The head of state, Emmanuel Macron, makes his first state visit to India. A move in great pomp placed under the sign of the economy and ecology from Friday to Sunday.
Emmanuel Macron began Saturday his state visit to India with the ambition to “seal a strong pact” with the demographic giant of South Asia, which Paris would like to become the partner of choice in Europe.
Arriving the night before in New Delhi, the French president was greeted with his wife Brigitte by the guard of honor at the presidential palace where the strong man of the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was waiting for him.
This first visit to India aims to “seal for the next decade a strong pact between our two democracies,” said the head of the French state to the press on the occasion of this official ceremony.
“A pact around collective security, especially in the region, economic, cultural, educational and academic relations, and around the link between our populations and especially the youth,” he continued.
He went to the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi to deposit a wreath. He will then have a series of in-depth interviews with Indian officials.
Red carpet and hugs
During these three days of visit, Emmanuel Macron will show himself a lot with Narendra Modi , adept like him hugs in public.
Although 27 years separate them – Modi 67 years – the two leaders maintain, according to the Elysee, “a personal relationship of trust”, tied when the Hindu nationalist had traveled to Paris shortly after the election of Mr. Macron in spring.
“Welcome to India, President Emmanuel Macron! Your visit will strengthen the strategic partnership between India and France, “Modi tweeted Friday evening after personally welcoming Mr. Macron to the airport.
On the international scene, they both care about their profile as reformers not afraid to launch unpopular measures to shake “conservatism” in their respective countries.
France and India are expected to sign an agreement by mid-day to give access to Indian naval bases in the Indian Ocean (Djibouti, Emirates, Reunion) to Indian ships , an opening that would be much appreciated by New Delhi. more and more worried by the strengthening of the Chinese presence in this ocean.
“I want India to be one of our biggest security partners in the region,” French Macron said in an interview with India Today this week. Because, he recalled, France is also a power of the Indian Ocean, thanks to its many locations (Mayotte, Reunion …).
“Can France replace Russia as the most valuable international partner? The Indian Express newspaper reported on Friday, referring to New Delhi’s long-standing relationship with Moscow after independence.
A visit under the sign of the economy
On the military side, Paris has achieved several successes in recent years, selling 36 Rafale fighter planes and six Scorpene submarines to India . She would like to complete more orders, but none of them should be ripe to be announced during this visit.
Other contracts should be signed, particularly in the field of aeronautics, the environment and urban equipment (purification of water …) . New Delhi could also announce progress in the delicate negotiations in civilian nuclear energy for the construction of EPR reactors.
“France must be the best partner of India in Europe, the range of entry,” said Macron during his first statement on Indian soil. Great Britain, historical partner of India, the European Union with Brexit.
The margin of progress is indeed important. Indo-French trade reached only $ 11 trillion against 18 trillion for those between France and China, the other Asian giant, where Mr. Macron went in January.
Meeting with the youth
The French president will also go to the end of the day to meet the youth during a debate with 200 young Indians, like his long discussion with young Africans in Ouagadougou in November.
Sunday will offer the images expected of Brigitte and Emmanuel Macron in front of the Taj Mahal, the iconic monument of India.The head of state will have previously been co-chaired to a summit to boost solar energy in poor countries.