Beyond Covid-19, PM Modi and Macron strengthen their Franco-Indo partnership
By Ateet Sharma
New Delhi, May 27 (IANS): The solidarity shown in the fight against Covid-19 also continues to fuel the India-France strategic partnership as the two countries are committed to strengthening the relationship in the post-pandemic era.
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked Emmanuel Macron, President of France, for his country’s rapid assistance in India’s response to Covid-19, the two leaders also discussed bilateral, regional and global issues. , including cooperation in climate action and Indo-Pacific, over the phone call late Wednesday evening.
As Paris continues to supply medical oxygen generators, liquid oxygen containers and specialized medical equipment to India via the unique and dedicated logistics “ air and sea bridge ” via Qatar, Prime Minister Modi and President Macron spent a lot of time during their call last night to discuss. the means of deepening the Indo-French strategic partnership in the fields of defense, civilian nuclear power, the environment and maritime issues, in particular in the Indo-Pacific region.
Modi-Macron camaraderie has grown in recent times. Last December, the Indian Prime Minister, while sending his condolences to Macron for the terrorist attacks in France, reiterated India’s full support in the country’s fight against terrorism, extremism and radicalism.
In October, India also strongly deplored the personal attacks “in unacceptable language” against Macron, calling them “a violation of the most basic standards of international discourse”, while condemning the brutal terrorist attack which took his life. to a French teacher in a horrible way that shocked the world.
The friendship between the two countries continued to gain depth and strength over the following months as they worked to improve accessibility and affordability of Covid-19 vaccines, post economic recovery. -covid and several other domains.
Bilateral trade with France has grown steadily over the past decade to reach USD 10.75 billion in 2020. To fully exploit the potential of bilateral trade and economic relations, both sides have recognized the importance of accelerating discussions on an India-EU trade and investment agreement.
Growing bonhomie is also seen in the seas, as the two friendly navies frequently exhibit increased levels of synergy, coordination, and interoperability to underscore shared values.
During the 19th edition of the Indian and French navy bilateral exercise “ Varuna-2021 ” conducted in the Arabian Sea last month, the French navy sent its ultramodern aircraft carrier Charles-de-Gaulle with a Rafale-M fighter, E2C Hawkeye planes and helicopters on board Caiman M and Dauphin, Horizon Chevalier Paul class air defense destroyer, Aquitaine FNS Provence class multi-mission frigate with an onboard Caiman M helicopter and Var command and supply vessel.
During his visit to India last month, Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, the decision to strengthen the decades-long Indo-French space cooperation was also announced as the French National Space Agency (CNES) said it will share its expertise in space medicine to advance India’s manned spaceflight mission in Gaganyaan.
On Wednesday, the two leaders expressed satisfaction at the positive outcome of the recently concluded India-European Union leaders’ meeting and described the announcements regarding the resumption of negotiations for balanced and comprehensive free trade and investment agreements, and India-EU connectivity partnership as welcome steps. .
Macron appreciated India’s decision to join the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People, a decisive initiative for the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille and COP15 in Kunming. India and France also reiterated their support for the International Solar Alliance.
The Indo-Pacific is the main priority
France remains an important partner as India continues to focus on new avenues of cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. Besides France, two other EU countries, including Germany and the Netherlands, have published their strategy papers on their vision for the Indo-Pacific and the role they want to play there. The EU has also released its own position paper on this particular issue, Foreign Ministry Secretary (West) Vikas Swarup informed following the India-EU leaders meeting.
Earlier this month Indian Foreign Minister MS Jaishankar, French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian and Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne met in London for the first India-France-Australia trilateral Ministerial dialogue on the sidelines of the meeting of G7 foreign ministers.
The three countries remain committed to advancing their shared values and working together to achieve a free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific. The ministers reaffirmed their support for the rule of law, freedom of navigation and overflight, the peaceful settlement of disputes, democratic values and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity. They also reaffirmed their attachment to the centrality of ASEAN and their support for ASEAN’s prospects on the Indo-Pacific, and noted its complementarity with the Indian Initiative on the Indo-Pacific Oceans.
Underlining their commitment to reformed and UN-centered multilateralism, France and Australia also reaffirmed their support for India’s permanent membership in the UNSC. France also recently joined the Indian Initiative on the Indo-Pacific Oceans (IPOI) which is helping to shape maritime cooperation in the Indo-Pacific to support an open, inclusive, resilient, prosperous and rules-based maritime order.
Extraordinary solidarity operation during Covid-19
As India has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic in recent weeks, President Macron’s initiative to organize support for New Delhi is at the heart of strategic partnership and people-to-people friendship. French and Indian.
The massive “oxygen bridge” operation, consisting of shipping medical equipment from France to India by air and sea freight via Qatar, was designed to respond to the emergency and also to dramatically increase the capacity of medical personnel. Indian hospitals. Implemented by governments, the Indian armed forces and assisted by the cooperation of several French companies, it continues to deliver medical supplies to the coasts and airports of India.
Initiated on May 1, a new delivery of oxygen generating facilities and medical equipment will be made in the coming weeks.
Macron reiterated on Wednesday the support and solidarity of the French people in the context of the deadly epidemic wave in India. He also reiterated the importance of the ACT-Accelerator partnership – a revolutionary global collaboration to accelerate the development, production and equitable access to Covid-19 tests, treatments and vaccines – including the COVAX facility, to strengthen the multilateral approach to the production, sale and donation of vaccines.