awards

Hon. Christine Lagarde
Bonsoir and good evening to all of you. Rabbi Schneier, thank you ever so much for that warm welcome, for bestowing upon me this honor, this globe. Youíve given me the Earth, and I would like to just recognize like other speakers before me the extraordinary work that you do on behalf of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation that you created yourself. Thank you.

Dr. Kissinger, Mr. Moynihan, I would like to both of you thank you ever so much. Iím humbled, and Iím very, very honored to have been recognized by you tonight, and as I was listening to you, I was really wondering who you were talking about. Itís just so much praise and so much gratitude and so many compliments, and yet you were talking about me. So, thank you, but this is way too much.

Dear Steven, Secretary Mnuchin, thank you very much for your keynote address earlier on today and thank you for reminding me of the extraordinary relationship that we have developed over the course of the last year and a half or so, sometimes through difficult circumstances and having to deal with difficult issues, because if you run the largest economy in the world, I also have to look after the smallest economies in the world and to pay attention to all.

We both do that in good intelligence and mindful of all the people. Mr. Rupert, dear Johann, thank you so much for sharing with me the honor tonight. We go back a long way both of us, and I can only say how generous you are and how grateful I am for your kindness and the generosity with which you look at other people and extend that generosity sometimes unknown to many. As a former lawyer, a reformed lawyer I should say as probably many of you are in this room, I have a disclaimer. Itís amazing how certain things come together, but Iím actually an accident of faith and fruit of love.

My father was born to a Jewish mother and a nonreligious father and converted to Catholicism when he went to l'Ecole normale supťrieure which is a high-level school in France, and he was actually converted to Catholicism by a Chinese priest who was a refugee. This is not invented. I promise you itís true, and he was so well-converted by this Chinese refugee priest that he wanted to become a priest and studies long enough to the point where he could actually have pursued what other leaders of faith tonight lead, but he met my mother, and this whole business of becoming a priest fell through the cracks. So I am that accident of faith and that fruit of love.

Now as I was thinking about this award that youíve decided to give me, Rabbi Schneier, I was thinking to myself tonight is the great moment. Well, not so much for you because youíd like to eat, but those of us who really find some delight in this moment. It is the best moment. Awards, recognition, friendship, nice chats and, for some of us, almost the end of process which is unbelievably time-consuming from bilaterals to meetings to conferences to appearances to panels and so on and so forth, and I was thinking to myself, Rabbi Schneier, that the hard work begins after that because we all go back to wherever we come from.

We go back to our private sector. We go back to our public offices. We go back to our non-governmental organizations. We go back to civil society, and thatís when the hard work begins, and thatís where the Appeal of Conscience must inhabit us. The mission of the IMF best described by Brian earlier on is very much intertwined with the mission of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation.

One might debate as to what comes first, whether itís peace or good economic development, and there is no question that the International Monetary Fund cannot be involved at times of war and in countries that are torn apart by conflict, be they inspired by horrible terrorism or by civil war or war between neighbors.

But at the same time, if there is no economic prosperity, if there is no hope, if there is no sense of oneís being the master of his or her own destiny, how can peace be achieved? That is why the mission of an institution like the IMF which has to do with economic prosperity, which has to do with financial stability, which has to do with helping those countries that find themselves in serious trouble because they have mismanaged their public finance is very strongly related to the mission of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation.

I very much admire the work that the Foundation has done in many countries, whether itís Cuba, whether itís Hungary whether itís many other countries where you are active and engaged and decide to bring people together and get them to talk, get them to listen to each other and establish a dialogue where peace can be achieved, but itís a constant struggle, and itís hard work all the time.

How do you achieve that hard work? I have to go back again to my own history sometimes because itís natural to go home and to withdraw in your turf, to protect your territory, to not look beyond the boundaries but to erect some more barriers or build some more walls. Thatís easier. Whatís harder is to have that Appeal of Conscience that forces us to look beyond, to praise diversity and to welcome brothers and sisters even though they look different. Not easy.

So, when something is not easy, I always think to myself, what was really hard? I think of my days as a synchronized swimmer. That might come as a lot for those of you who are swimmers, because synchronized swimming has always been regarded as something a bit trivial relative to swimming or diving or water polo, but I was lucky to join the French national team. So, I served my country as a finance minister, but I served my country as an athlete as well.

I was superbly lucky because in 1973 when I came to this country in the Washington, D.C. area and going to Holton Arms School, I was lucky to be welcomed by the Rockville Jewish Community Center which was the only swimming club which had synchronized swimming. I was able to continue that unbelievable routine that you do when youíre a synchronized swimmer where you build muscle memory, and you do the routine over and over and over, and you join hands with the other members of the team, and you listen to every note of music, and you know exactly how and where youíre going to do this, that or the other. Iíll spare you the details.

I think that this is what we have to do, because when you then compete, you donít have to think twice to just do it. It does become a routine. It does become your second nature, and I personally believe that peace, tolerance and respect have to become second nature, and they are profoundly needed now.

So, we just need to practice the routine over and over. I will not prolong this intervention. I will simply tell you that tonight Iím unbelievably happy, and I cannot tell which one of the three events that occurred today made me the happiest. This award is one, but I received also earlier on today the first echography of my to-be grandson, and that was also a nice moment.

Whatís more, my director of communication mentioned to me that the Vatican had tweeted one of my interventions. So I am blessed tonight.
Bless you all. Thank you.
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