At a meeting in Québec City on February 25, Premier Jean Charest and Stanislaw Tillich, Minister-President of the German state of Saxony, agreed to step up bilateral exchanges, particularly in the economic and cultural spheres. Their meeting marked the 20th anniversary of official relations between Québec and Saxony.
Mr. Charest and Mr. Tillich also plan to boost information exchanges at the political and institutional levels in areas of common interest such as the role of provincial and regional governments, sustainable development policies, education and the proposed Canada-European Union economic partnership.
Over the years, a number of Québec firms have successfully positioned themselves in Saxony, including Bombardier Transportation, which has offices in Görlitz and Bautzen, and Future Electronics, which recently began operating in the Leipzig region following a visit to Québec by its Saxon delegation. Bombardier Transportation has also launched a skills centre in cooperation with Dresden Technical University.
In the cultural arena, bilateral exchanges have been flourishing since Mr. Charest’s mission to Dresden in 2006. For example, Québec filmmakers and producers are regular participants in the Dresden Film Festival and the Leipzig Documentary Film Festival, while a series of animated films for TV, Les Sablotins (Die Sandmanzen/The Sand Fairy), was recently co-produced by three firms, two based in Québec (Zabelle Inc. and Facteur 7) and one in Saxony (Balance Film). In addition, a dance student exchange program between Dresden’s Palucca Secondary School for Dance and Montréal’s School for Advanced Contemporary Ballet Studies (ESBCM) has been established.
Dresden is also home to Germany’s leading centre for Québec studies, the Québec-Saxony Interdisciplinary Centre for French-Canadian and French-American Research (CIFRAQS). Created in 1994 and affiliated with Dresden Technical University, the Centre is headed by Ingo Kolboom, who was made a member of the Ordre national du Québec by Premier Charest in 2005 for his contributions to Québec’s international standing.
“Germany is Québec’s second-largest economic partner in Europe, and Saxony’s trade role has grown by an annual average of 5.9% since 1991. Since Québec accounts for 32% of Canada’s exports to the fast-growing German market, we must forge stronger ties with as many regions as possible. Today’s meeting is a step in that direction,” said Mr. Charest.