The state visit of the President of the French Republic M. François Hollande to India and his presence as the Chief Guest at India’s 67th Republic Day celebrations is a special occasion for India to warmly receive a trusted and valued friend. This is President Hollande’s second state visit to India and the fifth time that a French head of state or government has been invited as the Chief Guest on India’s Republic Day celebrations, making France the country that has been extended this honour the highest number of times so far.
As a symbol of friendship and trust between the two countries, India will honour France in its 67th Republic Day Parade through the participation of a French military contingent, making France the first country to receive such an honour.
The visit takes place nine months after Prime Minister Modi’s successful visit to France in April 2015. It builds on the close interactions between the two leaders at the G20 meeting in November 2014 in Brisbane, the UN General Assembly in September 2015 and at the COP 21 in November 2015 in Paris and underscores their shared commitment to intensifying and strengthening the close and longstanding strategic partnership between India and France.
I. Strategic Partnership
India and France share foundational values of individual liberty, human rights, rule of law and value their independence and strategic autonomy. As strategic partners, the two countries share converging views on key regional and global issues and continue to consult each other closely on strategic and security matters of mutual interest.
India and France reiterate the need for urgent reform of the United Nations, including its Security Council, through an expansion in both categories of membership, to make it more representative of the contemporary world. France reaffirmed its support for India’s candidature for a permanent membership of the UN Security Council. The two countries welcomed the forward movement on the issue of United Nations reforms to the stage of text-based negotiations and the important role played by France in this process. The two leaders welcomed the constructive discussions at the recent bilateral consultations on UN issues on 22 January 2016 and welcomed the convergence of views on major regional and international issues.
France and India share common concerns and objectives in the field of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. In order to strengthen global non-proliferation and export control regimes, France and India committed to continue to work jointly towards India’s accession to the multilateral export control regimes, namely, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the Australia Group, and the Wassenaar Arrangement. France reaffirmed its strong and active support to building consensus among regimes’ members on this issue, recognizing that India’s accession will add value to the aims and objectives of these regimes. India and France underscored their determination to achieve the accession of India to the NSG in 2016. France and India underlined their support for negotiations on the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT) on the basis of the Shannon mandate, which remains an essential foundation for progress on the issue in the Conference on Disarmament.
India and France reiterated their commitment to counter terrorism and welcomed the separate joint statement on counter-terrorism cooperation issued by the two sides.
The President of France and the Prime Minister of India agreed to intensify cooperation between the Indian and French security forces in the fields of homeland security, cyber security, special forces and intelligence-sharing to fight against criminal networks and tackle the common threat of terrorism. They looked forward to early conclusion of an Agreement on Prevention of Consumption of Illicit Drugs and Psychotropic Substances between the two countries and expressed hope that cooperation in this field will also lead to the disruption of terrorist financing structures.
The leaders also welcomed the first-ever bilateral dialogue on maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region held on 14-15 January in Paris which paved the way for enhanced cooperation in maintaining the safety of sea lanes for trade and communications, countering the threat of piracy and maritime terrorism, maritime domain awareness and fostering trade and economic links in the Indian Ocean Region.
The leaders noted with satisfaction, that the bilateral agreement on defence cooperation concluded in 2006 has advanced cooperation in defence cooperation, production, research and development and procurement of defence material. The two sides agreed that the agreement on defence cooperation will be extended for another ten years.
The leaders stressed the importance of joint military exercises. They welcomed the successful air exercise Garuda in June 2014 and naval exercise Varuna in April 2015, in which the French carrier strike group participated. They welcomed the latest round of the Shakti exercise held in India from 6-20 January which brought out useful operational lessons for the two armies, especially in countering terrorism. The leaders welcomed the port call at Toulon by the Indian Naval Ship Trikand in September 2015, and the conduct of a joint exercise to enhance interoperability between the two navies. The French multi-mission frigate Provence will participate in the International Fleet Review at Visakhapatnam in February 2016.
