Europe ties in focus on PM Modi’s three-nation tour

May 02, 2022 05:24 AM IST

The Prime Minister will be in Berlin on Monday, followed by Copenhagen on May 3 and 4. On his way back, he will make a brief stopover in Paris.

New Delhi: India’s engagements with European partners at a time when the region is facing many challenges will strengthen cooperation with “important companions” in New Delhi’s quest for peace and prosperity, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday.

File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In a statement ahead of his visit to Berlin, Copenhagen and Paris beginning Monday, Modi said his engagements with new German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the Nordic countries and the French government following President Emmanuel Macron’s re-election will drive cooperation in diverse areas. This is Modi’s first foreign tour of the year and the first since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February.

Also Read | Europe visit comes when region faces many challenges: PM Modi

“My visit to Europe comes at a time when the region faces many challenges and choices,” he said against the backdrop of the Ukraine crisis that has raised questions about the long-standing security architecture in Europe.

“Through my engagements, I intend to strengthen the spirit of cooperation with our European partners, who are important companions in India’s quest for peace and prosperity,” he said.


The Ukraine crisis will figure during the three-nation tour though the principal focus will be on cooperation in key areas such as trade, energy and green development, foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra told a media briefing shortly after assuming the position.

Also Read | Ukraine crisis to figure in PM’s 3-day Europe visit: Foreign secretary

“When the prime minister interfaces with [leaders of these countries], naturally, the issues of regional and global importance would figure in the discussions... the principal focus of the visit and discussions is to structure and strengthen bilateral partnership across a range of areas and exchange perspectives on the Ukraine issue also,” Kwatra said.

India has made its position on the Ukraine crisis very clear at multiple forums. “We have always maintained that there should be cessation of hostilities in Ukraine. The path to the resolution goes through diplomacy and dialogue,” Kwatra added.

European and international partners have shown “deep appreciation” of India’s stand, Kwatra said. Just as Modi discussed the Ukraine issue with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during their recent visits to New Delhi, he is expected to discuss it with Scholz, he said.

However, the principal focus of the tour with an intense schedule will be on strengthening the multi-faceted partnerships with key European countries and shaping a forward-looking agenda for future economic cooperation, development partnership and green growth, Kwatra emphasised.

India has, in recent weeks, faced growing pressure from Western partners to be more critical of Russia’s attack on Ukraine. While New Delhi has refrained from publicly criticising Moscow’s actions, it has emphasised the need to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states. India has also condemned the civilian killings in Bucha and called for an independent investigation into the matter.

Modi’s visit will begin in Berlin, where he and Chancellor Olaf Scholz will co-chair the India-Germany inter-governmental consultations (IGC). He will be in Copenhagen during May 3-4 for the second India-Nordic Summit and bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Sweden and Norway.

The visit will end with a stopover in Paris on May 4 for a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron.

The IGC is a biennial format which India conducts only with Germany. Talks between ministers and officials will culminate in a plenary session chaired by Modi and Scholz that will look at three strands comprising foreign affairs and security, economic and financial policy, scientific and social exchanges, and climate and sustainable development. Modi’s delegation will include external affairs minister S Jaishankar, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman and minister of state for science and technology Jitendra Singh.

“I see this IGC as an early engagement with the new government in Germany, within six months of its formation, which will be helpful to identify our priorities for the medium and long term,” Modi said. He added that he looked forward to exchanging views with Scholz on “strategic, regional and global developments that concern us both”.

In Copenhagen, Modi will participate in the second India-Nordic Summit with his counterparts from Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Sweden and Norway and review cooperation since the first summit in 2018. He will also hold bilateral meetings with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and the prime ministers of the four other countries.

The India-Nordic Summit will focus on post-pandemic economic recovery, the climate crisis, innovation and technology, renewable energy, the evolving global security scenario and cooperation in the Arctic region. The Nordic countries have such summits with only India and the US.

Modi said his meeting with President Emmanuel Macron will set the tone for the next phase of the bilateral strategic partnership. “President Macron has very recently been re-elected, and my visit just ten days after the result will not only allow me to convey my personal congratulations in-person, but also reaffirm the close friendship between the two countries,” he said.

Macron and Modi will also share assessments of regional and global issues. “It is my firm belief that two countries that share such similar vision and values for the global order, must work in close cooperation with each other,” Modi said.

Commercial ties will be a key part of the visits to Berlin and Copenhagen. Modi and Scholz will jointly address a business roundtable to energise industry-to-industry cooperation and strengthen post-Covid economic recovery. Modi and Frederiksen will participate in the India-Denmark business roundtable. Modi will also interact with the Indian diaspora in the German and Danish capitals.

Kwatra said energy security and its impact on developing countries such as India and the mitigation of challenges in this area will be an important element of discussions during the visit. Discussions on defence and security will be another important element of the visits to Germany and France and talks will focus on the joint development, design and production of equipment in keeping with India’s aim of achieving self-reliance in this field, Kwatra said.

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