Official Visit to India of Jean-Yves Le Drian
H.E. Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, was on a two day official visit to India, on 17th - 18th November 2017, to prepare for the visit of the President of the French Republic on the occasion of the first summit of the International Solar Alliance, to be held in early 2018.
On Friday 17th November, the first day of his trip, Minister Le Drian worked to strengthen various aspects of France’s bilateral cooperation with India, its foremost Asian strategic partner: security, economy, sustainable urban development and renewable energy, education and research, people-to-people ties and cultural affairs.
He thus called on Shri Narendra Modi, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, for wide-ranging talks ahead of the State visit of President Emmanuel Macron. He held political meetings with several Indian dignitaries, including Smt Sushma Swaraj, Hon’ble Minister of External Affairs; Shri Arun Jaitley, Hon’ble Minister of Finance, and Corporate Affairs; and Shri Raj Kumar Singh, Hon’ble Minister of State (IC) for Power, and New and Renewable Energy. He also met Shri Ajit Doval, National Security Adviser to Prime Minister.
Pursuing France’s constant endeavour to boost Indo-French economic relations and cross-investments, the minister also met prominent members of the Indian and French business communities.
On the second day, on the occasion of the official launch of the third edition of the Indo-French platform “Bonjour India”, Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian unveiled “The Experience”: an immersive and interactive multimedia journey to the heart of the Indo-French relationship.
The Grand Opening of Bonjour India took place at Amber Fort, Jaipur, on Saturday evening. Minister Le Drian, Shri Prakash Javadekar, Hon’ble Minister of Human Resource Development, and Smt Vasundhara Raje, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Rajasthan graced the event, which featured a monumental video creation by French artist Xavier de Richemont, entitled “Barghal”. This was followed by a reception offering a vegetarian menu with ingredients sourced locally from Tijara, specially conceived for the occasion by celebrated Michelin-star chef Alain Passard in collaboration with Indian chefs at Hotel Fairmont.
Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian thus concluded his visit with this impetus to people-to-people ties between France and India, Bonjour India. This three-month Indo-French collaborative platform focused on innovation, creativity, and partnership, will present more than 300 events in 33 cities across India.
It is always a pleasure for me to be in India. This is my tenth trip to this country as Minister, and the first as the Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs of France.
As you are aware, I am here to lay the groundwork for the visit of the President of the French Republic. It is scheduled for early next year. It will take place on the occasion of the summit of the International Solar Alliance. It is to prepare for this visit that I am holding political meetings with high-level dignitaries, particularly with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. My counterpart, Shrimati Sushma Swaraj, Honourable Minister of External Affairs, and I have had very long, useful and substantive discussions. We raised a great number of subjects that I will dwell on briefly and which she has herself mentioned in her address. I will come back to it in a moment.
But first I would like to recall, as President Emmanuel Macron had done during his first meeting with Prime Minister Modi in Paris (it was in early June this year), that we keenly desire to pursue and further strengthen our strategic partnership, which is excellent and will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2018. Remember 1998 – the year in which this strategic partnership was established – remember what the situation was then and how France had rallied round India. As France had also rallied round India in 1999. But India, too, has rallied round France.
This strategic partnership is based on trust, it is based on the democratic values that unite us. And it is based on a certain conception of the functioning of the international community. We share a common analysis of major international issues. Our bilateral relations must thus be understood as an expression of this common analysis that we have on major global issues, be it combatting terrorism, be it the necessary reinforcement of maritime security, be it in cooperation in the Indian Ocean – where France and India are countries belonging to the Indian Ocean Rim. This commonality of views is complete – as we observed this morning – and calls again for the strengthening of our partnership.
We have structured this bilateral relation through three dimensions:
- First, the strategic dimension. I am well placed to know that our defence partnership is significant, as shown through the Rafale and Scorpène projects – to mention only the most emblematic ones. But it is not limited to the acquisition of military assets, it is far broader than that, as exemplified in our cooperation in the Indian Ocean.
- The second aspect of our bilateral cooperation is the partnership for the planet, which is at the core of our global diplomacy. Prime Minister Modi and President Macron have expressed their desire to maintain the momentum created with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the founding of the International Solar Alliance. They wished to have the State visit coincide with the first summit of the International Solar Alliance here in Delhi. This is very positive and will enable us to further enhance the attractiveness of this international organization, which will have a crucial role to play in helping developing countries gain access to sustainable energy at lower costs. This partnership for the planet is also seen at the economic level, and as the minister in charge of economic diplomacy, I keenly desire to make it progress, particularly because it offers concrete solutions. We keenly desire to pursue this cooperation, among others, in the fields of smart cities, eco-mobility, waste management, and carbon-free energy. Madam Minister, you have mentioned nuclear energy, with the prospect of the six Jaitapur reactors. There is also the field of renewable energy, in which our companies are working together positively and efficiently, and they will do so even more in the future.
- The third dimension is the partnership of hearts. A bilateral relationship of this nature, ambitious and resolutely geared to the future, must have meaning for our peoples. India and France share values, a common history, and we must henceforth envision the future together with the help of our true people-to-people partnership investing in the future actors of our relationship. That is why I wish to say to Indian students, researchers and artists and generally to all those who wish to visit our country, that they are welcome in France. That is why the youth will also be a subject for the visit of President Macron in India. That is why tomorrow I will be inaugurating the Bonjour India platform in Delhi and Jaipur, which will offer the best of this partnership of hearts through 300 events across 33 Indian cities.
So these are the three main aspects that were raised during our conversations and which will also be at the core of the meeting not only between President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but also between President Macron and India during his State visit in the coming quarter.