The two leaders underlined the long history of cooperation between France and India in the defence sector and acknowledged the strong commitment of French companies to manufacturing in India. They called for further intensification of cooperation in agreed areas, including collaboration in defence technologies, research and development. In response to the new emphasis on defence manufacturing by the Government of India, they encouraged their respective business enterprises to enter into arrangements for co-development and co-production of defence equipment in India, including transfer of know-how and technologies. The leaders also welcomed various joint ventures between Indian and French companies already under way and pledged their support to public and private enterprises for intensifying cooperation in this field.
The two leaders welcomed the conclusion of the Inter-governmental Agreement (IGA) on the acquisition of 36 Rafale fighter aircrafts in flyaway condition, except for some financial issues relating to the IGA which they agreed must be resolved as soon as possible.
The two leaders also agreed to intensify cooperation between the Indian and French armed forces in the fields of cyber security, special forces and intelligence-sharing to tackle the common threat of terrorism.
President Hollande thanked Prime Minister Modi for inviting a French military band and contingent to participate in India’s 67th Republic Day Parade.
Both countries reaffirmed their commitment to responsible and sustainable development of civil nuclear energy with highest consideration to safety, security, non-proliferation and environmental protection. France and India underscored the contribution of nuclear energy to their energy security and to the fight against climate change.
France reaffirmed its strong and long-standing support for India’s candidacy to the international export control regimes and in particular to the NSG.
In pursuance of the 2008 Agreement on the Development of Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy between India and France, the two leaders encouraged their industrial companies to conclude techno-commercial negotiations by the end of 2016 for the construction of six nuclear power reactor units at Jaitapur, with due consideration to cost viability of the project, economical financing from the French side, collaboration on transfer of technology and cost-effective localization of manufacturing in India for large and critical components in accord with the Government of India’s “Make in India” initiative.
France acknowledged the need for India to have lifetime guarantee of fuel supply and renewed its commitment to reliable, uninterrupted and continued access to nuclear fuel supply throughout the entire lifetime of the plants, as stated in the 2008 bilateral IGA on nuclear cooperation.
The two leaders agreed on a roadmap of cooperation to speed up discussions on the Jaitapur nuclear power project in 2016. Their shared aim is to start the implementation of the project in early 2017.
In this context, the two leaders noted with satisfaction the ongoing time-bound implementation of cooperation between AREVA and L&T under the Memorandum of Understanding signed in April 2015 for large-scale localization of components for the nuclear power project at Jaitapur, as well as the good progress in pre-engineering studies for the project being carried out by AREVA in collaboration with NPCIL.
PM Modi and President Hollande welcomed the initialing of revised MoU between EDF and NPCIL for the construction of six EPR units at Jaitapur.
France welcomed the decision by the Government of India to ratify the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage.
The two leaders welcomed the regular engagement between their atomic energy organizations and their growing collaboration in mutually beneficial scientific and R&D sectors related to peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
They also appreciated the long-standing relations between their nuclear regulatory authorities – India’s AERB and France’s ASN – which has facilitated sharing of valuable experiences, best practices and developments related to nuclear safety and regulatory issues.
II. Common commitment to clean and sustainable development
The visit to India is the first foreign visit by President Hollande since the conclusion of COP21. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi congratulated President Francois Hollande for France’s valuable leadership and sustained diplomatic efforts that paved the way for the successful conclusion of COP21 in Paris in December 2015 and adoption of the Paris agreement, based on the principles of climate justice, and fostering climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development.
President Hollande thanked India and Prime Minister Modi for playing an important and proactive role in the negotiations. India and France agreed to continue to work with each other and with the global community towards the realization of the goals of the Paris Agreement.
In the wake of the Paris Agreement adopted at the end of the COP21, the bilateral cooperation between France and India is today, more than ever committed to meet the climate challenge. In line with the Paris Agreement, the two countries wish to carry out its implementation by promoting collaboration in sustainable development and energy, between governments, regions, cities and also companies.
