French National Day reception 2018
My dear colleagues from the diplomatic corps,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Mes chers compatriotes,
It’s a great pleasure for me to host you at the Novotel at this reception celebrating our National Day. I am delighted to welcome tonight our Indian partners and friends, together with the French community.
Last year, the 15th of July, France won the Football world cup, and it was a time of national celebration. I’m sure the spirits are high in England, congratulations!
But enough of sports, allow me to say a few words on the Indo-French partnership.
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 the visit to India of our Minister of Foreign Affairs in December, and the organisation of the most ambitious joint exercise to date between our navies, which took place in May off the Goa coast. It’s also been a year when, once again, we stood side by side to confront terrorism.
This year has demonstrated that our strategic partnership, which dates back to 1998, is as relevant today as it was 20 years ago, when France chose India as its preferred partner in Asia; 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 region, in space or in cyberspace!
It is this partnership that will, once again, be given pride of place in end-August during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to France. France desired to bring in 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, stands for multilateralism, international law and cooperation between States.
These values and principles are the cornerstone of a relation that goes far beyond our strategic partnership.
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 continue to support the International Solar Alliance; we invest and innovate in India in sectors such as renewable energy, eco-friendly transport and sustainable city.
As far as people-to-people contacts are concerned, every day we build closer ties between our peoples. This year, 10,000 Indian students have chosen to study in France. This is a historic record; we have, in fact, attained a target set for 2020 by our leaders, quite in advance.
Please spread the word: France is the 4th largest destination in the world for foreign students, we offer world-class education and you do not need to speak French to follow these curriculum: many of them are taught fully in English. When it comes to higher education too, France is the smart choice.
8,00,000 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.
Many of these partnerships, be it in trade, investments, student mobility, are particularly strong in South India and I’m proud to say that on every aspects of our bilateral relationship, Bangalore is a key player.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Allow me to thank heartily all the sponsors and partners that have made tonight’s reception possible: theirs names are behind me. Their continued support is, once again, deeply appreciated.
And of course a big thank you to the Novotel, and to the team of the Consulate, who has spared no effort to make this evening a success.
This is the fourth time that I am celebrating France’s Bastille Day with you, here in Bangalore. It is also the last time, as I’m going back to France next month.
We are three members of the consulate team to leave this summer: Elodie Texier, the deputy-consul, Pierre-Marie Brianceau, the consular attaché and myself. I can say on behalf of the three of us that India will remain in our memories and in our hearts. Thank you for your welcome, for your help and please give the same warm welcome to our replacements, and to the next French consul general, Mrs Marjorie Vanbaelinghem.
After four vibrant, exciting and sometimes challenging years in Bangalore, I am charged with a profound affection for this country and its people and with the conviction that the world will achieve nothing without India. We build our common future together, and on many subjects (IT, AI, VR but also climate change), we built it here in Bangalore.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In France, Bastille Day is a day of joy and happiness, with popular celebrations being held in every city and village of France. Tonight, we would like to share this spirit with you. We bring some champagne, some French wines, nice French food and, most importantly, a nice crowd to share it with!
Vive l’Inde! Vive la France ! Vive l’amitié franco-indienne!