France will maintain cultural ties with Mali, Niger, B. Faso, says minister

France’s culture minister stated on Friday that the country has no plans to sever cultural connections with Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger.

The announcement follows criticism from the entertainment industry regarding a recent French decision to prohibit all partnerships with artists from these African nations.

“France has always been an open and welcoming nation for artists, so this is not a shift in policy. It’s an adaptation to an extremely deteriorated security context,” Culture Minister Rima Abdul-Malak told RTL radio.

Niger experienced a military coup in July that ousted its government, Burkina Faso has grappled with the presence of hardline militants for years, and Mali’s military has been combating a rebel alliance since August.

Consequently, France has implemented visa bans and suspended development aid for all three nations.

Abdul-Malak’s comments seemed to be aimed at de-escalating a standoff with the union of artistic and cultural businesses SYNDEAC. The union had requested a meeting with her following her ministry’s directive to cease all cooperation and financial assistance to institutions from the three countries.

SYNDEAC had called the ban “completely unprecedented”.

“This total ban on three countries experiencing very serious crises makes no sense from an artistic point of view and is a major mistake from a political point of view”, the union said in a statement.

In response to the public outcry, Abdul-Malak stated that she had instructed her ministry to issue “clarifications” to the entertainment industry. She further clarified that the ban would not impact existing partnerships; instead, it would only affect new projects that necessitate travel visas for artists.

France hosts a substantial community with connections to the three African nations, and artists from the region, especially musicians, enjoy popularity at various festivals.

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