The Years and Seasons are the result of bilateral diplomatic commitments at the highest level and are an important part of France’s policy of promoting cultural diversity. They represent very high profile tools of soft diplomacy.
They provide an opportunity to stage events, in conjunction with overseas governments and agencies, designed to:
- showcase and enhance the image of both France and the partner countries;
- promote better mutual knowledge and understanding;
- highlight the vitality of exchanges in the fields of culture, education and academic research, but also in technology, science, industry and commerce;
- encourage new encounters and new initiatives intended to expand the scope of dialogue and cooperation.
Because of their ability to revitalise cooperation in every sector, the Saisons also have a political dimension by virtue of the closer links they forge between two countries. For many French agencies, local and regional authorities and regional institutions, they also result in a higher profile at national level and even on the international stage.
2012 was marked by both the Festival of Croatia in France and the Year of France in South Africa, as part of the cross-cultural exchange programme between France and South Africa (2012-2013). 2013 and 2014 will usher in the cross-cultural France-Vietnam Years and the cross-cultural France-Kazakhstan Weeks, while the 50th anniversary of the Elysée Treaty is being celebrated from September 2012 to July 2013.