French National Day Celebrations 2019

Ambassador Alexandre Ziegler hosts French National Day celebration in the presence of Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale.

New Delhi, 12 July 2019

The Ambassador of France to India, H.E. Mr Alexandre Ziegler, today hosted France’s Bastille Day celebrations at the Residence of France, New Delhi. The Chief Guest for the occasion was Shri Vijay Gokhale, Foreign Secretary, Government of India.

Hailing the excellence of the wide-ranging Indo-French relations, Ambassador Ziegler said: “Our strategic partnership […] is probably even more relevant [today] as it is guided, under the leadership of President Macron and Prime Minister Modi, towards addressing new challenges together”.

Foreign Secretary Gokhale, referring to France and India’s relations as brimming with trust and potential, said: “…We are in an era when our historically cordial ties have been further consolidated by the remarkable personal relationship and rapport between our two leaders, Prime Minister Modi and President Macron.”

The evening saw a strong presence from the French community in Delhi, the diplomatic corps, members of the India-France Club Young Leaders, as well as several noted figures of the city, including fashion designers Rahul Mishra and Ritu Kumar, legendary photographer Raghu Rai, committed pacifist and social activist Tara Gandhi Bhattacharjee, designer and curator Rajeev Sethi, interior designer Sunita Kohli, among many others.

French food market being the year’s theme, the décor of the Residence of France recreated the ambiance of a French covered market and a heritage square with cobbled streets, outdoor cafés and tables draped with chequered cloth bearing artisanal bakes.

Invitees at the animated soirée were served an array of choice French canapés and delectable desserts as well as champagne and a selection of other French wines. The French band, Swingin’ Partout, performing a mix of swing, gypsy jazz, classical, rock, and world music, drew enthusiastic guests to the dance floor.

A lucky guest won round trip air tickets to Paris, sponsored by Air France.

Ambassador Alexandre Ziegler’s address at the reception.

Mr Foreign Secretary, dear Vijay,

My dear colleagues,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Mes chers compatriotes,

It’s an immense pleasure for me to host you at the Residence of France at this reception celebrating our National Day. I am delighted to welcome tonight our Indian partners and friends, together with the French community.

I am particularly honoured to welcome the Foreign Secretary, Vijay Gokhale. Your presence tonight, Sir, speaks volumes about our relations.

This year, an electoral year, has been a very important year for India, and, I would argue, for the rest of the world: when the largest democracy in the world votes, it is, indeed, a worldwide event.

If time may have seemed suspended in the months leading up to the elections, bilateral relations between France and India were not. It has, in fact, been quite a busy period with several ministerial visits to India. It’s also been a year when, once again, we stood side by side to confront terrorism. More recently, the organisation of the most ambitious joint exercise between our navies was a great success. And this very day, our joint air force exercise, Garuda, is coming to a rewarding conclusion.

In short, this year has demonstrated that our strategic partnership is as relevant today as it was 20 years ago, when France chose India as its preferred partner in Asia. Indeed, it is probably even more relevant as it is guided, under the leadership of President Macron and Prime Minister Modi, towards addressing new challenges together, be it in the Indo-Pacific, in space or in cyberspace!

It is this partnership that will once again be celebrated in end-August, during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to France. France desired to invite India at the G7 Summit. Why India? Because not only is it a major player, a global player, but also because we share values and principles with India, a democracy which, just like France and the European Union, stands for multilateralism, international law and cooperation between States.

These values and principles are the cornerstone of a relation that goes far beyond strategic issues.

Four years after the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, France and India – our governments, our companies, our research centres – remain strongly committed to taking concrete action to combat climate change. We support the International Solar Alliance, we invest and innovate in India in sectors such as renewable energy, eco-friendly transport and sustainable city.

Every day we build closer ties between our peoples and especially our younger generations:

  • This year, 10,000 Indian students have chosen to study in France. This is a historic record; it’s tripled in three years.
  • 800 000 Indian tourists chose to visit France last year. This is twice as many visitors as three years ago.
  • Today, almost one million Indians are learning French in our Alliances Françaises, in schools and in universities.

These figures do us credit. And they bear testimony just as much as our strategic and defence relations, to the depth of our partnership.

Of course, these achievements owe a lot to our vibrant French community in India. Please allow me to say a word on this in French, to their attention.

Mes chers compatriotes, nous sommes réunis ici ce soir parce que nous avons tous fait le choix de l’Inde. C’est un choix passionnant, c’est un choix où les opportunités sont à la mesure des défis à relever, un choix toujours exigeant aussi. Au cours des trois dernières années, j’ai pu mesurer l’engagement, l’énergie et les très belles réussites, industrielles, culturelles, éducatives, entrepreneuriales, des Français d’Inde. Je crois que nous pouvons être fiers, collectivement, du travail accompli.

A bien des égards, l’Inde et la France se sont rapprochées ces dernières années et notre présence s’y est renforcée dans tous les domaines. Bien sûr, nous pouvons, nous devons faire plus encore pour développer nos échanges économiques, nos partenariats universitaires ; faire davantage aussi pour faire connaître l’Inde d’aujourd’hui en France et encourager nos entreprises, nos étudiants, nos chercheurs, nos investisseurs à venir en Inde. Je sais que vous contribuez tous les jours à faire vivre cette relation, et je voulais vous remercier du fond du cœur.

Ladies and gentlemen,

This is the fourth time now that I am celebrating our National Day with you, here in Delhi. Let’s face it, it is perhaps the last time. And I have to say that I am charged with as much enthusiasm and energy as when I arrived three years ago. I am charged with a profound affection for this country and its people and with the conviction that we will achieve nothing without India!

But this reception is above all a day of joy and happiness, with popular celebrations being held in every city and village of France all over the weekend.

This year, we bring you the décor, food and atmosphere of French markets. Markets are an essential part of the life of every French village and every French city; their roots are deeply entrenched in history, but remain very much alive today. Tonight, we have tried to bring to life in Delhi their noisy, joyous and colourful atmosphere and, of course, their delicious food.

I would like to conclude by warmly acknowledging our partners, the generous French and Indian companies that have made this evening possible. You would have noticed their names at the entrance of the Residence and right behind me.

I thank all of you here today for having come to celebrate our National Day, and wish you an enjoyable evening.

Vive la France, and long live the Indo-French partnership!

Last modified on 13/08/2019

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