PM Modi’s visit to France offers a new meaning and dimension to defence and space partnership between the two countries
Prime Minister Narendra Modi concluded his two-day visit to France where he was the Guest of Honour at the country’s National Day, also known as Bastille Day. This was a very “special gesture” extended by France to Prime Minister Modi, Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra said. A 269-member Indian tri-services contingent also participated in the Bastille Day parade. Three Rafale fighter jets of the Indian Air Force (IAF) joined the flypast on the occasion, while an Indian Navy’s ship was also present at the French port---adding strength to India-France relationship at the time when both are celebrating 25th anniversary of the strategic partnership between them. “We are celebrating the 25th anniversary of our Strategic Partnership. On the strong foundation of the last twenty-five-year, we are preparing a roadmap for the coming twenty-five-year. Bold and ambitious targets are being set for this,” Prime Minister Modi said during a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron on July 14 in Paris. A reflection of this sentiment can be seen in the two countries’ commitment to work together for international peace and stability; they reaffirmed their commitment to a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific and beyond. “In order to further deepen this Strategic Partnership, and in keeping with universal values of liberty, equality, democracy and the rule of law, India and France have decided to strengthen cooperation in the sectors of the future, so as to reinforce their sovereignty and decision-making autonomy, and to respond together to the major challenges confronting our planet, including through the cooperation between India and the European Union,” Horizon 2047: 25th Anniversary of the India-France Strategic Partnership, Towards A Century of India-France Relations, said. Defence and security partnership India and France have agreed to cooperate in the co-development and co-production of advanced defence technologies, including for third countries. They have also agreed to extend their defence cooperation in the development of advanced aeronautical technologies by supporting the joint manufacturing of a combat aircraft engine. They have also agreed to support industrial cooperation for motorization of heavy-lift helicopters under the Indian Multi Role Helicopter [IMRH] programme with Safran Helicopter Engine, France. To enable progress on the IMRH programme, a Shareholders’ Agreement between Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), India and Safran Helicopter Engine, France has been concluded for engine development. These ventures are in line with the spirit of trust that prevails between India and France in the sharing and joint development of critical components and technology building blocks, based on the successful Indo-French experience in technology transfer. India and France hailed the success of the first Scorpene submarine construction programme (P75 – Kalvari), a model of Make in India and the sharing of naval expertise between companies in the two countries. India and France are ready to explore more ambitious projects to develop the Indian submarine fleet and its performance. An MoU was signed between India’s Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd (GRSE) and Naval Group France, a leader in the European naval defence industry to collaborate in the field of surface ships that cater to fulfil the requirement of India and international naval forces. Besides, a contract was concluded between HAL and Safran Helicopter Engine for the transfer of technology of forging and castings for the Shakti engine. Space partnership India and France have decided to deepen their cooperation in all areas of the space sector by strengthening their programmes of common interests including: Scientific and commercial partnership:CNES and ISRO will strengthen their partnership mainly around two structuring axes: climate and environment, with the development of the TRISHNA mission and activities within the Space Climate Observatory (SCO) on topics such as water resource management, marine resources and air quality monitoring; space exploration (Mars, Venus), maritime monitoring, launchers and manned flights in connection with India’s Gaganyaan programme. NSIL and Arianespace also plan to collaborate in commercial launch services. Resilience of access to space: India and France will work to strengthen their synergies in terms of sovereign access to space and the development of forward-looking technologies to boost the resilience of access to space with involvement of their space industries. India and France will also continue to engage through the recently institutionalised bilateral strategic space dialogue. Partnership in Indo-Pacific India and France have agreed to strengthen the cooperation initiated under the Joint Strategic Vision of India-France Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region adopted in 2018. They have decided to work together to secure their own economic and security interests; ensure equal and free access to global commons; build partnerships of prosperity and sustainability in the region thanks to common development action; advance rule of international law; work with others in the region and beyond and build a balanced and stable order in the region, with respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity. They have decided to give utmost attention and extend their cooperation to the Pacific, with the close involvement of the French territories of New Caledonia and French Polynesia. The French overseas territories in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, will play an important role in the Indo-Pacific partnership between the two countries. On a trilateral cooperation with like-minded partners in the region, both India and France realise that this mechanism will be a key pillar of cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region in particular through the dialogue launched with the United Arab Emirates, a strategic partner for both countries, on February 4, 2023 at ministerial level, as well as with Australia, launched in September 2020. India and France have also decided to set up the Indo-Pacific Triangular Cooperation (IPTDC) Fund to support climate and SDG focused innovations and Start-ups from third countries of the Indo-Pacific region, with the goal of facilitating the scaling up of green technologies being developed in the region. Both countries have also decided to jointly identify projects to be supported through the IPTDC Fund. This initiative would be a significant step in providing viable and transparent funding alternatives to innovators in the Indo-Pacific region and would also be a key pillar of the India-EU Connectivity Partnership launched in 2021.