Statement by H.E. Mr François Hollande, President of the French Republic, at Hyderabad House [fr]
Statement by H.E. Mr François Hollande, President of the French Republic, at Hyderabad House
New Delhi, 14 February 2013
Hon’ble Prime Minister,
I am today undertaking my first State visit in Asia. I wanted India to be the first to receive me as the relations between our two countries is unique. They stem from History. India was at France’s side during difficult times. France supported India for its independence. Our two countries, beyond the governments and presidents that succeeded each other, have always desired to have an exceptional partnership.
This partnership was established in 1998, it became strategic and, today, it was up to me to make it cross a new stage. This is what the Prime Minister and I have agreed upon. History matters and History deserves to be pursued, but today, it is about the future of our two great nations.
India and France don’t have the same population, configuration or economy. But India and France uphold the same values and principles: democracy. India is the largest democracy in the world and not just by the size of its population but by the diversity that flourishes here, through contradictions, through debate.
India and France are two nations that care about their independence. France has alliances; it is fully committed to Europe. But it maintains its autonomy of decision at all times and under all circumstances. India is equally attached to this principle of independence, which has long been identified with non-alignment.
We are also attached to freedom, freedom for our peoples, freedom for the world. This is what makes our partnership necessarily exceptional. It reposes on several pillars. We have bolstered them today, and even added others.
First on defence. For a long time now, France and India have been cooperating with each other. India has trusted French equipment and France has trusted India with regard to their use. Because India is a nation of peace. Today, we are discussing about an aircraft, but this is not the first, as, since India’s independence, France has made many aircraft available to India. Afterwards, there was the Mirage, and today it’s the Rafale. Prime Minister Singh and I have observed much progress in this discussion. And I have strong hopes that we will soon be reaching its conclusion.
But aircraft are not the only area of our defence cooperation. There are many: they involve missiles, submarines, a great many equipments… Because, as I said earlier, this relationship is based on trust.
Our strategic partnership is also about the energy that France and India wished to build. With regard to civilian nuclear energy, France was, once again, the first nation to act so that India could access these technologies without any risk. Because we are well acquainted with India’s position, its desire for safety. Discussions on nuclear power plants are under way.
But there is not only civilian nuclear energy. Renewable energy is also an area in which we intend to pursue a relation based on excellence with India. Prime Minister Singh has mentioned the space pillar as – if I may say so – this is about touching the sky. Space is part of what we can do together. I feel honoured that France is able to contribute to launching a number of satellites for India’s benefit.
Prime Minister Singh and I desire to extend this partnership to an area that has long remained neglected between us: secondary and higher education. I would like France to host more Indian students. There are a mere 3000 today, which is largely insufficient. I would like France to be able to host a greater number of researchers; I would like French universities to have more cooperation – that is already so in India – so that French students may come to pursue their work here.
Agreements will be signed between several universities and I am pleased at this prospect. I would like to recall that India has a student population of 14 million, which is a considerable potential with regard to research. I don’t dare say how many IT professionals India has, as there are as many as the entire French population!
But we also want this partnership to be about culture. In this regard, the centenary year of Indian cinema will be celebrated at the Cannes Film Festival, with this question, “Who invented cinema - France or India?” This question will be settled at the Cannes Film festival.
We will have the great pleasure and honour of further spreading the quality and the excellence of Indian cinema, which like French cinema, wants to show that cultural exception has a meaning, that culture is not merchandise. We must be vigilant about preserving this pluralism and protecting our works.
Lastly, the partnership must be economic. India is a great economic power; it will become one of the largest global economies.
France has been able to forge ahead and I am pleased about this: 750 French companies are established in India, generating 2,50,000 jobs. I would like us to have greater commercial exchanges and in new areas, such as the sustainable city, because India will be facing still considerable urbanisation. Thus, agreements will be signed in the areas of transport, particularly rail transport, station equipment, trams, water, waste water treatment, etc. France must show its excellence at the service of India’s economy.
India, too, has greatly reputed, hi-tech companies. Along with Prime Minister Singh, I have spoken of my desire and our shared resolve to have Indian companies establish themselves in France.
Further, beyond all that can bring us together, all that our economies can do together, all that we can conceive of by way of partnership in areas of excellence – space, defence, new technologies – India and France have political positions that we uphold in all international bodies. We have recalled these positions: peace, democracy, freedom, fight against global warming, cultural exception.
I would like India to be able to champion these principles at the United Nations Security Council as a permanent member. I have recalled this to Prime Minister Singh. These principles are also India’s participation in major peacekeeping operations. I would also like India to be part of all bodies, including for civilian nuclear energy. I am pleased that India has been able to accede to the G20, because, here, too, we defend the same orientations in economic policies.
Right now, the world needs growth. Growth must be the priority; Europe is in the process of ensuring once again that confidence is restored, but not growth as yet. India, like all emerging countries, has been affected by the global economic slump. At all the bodies where India and France can make their voice heard, the priority of growth is on our agenda.
I would like to conclude by saying that we also have to fight a number of threats, scourges, and particularly terrorism. India, too, has had to face this barbarism. I would like to thank India for the support it has extended to France for its intervention in Mali. At the request of a friendly country, we are ensuring the return of Mali’s territorial integrity. India has perfectly understood this. We will have to continue showing our convergence of views in the fight against terrorism to combat all manner of trafficking: traffic in drugs as well as piracy in the Indian Ocean.
As you can see, these are two countries with common conceptions, common interests, ideas based on values and principles. I am delighted that this visit has enabled us to take our strategic partnership to a new stage.
A longstanding history unites us, but the future, too, will bring us even closer together in the coming years.
Note : Free translation based on statement issued in French by the President of the French Republic