The 11th summit of French speaking nations has opened in Bucharest amid controversy over the exclusion of Lebanese President Emile Lahoud. The pro-Syrian Lahoud said the failure to invite him was a breach of sovereignty, and accused hosts Romania of bowing to pressure from French President Jacques Chirac.
But Romanian President Traian Basescu said he took full responsibility for the decision, saying it was legitimate given suspicions concerning the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri. The row overshadowed the opening of the summit, which brings together heads of state and representatives from 63 countries with French speaking populations.
Chirac said the bloc should be a force for world peace. “There’s no future for our world or for the French speaking world without peace,” he said. “And the tragedy that once again has struck in Lebanon is a sad reminder of this.” The biennial summit of the French-speaking world comes at a time when there’s concern that French is losing ground in the diplomatic world, and in particular within the European Union. The delegates will work on a communiqué to present on Friday.