From EU To Pacific: Strengthening Position
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi participated in 25 events in Germany, Denmark and France on May 2-4 (2022) during his first foreign trip after two years. In those three days, he met a total of seven Heads of State, apart from holding three bilateral meetings. The PM also attended meetings hosted by Indians and people of Indian origin living in those countries.
In a statement issued on May 5, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said that the Intergovernmental Consultation (ICG) with Germany was all set to become a milestone for New Delhi, amid India’s disagreement with Europe over the ongoing Russia-Ukraine War. India and Germany not only agreed to improve bilateral commercial and strategic cooperation in Indo-Pacific Region, but also decided to counter terrorism jointly. New Delhi and Berlin also expressed similar views on the current political situation in Afghanistan.
After PM Modi’s meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on May 2, the Governments of the two countries issued a Joint Statement, stating: “Both leaders strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including any use of terrorist proxies and cross-border terrorism. They called upon all countries to work towards rooting out terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, disrupting terrorist networks and financing in accordance with international law, including international humanitarian law.” They also denounced China’s aggressive trade and strategic policy in the Indo-Pacific Region, without mentioning the name. The statement added: “They acknowledged the Policy Guidelines for the Indo-Pacific of the German Federal Government, the EU Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative enunciated by India.”
According to political analysts, the lengthy joint statement could be considered as a diplomatic victory for India. Ahead of PM Modi’s visit to Germany, it was thought that Germany would ask India to take a clear stand against the Kremlin over the Ukraine War. However, the German Chancellor stressed mainly on issues related to environment, alternative energy, counter-terrorism cooperation, and maritime trade during his meeting with the visiting Indian leader. Diplomats are of the opinion that this is the ideal time for Germany to use the Indo-Pacific Region in order to boost trade ties with Asia, as a number of countries have imposed economic sanctions on Russia. Germany, extremely devastated by the COVID-19 Pandemic, has long relied heavily on Russia for energy and trade. Now, the Central European country needs new markets and new investment destinations. Berlin believes that New Delhi can help the former in this regard. Similarly, Germany can help India counter the Chinese aggression in its own backyard.
PM Modi arrived in Copenhagen on May 3 to meet Prime Minister of Denmark Mette Frederiksen. The two leaders discussed different aspects of bilateral cooperation and issues related to Climate Change. In Copenhagen, the Indian PM also met his counterparts from Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Norway. Before his return to India, the PM arrived in Paris to meet French President Emmanuel Macron, who has recently been re-elected to the top post. In addition to bilateral issues, the two leaders discussed the Russia-Ukraine War during their meeting at Elysee Palace, the official residence of the French President. It may be noted that President Macron held a telephonic meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin a week before the Indian PM’s arrival in Paris. According to sources close to the French President, Macron urged President Putin to stop the war immediately.
Earlier, the Indian PM, too, strongly favoured peace over violence in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict. Upon his arrival in Berlin on May 2, he emphasised on the economic losses due to the war, stressing that “each family in the world” has been impacted due to the war. He told the German media: “We have urged for a ceasefire. No one will win this war. All will lose. That’s why, we are in favour of peace.” PM Modi reportedly said: “Oil prices have increased due to the Ukraine crisis. This has impacted every family in the world. Each nation has been affected due to this. However, developing nations would be the most affected.“
Later, PM Modi claimed that his three-day Europe trip was a fruitful one, as India not only advanced trade and investment ties with the European nations, but also forged new green partnerships in order to strengthen relationships with them.
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