France does not intend to cut cultural ties with Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, the culture minister said on Friday, after entertainment businesses slammed a decision this week to ban all partnerships with artists from these African countries.
The instruction from the foreign affairs and cultural ministry reads, “All cooperation projects carried out by your establishments or departments with institutions or nationals of these three countries must be suspended, without delay, and without exception. All financial support must also be suspended, including via French structures such as associations. Similarly, no invitations should be extended to any nationals of these countries. As of today, France will no longer issue visas for nationals of these three countries, without exception, and until further notice.”
“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’s government was overthrown in a military coup in July, while Burkina Faso has been overrun by hardline militants for years. Mali’s military has also been fighting a rebel alliance since August, which has led France to ban visas and halt development aid for all 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.
Following the outcry, Abdul-Malak said she had asked her ministry to send out “clarifications” to the entertainment businesses, adding that existing partnerships would not be affected by the ban, only new projects that would require travel visas for artists.
France is home to a large community of people with ties to the three African countries and performers from the region, in particular musicians, are popular at festivals.