International Solar Alliance
Translating their shared commitment to clean energy and combating climate change into practical action, President Hollande and Prime Minister Modi jointly launched the new International Solar Alliance (ISA) initiative in Paris on 30 November 2015 on the sidelines of the COP21. To advance this initiative, the two leaders jointly laid the foundation stone of the building for the headquarters of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and inaugurated the interim Secretariat of the ISA in Gurgaon, India, on 25 January 2016. Reaffirming their commitment to enhance the use of solar energy globally, the leaders underlined the importance of deepening cooperation both bilaterally and under the aegis of ISA in joint research, development, financing and technology innovation as well as diffusion of clean energy and efficiency solutions that will help in promoting energy access in a clean, affordable and sustainable manner.
The two leaders welcomed the French commitment to support the solar projects launched by the member countries of ISA. To that effect, the AFD Group will provide funding amounting to €300 million. This pledge is in line with the financing of €2 billion for the development of renewable energies, announced by France during COP21.
Sustainable consumption and production patterns
The two leaders recalled the Preamble of the Paris Agreement which recognizes that sustainable lifestyles and sustainable patterns of consumption and production play an important role in addressing climate change. They emphasized the importance of sustainable lifestyles for the implementation of the Paris Agreement. The two leaders’ common work could lead to joint initiatives mobilizing the UN and its member states as well as a sharing of good practices. The two leaders agreed to cooperate on initiatives mobilizing the UN and its member states as well as a sharing of good practices.
Renewable energies and energy efficiency
Noting the important role of energy storage to promote renewable energies, the two leaders welcomed the signature of two MoUs between CEA (French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission), Crompton Greaves and Green Ventures. These MoUs will serve as templates for further practical collaboration in the field of renewable energy, including transfer of technology and know-how.
The two leaders stressed the importance of climate-oriented investments between the two countries. In this context, they welcomed the partnership of EDF EN and SITAC with a commitment to invest €155 million in 2016. The new JV EDF EN/SITAC plans to invest €1 billion by 2021.
The two leaders noted with satisfaction, the support provided by AFD (French Development Agency) to enhance energy efficiency in India, with the ongoing cooperation with the public ESCO EESL (Energy Efficiency Services Limited) for the promotion of LED lighting, and its future support for the construction of green housing, especially for lower income groups.
Sustainable urban development
The two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to cooperate towards clean and sustainable development and reaffirmed their valuable partnership in India’s ambitious plans to develop smart cities. In this spirit, the two leaders welcomed:
The three MoUs signed in January 2016 between the Union Territory of Chandigarh, the State of Maharashtra, the Union Territory of Puducherry and the French Development Agency for extending technical assistance for the development of the three cities of Chandigarh, Nagpur and Puducherry respectively, as smart cities in India.
The proposed collaboration between AFD (French Agency for Development) and the Government of India for financing projects related to urban water and sanitation in Puducherry.
The partnerships between Engineering Projects India Limited (EPI) and nine French companies which will be able to contribute to major infrastructure projects in India.
The two leaders stressed the importance of clean transport and recalled the Protocol of Cooperation signed between the Indian Ministry of Railways and French National Railways SNCF in April 2015 in the field of semi-high-speed rail and station development. The two leaders welcomed the follow-up agreement signed in December 2015 between the SNCF and Ministry of Railways to support a semi-high-speed project for up-gradation of Delhi-Chandigarh line to 200 kmph. The two leaders also welcomed the signing of the agreement between SNCF and Ministry of Railways on cooperation in the station renovation projects for Ambala and Ludhiana railway stations.
The leaders also welcomed the joint venture agreement signed between the Indian Railways and Alstom for the supply of 800 high-horse-power locomotives manufactured in India and the shareholding agreement signed between them during the visit to finalize the investment in the electric locomotives factory in Madhepura, Bihar.
