Official visit to India
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great honour for me to be speaking to you today. I have come with a message of confidence.
Confidence in my country, which is extensively reforming and working harder than ever for peace and international cooperation;
Confidence in your country, India, as a major democratic power that gains in strength every day;
And confidence in what our two great nations can achieve together if we join forces to work for security, freedom and prosperity in the world.
France is actively engaged in building a safer, more stable and freer world.
In Afghanistan, first of all, together with our allies and the Afghan people, we are working towards the transition to the Afghans of their country’s own security responsibilities in 2014. Ten years after the fall of the criminal Taliban regime, Osama Bin Laden is dead. Wherever the situation allows, the coalition’s combat troops are withdrawing and Afghan national security forces are taking over.
But the situation is still dangerous and will remain so. We all know that the Taliban are still receiving unacceptable assistance and support from outside of Afghanistan.
This is why France is determined to continue to help the Afghan people in the long run. As India has already done so, we are negotiating a friendship and cooperation agreement with Afghanistan. We also propose that all of Afghanistan’s neighbours undertake to respect its independence and security, in keeping within a regional framework supported by the international community.
In the Arab world, France unreservedly supports the peoples’ democratic aspirations. Too long have the peoples’ freedom and international security been obstructed. Too long have dictatorships been protected as a shield against Islamism.
For France, this is not about exporting democracy via weapons It is the Arab peoples who said they wanted change. For France, it is about responding to the peoples’ needs when they call for democracy, sometimes at the cost of bloodshed. It is also about the “responsibility to protect”, endorsed by the UN in 2005.
This is the spirit in which we are supporting the political transitions in Tunisia and Egypt. This is also the spirit in which we are supporting the judicious reforms decided on by Morocco and Jordan, and in which we have mobilised the G8 to help the transition countries with financing of up to $40 billion.
And it is the spirit in which, with various Arab countries, we have provided military support to the Libyan people against Gaddafi, who vowed to make “rivers of blood” flow.
Today, we are supporting the Syrian people in their quest for democracy as we oppose the fierce repression of which they are victims.
On Libya, the National Transition Council has announced the death of Gaddafi during the siege of Sirte. This puts an end to 42 years of tyranny and terror. The military operations will end soon. This also opens up a new chapter for a free Libya. France and India share a common determination to support the efforts of the National Transitional Council to set up stable democratic institutions and rebuild the country.
Turning to Syria, given the crimes against humanity committed by the regime, France is asking the UN Security Council to assume its responsibilities and sanction the bloody repression. I hope we will soon reach agreement on multilateral action that can step up pressure on the Syrian regime. Some fear that this may open the door for unilateral military action. It is in no way our intention. When France and its allies take military action, it is in strict accordance with international law.
Responding to peoples’ expectations also involves resolutely supporting the resumption of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The Palestinians’ aspirations for a state are no less legitimate than other Arab peoples’ aspirations for freedom.
After so many years of conflict, it is more than time to find the road to peace. France is more committed than ever to the solution of two states living in peace and security within secure and recognised borders. There can be no fair and lasting peace without talks between the parties.
France supports the Quartet’s efforts to resume talks. The terms presented in its latest statement are consistent with the approach proposed by the President of the French Republic at the United Nations General Assembly. Yet should these efforts fail again, we will all need to ask ourselves whether the method is the right one. A more collective approach more closely involving Security Council members, Europe and certain Arab countries would be an asset for peace.
My country understands the legitimate request expressed by President Abbas for Palestine to be recognised as a member of the United Nations. As the President of the French Republic suggested, an intermediate solution could be for the United Nations General Assembly to grant Palestine the status of observer state.
Lastly, France is fully mobilised on the Iranian issue. How can the Middle East, and also South Asia, hope for lasting peace and security if Iran continues with its nuclear proliferation projects, born of cooperation with the father of the Pakistani nuclear bomb, Abdul Qadeer Khan? If we allow Iran to continue down this road without firm action on our part, the risks of open crisis will grow inexorably.
