Renault's P. Pelata talks to AAPA

Renault COO Patrick Pelata
Renault COO Patrick Pelata

Renault's Chief Operating Officer Patrick Pelata spilled a few beans and created news when he met with the AAPA over breakfast on Dec. 17 at the auto maker's headquarters. Pelata disclosed that Renault is talking to other companies including Germany's Daimler AG and some in China about possible collaboration in making key car components.. He explained how Renault is trying to emerge fit and healthy from the unprecedented crisis that hammered  the global automobile industry over the last 18 months. "We're trying to understand what went wrong, and to identify our weak spots," he said.

-David Pearson

AGM elects a dynamic new management team

Our Annual General Meeting, held Nov. 12 and once again hosted by Member John Morris Nov. 12, elected a new slate of officers and committee for 2009-2010.
Virginia Power was unanimously elected president, pledging to lead actively and creatively, following a successful tenure of the co-presidency of Georgina Oliver and Gregory Viscusi, who will remain as ex-officio members for the new term.

Eleanor Beardsley and Anne-Elisabeth Moutet were elected Vice-Presidents; John Davidson was re-elected Treasurer and yours truly Secretary General. John Keating was elected Syndic.

The incoming committee appointed by election is: Crispian Balmer, Charles Bremner, Mildrade Cherfils, William Diem, Steven Erlanger, Vaiju Naravane, Catherine Nolan and David Pearson. And, amid a round of applause, Maria Vincenza Aloisi was confirmed as our hard-working coordinator.

The Association’s finances “are in much better shape than they were a year earlier,” the Treasurer said in his report e-mailed to the membership. Our investment nest-egg remained intact, and expenses have been significantly reduced. The sound financial situation has enabled the committee to vote a budget for the professional design of a new Web site, which should be on-line by the end of the year.

We gained and lost members in roughly equal numbers during the 2008-2009 term, and our roster of active and associate members now stands at 127.

Introduced and welcomed were new members who briefly explained who they represented: Millie Cherfils, Global Post; William Martz, Paris Magazine; Francois Picard, France 24; Brent Gregston, Radio France International; Mary Papenfuss, Newser and Eleaine Cobbe, CBS News.

The outgoing committee organized 14 events over the past year, compared to 16 a year ago and 20 in the previous year. Costs to members were reduced significantly by, for example, preferring breakfast events to lunches, and by meeting our guests in locales such as embassies, ministries, the OECD, UNESCO and the CAPE, the foreign press center.

The incoming officers and committee members are gearing up for another active year of activities, with some events already in the pipeline, including a meeting with a top executive of Renault.

------- Axel Krause


Une Grande Dame De La Chanson Française

Committee Member Bill Diem Basks In The Starlight
Committee Member Bill Diem Basks In The Starlight
Eager to meet a 1940s existentialist icon turned grande dame of la chanson française up-close, a group of AAPA members gathered Oct. 28 in an ideal Left Bank setting: the plush red velvet-armchaired Empire-style bar of L'Hôtel on the rue des Beaux-Arts (where the Association celebrated its 100th anniversary in December 2007). Our guest? Juliette Gréco. About to embark on a tour of Japan, Gréco confirmed that she had been "living in the present for six decades." Topics of discussion ranged from memory lane descriptions of Saint-Germain-des-Prés and nods to absent friends – including Jean-Paul Sartre and Miles Davis – to the current controversy surrounding Roman Polanski. Paris arts correspondents will be keen to pitch festive stories focusing on her December 14 concert at the Versailles Opera.

--- Georgina Oliver


AAPA Members Meet New Head Of UNESCO

Credit photo: UNESCO/Michel Ravassard
Credit photo: UNESCO/Michel Ravassard

Some thirty members had a first-hand chance to probe Irina Bokova’s background, experience and plans for UNESCO following her successful election as Director General of the Paris-based agency, in a newsworthy, lively event on Oct. 7.

Our breakfast meeting with Bokova, still at that time Bulgaria's ambassador to France, took place at UNESCO headquarters, following a heated behind-the-scenes battle in which she narrowly defeated the controversial, Egyptian culture minister, Farouk Hosny.

Relaxed, forthcoming, and on-the-record, the 57-year-old diplomat told us about her background: how she had once wanted to be a foreign correspondent; why she supported and respected the role of her father, former editor of Bulgaria’s then-leading Communist Party newspaper, and who had proven a strong, anti-Nazi resistant leader during World War II; and how, over the years, as a trained diplomat, she came to actively support Bulgaria’s membership in the European Union and NATO.

Responding to many questions, Bokova outlined her plans for UNESCO as she prepared to take over from Japan’s Koichiro Matsura, who was our guest, nine years earlier. She pledged to address such key, global issues as climate change, gender roles, the financial crisis and said she plans to decentralize the organization with its 2,800 employees. Some thirty members had a first-hand chance to probe Irina Bokova’s background, experience and plans for UNESCO following her successful election as Director General of the Paris-based agency, in a newsworthy, lively event on Oct. 7.

Our breakfast meeting with Bokova, still at that time Bulgaria's ambassador to France, took place at UNESCO headquarters, following a heated behind-the-scenes battle in which she narrowly defeated the controversial, Egyptian culture minister, Farouk Hosny.

Relaxed, forthcoming, and on-the-record, the 57-year-old diplomat told us about her background: how she had once wanted to be a foreign correspondent; why she supported and respected the role of her father, former editor of Bulgaria’s then-leading Communist Party newspaper, and who had proven a strong, anti-Nazi resistant leader during World War II; and how, over the years, as a trained diplomat, she came to actively support Bulgaria’s membership in the European Union and NATO.

Responding to many questions, Bokova outlined her plans for UNESCO as she prepared to take over from Japan’s Koichiro Matsura, who was our guest, nine years earlier. She pledged to address such key, global issues as climate change, gender roles, the financial crisis and said she plans to decentralize the organization with its 2,800 employees.

---- Axel Krause