LIBERTY ISLAND — French President Nicolas Sarkozy took the ferry out to Liberty Island Thursday morning with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and actor Robert De Niro to wish Lady Liberty a happy early 125th Birthday.
Sarkozy, who is in town for the U.N. General Assembly, praised the statue as a symbol of liberty and freedom across the word.
“This statue speaks to the youth of Libya, to the youth of Tunisia, to the youth of Egypt,” Sarkozy told the crowd, gathered under a tent at the base of the statue as curious tourists stopped to stare. “It is not simply a statue. It is a notion, an idea of freedom for all people of the world.”
The president said the bond between the U.S. and France was forged by the Americans who fought in Europe in World War I and II, and is bolstered by the values that both countries share.
“The barbarians, the criminals, Mr. Mayor, targeted New York primarily because it is a symbol of liberty,” he said, referring to 9/11. “What happened to you could have happened to us.”
The mayor also took the opportunity to announce that the team behind TriBeCa Enterprises, including TriBeCa-based actor Robert De Niro, is currently planning to open a new film and media center near Paris.
The project would transform a 33-acre island in the Seine River into a "center for global media, fashion and technology," he said.