Being All-Weather Partners Is At Core Of India-France Ties: French Ambassador Alexandre Ziegler

Common value and trust form the basis of relations between India and France, French Ambassador to India Alexandre Ziegler tells TNIE Foreign Affairs Editor Ramananda Sengupta.

Despite the obvious differences in language and culture, France and India share a long history of cordial relations which go way beyond just political and strategic camaraderie. The main reason for this, according to Alexandre Ziegler, the ambassador of France to India, are shared values and trust. Which is perhaps why after holding senior diplomatic positions in Hong Kong, Berlin and Beijing, and having served as Chief of Staff to the French Foreign Minister in Paris, he actually asked to be posted in India.

In an interview with Ramananda Sengupta, he discusses how he plans to take the relationship to the next level. 

In the two years that you have been posted here, what has surprised you?

 I came here in June 2016. I had visited India a few times over the past 12-15 years, so I knew the country a little bit. I wanted to be posted to India, so I asked for this posting. As I expected, it was a large country, a large democracy, with a commonality of values, a country that was transforming very quickly, with a lot of opportunities for our relationship, and yet a country with which we were not yet at the level we should have been. You are always surprised when you come to a new country. But there are two things which struck me: First, the facility with which we connect with the people here. When we think about India in France, it is seen as a foreign country, far away. But when you land here, you feel at home from the very beginning. I’ve served in many countries as a diplomat, but this was the first time it happened to me, this feeling that there is some connection with the people was just obvious. You could make friends very easily. And this was much, much stronger than what I had expected. Second, the high level of innovation.  When you look at our economic footprint in this country, what is really striking is the amount of energy and investments that our companies have brought here in terms of innovation and R&D. Twenty-five major French companies have set up large R&D centres here in India. This is really unique. The freedom of thinking, the quality of innovation that is here, particularly among the young generation is extremely striking. While I had probably anticipated this, it was definitely overwhelming once I settled here.

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