State visit to India
THE PRESIDENT – Prime Minister, I would like in turn to thank you, on behalf of the French delegation, for the extremely warm welcome you have given us. We are deeply touched.
India is a major strategic partner for France. Strategic on the political level: France believes that none of the world’s great issues can be resolved without India’s participation at the highest level. India is a democracy. India represents a sixth of the world’s population. India is an example of economic success, even though there’s still, of course, a great deal of poverty on your continent. France wants to help you, but France doesn’t believe India today holds its rightful place in global governance. That’s why France is campaigning for a reform of the Security Council which would allow India to become a permanent member. It’s not simply a question of India’s interests, it’s a question of global equilibrium. You can’t exclude a billion inhabitants from resolving the world’s great issues. France isn’t ignoring the fact that India has been elected to the Security Council, but the question France asks is whether, after the two years of India’s mandate, the international community should be asking India to be quiet. India’s role is to be a permanent member.
In the framework of the French G20 Presidency, France wishes to make common proposals with her Indian friends. India and France have things to say on the regulation of commodity prices and the future of world agriculture – we want to protect our farmers’ investment capability – on the stability of the international monetary system, on the establishment of innovative financing to give the poorest countries the means to develop, and on the reform of global governance.
So it’s first and foremost a political, strategic partnership that France has come to propose to India and I’d like to tell you, Prime Minister, how much I appreciate your cooperation, being a long-time admirer of your work, first as Finance Minister and then as Prime Minister.
We’ve also come to propose to India a major economic partnership.
NUCLEAR ENERGY/SPACE /DEFENCE
Nuclear energy, of course. When I came here in 2008, I upheld the idea that India, the largest democracy in terms of population, should be able to gain access to all the world’s nuclear bodies and to civilian nuclear technology. We haven’t come as a supplier to visit a major client: we’ve come to visit a partner. On nuclear energy, our cooperation has no limits and the signing of these two EPRs [European Pressurized Water Reactors], a prelude to a series of six, marks France’s wish to propose a total partnership on civilian nuclear energy, signalling her support for India to all the international nuclear organizations India would like to join.
Space technology: in the world-class city of Bangalore we saw the excellence of Indian science and it is our desire to cooperate with you.
In defence industries, I’m very happy that the Indian army and the French army are developing joint manoeuvres and there’s no limit to our help today or for the great competitions of tomorrow. I’m thinking, in particular, of the future combat plane, the Rafale.
Ladies and gentlemen,
France has made a strategic choice: confidence in India, confidence in India’s future, confidence in India’s institutions, confidence in the Indian people. I’ve come to renew that confidence and to express it at the start of the French G20 Presidency.
I want to repeat to the Prime Minister how touched we – Carla and myself – have been by the welcome he and his wife have given us and how proudly we await his new visit to France during the G20 summit. This visit is very important for us and I hope this multiform partnership whose foundations we’ve laid will grow each year so that it becomes ever more natural and less exceptional, because France and India share, deep down, the same values and the same hope for the future.
Q. – Regarding nuclear energy, do the framework agreements or trade contacts which have just been signed have figures attached? And when can we expect the first two EPRs in Jaitapur to supply India with electricity?
THE PRESIDENT – India’s choice to place her trust in French nuclear technology is a well-thought-out choice. This agreement means we shall, to begin with, build these two EPRs in India. The decision has been taken. We’ll make every effort to ensure it happens as quickly as possible. We’re in agreement, including on the price of the energy to be supplied to our Indian friends, and we respect the usual process in India: discussions, the signing of a framework agreement, then the signing of the contracts. It’s a procedure we know well, which contains no surprises because we’ve already used that procedure on numerous occasions. So it’s a decision that’s been taken which is very beneficial to the French nuclear industry and which will, I hope, be beneficial to India’s energy independence.
Q. – Are you going back to France with contracts, agreements on the modernization of about 50 Mirage 2000s? Also, you mentioned the Rafale: is it in with a chance, and when? And you held a meeting this morning on the situation in Côte d’Ivoire: what can you tell us about it? Have you had Laurent Gbagbo on the telephone again and to you plan to evacuate the French people from Côte d’Ivoire?
THE PRESIDENT – On the modernization of the Mirages, yes, we’re going to sign those agreements and we’re very happy with the trust the Indian authorities have in us.
On the Rafale, our Indian friends will take the decision when they’ve decided to, but we’ve already been able to show the fantastic capabilities of the Rafale, which in our eyes is the best plane in the world. But the competition has only been launched and we’ll take a very dynamic part in it.
Regarding Côte d’Ivoire – with my apologies to the Prime Minister – things are perfectly clear in France’s eyes. After 10 years without an election, Côte d’Ivoire was finally able to vote. That election went ahead under the control of the United Nations. The rules were set by the United Nations. The results of that election in Côte d’Ivoire have been certified by the United Nations. The decision is therefore clear to everyone.
A president has been elected in Côte d’Ivoire: he is M. Alassane Ouattara. The will of the Ivorians must be respected. And that’s the position of the whole international community and it’s also the position of all the African States which are neighbours of Côte d’Ivoire. Everyone must now show responsibility.
I spoke to President Gbagbo on the telephone once. I would have liked to speak to him a second time; that wasn’t possible. And I spoke to him in these terms: it’s up to him to choose the role he wants to play in history. He organized these elections, these elections went ahead perfectly, no challenge is possible and he must now hand over power to the president who’s been elected.
France mustn’t get mixed up in Côte d’Ivoire’s domestic affairs, but France must respect the decisions of the United Nations. The Ivorians have chosen. Everything that can be done to help the peaceful transition of power will be done. We’re very vigilant about the safety of our compatriots and we call on everyone to show great responsibility in a country which has experienced too much violence in the past. Our position is therefore unambiguous: it’s the position of international law and respect for the will of the Ivorian people, who, after 10 years without consultation, have finally been able to speak their minds.
They’ve spoken unambiguously.
Q. – Terrorism is a significant threat in the world and there are camps in neighbouring countries such as Pakistan. What can a country such as France do as regards these countries sponsoring terrorism in our neighbouring area?
THE PRESIDENT – Our counter-terrorism cooperation with our Indian friends is limitless. And when Mumbai suffered the torment of 166 people killed, including – I remind you – two French citizens, France felt completely at one with Indian democracy.
I might add that France greatly appreciated the attitude of the Indian government and particularly that of the Prime Minister, who wanted to extend the hand of friendship to his great Pakistani neighbour at a time when it wasn’t easy because the Indian general public had been rightly shocked by the violence of these terrorist actions. France will do everything to help Indian democracy and she shares India’s analysis: Pakistan must follow the path of development and live in peace alongside her Indian neighbours. (…)./.