Recalling the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Indo-French space cooperation in 2015, the leaders welcomed the signing of two implementing arrangements between their space agencies for cooperation in definition studies on a future joint thermal infrared earth observation mission and hosting of the French instrument for data collection on India’s Oceasnsat-3 satellite. The leaders expressed confidence that these missions would contribute significantly to the monitoring of the environment, weather, water resources and coastal zones and further strengthen the partnership between the two countries. They also welcomed the announcement of collaboration through the participation of the Centre National d’études spatiales (CNES) in future space and planetary exploration missions of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
III. Economic Cooperation
Recalling the commitments made in the Indo-French joint statement issued in April 2015 for closer economic engagement, the leaders noted with satisfaction, the involvement of French companies in several new and ongoing projects in India in keeping with the “Make in India” initiative. They equally highlighted the attractiveness of France for Indian investors, especially in terms of leveraging French technological expertise and competencies. Reaffirming their commitment to facilitating a conducive environment for enhancing bilateral trade and investment, the leaders:
(i) Welcomed the convening of a dialogue on economic and financial issues at a higher level on cooperation in economy and finance. This framework will be the forum to discuss, on an annual basis, global and financial governance issues as well as bilateral economic and financial matters, to promote exchanges and cross investments between our two countries and address any hurdles between French and Indian businesses and industries
(ii) Underlined the importance of the dialogue on trade issues through the India-France Joint Commission, as well as their strong commitment to the European Union-India Broad Based Trade and Investment Agreement. France and India are committed to bring about a resumption of the negotiations as soon as possible;
(iii) Welcomed the convening of the India-France CEO’s Forum within a span of nine months. The two leaders took positive note of the Action Taken Report and the new recommendations presented by the Co-Chairs of the CEO Forum in Chandigarh on 24 January.
Recognizing the central role of food safety regulations in the field of preventive health care and in increasing investments and the prospects for enhanced cooperation in joint risk assessment, research activities and exchange of technical knowledge in the field of food safety, the two leaders welcomed the signing of a MoU on Cooperation between the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India and the Agence nationale de sécurité sanitaire de l’alimentation, de l’environnement et du travail (ANSES) of France in the field of food safety and standards.
Recognizing the shared commitment of India and France to cooperate in preventing off-shore tax evasion and the steps taken by both countries to strengthen the exchange of information in recent years, the two leaders agreed to explore further avenues for joint co-operation, especially in capacity building and sharing of best practices, in line with G20 commitments.
Recognizing the important role of cooperation between states and provinces of the two countries in fostering deeper bilateral economic engagement, the two leaders welcomed the conclusion of a MoU on cooperation in urban development between Telangana and the Bordeaux Metropole in September 2015 and the Investment Roadshow held by the Government of Karnataka in Paris and Toulouse in December 2015 and encouraged more such initiatives.
IV. People-to-people contacts, education, skill development, science and technology
The leaders lauded the robust people-to-people and tourism contacts between India and France, as well as the wide-ranging cultural, educational and scientific exchanges between the two countries, underpinned by the presence of a vibrant Indian diaspora in France. In this context, the leaders expressed satisfaction that the Volontariat International en Entreprises (VIE) Scheme, announced in April 2015 to facilitate internships and professional experience for students and young professionals in both countries, had been successfully implemented. They expressed satisfaction with the Government of India’s decision to increase the number of young professional beneficiaries of the French VIE programme in India from 50 to 250 per year for a maximum period of stay of two years and with the Government of France’s decision to grant an extended stay of two years to students of masters level and above in France. The two leaders called upon students of both countries to derive full advantage of this facilitation to enhance their educational and professional experience.
Recognizing the commitments made in the Indo-French statements issued in February 2013 and in April 2015 concerning the negotiations of a bilateral partnership agreement on migration and mobility, the leaders affirmed their commitment to pursue their discussions on this agreement with a view to conclude them as soon as possible.
In the field of higher education in which hundreds of agreements between French and Indian institutions have already been signed, the two leaders welcomed:
The agreement signed between the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Pune and the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon.