A military crisis is in no one’s interest, neither Europe’s nor India’s. We have no other option than a firm and responsible attitude based on growing sanctions.
The recent revelation that Iran may have plotted an attack on the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the United States is a further mark of disregard for international law. If the Iranian authorities prove to be behind such an operation, they must answer to the international community for their actions.
EURO AREA CRISIS/GLOBAL ECONOMY/G20
To France, working for peace is also about working for global economic growth.
Today’s international economy is deeply interdependent. The repercussions of the economic crises have swept across the globe.
Following the 2008 financial crisis, we are now facing a new sovereign debt crisis in many countries.
This is why France is taking action to enable the European Union to overcome the crisis.
I know that here in India, there are those who are sceptical about old Europe. Yet is this the truth of the matter?
First of all, Europe is still the leading economic power in the world and the euro has established itself as one of the strongest currencies.
Naturally, the public debt situation in the eurozone is worrying, but much less so than in the United States and Japan. Obviously, growth in Europe is lower than in the emerging countries. Yet this difference is natural, being due in good part to a gradual catching-up in the level of development.
Having said this, everyone has work to do at home. The United States needs to reduce its massive budget deficits. China needs to drive up its domestic demand. India needs to resolutely pursue its modernisation and international outreach. And in Europe, we need to solve overindebtedness and undercompetitiveness problems.
President Sarkozy and German Chancellor Merkel have taken the initiative to get the eurozone back on the road to stability. In addition to movements on the markets, a core issue is the economic integration of the eurozone.
Sharing the same currency creates extremely strong interdependence, where one party’s poor management can threaten prosperity for all. This calls for aligned tax, fiscal and economic policies:
First of all, between France and Germany. France and Germany are actively working on the convergence of their two economies. The President and the Chancellor have set a goal to introduce common corporation tax by 2013.
In addition to this bilateral work, France and Germany are working together to set up the proper economic governance the eurozone needs, with closer coordination and supervision of economic and fiscal policies and with a European Monetary Fund to address risks of systemic crises.
The European heads of state and government will meet very shortly and take the necessary decisions. They will send a message of determination and confidence in the strength of the eurozone and the European Union as a whole. That will enable the Europeans to approach the next Cannes G20 summit, having made their fullest contribution to stabilizing the global economy.
In Cannes, we want to respond to the markets’ crisis of confidence and the slowdown in global growth. We must send a strong message of unity and economic cooperation.
We must show that we support global growth and keep the volatility of the financial markets in check. We must demonstrate that fiscal consolidation and debt reduction will not be implemented at the expense of economic growth.
The meeting of G20 finance ministers on 14 and 15 October in Paris – in which India participated actively – set major milestones in the lead-up to the summit.
On response to the crisis, with the preparation of an ambitious, detailed action plan for growth;
On financial regulation, with an agreement on position limits regarding commodities derivatives;
On reforming the international monetary system, with agreements on managing capital flows, an action plan on developing local-currency bond markets, and principles for cooperation between the International Monetary Fund and regional financial arrangements;
And finally on development, with a discussion on innovative financing, in particular the proposed tax on financial transactions, and a list of ten selected priority infrastructure projects.
The G20 countries account for 85% of the world economy. If we can agree on further progress in economic and financial cooperation, the entire world stands to gain. The French presidency of the G20 has put ambitious proposals on the table. We are on the right track. I can tell you that Prime Minister Singh and Finance Minister Mukherjee have expressed the determination of India in this respect.
For France, working in the interests of peace means striving for a more balanced, fairer world, founded on dialogue between the major powers.
Everyone is well aware that given the political and military challenges that concern us all, consultation between all of the world’s major powers is crucial.
Of course, there are still significant differences in approach between the West, Russia and emerging countries. But they do not prevent the development of strong, trust-based bilateral relations such as those that France and India maintain through their “strategic partnership”.
