Keynote speaker: Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, French Ambassador, Secretary General at the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs (2017-2019)

28 February 2023


On Tuesday December 6, 2022, the Inalco Foundation was honored to welcome Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, one of the institute's most illustrious alumni, for a "Grand témoin" conference on the subject of his latest book "Les autres ne pensent pas comme nous", published by Bouquins. He came to share with us his extensive experience as a diplomat.
Conférence Grand témoin : Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, Diplomate, Secrétaire Général au Ministère de l’Europe et des Affaires Etrangères (2017-2019)
Conférence Grand témoin : Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, Diplomate, Secrétaire Général au Ministère de l’Europe et des Affaires Etrangères (2017-2019)‎
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Maurice Gourdault-Montagne has held some of the most prestigious positions in French diplomacy. He was French Ambassador to Japan (1998-2002), the United Kingdom (2007-2011), Germany (2011-2014), China (2014-2017) and Secretary General of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2017-2019). He was also Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Alain Juppé (1995-1997) and Diplomatic Advisor to French President Jacques Chirac (2002-2007). He was finally elevated to the rank of Ambassador of France in 2012.

Inalco is delighted to count Maurice Gourdault-Montagne among its alumni (Hindi, Ourdou).

Les autres ne pensent pas comme nous - abstract

Maurice Gourdault-Montagne brings to life the major diplomatic events that have marked France from the time of François Mitterrand to the present day.

More than the memoirs of a great diplomat, this is the work of one of the best connoisseurs of international relations of the last forty years. A leading player and expert, the author sheds light on strategic issues that are constantly breaking into our lives. Maurice Gourdault-Montagne is a man of character. His intellectual vigor gives these memories their value and authenticity. Having held key positions at the Élysée, Matignon and Quai d'Orsay, and mastering the arcana of French diplomacy as well as domestic politics, he takes us behind the scenes of the great crises that have shaken the world.

From Franco-American relations during the Iraq war, through the ups and downs of European integration, to the secret missions he was entrusted with to renew relations with Iran and Syria, he takes us into what has been called the President's "reserved domain" since François Mitterrand's first term in office. In contrast to a uniform, ideological vision of the world, Maurice Gourdault-Montagne's philosophy of action is based on the diversity of cultures and peoples, and respect for their history and sensibilities.

As a young diplomat in India, then ambassador in Tokyo, London, Berlin and Beijing, he paints original portraits of the leaders he met, particularly in Germany, where he spent seven years. He also discusses missed opportunities with Russia and offers a personal analysis of the Ukrainian crisis. In view of the importance of the Algerian issue, he retraces the aborted attempt at a friendship treaty, and finally sheds light on developments in more distant countries, which are essential to understanding contemporary challenges, such as China, India and Japan.

In an environment marked by the return of empires, the anger of peoples and the retreat of universal values in favor of differentialism and communitarianism, Maurice Gourdault-Montagne highlights both the strengths and weaknesses of our country: a France forced to adapt to the new realities of the world without losing any of its ability to lead.

The Grand témoin conference

The conference focused on the subject of his book "Les autres ne pensent pas comme nous" and was followed by a signing session and a cocktail.

It was held on Tuesday, December 6, 2022 at 6:30pm at the Fondation Inalco in the Dumézil auditorium at 2 rue de Lille (Paris, 75007).