France and Tonga
France has good relations with Tonga. The Tongan Prime Minister, HRH Prince ’Ulukalala Lavaka Ata, took part in the first France-Oceania Summit in Papeete in 2003. The Tongan Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Sonatane Tu’akinamolahi Taumoepeau-Tupou, took part in the second summit in Paris in 2006, meeting on that occasion with his French counterpart. Tonga was represented by its Minister for Transport and Works at the third France-Oceania Summit, chaired by the French Foreign Minister in Nouméa in July 2009.
The Tongan Prime Minister made a private visit to France in May 2010, where he met with Senators from the France-Vanuatu-Pacific Islands friendship group. Meetings also took place between Mr Sevele, MEDEF International, and the French National Frequency Agency (ANFR).
On the French side, the Minister of State for Overseas France visited Tonga in 2007 for the annual Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) summit. In 2011, a delegation from the Senate France-Vanuatu-Pacific Islands friendship group visited Tonga, led by Senator Jean-Pierre Démerliat. The Senators met with the Prime Minister, Lord Tu’ivakano, and several ministers (Education, Training, Tourism). They also met with the Speaker of Parliament.
Under the France, Australia and New Zealand (FRANZ) Agreement to coordinate disaster relief, Tonga received humanitarian assistance from France following the October 2009 tsunami and Cyclone Ian in January 2014.
Cooperation between France and Tonga is supported by the Pacific Fund, a cooperation fund funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development to support regional projects involving French Pacific communities. A programme for exchanges of visual artists between New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna, Fiji and Tonga was also launched in 2011, again financed under the Pacific Fund (€16,000). For 2013, Wallis and Futuna is involved in a project for the development of French teaching provision in Fiji and Tonga.
The Alliance française branch in Nuku’alofa opened its doors on 20 January 2013, supported by funding from the New Caledonian Government.
Several other bilateral projects are being studied, such as electricity generation from wind farms and solar panels. A project to create Radio France International’s (RFI) third FM radio station in Oceania is being discussed, but is currently on hold due to scarce financial resources.
The French ambassador to Fiji is accredited to Tonga.
Updated: 28 November 2015