Stressing the “exceptional” strategic partnership between the two countries, French president Francois Hollande urged New Delhi to play a greater global role, as the “security of the world needs India’s presence.”
President Hollande delivered the Madhavrao Scindia memorial lecture to a packed hall comprising cabinet ministers, political leaders, diplomats, captains of industry and senior bureaucrats at Teen Murti house auditorium in New Delhi on Friday .
Hollande termed India the “world’s greatest democracy” and a “power of peace”. He argued that given its strong democratic and secular credentials, and the example of religious tolerance that it offers, India should more actively address issues threatening world peace.
“We know India and its people are close to Iran and North Korea. It is all the more important that India convinces this great country of Iran to enter into a serious negotiations to respect international obligations and nuclear non- proliferation,” he said.
Hollande’s comments come in the wake of the P5+1 -- Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States plus Germany -- agreeing to hold the next round of talks with Iran in Kazakhstan on February 26.
The president also noted India’s development experience could help the poorest countries of Africa and Asia.
He iterated France’s long-standing support for a permanent Indian presence on the United Nations Security Council.
“Today we ask for India to be a full-fledged member of the United Nations Security Council to reflect the current realities of the world. We ask because 17% of humanity is here,” he said
Thanking India for its “understanding and support” in France’s fight against terrorism in Mali, President Hollande said the two countries would continue to cooperate in fighting the menace of terrorism that has “its roots in poverty.’
He noted that “we have had the most sensitive and crucial fight against terrorism and we have more challenges.”
“India and France began their strategic partnership in 1998 but I would like to call it an exceptional partnership,” he said.
He cited the contributions of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and B R Ambdekar in making India a democratic and secular country.
Hollande said France would do its bit to strengthen security in the Indian Ocean where, he noted, one million of his citizens, mostly of Indian origin, also lived.
Pointing to how India and France were both cultural powers, he lauded Bollywood as one of the biggest producers of cinema in the world and said France is “really honoured” to celebrate 100 years of Indian cinema at Cannes festival this year.
The president batted for better bilateral economic and commercial ties, technology transfers, more cooperation in the field of education and research. Madhavi Raje Scindia, the chairperson of Madhavrao Scindia Foundation, welcomed the president.
After the lecture, French President Francois Hollande bestowed his country’s highest decoration, ‘Commandeur de la Legion d’Honneur’ (Legion of Honour) on Nobel laureate Prof Amartya Sen.
Hollande praised Sen and quoted extensively from his works.