Ivory Coast Table of Contents

Time and again, the president has reminded fellow Ivoirians that their closest and best friend was France and that France made daily sacrifices for Côte d'Ivoire by offering protected markets and military assistance. He insisted that France maintained troops near Abidjan as a favor to ensure Côte d'Ivoire's security without impinging on its larger development plans.

A treaty of cooperation (the Franco-Ivoirian Technical Military Assistance Accord--Accord d'Assistance Militaire Technique) signed on April 24, 1961, outlined the salient aspects of Franco-Ivoirian ties. It provided for the exchange of ambassadors between the two countries, named the French ambassador to Abidjan the dean of the diplomatic corps, and reserved a "privileged position" among diplomats in Paris for the Ivoirian ambassador. The treaty also called for regular consultations between the two countries on foreign policy matters. France agreed to protect and represent Ivoirian interests in any country or international organization where there was no Ivoirian representation. Additional cooperation agreements signed at the same time covered economic matters, education, civil aviation, judicial affairs, telecommunications, and technical and military assistance.

The French government agreed to continue providing aid to Côte d'Ivoire for a period of five years, with a provision for five-year extensions. By encouraging such long-range commitments, the agreement enhanced French economic influence in Côte d'Ivoire.

Concomitantly, Houphouët-Boigny began implementing policies that diverged albeit in several minor respects from French policy. In 1972 he had Côte d'Ivoire vote against admitting China to the United Nations, and until 1985, in contradistinction to France, he labeled China and the Soviet Union as threats to Africa. In the Middle East, Côte d'Ivoire had been a staunch supporter of Israel since 1967, although during much of this time France regularly took positions more favorable to the Arabs.

Houphouët-Boigny's reliance on French private investment and government loans, coupled with his devotion to French culture, determined his stand on virtually every foreign policy issue. In the early 1960s, for example, he urged negotiations to resolve the Algerian Revolution and, unlike many of his African counterparts, refused to condemn France as the responsible party and refused to provide Algeria with any material assistance. Meanwhile, HouphouëtBoigny also supported French nuclear testing in the Sahara. Houphouët-Boigny also defended French military intervention in Africa.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress