EU, India ‘re-launch’ ties; await arbitration on Italian marines

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, Brussels
  • Updated: Apr 01, 2016 14:31 IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Belgian counterpart Charles Michel at a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday. (PTI)

India and the European Union reiterated their positions on the Italian marines case and expressed confidence in the ongoing arbitration proceedings during 13th summit level talks in Brussels that relaunched relations after four years of impasse on Wednesday night.

Talks on Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA), which were stalled in recent years, were also kick-started during the one-day visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose delegation included Commerce minister Nirmala Seetharaman.

On the Italian marines case, India and the EU expressed confidence in the arbitration procedure currently underway in the framework of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), to which India and Italy are committed.

“Both sides will contribute to settling the case on this basis, enabling the cause of justice to be served for all those affected. The EU shares Italy’s concerns to find an expeditious solution for the prolonged restriction of liberty of the two Marines. India stressed the need for rendering due justice for the families of the Indian fishermen who were killed”, a joitn statement released after the summit said.

Federica Mogherini, the Italian chief of EU’s foreign affairs, who has been critical of India for its handling of the marines case, also attended the summit, which included Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission and Donald Tusk, president of the European Council.

The EU also hoped for a swift solution in the case of MV Seaman Guard Ohio, which concerns 14 Estonian and six British citizens sentenced to prison by an Indian court. The personnel were on the anti-piracy vessel intercepted by the Coast Guard with arms and ammunition on 12 October 2013.

The leaders welcomed the European Investment Bank’s (EIB) commitment to support long-term investment in infrastructure crucial for environmentally sustainable, social and economic development in India, and in particular the EIB’s loan of €450 million in the construction of the first metro line in the city of Lucknow.

The EIB and the Government of India signed a first tranche of €200 million on the occasion.

The resumption of EU-India relations was marked by agreements and declarations on several areas, including counter-terrorism, partnership on water, economy and science and culture.

The leaders endorsed the EU-India Agenda for Action 2020 as a common roadmap to jointly guide and strengthen the India-EU Strategic Partnership in the next five years.

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