BY SHRI K.R.NARAYANAN, PRESIDENT OF INDIA, WHILE ACCEPTING
CREDENTIALS FROM MR. BERNARD De FAUBOURNET De MONTFERRAND,
AMBASSADOR-DESIGNATE OF THE REPUBLIC OF FRANCE TO INDIA
NEW DELHI, AUGUST 3,
I have great pleasure
in welcoming you to India and accepting the Letter of Credence from His
Excellency Mr. Jacques Chirac, the President of the French Republic, accrediting
you as the new Ambassador of France to India.
As a nation with well-established
democratic institutions and traditions, we have been inspired by France's
success in upholding these core values. We are particularly happy that our
warm and unique relationship with France has been characterised by a new
dynamism in recent years. Our ongoing high level political and strategic
dialogue has been extremely rewarding. The commitment at the highest levels
in both India and France, to the task of strengthening our multifaceted
linkages is particularly noteworthy. It has in turn led to vibrant and very
useful interactions spanning across various fields, including trade and
commerce, science, energy, water resources, culture and education. Our association
with France has also imparted a colourful imprint on our cultural mosaic.
Excellency, we recall
with pleasure, the visits to India by your President, first as Prime Minister
of France in 1976 and subsequently as President in January 1998, as Chief
Guest at our Republic Day celebrations. President Chirac's visit was indeed
an important landmark in the development of our bilateral relationship with
France. It revealed a similarity of our views, with regard to the emerging
global order, and also brought out the need to build a new partnership in
consonance with our cherished values of liberty, equality and fraternity.
Our Prime Minister's visit to France in September 1998 provided an opportunity
to both countries to impart further depth to our relationship. My own visit
to your great country was a most rewarding experience which provided us
with the opportunity to reiterate our commitment to enriching our friendship,
in a spirit of mutual understanding and co-operation. We look forward to
receiving Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, in the near future in order that
we may consolidate our linkages even further.
The diverse bilateral
initiatives undertaken by our two countries in recent years have indeed
paid rich dividends. I would like to particularly mention the achievements
of the Indo-French Forum, the Indo-French Strategic Dialogue and the Joint
High Committee for Defence Co-operation, which have led to useful exchanges
in various fields. Our discussions under the framework of the Strategic
Dialogue have been especially useful and have enabled us to understand each
other's views on issues of bilateral and multilateral importance. In addition,
the Joint Working Groups in the areas of energy and telecommunications have
also resulted in mutually beneficial co-operation.
Excellency, our economic
linkages in terms of trade and investment, have grown stronger in recent
years. Yet, we must work together to improve our commercial relationship.
French expertise and technology in areas such as energy, surface transport,
communications, water resource management, environment, agriculture, food
processing etc., would be useful for India's developmental needs. We would
welcome a long-term commitment from French companies in the Indian economy.
I would particularly like to highlight our information technology sector
in which we have performed impressively and which could become an engine
of our economic growth. We invite French companies and entrepreneurs to
explore possibilities of upgrading bilateral interaction in this area.
One of the most important
factors, which has cemented our ties in the last couple of years, is our
belief that both India and France will be important players in the multipolar
world. We share with France, a vision of a pluralistic world order in which
there would be co-operation rather than confrontation between countries
and which would see true multilateralism in international relations. Indeed,
we believe that the new, strategic partnership which we seek to build with
France, is in keeping with this shared vision. The process of European unity,
which has been evolving over the last few years, is extremely significant
in this context. With the launch of the Euro and the steps towards a Common
Foreign and Security Policy, Europe has taken major strides towards becoming
a power to reckon with in the world. As an influential voice in and crucial
member of the European Union, we look upon France as an important partner
for India within the European Union.
Excellency, our belief
in the need for an equitable and participatory world order, leads us to
seek the restructuring and strengthening of the United Nations so as to
make it more representative, credible and effective. Our candidature for
a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council, is a logical and
legitimate corollary of this requirement. Our contributions to the United
Nations system are well documented and we are convinced of our ability to
play a significant role in the restructured UN. We have been very encouraged
by the consistent support which we have received from France, at the highest
levels, for our permanent candidature to the UN Security Council.
Excellency, we believe
that in an increasingly interdependent world, trade relations between nations
must be governed by internationally accepted rules. This belief is reflected
in our continuing support for the multilateral trading system and in our
membership of the WTO. We are however, concerned with the prevalence of
protectionist tendencies, which vitiate the atmosphere of multilateral free
trade. We seek the co-operation and understanding of France in our efforts
to establish a non-discriminatory, fair and equitable multilateral trading
and international terrorism is another challenge to our mutual desire for
ensuring peace and stability in our respective regions. We appreciate the
support which we have received most recently from the European Union, and
also from France in our efforts to combat this menace. We would also welcome
the support of France for our draft Convention for Combating International
Terrorism which will be discussed at the UN General Assembly in September
Excellency, we value
our relationship with France and hope that we can consolidate our relationship
in the coming years through further initiatives in both the bilateral and
multilateral spheres. I wish you a successful and pleasant tenure in India.
I also assure you of the fullest co-operation of my Government in the performance
of your duties.