France’s Next Ambassador to Tunisia is a Major Cultural Personality
With the nomination of Olivier Poivre d’Arvor, France shows how important cultural diplomacy is for the countryJuly 13th, 2016
Olivier Poivre d’Arvor does not have the diplomatic background you would expect for an Ambassador. In the current security atmosphere in Tunisia, his nomination has not been warmly welcome by the Tunisians.
Olivier Poivre d’Arvor dedicated his life to culture, and especially to cultural diplomacy. He was at the head of several French Cultural Centres, the former name of the French Institute - in Alexandria between 1988 and 1990, in Prague between 1990 and 1994 and in London between 1994 and 1999. Later on, he directed France Culture, a public radio station specializing in cultural dialogue.
Olivier Poivre d’Arvor took on his first diplomatic experience in 2007 when he joined the Foreign Minister as Minister plenipotentiary. In 2015, Laurent Fabuis, the Foreign Minister of France, nominated him Ambassador in charge of France’s cultural attractiveness.
However, before the appointment of Olivier Poivre d’Arvor as Ambassador in Tunisia become official, Tunisians authorities needed to accept it. There was very little doubt about that decision. However, some discontent appeared when claims were made arguing that the new ambassador lacks of experience to be appointed in Tunisia, a country with strong ties to France.
In response to the critics claims, Olivier Poivre d’Arvor replied, “I know the country well, as well as the Arab World. I have been there several times for meetings and cultural events”. His ties with Africa have also strengthened since he adopted a young girl from Togo.
For Olivier Poivre d’Arvor, his mission in Tunisia is “to support the country in its democratic transition and in this dynamic the link with civil society is at least as important as with the political class”. For that, his long and extensive experience in cultural diplomacy should prove very useful.