The bond between India and France is deeply rooted in its historic relations. In recent years, the two countries’ relationship and trust have grown and flourished significantly. In this context of shared values and a strong partnership between the two countries, the Ananta Centre hosted a digital webinar with Ms Florence Parly, Minister for the Armed Forces of France, in conversation with Ambassador (Dr.) Mohan Kumar, Chairman, Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS).
India and France share similarities, including democratic values and respect for national sovereignty. This is clearly evident in the two countries’ industrial partnership. France actively supports the ‘Make in India’ initiative and the integration of Indian firms into global supply chains. Moreover, the ‘Make in India’ initiative has proved extremely beneficial to the French industry, particularly in the defense sector.
Both countries advocate for multilateralism, international security, and the preservation of a rules-based international system. India is a major contributor to UN Peacekeeping Operations, while France has contributed to international security in several parts of the world. The two countries also have the potential to mobilize international partners on significant issues and global challenges, including climate change. India has made significant progress in meeting its commitments under the Paris Agreement, and the French can learn a lot from the Indians in this regard. Another point of agreement between the two countries is their determination to keep the Indo-Pacific open and inclusive.
Having established an exceptional partnership, the two countries should reinforce it now, more than ever. There are certain global and regional concerns that the two countries should address with the utmost urgency. Among the numerous areas that should be prioritized are terrorism and respect for international maritime law. A rules-based international system is equally important, and both countries should work to promote it. The fact that disputes should be handled by legal procedures and talks, freedom of passage must be maintained, and, more broadly, increasing collaboration should take place to safeguard access to global commons such as cyber, space, and air.
The two countries’ similar objectives are what has prompted France to maintain its presence in the Indo-Pacific. The French deployment throughout the Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean, and China Sea is part of a broader spectrum of operational connection. The multilateral exercises performed by the navies of Japan, Australia, India, and France are also highly promising. On the defense front, the EU is in the process of adopting its first defense White Paper. This will result in the Indo-Pacific being added to the EU’s agenda, and the EU will work to become more active in the region. Hence, the general conclusion was that France and the EU should begin to be more present in the Indo-Pacific region.
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