Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s interview “India must participate in the solution of the financial crisis” by Pierre Rousselin in Marseilles. Le Figaro, : September 30, 2008
Indian Prime Minister, Mr Manmohan Singh’s interview “India must participate in the solution of the financial crisis” by Pierre Rousselin in Marseilles, Le Figaro
The Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, is being received at the Elysee today.
Le Figaro the prominent French daily published in its international edition an interview of the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh
Q. : Will India participate in the Summit proposed by Nicolas Sarkozy to examine the consequences of the financial crisis ?
Answ. : Even though the crisis is affecting only the developed countries at the moment, it can spread to the rest of the world. We live in an interdependent world and the fate of all countries is related to the international financial system. Our value markets are open to the world and, if they are affected, this will impact on our capacity to finance our development. If the financial crisis sparks off a recession in the main economies, this will compromise our exports. Therefore President Sarkozy’s proposal is important. The only thing is to well prepare the meeting which he is planning, and he acknowledges this himself.
Q. : Can India help the global economy in these difficult times ?
Answ. : We are, after China, the second largest economy in terms of growth and we are therefore potentially a significant actor, but this does not mean that we are a decisive one. The main responsibility is that of the developed countries, but India and China must take part in the solution.
Q. : Does the negotiation of a free trade agreement with the European Union indicate that you prefer bilateral agreements rather than multilateral negotiations within the framework of WTO ?
I hope that negotiations with WTO can be saved. With other countries we are working towards the success of the Doha round. The free trade agreement with the EU is not a substitute for Doha. It is complementary. I would call this “Doha plus”.
Q. : To what extent can the French nuclear industry support India in the development of its own nuclear capacity ?
France and President Nicolas Sarkozy helped us a great deal in obtaining the approval of the nuclear suppliers group (NSG) in order to enable us to develop our civilian nuclear industry. We will now implement full cooperation in this field within the framework of a long-term global agreement.
Q. : What do you expect from French companies in India ?
Bilateral trade has increased but is remains at 6,14% billion euros, much below potential. During the visit to India of President Sarkozy, in January 2008, we decided to double trade by 2012. In order to maintain a 9% growth per year, India has to undertake major investments to improve its infrastructures which will provide considerable opportunities to French companies especially in the fields of energy, telecommunications, road networks and food processing.
Q. : Can contracts be envisaged in the field of armaments ?
Cooperation between India and France in the defense sector has started long ago. French firms actively participate in our defense program but we would like to build a real partnership with collaboration in research and development, transfer of technologies and joint productions going far beyond a simple buyer-seller relationship.
Q. : What do you think of the growing commitment of France in Afghanistan ? Do you think we should change our strategy and negotiate with the Taliban ?
We welcome favorably the growing commitment of France in Afghanistan because we think that Afghanistan needs lasting international assistance. While negotiating with the Taliban, we think that it is not possible to make a distinction between “good” and “bad” Talibans. We are not opposed to efforts for reconciliation and dialogue with various political factions, but we cannot extend it to those who aspire to destroy the idea of a pluralistic and democratic Afghanistan or who are fundamentally opposed to it.
Q. : After your meetings in New York, are you reassured as far as the determination of the new Pakistani leaders’ to fight terrorism goes ?
I had a very good meeting with President Zardari. He had all the right words to say. Only time will say whether Pakistan is in a position to go in the right direction. We have our concerns, particularly, as regards the origin of the attack against our embassy in Kabul in July. There is an upsurge in infiltrations from Pakistan and an increase in cease-fire violations. I informed President Zardari about these concerns of ours. He answered that he has been President only for the last two weeks.
Q. : What do you have to say to those who are worried about the persecution of Christians in Eastern India ?
There had been sporadic incidents. Our Constitution guarantees religious freedom. India is a secular country where all the citizens have the same rights, whatever be their religion. I have myself condemned what has happened and personally intervened with concerned States. The Central Government sent special forces to the concerned regions to help restore normalcy. I deeply regret these incidents but one should not generalize and draw a conclusion on the fate of minorities in India.
Accelerated commercial negotiations with EU The European Union and India decided yesterday in Marseilles to accelerate the negotiations in view of a free-exchange agreement which could be signed before the end of 2009. The EU remains, before China, the first commercial partner of India, with 60 billion euros of goods and services exchanged last year but it is only the 9th commercial partner of the EU, behind South Korea. During the ninth summit between the Eu, Nicolas Sarkozy expressed his satisfaction about “the strategic relation” established with the Asiatic giant and has evoked the fight against global warming to welcome “the will of the Indian government to go forward in the direction of civilian nuclear energy”. An Indo-French cooperation agreement could be signed in this field during the official visit that the Indian Prime Minister undertakes in Paris today.