This policy report analyses the articulation between the French strategy in the Indian Ocean on the one hand and the Indo-French partnership on the other. It first highlights France’s fairly unique position, as a country claiming to be a nation of the Indian Ocean Rim. Such a claim primarily lies on the presence of the French overseas territories of La Reunion and Mayotte in the Southwest Indian Ocean. The report also underlines France’s strong military focus on the Northwest Indian Ocean, with two inter-services bases respectively located in Djibouti and in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Finally, it mentions France’s renewed interest in the Eastern side of this Ocean, as part of a larger opening onto Asia. Then, looking at the Indo-French partnership, the reports suggests that India is probably the country with which France has tried to build one of its most ambitious strategic partnerships outside Europe and NATO. The Indo-French partnership has indeed been of prime importance as reflected by the nature of its four pillars of cooperation (civilian nuclear technology, space, counterterrorism and defence). However, the report shows that, while generally positive, the partnership has not yet delivered as much as expected from France’s point of view. This is especially the case regarding cooperation in the Indian Ocean. In particular, France has seen India’s growing activism in the Southwest Indian Ocean as a signal of its diminishing influence in this sub-region. Nevertheless, the reports suggests that if France and India could accommodate each other and coordinate with each other, including in the Southwest Indian Ocean, they could give a truly geopolitical content to their partnership, while substantially contributing to the security and development of the Indian Ocean region. The report proposes a series of recommendations with this general idea in mind.
About the Author
Dr Isabelle Saint-Mézard is a lecturer on Asian geopolitics at the French Institute of Geopolitics, University of Paris 8 Vincennes – St-Denis. Her research interests focus on strategic affairs in South Asia and the Indian Ocean region, with a special focus on India’s external relations and defence policies. She has authored various articles on these topics as well as chapters in edited books. Her latest publications include “India and Southeast Asia: Whither India’s strategic engagement with ASEAN?” in Ganguly S. (ed.), Engaging the World: India’s Foreign Policy since 1947, OUP, New Delhi, 2015.
She collaborates with various think tanks, including the Institut Français de Relations Internationales (IFRI), Asia Centre, Paris; and Centre for Social Sciences and Humanities, New Delhi; as an associate researcher. She regularly interacts with French government bodies and teaches South Asian geopolitics at Sciences Po as well as the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (Inalco).
Africa / Conflict and Stability / Europe / Global / Maritime Security / Middle East and North Africa (MENA) / Policy Reports / South Asia / Southeast Asia and ASEAN
Last updated on 12/03/2015