Festive Summer Party

On June 20, we chose to edge slowly into post-Covid social life with a Summer Party instead of a Gala, held at the Caring Galley in rue Charlot (Paris 03), which features exhibits promoting social themes such as inclusion and diversity. Les Cuistots Migrateurs -- a catering company which employs refugees and migrants who cook and serve their native foods - provided refreshments. We felt the missions of both the gallery and the catering service were very much in keeping with AAPA values. It was also a great venue and delicious food!

Air France-KLM CEO Travel Advisory

Air France-KLM CEO Travel Advisory
And finally, in time for summer holiday travel chaos, on June 23, we met with Ben Smith, CEO of Air France-KLM, at the company's historic offices in the Air France terminal at Invalides. Smith spoke of the outlook for holiday travel, telling us that AF had hired more than 60 pilots in anticipation of an uptick in travel and warning that ticket prices would rise. He also advised travelers to arrive extra-early for flight departures...advice that turned out to be extremely useful.

François Henri Pinault at Kering HQ

On June 14, we were invited to meet François-Henri Pinault, Chairman and CEO of Kering, one of the world's largest luxury groups, at the company headquarters in the 17th century Laennec Hospital building in rue de Sevres. FHP, as he is called, told us about his view of the future of luxury (he's aiming at Gen Z, while holding onto older clients who appreciate luxury's history), and he emphasized Kering's focus on "sustainable luxury," including recycling materials and banning the use of furs in Kering's fashion brands (Saint Laurent, Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Brioni Pomellato to name a few). The meeting was moderated by AAPA President Shellie Karabell in the Laennec's chapel, which also houses several important pieces of contemporary art from the Pinault Collection (an on-site guide provided mini tours of the collected works).  Our meeting was followed by a scrumptious cocktail in the chapel's garden.

Kiev City Ballet Châtelet Rehearsal

The men of Kiev City Ballet rehearse the original piece “Boys from Kiev” during a visit by the AAPA. Since our meeting several of the men have returned to Ukraine to join the fighting.

On June 9, Ivan and Katja Kozlov, Directors of the Kiev City Ballet, invited us to attend a rehearsal at the Chatelet Theatre's Pavlova  studio. The company was performing in Paris when Russia invaded Ukraine...and found itself unable to go home. The AAPA was instrumental in helping the dancers obtain temporary residence at the Chatelet and living assistance. The company has been able to perform around Europe during the summer, with the proceeds  going to Ukrainian relief organizations.

1. Ivan and Katja on stools - Kiev City Ballet's Ivan and Katja Kozlov spoe with AAPA members following a rehearsal in the Chatelet Theatre's Pavlova studio. Ivan, a former Mariinsky Ballet principal dancer, founded the ballet company in 2012. Katja was a dancer with the company before assuming administrative duties.

Interpol chief warns of surge in illegal weapons from Ukraine conflict

A surge of illegal weaponry into Europe and beyond from the Ukraine-Russia war is looming, Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock told AAPA members on June 1. "This is inevitable," Stock said, adding that the high availability of weapons "will result in a proliferation of arms in the post-conflict phase, empowering organized crime groups in the region." The European Union and Scandinavia will likely be choice markets for illegal weapons, he said, and not just small arms. Organized criminals already have designs on the masses of military grade weapons that are sure to come onto the black market, urging countries to access Interpol's database of missing weapons. "No country can deal with it in isolation," he went on.
At the meeting that was kindly hosted by Bloomberg, Mr. Stock reviewed the crime-fighting issues that Interpol's member governments are grappling with today. He answered questions about the Lyon-based organisation's governance, stressing that Interpol is strictly neutral, can't be used as a political tool and its role is to share information among members. He touched on efforts to clamp down on cybercrime, noting that criminals are quick to take advantage of special situations to make money illegally. He noted that organized crime groups with deep pockets have been profiting from the covid pandemic by funding struggling small and medium-sized companies, and have been exploiting sectors such as agro-food, medical products, transportation and waste disposal.

