Friends in happy times, friends in rough times says French envoy Lenain as Paris-Delhi cooperate during COVID-19 crisis

WION NEW DELHI May 22, 2020, 12.17 PM(IST) Written By: Sidhant Sibal

French envoy to India Emmanuel Lenain. Photograph:( WION )

Story highlights

Speaking to our Principal Diplomatic Correspondent Sidhant Sibal, ambassador Emmanuel Lenain said, French development agency AFD is working to provide a special loan of 200 million euro to finance and support some health programmes in India.

The French envoy to India Emmanuel Lenain has said India and France have increased cooperation at the current times of COVID crisis with both "actively working" to come out with a vaccine. Speaking to our Principal Diplomatic Correspondent Sidhant Sibal, ambassador Emmanuel Lenain said, French development agency AFD is working to provide a special loan of 200 million euro to finance and support some health programmes in India. Meanwhile, the Indian side has helped in the repatriation of over 2000 French nationals back home amidst the COVID crisis. 

WION: How does France see the post-COVID partnership with India?

Emmanuel Lenain: I must say during these challenging times, the cooperation has been exemplary. The partnership between France and India is not merely a catchword. During a challenging time, you can see the value of friendship. We are friends in happy times, and also friends in rough times. All along we have been supporting each other. India has been exemplary in providing drugs, medical equipment when needed. French companies in India have also been exemplary. There are 350,000 Indian workers employed by 550 French companies operating in India. We tender work first, they did not cut salaries but also provided money for social responsibility that was created by the govt or by the authorities and provided the equivalent of 6 million euros and some companies have taken the remarkable initiative. A company called Lactalis has provided milk and some products and has been giving for free its products to nurses, to health care workers. We take care of those who work for us. Renault providing trucks and cars in India has turned some of its assembly lines to produce ventilators, and we produce up to 10,000 ventilators which is significant. A lot has been done both ways during this crisis and this is remarkable. 

WION: How has been collaboration on Indo Pacific?

Emmanuel Lenain: Indo Pacific is a key dimension of our partnership. All along, during the crisis, we have been working together. At the end of March, we had joint patrolling and in coming months we will be launching some new concrete projects in the region. The crisis is not over, and I am very proud to announce the French development agency, AFD is going to provide a special loan of 200 million euro to finance and support some health programmes for the most vulnerable population in India

WION: How has been the current situation in France

Emmanuel Lenain: Luckily in France, the situation is improving. The figures are better, less people contaminated and less pressure on our intensive care unit. As in India, the result of a very strong policy of lockdown and people have been very disciplined, very law-abiding which is good. Progressively in an orderly manner, people getting back to normal lives, get back to work. I am confident that soon they will be able to greet again, some friends, some tourist and students from India. 

WION: How is France and India coming on COVID partnership, vaccine and repatriation

Emmanuel Lenain: Cooperation on repatriation has been excellent and must warmly thank the Indian authorities at all level for the cooperation they have extended to us to bring back the stranded citizens in the last few weeks. Thanks to them we have been able to repatriate in very good conditions, more than 2000 tourist and French people who were visiting India and they have to go back to the country. Now new phase open which seeks repatriation of Indians tourist from France, from Europe and all over places and you can be rest assured to be very helpful. In terms of vaccine and medical research that has been a strong area of my country, we have excellent institutions. We have been working for vaccines for years, or centuries almost. We have very good cooperation with Indian counterparts and I know, we are actively working to find a solution. 

WION: The key outcome of the COVID crisis for the world?

Emmanuel Lenain: If there is one outcome, drawn from the crisis, is that we need more international cooperation, rather than less. To deal with global health issues we have WHO and we must work together, and we must reinforce it. France and India have supported the resolution, the proposal put forward by the EU to request for a comprehensive, independent, transparent investigation on the international response to the crisis.