In a democracy, the first duty of a government is to explain to its citizens what it is doing. The Ministry makes every effort to respond actively to the growing interest of the public in foreign affairs.
In 1999, the function of communication took on new and increased importance among the tasks of the Ministry. It still consists of explaining and commenting on the positions taken by the government, on providing information on Ministry activities and on maintaining contact with the embassy press services. However, priority is given to external communication, which is based on the new technologies. The Secretary General regularly chairs a steering committee for information and communication policy.
Communication works in both directions: by collecting information but most importantly by disseminating information on France’s foreign policy and on all aspects of the country itself, using the most up to date techniques.
Explain and comment: the spokesperson
Every day from Monday to Friday, the Ministry spokesperson holds a press briefing, two in the form of a meeting with accredited journalists, and three by electronic transmission of Ministry statements and responses to those questions asked the previous day. The spokesperson’s statement prepared in the morning in consultation with the Minister’s office, is available in French in the afternoon, and subsequently in English and in Spanish. A duty service for answering questions is available to journalists 24 hours a day. News bulletins are put on the Internet site of the Department and a daily bulletin of official texts is sent to the posts by satellite. Lastly, the Ministry - in liaison with the Ministry of the Interior - gives foreign journalists their accreditation and facilitates French journalists’ trips abroad. In addition, foreign journalists are invited to France throughout the year, the numbers reaching 200 in 1999.
Communicate: priority given to the Internet
The Department is careful to ensure that communications from its central administration and from the posts are consistent, and pays particular attention to the co-ordination of all parts of the France Diplomacy site, which has become the principal vehicle for communication. It is equivalent to a 30,000 page magazine that has to be continuously updated. It offers the general public a database on France’s foreign policy and aims to make the country better known abroad. It makes use of the photographic library. It is also a vehicle for providing factual information about the Ministry in order to make it more familiar to the public.
Internet site: the France diplomacy site receives more than 1 million visits a month, which puts it among the most visited government sites.
Inform: the data bases
The Ministry finds and collects information from external sources and from press articles - including electronic media - relating to national life and France’s international action for the information of the various services and posts. It manages the data bases - on foreign governments, on international chronology, on official French statements. An internal Ministry information network, called Intranet is in operation.
- A tour of the Quai d’Orsay
- A tour of the Quai d'Orsay