Statement to the press by Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian
We firmly believe this: it is through culture, tourism and people-to-people ties that we will forge strong links between the French and the Indian peoples.
New Delhi, 15 December 2018
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I am delighted to be in India again today on what must be my 16th visit as minister in your beautiful country.
Nine months after the State visit of the President of the French Republic to India and six months after the Paris trip of my counterpart, Smt Sushma Swaraj, I felt this was an opportune moment for a status review of the joint projects initiated during the presidential visit, and discussions on our foreign policy priorities.
As always, our discussions were marked by a great convergence of views and shared ambition. That France and India are celebrating the 20th anniversary of their strategic partnership this year is not by chance. It is because we attach the same importance to multilateralism, respect for the rule of law, the same ambition to usher in a just and sustainable world. It is also because India knows that in France it has a partner that has never failed it and on which it can count in the future.
This holds true on the strategic front, notably with the strengthening of our exchanges on the Indian Ocean, which today are fast developing, and our shared commitment to fighting terrorism, as we mark ten years since the deadly Mumbai attacks.
This holds true on the economic front: our companies are investing and innovating in India under the Make in India programme. On the fronts of urban development and the digital economy, our companies are present and working to build the India – and the France – of tomorrow.
This holds true, finally, for our peoples, and hence I wished to begin this trip with this fundamental aspect of our bilateral relations, by visiting Mumbai, where the 2nd Indo-French Professional Meetings of the Film and Television Industry were being held, following the successful first edition during the Cannes Film Festival. I had the pleasure of announcing the institution of a Fund supporting scriptwriting for Indo-French co-productions. This is not just a matter of bringing two major film and television industries together. If our two countries understand each other so well – I would say so intimately – it is because we share the love for our culture, the will to protect and promote it that few other countries do. Cinema is its very example, and our collaboration in this field cannot but produce masterpieces.
We firmly believe this: it is through culture, tourism and people-to-people ties that we will forge strong links between the French and the Indian peoples. That is why, during his Delhi trip, the President of the French Republic set ambitious targets in these areas, particularly that of hosting 10,000 Indian students annually in France by 2020. With almost 7500 Indian students having left to pursue their studies in France in 2018, this goal is on course. We expect a great deal from our university, scientific, educational and linguistic cooperation. I am also delighted that, with 700,000 Indian visitors in 2017, France, the foremost tourist power globally, has become the top European destination for our Indian friends.
As you know, France considers that a strong India is in the world’s interest. At the G20 as in climate change negotiations, and tomorrow, I hope, at the UN Security Council, India is a responsible power with which we discuss all key issues. This is what the agenda of our discussions today reflects.
The recent First Assembly of the International Solar Alliance held two months ago in Delhi showed this: when France and India act together, act for the Planet, they are capable of mobilising coalitions of States from all over the world. With Smt Swaraj, in the same spirit, we have decided to launch projects together in Africa, particularly in the area of sustainable development in connection with the International Solar Alliance. Our respective Joint Secretaries for Africa, who held very operational consultations earlier this week, will soon submit a progress report on these joint projects.
As President Macron and Prime Minister Modi had directed us in spring, we have reviewed the status of the EPR project in Jaitapur, and adopted an action plan to guide our work for the coming months so as to advance as efficiently as possible towards the final decision for building this power plant. Six EPRs account for a total capacity of almost 10 GW, which is a significant contribution to India’s aim of producing 40% of its electricity from non-fossil fuels by 2030, in keeping with its commitments made ahead of the Paris Climate Conference. The Jaitapur project will also contribute to Make in India as it involves transfers of production, technology, joint research and training.
I thank the Honourable Minister for the warm welcome she always extends and the richness of our discussions.