'I welcome the Indo-Pak rapprochement process'
India is Germany’s largest foreign aid recipient. What are the priorities for German aid spending to India?
India has been a priority partner country for German development policy for more than 40 years now. We want to support India’s efforts to bring about development which is socially and ecologically sustainable. German commitment centres first and foremost on health, environmental protection and support for economic reform. But it’s not just a matter of alleviating poverty, rather also of developing infrastructure. In future, we want to focus more on promoting renewable energy sources and increasing energy efficiency, because a rapidly growing society like India has high energy needs.
What about tie-ups in the area of science and technology?
Education, science and technology are the key to progress in the 21st century. This explains the fundamental importance of S&T cooperation between our countries which we want to further extend. A high-level delegation from the scientific sphere is accompanying me on my trip for exactly this reason. We will also establish the Science Circle to improve networking between scientists and researchers in our countries.
Why is Germany less involved in Iraq than in Afghanistan?
We have a great interest in the stabilisation of both Afghanistan and Iraq. Our reconstruction contributions in both countries feed into the efforts of the international community under the auspices of the UN. We currently have more than 2,000 soldiers in Afghanistan. Germany provides the largest ISAF contingent. We are the leading nation for building a national Afghan police force and are making considerable contributions to civilian reconstruction through our two Provisional Reconstruction Teams in Kunduz and Feyzabad. However, we won’t play a military role in Iraq. But we are training Iraqi police officers and soldiers in a joint project in the UAE. We have already provided considerable civilian assistance. Many projects had to be put on hold, however, due to the difficult security situation. German companies are keen to re-launch economic cooperation with Iraq. Furthermore, we are ready to provide substantial debt relief for Iraq.