Catherine Colonna said that France will stand side by side with India over the next decades. Speaking at the unveiling of the Villa Swagatam Initiative on March 3, she said that India and France share links in security, defence and various sectors.
“As we celebrate through this year, the 25th anniversary of the strategic partnership between India and France, now is the time to show even greater ambition. And you will see soon what I mean by that, it will be quite visible,” Colonna said. “Over the past 25 years, we have sided with India for the protection of our respective sovereignty, we are two countries proud to be independent and we share these links in security and defence, and lots of fields of cooperation.
And over the next decades, we will continue to stand side by side, shoulder to shoulder with India,” she added.
Colonna said that France is keen on engaging with new artists, writers, academics, and scientists which she stressed are the backbone of India-France ties. In her remarks at the launch of the Villa Swagatam Initiative, she said that cultural policy is in the DNA of diplomacy and at the very core of bilateral ties with India.
“As you know, cultural policy is in the DNA of our diplomacy, and at the very core of our bilateral relationship with India. We are keen on engaging with new artists, writers, academics, scientists as you are the true backbone of our partnership,” Colonna said.
“Allow me to recall Andre Malraux, our first Minister for Culture. He expressed it very clearly in the early days of the 5th Republic. In a letter to President Charles de Gaulle ahead of a trip to India in November 1958, he wrote that the links he was willing to develop with India were, first of all and I quote – “in the domain of the mind”. So, let’s keep his words with us in our hearts. He already envisaged a “French season” in India quite a forward-looking vision as part of “an organized, coordinated and continuous cultural action,” she added.
Colonna noted that this vision has been guiding them ever since. In her address, she said, “This vision has been guiding us ever since. And by “us”, I mean the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the French Embassy, its French Institute, our network of 15 Alliances Francaises throughout India, and also all of our Indian partners we have the pleasure and honour to host today.”
Catherine Colonna said that French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to India in March 2018 boosted the dynamism of the cultural partnerships. She stressed that the cooperation between India and France in science, arts, student mobility, and humanities is already one of the most important bonds that bridge the two nations.
“The State visit of President Emmanuel Macron in March 2018 boosted the dynamism of our cultural partnerships greatly. The reciprocal invitations to the Paris Book Fair and New Delhi Book Fair were decided on this occasion, and I am delighted that French literature has been celebrated with enthusiasm these past days in New Delhi at the Book Fair. Our cooperation in science, arts, student mobility, or in humanities is already one of the most important bonds that bridge our two nations,” Catherine Colonna said.
Catherine Colonna said that France has bought a “French Touch” to Indian audiences in various sectors, including literature, cinema, architecture, heritage preservation, museology, visual arts, performing arts, textile and gastronomy. She emphasised that the two nations defend a shared vision of new technologies.
“France and India are two countries of innovation that defend a shared vision of new technologies centred on the rights of citizens, the reduction of inequalities and sustainable development. So we will continue to work together to promote this vision and jointly develop the research partnerships and technologies that form the bedrock of the strategic independence of our two countries,” Colonna said.
Colonna noted that the people-to-people exchanges between two nations are strategic and structural. She noted that France wants to participate in the new National Museum Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to develop in New Delhi.
“Our people-to-people exchanges are strategic as well and deserve structural and ambitious projects. This is why we are more dedicated than ever to reach the target of 20,000 Indian students in France set by President Macron. You know and I know that the pandemic prevented us to be there already, but now that it is hopefully gone, we want to reach that target as soon as possible,”
“So this is why we have just created a Indo-French health campus for the Indo-Pacific, not only for France, for India but for the region. And this is why we are ready to take part in the new National Museum Prime Minister Modi wants to build here in New Delhi. This is also very much the idea behind Villa Swagatam,” she added.
She stated that 16 residencies have agreed to take part in this Villa Swagatam project, which was presented just a minute ago, and span across India from North to South, East to West.
She further said, “By taking part in Villa Swagatam, you are joining an international network of residencies supported by France like Villa Albertine in the United States, Villa Kujoyama in Japan, Casa Velasquez in Spain, or Villa Medicis and the Nouveau Grand Tour in Italy. Culture and cooperation thrive when there are opportunities that enable dialogue, exchange, and cross-pollination.” (ANI)