Dear President, Dear Friend,
February was marked by a number of notable encounters for the FIA, which I wish to highlight in this letter.
In Istanbul, Michelle and I were welcomed by the city’s Mayor, Kadir Topbaş, and the Governor of the region, Vasip Şahin, and were accompanied by Bülent Katkak, President of the TTOK; Serkan Yazici, President of the TOSFED; and Mumtaz Tahincioglu, President of the FIA Volunteers and Officials Commission. Having come to show my solidarity following the horrific attack at the Reina on 31 December, I was also able to discuss with them the issues related to transport and road safety in this vast metropolis, encouraging them to join programmes such as Vision Zero. We also discussed sport-related topics and, in particular, Turkey’s prospects in terms of hosting new FIA events.
This visit was part of a trip that took me to Lebanon, where the MENA Congress was being held. Thanks to the support of the ATCL and its President, Fouad el Khazen, I met with representatives from 15 Clubs in the region, accompanied by Nasser Al-Atya and Graham Stoker. While in Beirut, I also met with Masters’ students from Saint Joseph University studying Road Safety Management under Professor Wassim Raphaël. Coming from all over the Middle East, these students intend to return to their countries and use their expertise to implement relevant government policies to efficiently strengthen road safety. A week later, in Geneva, I was delighted to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Thomas Bach, President of the IOC, regarding the promotion of joint campaigns on road safety, particularly ahead of sporting events organised by the Olympic Movement. The IOC will support the FIA campaign #3500LIVES which will be launched on 10 March in which five Olympic and Paralympic athletes are participating.
On the same day, in my capacity as Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General, I chaired the jury of the 2017 edition of the Global Road Safety Film Festival, which was attended by Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; Christian Friis Bach, Executive Secretary of UNECE; Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee; and Michelle as spokesperson for the FIA HLP. I was able to observe how effective this means of communication is for disseminating prevention messages. This event was followed by the 70th anniversary celebration of the Inland Transport Committee of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. I gave a speech to the 500 delegates representing more than 89 member countries of this UN regional commission, whose aim is to develop sustainable, safe and integrated transport systems. I informed them of the decision of United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, to renew my mandate as Special Envoy for Road Safety. I thanked him for this sign of confidence and recognition of the work achieved over the last two years.
Finally, at the Vatican, during a private audience with the Pope, I presented the FIA and JCDecaux #3500LIVES global campaign that will be launched in the presence of Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein; Violeta Bulc, European Commissioner for Transport and Anne Hidalgo, C40 Chair and Mayor of Paris. Pope Francis expressed his support for this initiative, underlining that every life is sacred.
While in Rome, I addressed the municipal council which was holding an extraordinary meeting to discuss the battle against road safety. Along with the Mayor of Rome, Virginia Raggi, we discussed what methods the Italian capital was employing to combat this scourge.
At the last Board of Trustees meeting of the FIA Foundation in London, which was attended by new trustees such as José Abed and Werner Kraus, the financing of various sport projects was decided upon. These projects will in particular address the issue of safety. Our clubs will benefit from these additional resources obtained from the FIA Foundation.
These are the notable events that took place in the last few weeks, which also included the victories of Sébastien Buemi at the Buenos Aires ePrix and Sébastien Ogier at the WRC Sweden, and the return of Formula 1 to Barcelona for the first week of testing. Preliminary analyses confirm that the new F1 cars will be even more spectacular, auguring an intense season.
In conclusion, I would like to give my best wishes to Bernie Ecclestone for the coming years. The FIA had the pleasure of paying tribute to him at the WMSC dinner on Wednesday in Geneva. Knowing Bernie, I have no doubt that he already has a number of projects planned.
With best wishes,
President of the FIA