The agreement signed between the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai and French CNRS/Telecom Bretagne/Université de Bretagne occidentale/Université de Bretagne Sud/ENSTA Bretagne/ENI Bretagne.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for sponsored PhD fellowships signed between Thales and the Indian Institute of Technology Mumbai.
Recognizing that skills development was a key priority, both leaders welcomed the important role played by French companies in India in training and skilling the Indian workforce and encouraged them to engage even more actively in the sector.
They also welcomed partnership between the French CNCP and the National Skills Development Authority of India focusing on Qualifications Register under the framework of the MoU on cooperation signed between India and France.
The leaders recognized with satisfaction, the role played by the Indo-French Centre for Promotion of Advance Research (CEFIPRA) over the last 28 years in promoting collaboration between the scientific communities of the two countries across the knowledge innovation chain. They encouraged CEFIPRA to expand its role by implementing bilateral programmes in partnership with various scientific agencies and industries, both in France and India.
The leaders also welcomed the establishment of a ministerial-level joint S&T Committee to foster even closer science, technology and innovation cooperation through multi-stakeholder participation from both countries.
The leaders expressed their satisfaction on the progress achieved between the Indian and French partners involved in setting up the future Institute of Marine Biology and Biotechnology.
V. Heritage, culture, sport
Prime Minister Modi and President Hollande expressed satisfaction on the progress of a number of initiatives undertaken by Indian and French institutes to promote and preserve cultural heritage and enhance cultural cooperation between the two countries since Prime Minister Modi’s state visit to France in April 2015. In particular, they welcomed the conclusion of the Cultural Exchange Programme between India and France for the period 2016-2018 and welcomed the administrative arrangement concluded between the Ministry of Culture and Communication of the French Republic, the Chairman of the National Library of France and the Ministry of Culture of India.
The two leaders lauded the joint efforts of Indian and French archaeologists that led to the remarkable archaeological discovery of human existence that could date back 2.6 million years near Chandigarh in India. They also welcomed the launch of the book “Shadows of Gods” by the Institut Français de Pondichéry extensively cataloguing Indian objets d’arts and cultural heritage and its important contribution to the preservation and recovery of stolen Indian art.
The leaders warmly welcomed the “Namaste France” cultural festival to be hosted by India in France from 15 September to 30 November 2016 showcasing a variety of Indian cultural performances, exhibitions, fairs and workshops to highlight Indian cultural heritage and a reciprocal “Bonjour India” cultural festival of France in India in 2017.
Noting the important role played by alliances françaises in India, the Embassy of France/Institut français in India and the Indian Embassy in France in promoting French and Indian cultural activities in each others’ countries, Prime Minister Modi announced the inauguration of a new Indian Cultural Centre in Paris no later than in 2017. President Hollande welcomed this significant initiative towards further deepening Indo-French cultural ties and announced the opening of new centres of alliance française in Varanasi and Lucknow in 2016-2017. Both leaders also welcomed the hosting of the Regional Hindi Conference in Paris in 2016. President Hollande welcomed the announcement of five scholarships for French citizens to learn Sanskrit language.
In the field of sport, the leaders welcomed the enhanced cooperation between both nations, and in this context, welcomed the cooperation agreement signed between the Federation française de Hockey and Hockey India.
In the context of the recent agreement between the Fédération française de Football and All India Football Federation, the two leaders welcomed the strong interest expressed by the Paris Saint-Germain Football Club to help develop grassroots football in India by reinforcing the presence of its academy established in 2014 in Delhi and Bangalore, as well as considering a possible exhibition match in the future.
Recalling the sacrifices made in the First World War by Indian and French soldiers, the two leaders expressed happiness at the twinning of two iconic Indian and French monuments – the India Gate in New Delhi and the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
President Hollande thanked Prime Minister Modi and the Government of India for the special honour extended to him and the people of France on the occasion of India’s 67th Republic Day celebration and the warm hospitality extended to him and his delegation./.
¹ Source of English text: Indian Ministry of External Affairs.