France Wants to be India’s Best Partner in Europe: Emmanuel Macron
Ahead of French President Emmanuel Macron's India visit, the Sikh community in France wrote to Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj about controversy over turbans in the country.
France wants to become India’s “best partner in Europe,” French President Emmanuel Macron said on March 10 morning at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, where he inspected the guard of honor. Macron is on a four-day visit to India during which key agreements on maritime security, nuclear cooperation and more will be discussed.
“France is the entry point to Europe. We want to be India’s best partner in Europe,” Macron said. “The first (objective of my visit) is to seal for the decade to come a strong pact around collective security in the region between our two democracies.”
He added, “I am very happy and proud of this visit. I thank the President (Ram Nath Kovind) and Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) for this welcome.”
He was welcomed by Modi, who greeted Macron with his customary hug. The French president said he established a personal rapport with Modi in Paris last year.”I think we have very good chemistry, our two great democracies have a historic relationship,” Macron said.
He added that the visit would open a new era of strategic partnership between the two countries in the coming decades.
“Our two democracies have common channels like terrorism, lots of common risks and common threats. But we have to protect this history and the state for freedom,” Macron added.
During his India visit, Macron will also take part in a Town Hall meeting where around 300 students will be present. He will later take part in a Knowledge Summit, which will be attended by more than 200 academicians from both sides.
Macron is accompanied by his wife Brigitte Marie-Claude Macron, businessmen and top officials.
Earlier, the Indian government said, “The visit of President Macron is aimed at strengthening the bilateral economic, political and strategic dimension of our engagement.”
“The strategic partnership between India and France, established in 1998, is one of the most important and comprehensive bilateral engagements and is marked by intense and frequent high-level exchanges and deep political understanding,” it added.
“We have enhanced and ongoing cooperation in the defense, maritime, space, security, and energy-related sectors, and are increasingly working together on all issues of concern including terrorism, climate change, sustainable growth and development, infrastructure, smart urbanization, S&T cooperation, and youth exchanges. Macron’s visit is aimed at strengthening the bilateral economic, political and strategic dimension of our engagement.”
Before Macron’s visit to India, the Sikh community in France wrote to Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to raise the issue about the turban removal controversy in the country.
The Sikh community settled in France has asked Swaraj to take notice of the situation there. Conseil Représentatif Des Sikhs De France (Representative Council of Sikhs of France) based in Paris said that Sikhs are being asked to remove their turbans before photographing them for official documents, the Indian Express reported.
“Despite the success that we got in the United Nations after raising the issue there in 2012, ground reality has not changed in France. Whenever we apply for an identity document, we are asked to remove turban for photos. The French Sikh community is struggling for their identity here. The issue was raised during the visit of former French president F Hollande to New Delhi but it remains unsolved till now,” Ranjit G Singh, the spokesperson of the council of Sikhs in France, was quoted as saying in the report.