French National Day Reception 2018
Ambassador Alexandre Ziegler’s address at the reception.
New Delhi, 14 July 2018
My dear colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Mmes et MM. les Conseillers consulaires,
Mes chers compatriotes,
It’s an immense pleasure for Véronique and I to welcome you at the Residence of France on our National Day. I am delighted to welcome tonight our Indian partners and friends, together with the French community.
This republican celebration is an occasion for uniting us over values that bring us together.
France and India do share values. They are united by the same love for freedom and democracy. Recalling this signifies the importance of our relations. It is a historic relationship, a political relationship, and a peoples’ relationship.
This year is very special for France-India relations, and it is so on many counts.
First of all, the centenary of the end of the First World War falls this year. This centenary bears particular significance here because we remember the sacrifice of Indian soldiers who fought at France’s side. And beyond commemorations, it reminds us that the multilateral values that we have forged over 70 years and that have ensured peace to both our nations must be protected more than ever before.
This year also marks the twentieth anniversary of our strategic partnership with India. Few know this, but France was the first country to have concluded a strategic partnership with India. Twenty years ago, in 1998, France had resolutely chosen India as its preferred partner in Asia, and this choice has never wavered.
It was due to this that the State visit of President Emmanuel Macron in March this year was particularly substantive and intense. This was his maiden State visit to India, and during this three-day trip, President Macron strengthened a personal relation that was already well established with Prime Minister Modi. The trust that was built between our respective Heads of State and Government, reflecting the trust between our two countries, enabled us to progress on several key matters.
Regarding strategic matters, we have deepened our partnership in the Indian Ocean and reaffirmed our commitment to enhancing our defence and security cooperation. Both our democracies face common challenges. I am particularly referring to those of terrorism. And we have chosen to rise to these challenges together.
We have also consolidated our partnership for the planet: we have translated into reality our shared commitment to combatting climate change with the launch of the International Solar Alliance; but we also work here daily to find concrete solutions so that our planet remains liveable. Our companies actively contribute to India’s major transformation programmes; they invest in India, they innovate in India, in sectors such as renewable energy, eco-friendly transport and sustainable city, so as to offer solutions beneficial for the entire planet.
Lastly – and that was one of the highlights of the Presidential visit, we have also invested in the youth: in the youth of France who must better understand India; but above all, in the youth of India, to whom we say clearly (and such a message is rare in today’s world): you are welcome in France! You are welcome to study, create, invest, build together the future of Indo-French relations. We would like India’s so talented and dynamic young generation to choose France. That’s why President Macron has set the target of attracting at least 10,000 Indian students in France annually by 2020.
We firmly believe that beyond State-to-State relations, the Indo-French partnership is first and foremost a strong bond between two peoples.
Mes chers compatriotes, de ce lien entre nos peuples, vous en êtes toutes et tous, ce soir, l’incarnation. C’est vous qui, en ayant fait le choix de l’Inde, construisez au quotidien cette relation. J’ai pu me rendre compte, tout au long de cette année et des nombreux déplacements que j’ai effectué à travers le pays, soixante en deux ans, de votre engagement, de votre énergie, de votre ambition et de vos succès dans tous les secteurs. Vous portez haut les couleurs de la France et je vous en remercie.
Bien sûr, nous pouvons faire mieux encore. Depuis quelques mois, je constate que l’image de notre pays a changé, dans le monde, et en Inde en particulier. Les réformes portées par le Président de la République nous ont donné un nouvel élan. Dans un monde de plus en plus incertain, la France incarne aussi un pôle de stabilité et une référence au cœur de l’Europe. C’est cette image que nous devons toutes et tous, collectivement, porter au quotidien dans ce pays.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The 14th July receptions are an important moment every year in the life of our embassies. It is also a day of joy and happiness, with popular celebrations being held in every city and village of France. Tonight, I would like to share this spirit with you.
This year, we wished to add a Parisian touch to this event. You will find it in the décor, that of the great cafés and little bistros that define Paris, and which also embody in a way, all over the world, a quintessential part of the French spirit. You will find too it in the warm ambience, the food and the drinks.
I would like to conclude with acknowledging our partners, the French and Indian companies that have made this evening possible. You would have noticed their name at the entrance of the Residence and behind me.
I cannot end my address without sending our warmest wishes to the French football team, which will be playing tomorrow the World Cup final against Croatia. They, too, embody values that are the dearest to my country: team spirit, solidarity, creativity and optimism. I hope we will all be toasting to its victory tomorrow evening and, in any case, to the values of sports.
I thank all of you here today for having come to celebrate our National Day.
Long live India, vive la France, long live the Indo-French partnership,
and…allez les Bleus !