An INDIAN insight into Europe

The Visit of Prince Albert II of Monaco to India

Prince Albert II, the head of state of Monaco is on a maiden visit to India from 4-10 February 2019. Although India and Monaco have long relations, they established diplomatic relations only in 2007. Monaco is a tiny principality and is an independent city- state country located on the famous French Riviera in Western Europe. It shares borders with France on three sides while the other side borders the Mediterranean Sea. The small city state is the second-smallest country in the world after the Vatican and has constitutional monarchy and the House of Grimaldi has ruled it for over 600 years.  Monaco became a full member of the United Nations with voting rights in 1993. Although Monaco has an independent and separate foreign policy, it depends on France for its defence. While Monaco is not a part of the European Union, which is made of 28 countries including France, but it participates in certain EU policies, including the customs and border controls that have helped businesses grow in the country. It is also through this relationship with France that Monaco uses the Euro as its currency.

Given its location at the Mediterranean and French Riveira, its economy is based on the "five pillars of tourism, industry, trade, real estate, and banking and financial management". Over the decades Monaco has emerged as a prime tourist destination and Monte Carlo being famous for its casinos. In addition, it is known for being one of the original Grands Prix of Formula One. Being an income tax free country, Monaco attracts a lot of rich to invest and stay in the country, making it the country with the most number of billionaires.

Prince Albert II visit to India is to strengthen the bilateral ties between both countries and boost bilateral trade and investment which are currently at low levels. He is accompanied by a 20-member business delegation which represents diverse interests such as tourism and hospitality, yatch and private jets manufacturing, financial services with specific focus on banking and insurance, logistics and transportation, IT & IT-enabled services, renewable energy, real estate, textiles and fashion & designs. On Monday he attended the India–Monaco Business Forum followed by a round-table on energy and climate change at the The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in New Delhi.  

Welcoming Prince Albert to India, President Ram Nath Kovind said that India and Monaco have always enjoyed a relationship of trust, friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation. The current visit imparts a strong impetus towards taking the relationship to newer heights.  The President stressed that, “we must prioritise these areas for bilateral cooperation and Monaco's technology and investment companies can significantly benefit from the Indian growth story. Although India-Monaco ties were doing well but there was scope to do a lot more together”.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi held wide-ranging talks with Prince Albert II and discussed enhancing cooperation, especially in the renewable energy sector and in combating climate change. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj discussed opportunities for cooperation in the areas of environment, especially renewable energy, investment into India, smart cities, marine ecosystems, tourism and people-to-people contacts. Prince Albert II has established a Foundation with his name in 2006 with an aim to protect the environment. The Foundation signed a memorandum of understanding with TERI to support work in priority areas which include energy, environment, climate, resource efficiency and sustainable agriculture. According to TERI, “they will also aim to implement joint projects in these areas. A committee will also be set up under the agreement in order to facilitate the exchange of technical and scientific knowledge to benefit the common areas of work". On concluding his official visit at Delhi, Prince Albert II is on a private visit to Rajasthan from 6-10 February.