All Three World Powers Delivered Message Through India-France Strategic Alliance

The Indian National Tricolor Flag and the French National Flag

The Indian National Tricolor Flag and the French National Flag

India and France quietly but swiftly upgraded their relationship to a new level by completing reciprocal logistics support agreement for the Armed Forces of the two countries, which also marked 20 years of mutual strategic partnership.

Long term relationships between India and France

In comparison, 15 years were not enough to get a shortened form of a similar agreement through between India and US.  The agreement with France “does not suffer from the political sensitivities the way our agreement with the US does,” a senior military officer told the media, comparing the two situations.

But apart from the obvious advantage that the Indian armed forces would acquire from the agreement, and the strategic importance of it, both the countries attempted to deliver a strong message to the three world powers – US, Russia, and China.

Joint Strategic Vision agreement between India and France for the Indian Ocean.

The signal that India does not intend to confine itself to the so-called “Quadrilateral” deal between the United States of America and its two allies Japan and Australia for the development of its interests in the Indo-Pacific region was delivered by the new Joint Strategic Vision agreement between India and France for the Indian Ocean.

In 2015, India signed an agreement with the U.S. that was similar to the “Joint Strategic Vision of India-France Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region” that was signed by the two countries very recently. The agreement is also a direct message to China that the two countries – India and France, would strive to “maintain the safety of international sea lanes for unimpeded commerce and communications in accordance with the international law”, especially in an area which is witnessing increasing attempts of domination by China – and contested by India, with issues ranging from Sri Lanka to Maldives and Seychelles.

And in terms of military hardware, aircraft, space cooperation and nuclear reactors, the agreement between France and India is a direct message to the U.S and Russia that India has found an alternative for them. The vastness of the fields of cooperation between the two countries was underlined by Prime Minister Modi when he said that the relationship stretched from the “earth to the sky”.

While Russia would highlight the historic and old military relationship that it has with India and the much older agreements with respect to logistics, the strength of the US alliance with France and the Major Defence Partnership between India and the U.S. are far stronger- the U.S would contend.  Despite these claims, a strong contender to those would be the partnership between India and France, given a large number of agreements signed and supported by the vision statement for the strategic partnership between India and France.

India and France

India and France

Diplomats would be closely looking at Macron’s statement where he states that France intends India to be its “first strategic partner here (region), and we want to be India’s first strategic partner in Europe, and even the western world”.

Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

However, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) pf China could be a damper for the Indo-French strategic relationship. India has been strongly opposing the project. Diplomatic sources have indicated to the media that President Macron’s visit to India had been postponed because of his January visit to China. Additionally, President Macron had said in an interview to a Chinese website that he believed that the BRI could play a “major role in structuring the Eurasian region” and that a “leading role” was intended to be played by France in it, just before his visit to China. This can be the only bone of contention between the otherwise very strong relationship between India and France.

 

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