India, Denmark ink green pact, take up Ukraine war

Published on May 03, 2022 11:29 PM IST

PM Modi, during his meeting with Danish counterpart Mette Frederiksen, hailed the “closeness and dynamism” of ties between the two countries.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (right) and his Danish counterpart Mette Frederiksen applaud during their joint press conference at the prime minister's official residence Marienborg, in Kongens Lyngby, north of Copenhagen, Denmark, Tuesday, May 3, 2022. (Martin Sylvest/Ritzau Scanpix via AP)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi (right) and his Danish counterpart Mette Frederiksen applaud during their joint press conference at the prime minister's official residence Marienborg, in Kongens Lyngby, north of Copenhagen, Denmark, Tuesday, May 3, 2022. (Martin Sylvest/Ritzau Scanpix via AP)

Washington/Copenhagen: Emphasising their shared values of democracy, free speech and rule of law, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday hailed the “closeness and dynamism” of India-Denmark ties, with both countries agreeing to deepen their “green strategic partnership” and finding a convergence of interests on climate action, green growth and energy diversification.

Also Read | Inspire non-Indian friends to visit India: PM Modi to diaspora in Denmark

The two sides also discussed the conflict in Ukraine, finding a common language for the joint statement but maintaining their respective positions on the issue.

 

Modi, on a visit to Copenhagen, held extensive consultations with his Danish counterpart, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, who broke protocol to receive him at the airport.

Both sides announced six new agreements – spanning issues of mobility and migration, green shipping, cultural exchange, skill development and entrepreneurship, animal husbandry, energy, health and start-ups. Exhorting Danish investors to tap opportunities in India, PM Modi also borrowed from millennial lingo to warn them against “missing out”.

Also Read | At India-Denmark biz meet, PM Modi shares his take on 'FOMO' to woo investors

New Delhi and Copenhagen also sought to bridge their differences on Ukraine, with both countries calling for a cessation of hostilities, condemning civilian killings, reiterating the importance of the United Nations charter and principles of international law, and territorial integrity and sovereignty of states. Both sides also discussed the destabilising effects of the conflict in Ukraine and its implications, and agreed to stay in touch on the issue.

But like Germany, which was the PM’s first stop during his Europe visit, Denmark condemned Russia by name for its aggression in Ukraine in the joint statement, while India, in line with its position on the issue, chose not to. The Danish PM also said that Russian president Vladimir Putin had to stop this war, and urged India “to use its influence with Russia”. At a separate diaspora event, the Danish PM emphasised the need for democracies to “stand up” against the aggression. India has, in its direct exchanges with both Putin and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, emphasised the need for a return to diplomacy and dialogue and urged direct talks between the leaders.

Also Read | In Denmark's Copenhagen, Modi says: ‘Indians have no role in damaging planet’

Modi’s visit to Europe is happening at a time when differences between India and European countries on Ukraine have not affected the larger trajectory of ties, but instead led to a renewed and deeper engagement. On Wednesday, Modi is scheduled to participate in the India-Nordic summit before heading to Paris to meet French President Emmanuel Macron, who has just been re-elected for a second term in office.

In his remarks to the press, Modi chose to keep the focus on the larger relationship, saying, “I am happy that significant progress has been made in various fields, especially in the areas of renewable energy, health, ports, shipping, circular economy and water management. More than 200 Danish companies are operating in various areas in India – such as wind energy, shipping, consultancy, food processing, engineering.” At a time when India has ambitious plans to build and modernise its infrastructure, the PM also said there were plenty of investment opportunities for Danish companies and Danish pension funds in both infra and green industries.

Also Read | Modi tries hand at playing dhol in Denmark's Copenhagen

On broader strategic issues, the PM said that the two sides had discussed India-European Union relations, Indo-Pacific and Ukraine, expressing hope that an India-EU Free Trade Agreement would be concluded as soon as possible. “We stressed on ensuring a free, open, inclusive, and rules-based Indo-Pacific region. We called for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and adoption of dialogue and diplomacy to resolve the problem.”

Both sides, in the joint statement issued at the end of the consultations, welcomed the concrete progress under the green strategic partnership which was launched in 2020. At a time when energy security, both in Europe and India, has emerged as a key strategic issue, the statement said, “The independence of energy supply based on fossil fuel is vital in this regard as well as security policy. Thus, the two leaders agreed to further strengthen their cooperation within the renewable energy sector and welcomed the work on a comprehensive Energy Policy Dialogue in India and Denmark especially strengthening cooperation on cross-sectoral energy planning with a focus on green hydrogen, integration of renewable energy, energy storage and decarbonisation.” Treating health as a part of the green partnership, India has agreed to join the International Centre for AntiMicrobial Resistance Solutions while Denmark has confirmed its accession to the Global Digital Health Partnerships.

Also Read | Why this painting at Denmark PM's house garnering praises from Odisha BJP MPs

On trade, both sides agreed that bilateral investments and trade flows through “diversified, resilient, transparent, open, secure and predictable global supply chains” would ensure economic security and prosperity. At a time when China’s dominance over global supply chains has caused anxieties, particularly in the wake of the pandemic, the West is seeking to reduce its dependence on China while India sees it as a moment to boost its domestic manufacturing.

The two PMs also welcomed Indian investments in the information technology space in Denmark, and Danish investments in renewable energy, water, terminals and port modernisation and expansion, food processing and engineering sectors – noting that Danish companies employ their largest workforce outside of Denmark in India. At a separate event of the India-Denmark Business Forum, Modi also highlighted the government’s business-friendly approach, borrowing from millennial lingo. “These days, the term FOMO or fear of missing out is gaining traction on social media. Looking at India’s reforms and investment opportunities, I can say that those who don’t invest in our nation will certainly miss out.”

India and Denmark also emphasised the importance of the India-EU strategic partnership, appreciated the progress in the restart of negotiations on the India-EU trade, investment and geographical indicators agreement and called for a “balanced, ambitious, comprehensive, and mutually beneficial approach and an early and simultaneous conclusion”.

They welcome the recent launch of India-EU Trade and Technology Council and underlined the importance of “deep, strategic collaboration on cross-cutting issues related to trade, trusted technology and security”. Both sides also agreed to support the early implementation of the India-EU connectivity partnership.

Explaining the significance of the PM’s visit to Denmark, Garima Mohan, senior fellow, Asia Program, at the German Marshall Fund, said that it points to a fundamental shift in Indian foreign policy, which is beginning to develop a more nuanced approach towards Europe.

“Our diplomatic energies are no longer focused on the capitals of Paris, Berlin and London. India is starting to develop new partnerships with Europe’s sub-regions. India and Denmark, for example, signed a unique Green Strategic Partnership in 2020 – which will focus on dealing with climate, advanced technologies, and renewable energy. These are all crucial for India for building domestic resilience and capacities.”

Mohan added that the sizeable delegation from India meant the talks were wide-ranging and covered a lot, “from Danish companies seeking to invest in India to strategic challenges like Russia and even cooperation in the Arctic.”

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Prashant Jha is the Washington DC-based US correspondent of Hindustan Times. He is also the editor of HT Premium. Jha has earlier served as editor-views and national political editor/bureau chief of the paper. He is the author of How the BJP Wins: Inside India's Greatest Election Machine and Battles of the New Republic: A Contemporary History of Nepal.

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