Sat. Jan 16th, 2021
When it comes to China, France and its European partners have a very clear strategy, which was set out by the European Union in 2019 which defines China in three words — a partner, a competitor and a systemic rival

As India’s ties with France have deepened to becoming one of the most consequential bilateral relationships, both countries overcame the limitations of the Covid pandemic to hold the strategic dialogue between NSA Ajit Doval and Emmanuel Bonne, President Macron’s diplomatic adviser. Sitting down for a conversation with TOI, Bonne said, “we work together as sovereign partners, with a strong willingness to address international challenges in a post-Covid world which will make it necessary for like-minded countries to join forces.”
1. What were your discussions with NSA and the Indian leadership?
My discussions are part of the Indo-French Strategic dialogue, where we talk in full confidence on a wide range of security and defenceissues. We have solid, reliable and consistent cooperation on strategic affairs with India. We are committed partners, we have very solid platforms that we work on and we have ambitions. We have a clear vision — in terms of regional security and Indo-Pacific. We’re addressing global issues of terrorism and new threats like cyber. We approach this with one conviction — that we work together as sovereign partners, with a strong willingness to address international challenges in a post-Covid world which will make it necessary for like-minded countries to join forces, based on clear rules and a common understanding of what needs to be done.
2. How would you describe our present cooperation in the Indo-Pacific?
The basis for our cooperation are the speeches by President Macron in Australia and prime minister Modi at the Shangri La Dialogue. They provide a comprehensive framework of cooperation between France and India in the Indo-Pacific. It is based on realities, on shared security needs and shared values. India is a major player in this region but France is also a country of the Indo-Pacific, through French territories, military presence and maritime economic zone in the region. This gives us the leverage for very operational cooperation with India. Primarily in the area of maritime security, but also through increasingly ambitious cooperation on issues such as preserving the environment, the blue economy, and investments that are consistent with international standards and sustainable development.
3. How is the India-France-Australia trilateral working?
The basis of our cooperation is bilateral. But this can be enlarged, with partners like Australia. This trilateral dialogue has begun in September 2020 and has already proven very fruitful. We believe like-minded countries with shared democratic values, can shape the global agenda.
4. As India steps into the UNSC, do France and India have areas of common interest?
France campaigns very actively for India to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council. We believe India has the legitimacy to hold a permanent seat and would make a decisive contribution to international peace and security. In 2021-2022, we want to work together in the UNSC on an ambitious agenda — in- including priorities for France like the Middle East and Africa — and to help bridge gaps in the international community on the most pressing issues. Like the Iran nuclear is- sue. We need India to work with us on finding the right method and the right way to ensure Iran get back into full compliance with the JCPOA and on engaging with other partners for Middle East peace and security and global stability.
5. Terrorism is a priority for both France and India and you have worked closely in FATF. What are the next steps?
Terrorism is a long term threat. When our country was the victim of terrorist attacks last October, India’s public and clear support was invaluable. Now, we should continue to develop our operational cooperation and mobilise the international community to be more consistent and efficient against all terror threats. Terrorism financing is a key issue in this respect, and we are glad India will host this year the third edition of the “No Money For Terror” initiative, that France launched in 2018. Countering hate speech and terrorism inciting on the internet is another field in which we can cooperate. Finally, in the UNSC, India will chair important committees related to the fight against terrorism: we will work together on issues like adopting sanctions against terrorist groups and individuals and their implementation.
6. India’s greatest security challenge is China. How do you see that?
When it comes to the regional environment of India, we trust the Indian authorities to find the right solution with neighbours through peaceful dialogue and negotiation, in order to settle long-standing issues. France, as a permanent member of the UNSC, has a particular role to play in international peace and security. We’re committed to international law, and the peaceful resolution of disputes.
8. India sees China as an aggressor, not only against India but in the region. Do you agree?
When it comes to China, France and its European partners have a very clear strategy, which was set out by the European Union in 2019 which defines China in three words — a partner, a competitor and a systemic rival. What we’re doing with China is to work on conditions which take into account the importance of the role China has to play in international life, but within a very clear framework of international rules. We want to be able to operate with Chinese authorities on the basis of international law, international standards, respect of security of all our partners. It’s both a demanding and engaging approach, aiming to both promote our interests and obtain positive commitments from China— this is true in everything we’re doing.
8. What’s the next step in Rafale acquisitions. Is it co-development?
Defence cooperation is part of our strategic partnership. We are a reliable defence partner of India in the long run. We are proud that all the Rafale jets have been de- livered on time despite the pandemic. As for new opportunities: we are ready to meet Indian needs and requests, to help India enhance its strategic autonomy.
9. Where are we on the Jaitapur nuclear power project? Do you think we can conclude negotiations any time soon?
We are confident we can find a way forward to conclude the negotiations. In a context where our countries are engaged in a green transition, we need an energy mix which includes renewable energies. – We have many Indo-French initiatives in this sector, such as the International Solar Alliance. – but nuclear energy is also a key component of the energy mix.

Facebook Comments

Leave a Reply

Translate »

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.  Learn more

Share This