philippines-Diliman and the Ateneo de Manila Univeristy. Ambassador Lazaro explored various avenues of cooperation in education and research in light of the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding on Higher Education during the visit of French President Francois Hollande to the Philippines in February 2015. The Ambassador urged university officials to expand their partnerships with other Philippine universities and explore the possibility of more faculty and student exchanges.

Mr. Sébastien Humbert, Deputy Prefect and Adjunct Secretary General of the Alpes-Maritimes Region then received Ambassador Lazaro and Vice Consul Estanislao at the Prefecture’s Headquarters based in Nice. Mr. Humbert heaped praises on the Filipino community in the region explaining to the Ambassador that the Filipino community in the region is hard-working, peaceful and cooperative. The Deputy Prefect assured the Ambassador that the Prefecture is supportive of the needs of the Filipino community and that the Philippine Embassy can count on the support of the region’s officials in ensuring the rights and welfare of Filipinos are protected.

Ambassador Lazaro was also received by Mr. Bernard Kleynhoff, the President of the Nice Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Ambassador Lazaro briefed Mr. Kleynhoff on the positive economic gains of the Philippines in recent year under the Aquino administration. The officials discussed as well possible areas of cooperation in trade, industry and economy and planned possible business delegations to both the Philippines and Nice.

Ambassador Lazaro equally shared the good news on the Philippines to Mr. Rudy Salles, Deputy of the Alpes-Maritimes Region and Adjunct Mayor of the City of Nice, in-charge of Tourism and International Relations. Mr. Salles, like other officials, praised the Filipino community in Nice and also assured the Ambassador of the continued support of the City of Nice to its Filipino residents.

Ambassador Lazaro also met with the Filipino community, including Filipino exchange students to the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, at the Saint Augustin Church where there was meaningful sharing of their experiences. Also discussed were ways on how the Philippine Embassy may better serve the Filipino Community.