The rise of the far-right in France is no accident

Just 10 days before the first round of the presidential election, the AAPA met Dominique Reynié, founder of the think tank Fondapol, on April Fools’ Day.

Summarizing recent political history in France, Reynié dismissed the widely vaunted idea that each improved election performance by the far-right was an “accident”. On the contrary, “something was happening.” In its disappointment with the left, the working class had turned to the far-right.

And the Socialist Party has done nothing to win back its historic base, Reynié said. The difference between the 2017 and 2022 presidential elections was that Macron himself was outside the system and Le Pen was anti-system for the first time. This time Le Pen is still anti-system, but Macron “is the system.”

With a presidential victory behind him, it would be “perfect” if Macron’s party, now named Renaissance, and some allies won a parliamentary majority. “He would (at least) be able to govern, even if it is difficult.”

Reynié was not worried by the demise of the traditional left or right. Much more serious for him is the lack of any political party in France capable of functioning democratically. This means ensuring that all interests are represented among the candidates fielded for the legislative elections and the party manifestos.

Reynié was critical of governments right and left that had failed to tackle France’s huge public debt. The public reproaches governments for not reforming the country, but they «want reform that only affects their neighbor»

Paris 2024 Olympic Committee shows off its HQ

Our first meeting with the Paris 2024 Olympic Committee was held on Thursday, May 5, at their state-of-the-art, high-tech, sustainable headquarters in Seine St Denis, called "The Pulse." Tony Estanguet, President of the Olympics organizing committee, told us about the committee's three objectives: celebrating sports, engaging with people, and the legacy.

He said their 3.9-billion Euro operating budget was entirely funded by the private sector (organizations and individuals), adding that public funds were allocated only for infrastructure, 95% of which had been built previously.

Russia invades Ukraine: now what?

On Feb 24, the day Russia invaded Ukraine, we held an on-the-record discussion, Russia-Ukraine-Europe: What Now?, via Zoom with two experts:
Prof Marie Mendras, Russian specialist from Sciences Po, Paris and Prof Emeritus Douglas Webber, Political scientist & Europe specialist from INSEAD.
Prof Mendras opined that Russian President Vladimir Putin's shocking and unanticipated move into Ukraine was evidence of continued mental and physical deterioration.
Prof Webber said the invasion would have a tremendous and rejuvenating effect on the EU and NATO, and was concerned that potential Russian aggression into the Baltic states could be a defining challenge to NATO.

Freelancer seminar: avoiding payment delays

To help free-lance members develop a strategy for heading off such problems and for confronting them when they arise, the AAPA held a zoom conference on 22 March on recovering payments.
Leading the discussion were Hans de Keijzer, Group Head of Organisation & Change – Policy Management at Euler Hermes Group, and Caroline Harrap, a co-founder of the Society of Freelance Journalists, formed at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and now counting more than 2,000 members.
Hans de Keijzer reminded us that the cheapest form of credit comes from paying suppliers late and encouraged freelancers to lay down their own terms and conditions when starting work for a new client and agreeing on the rules for when to send invoices.
Caroline Harrap said the Society of Freelance Journalists https://freelancesoc.org/ includes an online forum for exchanging experiences and views between freelancers and provides some guidance on setting payment rates.

US Congressmen discuss Ukraine and US-France relations

More than a dozen AAPA members got to sit down with the two leaders of a US Congressional delegation to France on April 19th at the US ambassador’s residence.

Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), who is on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and Representative David Cicilline (D-RI-01), who is on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told us their eight-member delegation had a busy two days in France meeting French officials, UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay, the US ambassador to the OECD, and French groups welcoming Ukrainians fleeing the war there.

Ukraine was, unsurprisingly, the subject of many of the questions for the pair. Senator Coons called the Russian invasion “completely unjustified”.

There was discussion of weaponry being sent, and concerns expressed about Russian accountability for war crimes. UNESCO is documenting the destruction of heritage sites, they said.

Other topics raised included climate change and Covid. Despite our best efforts, they would not be drawn on the then-upcoming second round runoff of the French presidential election