Mot d’accueil au cocktail de clôture de la conférence "Masters of Their Own Destiny" : The Asians in the First World War and its Aftermath à l’Alliance Française de Bangkok - le 10 novembre 2018
Dear Dr. Jingjai, President of the Alliance Française ;
Dear Patricia Théry, Deputy Director of the Alliance Française ;
I am very pleased to be with you today, here at the Alliance Française of Bangkok, to close the international conference “Master of their own destiny”. Tomorrow, in Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron will welcome leaders of the countries that took part in the conflict, to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War. Among the Asian participants, the Kingdom of Thailand will be represented by its Prime Minister Kuhn Prayuth Chan-O-cha.
In Paris, the leaders will also attend a Peace Forum based on a simple idea : international cooperation is key to tackling global challenges and ensuring sustainable peace. As President Macron said a few weeks ago to the Seventy-third United Nations General Assembly, the Paris Peace Forum “must provide us with an opportunity, united as we are by the tragedies of the 20thcentury, to renew and revitalize our solemn promise to protect future generations from the scourge of war”.
In this regard, the researcher community plays a major role of scientific guardian of historical truth. Therefore, I would like to thank the 18 historians from Thailand and also from India, China, Japan, France, Germany, UK, Canada, Belgium and others who have participated to the conference.
During these 2 days, you have explored the mobility of Asian Soldiers, Workers and diplomats who came to fight and work in Europe and in Middle East. They all experienced the horror of the total war, far from their homeland.
You have also highlighted the consequences of this major mobility, of more than 1.7 million of Asian individuals in terms of circulations of new ideas, knowledge and technics between Europe and Asia during the war and its aftermath. Finally, this afternoon, you have demonstrated the major contribution of digital resources and visual archives to the narrative of the conflict. The film on the Siamese expeditionary forces that has just been screened, the impressive photographic exhibition at Chulalongkorn University and the drawings of Eugène Burnand at the Alliance Française confirm the great value of these sources.
I am also very glad to welcome here the representatives of the War Veterans Organization of Thailand, as well as the descendants and the families of the Siamese volunteers of the First World. Likewise, we are delighted about the attendance of representatives from a number of European and Asian Embassies.
To conclude, I would like to congratulate Prof. Claire Tran and Prof. Bhawan Ruansin and all their staff, at IRASEC and the History department of Chulalongkorn University, for the success of this conference. It is a testimony of the fruitful collaboration between our research centers abroad and Thai Universities.
And I now invite you to share a drink to celebrate this friendship.