Joint media briefing: Statement by the French President

President Macron’s statement to the press during the joint media briefing with Prime Minister Modi at Hyderabad House, 10 March, 2018.

New Delhi, 10 March 2018

Mr Prime Minister, dear friend, thank you very much for these words, your commitments and thank you for your welcome.

The State visit that I am undertaking along with my entire delegation is a commitment that we made together in June 2017 – as you recalled – during your visit to France.

And you have perfectly recalled the historic ties that unite us. You have recalled the presence of numerous French writers and the inspiration they drew in your country.

Here, I would like to mention not only that generations of translators in the 18th and early 19th centuries wore themselves out trying to translate the Mahabharata, completing this work of translating purely from Sanskrit to French only in the early 20th century, but also how much throughout these decades starting from the late 18th century, the Indian imagination and the great myths also inspired Western thought – particularly French thought – our sites and our authors.

And this is borne out through this anecdote, which is that – I was told this and there is still trace of this at the Guimet museum in France – that when Georges Clemenceau attempted to better understand India and he travelled to your country, he called on many brahmans, seeking from them the secrets and the core of culture.

They started narrating a few myths to him, and one of them interrupted himself to say, “You should ask Emile Senart – he knows this much better than us.” Emile Senart was a great India specialist and the first translator of the Gita from Sanskrit to French.

This bond is also what made 1,40,000 Indians risk their lives during World War I for France’s freedom. It is also this bond that we honoured, together again, in June last year.

Many have been interred in a region that I know well, in the Chapelette cemetery of Péronne, a few kilometres from the city in which I myself was born. And it was Apollinaire in [his collection of poems] Calligrammes who spoke of them when he wrote: they regarded the Western countryside with astonishment, thinking in melancholy of those that they wondered whether they would see them again.

And France will never forget this bond and these lives lain down for our freedom. And it is in their honour – and as I have just suggested to the Prime Minister – that India will be fully at the heart of the centenary commemorations of the end of World War I on 11th November this year; and that on this occasion we will launch the initiative of the Paris Peace Forum, which will have the mission of making headway in peace through better global governance, by doing what (I think) we do best together, that is to say sharing the same reading of the world and the same strategic framework.

The trust between us protects us because our interests are aligned. They are aligned, first of all, against terrorism; it is the structuring issue of the fresh impetus that we are giving to our strategic partnership.

In the face of this threat today – that of Islamic terrorism – and concretely we have decided to consolidate the constant and very operational exchanges, to do more together on the combat against radicalisation on social networks, and the financing of terrorism.

This trust is that which we also desire to have to defend our interests of sovereignty. And after 20 years of strategic partnership, today we are together ushering in a new era, which is a reinforced strategic partnership with unprecedented alliances on the strategic and operational fronts; and a deep conviction that a significant part of our security, our future, and the world’s stability depends on stability in the Indian Ocean.

And I would like for us to be able to build together – France being a power in this Ocean and more widely in the Indo-Pacific space through its presence in both these aforesaid oceans – what we have decided to do together is to formally fix a strategy for cooperation, exchange of information, military, naval presence, the strengthening of our ties, naval port calls and military air transits at each other’s bases, partnership through our space agencies to conduct joint maritime surveillance; and assure ourselves of what I will term in the words of the Australian Premier: the freedom of our sovereignty.

Neither the Indian Ocean, nor the Pacific Ocean can be allowed to become spaces of hegemony and we bear a strong responsibility and that is what we are laying down today, to forge a strategic cooperation on this matter.

This is also the significance behind our defence cooperation, which was born – and has proven itself during challenging times almost two decades ago, too – beyond the political alternations in both India and France, and which has assumed a new dimension over the past few years, because it is vital for our strategic independence.

Thus, I would like to point recall that it is a French company that has supported an Indian company for the construction in Mumbai of Scorpene submarines, the first of which was recently commissioned and will participate in the coming weeks in a joint exercise with our submarines. The construction I have mentioned is a global first, undertaken under the framework of the “Make in India” programme.

Regarding the latest-generation fighter aircraft that India has made a sovereign choice to acquire and which falls under the same framework, we must hail the good progress made in the programmes. We are prepared to consolidate and expand them, because ours is a mutually beneficial long-term cooperation. And for me, I consider that the heart of this defence strategic partnership is absolutely essential because it proceeds from a deeply shared vision of the recomposition of the world that is underway. We thus have a pact of trust between us, which is a pact of peace.

The second cornerstone of our relations is the importance that we both attach to justice, balances, to what I call the global commons of globalisation. Mr Prime Minister, a few weeks ago at Davos you quoted Mahatma Gandhi, to whom I paid tribute this morning; there was a sentence that (I think) many found striking: there is enough in Nature for our needs, but not for our greed.

