‘No, India not sitting on fence’: Jaishankar says Europe has to change mindset

Published on Jun 03, 2022 02:11 PM IST
Foreign minister S Jaishankar said India is not sitting on the fence and it is entitled to pick its own choice when it comes to foreign policies instead of siding with other countries. 
Foreign minister S Jaishankar said India can handle its situation with China, on being asked whether New Delhi will expect global help after its stance on Ukraine. 
Foreign minister S Jaishankar said India can handle its situation with China, on being asked whether New Delhi will expect global help after its stance on Ukraine. 
By | Written by Poulomi Ghosh

External affairs minister S Jaishankar on Thursday said India's foreign policy is not sitting on the fence, just because its policy may not be agreeable to some other countries. "I am not sitting on the fence just because I don't agree with you. It means I am sitting on my ground," the foreign minister said taking part at GLOBESEC, talking on ‘Taking Friendship to the Next Level: Allies in the Indo-Pacific’. The statement came as the foreign minister was asked about New Delhi's stance on the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war and whether India can afford to be sitting on the fence as an emerging world leader. Also Read: 'When rules-based order was challenged in Asia…': Jaishankar replies to Europe

"This idea that I do a transaction, that I come in one conflict because it will help in conflict 2- that's not how the world works. A lot of our problems in China have nothing to do with Ukraine, Russia. They are predated," Jaishankar said as he was asked on whether India expects global help in its situation with China.

 

There are a lot of issues where Europe did not speak, the foreign minister said. "Europe has to get out of the mindset that Europe's problem is the world's problem but the world's problem is not Europe's problem," the foreign minister said adding, “Today linkages being made between China and India and what's happening in Ukraine. Come on guys, China and India happened way before Ukraine. I do not see this as a clever argument.” All big challenges facing the world today have their solutions coming from India some way or the other, Jaishankar said.

On India buying oil from Russia

On being asked whether India buying Russian oil is not funding the ongoing war, Jaishankar said, "Look I don't want to sound argumentative. But then, buying Russian gas is not funding the war? It's only Indian money and Russian oil coming to India that is funding the war and not Russia's gas coming to Europe? Let's be a little even-handed."

On India ‘ignoring' Russia-Ukraine situation

Replying to a question from a journalist on India 'ignoring' Russia-Ukraine war, Jaishankar said India condemned Bucha killing and sought an investigation. "In terms of what is happening with the Ukraine conflict, our stand is very clear that we favour an immediate cessation of hostilities. It's not that we have ignored it unless you call phone calls to Putin and Zelensky as ignoring something."

India does not accept the 'construct' that it has to side with a power axis and if it does not side with one camp, it will automatically be considered as belonging to the other camp, Jaishankar said. "I am one-fifth of the world's population. I am what today the 5th or 6th largest economy in the world. Forget the history and civilisation bit; everybody knows that. I feel I am entitled to have my own side. I am entitled to weigh my own interests, and make my own choices. My choices will not be cynical and transactional. They will be a balance of my values and my interests. There is no country in the world which disregards its interests," Jaishankar said.

‘World can’t remain Eurocentric'

"A lot is happening outside Europe. We have, partly because of climate change, a lot of humanitarian, natural disaster responses in our part of the world today. A lot of people look to us to help out. The days when they expected Europe to come -- which Europe did during the 2004 Tsunami. The difference is nobody today is even thinking of that anymore. So the world is changing and new players are coming; new capabilities are coming. But new agenda must also come. The world can not be that Eurocentric as it used to be in the past," Jaishankar said.

Who will India play with: Europe-US or Russia-China?

"They are not exclusionary but we are a democracy, a market economy, a pluralistic society. We have laws and contracts. We have positions on international law. I think that should give you a fair part of the answer," Jaishankar said referring to Quad.

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