MANILA, -- The Philippines and France agreed to strengthen their bilateral relations and elevate their bilateral relationship to an enhanced partnership during the visit of President François Hollande to the Philippines.
President Hollande's historic visit is the first to be made by an incumbent president of France since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and France in 1947. President Benigno S. Aquino III visited France in September 2014.
In the Joint Declaration on the Enhanced Partnership between the Republic of the Philippines and the French Republic released on Thursday, the two countries affirmed their shared commitment to democracy, the rule of law, and the maintenance of peace and international security.
They also opposed “any acquisition or claim, by coercion or force, of any or all territory of a State by another State, in violation of international law, especially the Charter of the United Nations”, according to the declaration.
The two countries reiterated the importance of maintaining peace and stability in Southeast Asia and promoting maritime security, freedom of navigation, and the peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
"We call for a full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and the early conclusion of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea in fostering peace and stability," the declaration read.
The Philippines and France further condemned terrorism in all its forms and called on the international community to work together to fight this “scourge to mankind."
At the same time, they welcomed the promising outlook on the development of their enhanced economic and trade relations.
The two countries are also eyeing to develop mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation in health care in the fight against emerging and re-emerging diseases due to the effects of climate change.
The two countries also hope to promote people-to-people exchanges particularly the youth, by intensifying academic exchanges.
"In this regard, we welcome the conclusion of agreements in higher education and research, and in the development of the tourism sector in the Philippines which would increase tourist flows between our countries," the declaration read.
Enhanced partnership will also be pursued through regular bilateral political consultations between the two countries’ foreign ministries, the Joint Economic Committee, and through the framework provided by the bilateral Defense Cooperation Arrangement between their respective defense ministries.
President Benigno S. Aquino III and His Excellency François Hollande, President of the French Republic, lead the singing of the Philippine and France National Anthem during the welcome ceremony at the Malacañan Palace Grounds for the State Visit to the Philippines on Thursday (February 26, 2015).