And I don’t know if we can halt greediness in globalisation, but we can in any case act collectively to obtain concrete responses to our own vision of what is precisely a crucial global commons, the climate.

It is in this context that we have decided, in keeping with the Paris Agreement, to very concretely implement our commitments in terms of solar energy. That’s what we will set up together tomorrow, through the Founding Summit of the International Solar Alliance.

A great deal of work has been carried out on both sides to bring together the maximum number of States, partners, the maximum of financiers. And what was an idea – and idea of India in the beginning – has become an initiative and from tomorrow will be a reality that has been made possible.

We will be co-chairing it and I thank you for hosting and fulfilling this commitment here, this meeting that will help fix a road map on three points: identification of projects, access to financing, access to technologies. We will take this up again at greater length tomorrow, but I think this is an important moment not only for India, our partnership, but also for the cause that we are championing at the international level.

This priority that we are bearing on an international scale has today also found concrete expression in our bilateral cooperation. I will not dwell either, as you have mentioned, on the fifty-odd agreements and framework texts that we are signing today. But there is a common thread: these texts and a number of these agreements will help very effectively combat climate disruption under our bilateral relations.

Regarding transport, with the semi-high-speed Delhi-Chandigarh corridor and electric mobility, our aims are aligned. In the urban infrastructure sector, close to 80 French companies are involved in the development of Smart Cities in Chandigarh, Nagpur and Puducherry.

Renewable energy, which accounts for a third of the French Development Agency’s commitment in India, will be consolidated. And we will go together to inaugurate the largest solar plant of Uttar Pradesh, the fruit of a French investment in the programmes that you have launched.

We are investing together in the future, and the framework text on nuclear energy that has been signed today is also something that will help reduce the share of carbon and emissions in the electricity and energy mix, and is perfectly consistent with this ambition. This is the same goal that we share under our space and observation partnerships that are also for climatic purposes.

This bilateral relation is obviously also economic – numerous agreements reflect that. A little later, we will also be concluding the forum between our leaders from the economic milieu that has been nurturing it, and I would like to thank them here for their commitment. This is a very steadfast relation that has great power in numerous areas, particularly some industrial, technological and services sectors, but which we must boost further – food processing, SMEs come to mind – and I will dwell on this later.

That is also why we both attach importance to the balances of international trade. We share the same resolve to avoid any trade war, to preserve balances, to, obviously, protect our interests under the international framework and the regulations of the World Trade Organisation, and to avoid any escalation that would be detrimental to our economies.

Lastly, the final area of our bilateral relationship is what I would call sharing. We have both spoken about this, this history that nurtures our relation must today be expressed through people-to-people ties, because it is daily strengthened by these communities of women and men that bear meaning and an even stronger bond.

We have thus a profound desire, as you have said, to strengthen this bond. That is why I would like the number of Indian students in France to be doubled within the next two years. Today we are signing an agreement for the mutual recognition of degrees, an agreement on mobility, we will be holding the first Indo-French Knowledge Summit precisely to draw up the road map for our scientific and technological partnership borne by 500 cooperation agreements.

And in this, too, we are investing in India’s future, in its human capital, which can also contribute much to us. And we have thus decided to strengthen cooperation in this matter. This is also the strengthening of our cooperation in the fields of tourism, heritage, culture that we will be deciding on; and we will be making India the guest of honour at the Paris Book Fair in 2020.

I very deeply wish to say here that the reason for this visit is to make India our prime strategic partner in the region. And I would like France to be your prime strategic partner in Europe and more broadly in the West for all the reasons I have just cited, because we have the same defence interests and the same strategic interests, the same vision of the world, because we have the same vision on these global commons, particularly the climate, and because we have this community of women and men who bolster us.

As you have mentioned, beyond our discussions today, I will have the opportunity to interact with the Indian youth this afternoon, have a lively exchange of views to explain these ideas. Tomorrow, we have the International Solar Alliance that we will both open. I will travel to the Taj Mahal, and we will go together to Varanasi day after tomorrow with great joy to be immersed in one of the roots of Indian culture – as you have mentioned – to inaugurate this solar plant whose importance I have recalled, as well as to continue expressing together these enduring ties that unite us and, above all, the resolve to make these historic ties the ties of the future and the core of this strategic partnership.

I will, of course, come back to India, but I would like to tell you, Mr Prime Minister, dear friend, that you have a standing invitation from France. Thank you very much.

Last modified on 15/03/2018

top of the page