The lazy way out would be to keep the old system, with the five permanent members of the Security Council and the G8 on the one hand, and the BRIC [Brazil, Russia, India and China] or IBSA [India, Brazil and South Africa] meeting outside the G8 on the other. That would be a political and strategic error. When the world changes, institutions must change. A fair world is a world in which each country holds its rightful place.
Therefore France proposed establishing the G20, where the major emerging countries now play a leading role, commensurate with their growing economic might.
In the same spirit, France supports the enlargement of the United Nations Security Council. In particular, we are in favour of giving a permanent seat to India. We therefore endorse the G4 initiative, which includes India.
As you realise, in this rapidly changing world, France and India must unite their efforts.
The strategic partnership between France and India is a rational choice for us.
With the end of the colonial era and the founding of modern India, we saw a millennia-old civilisation embrace modernity, without ever renouncing its roots or its wisdom. We saw your people add humanism and democracy to a rich legacy of languages, religions and cultural traditions. Never has India strayed from that path, despite wars, and despite terrorism that strikes today.
France and India share the universal values of democracy, respect for human rights, and tolerance. Like India, France intends to remain true to itself, preserving its soul, rich identity and original culture.
After my discussions with the Indian leaders, I believe we are ready to move on to a new stage in our relations.
Firstly, there are what we call the “three pillars” of our strategic partnership: combating terrorism, civil nuclear cooperation, and defence relations.
On terrorism, we are in profound agreement. The threat is still present. The recent attack in your capital is evidence of that. The fight against terrorism is not the fight of one civilization against another. It is the fight of civilization against barbarity. We will therefore strengthen our cooperation. We urge Pakistan to do everything in its power to prevent terrorists from launching strikes from its territory.
In the area of civil nuclear power, France and India are determined to continue working together, because nuclear energy will remain a key component in energy supply for a long time to come. The Fukushima disaster in Japan does not call that strategic choice into question. It confirms our belief that nuclear safety is an absolute imperative. We did not wait for Fukushima to develop the safest latest-generation reactors in the world, which we are offering India.
France is also proud to have been among the first countries to support the reform of international rules to allow India access to nuclear technology.
Lastly, on defence cooperation, we are making good progress. Our navies and air forces are training together and consult each other on a regular basis. For the first time, we recently conducted joint land exercises. In terms of military hardware, we have several potential major projects, in aeronautics, helicopters, missiles, land and naval weaponry. Of course, there is legitimate competition. In that competition, France is offering India two elements which I think are vital. Firstly, a partnership rather than a commercial relationship.
Secondly, the certainty of having in France a reliable, constant and long-term partner, that has chosen technological and political independence for itself.
Beyond those three pillars, I am convinced we will develop an even more dynamic cooperation and even closer ties.
I am thinking of the space sector. Our cooperation has just been illustrated by the launch of the Franco-Indian satellite, Megha-Tropiques. This is a magnificent success. I hope we will soon agree on other ambitious projects for the decades ahead.
I also have university exchanges in mind. To the young people gathered here today, I would like to say that France is waiting for you. At the same time, we will encourage more young French people to come and study in India.
On economic and industrial relations, we are moving towards the target of €12 billion in 2012, but we can do much better than that. Signing a balanced, mutually profitable free trade agreement between the European Union and India would be a major advantage.
We must put the close, strong bilateral relationship between India and France at the service of the whole international community. We will have an opportunity to do so in November, with the Climate Change Conference in Durban and the G20 Summit on the global economy.
There will also be the Security Council, and we will strengthen our consultation in advance on all the issues that will be discussed there.
Ladies and gentlemen,
“India has a responsibility in the world’s destiny”. Today, in the age of globalisation, the Arab awakening and the global challenge of sustainable development, the words of André Malraux have a special resonance.
I believe in India’s future and the strength of India’s message to the world. I believe in the vocation of our two countries to unite their efforts to serve a fairer humanity. I believe we can achieve great things together.
(1) M. Juppé spoke in English