President Macron to raise risks against ‘partitioning of the world’ at G-20

In Dhaka, President Macron to focus on French Indo-Pacific commitment

Published - September 05, 2023 12:40 am IST - NEW DELHI

File photo of French President Emmanuel Macron.

File photo of French President Emmanuel Macron. | Photo Credit: Reuters

President Emmanuel Macron of France will speak against “partitioning of the world” in the G-20 summit to be held here during September 9-10 and focus on deepening French engagement with the Indo-Pacific region during his September 10 Dhaka visit, the French government said on September 4.

Beginning with his historic visit to Colombo in July, President Macron has been expanding the scope of French relations with South Asia and his upcoming visit to India and Bangladesh, indicates the intensifying focus on the Indo-Pacific region where French historic presence goes back to the colonial era. 

“The President of the French Republic will go to New Delhi to take part in the G20 Summit, on September 9 and 10. He will then go to Dhaka, Bangladesh on September 10 for a bilateral visit. The G20 Summit will allow the President of the French Republic to maintain the constant dialogue with his counterparts from all continents in order to fight against the risks of partitioning of the world... In Bangladesh, the President will continue the concrete declination of the French strategy in the Indo-Pacific,” a press release from the French embassy in Dhaka stated. 

President Macron visited Sri Lanka in the last week of July in a historic stopover and met with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Prior to that he toured Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu in the western Pacific region. During his visit to these three island nations, Mr. Macron focused on the problem of debt that these economies are facing. He did not specifically single out China but criticised trends of “neo-imperialism” targeting Pacific island nations. In Colombo, Mr. Macron had assured Mr. Wickremesinghe in restructuring Sri Lanka’s debt burden.

The visit to India for G-20 summit and a brief stay in Bangladesh are however of a different category as India has been a strategic partner of France for quarter of a century and Dhaka has financial and strategic temptations for Paris. That apart the Sheikh Hasina government in Bangladesh has warmed up ties with France that first opened up with President Francois Mitterrand’s visit to Dhaka in 1990 when France proposed a flood-prevention mechanism for Bangladesh.

In the remarks released on Monday, the French embassy indicated that some of these older discussions may be taken up during President Macron’s Dhaka visit and said, “Since the country is particularly vulnerable to climate change, the President will recall France’s determination to stand by Bangladesh on its humanitarian front, in particular in the face of regular floods.” 

The official statement also recognised the role of Bangladesh in dealing with the Rohingya crisis and global peacekeeping operations under the UN. France watchers in Dhaka mentioned to The Hindu that Paris has been eyeing an airfield in the northern part of Bangladesh in Lalmonirhat which was used during the World War II. Located in the northern part of Bangladesh, the airstrip has the potential to allow regional reach and can be strategically significant. Ms. Hasina visited Paris during her first Prime Ministerial stint in 1999 and subsequently visited the French capital in 2017 for the One Planet Summit. In November 2021, PM Hasina was hosted at the Elysee Palace by President Macron where both sides prioritised discussion on the Indo-Pacific region.

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