As Prime Minister Narendra Modi goes for a three-day, three-country visit to Europe, newly appointed Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra said on Sunday that the PM will “exchange perspectives” on the issue of Ukraine, apart from structure and strengthen bilateral partnership .
Modi, in his departure statement on Sunday, did not mention the Russia-Ukraine conflict directly, but he referred to it obliquely as he said, “My visit to Europe comes at a time when the region faces many challenges and choices. 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.”
Modi will leave for Germany on Sunday night, and will meet German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin on Monday. He will then head to Denmark, to meet his Danish counterpart Mette Frederiksen in Copenhagen and also participate together in the Second India-Nordic Summit with Prime Ministers of Iceland, Finland, Sweden and Norway on Tuesday.
On the way back to India on Wednesday, he will make a brief stopover in Paris for a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron.
In his first visit abroad this year, Modi will have about two dozen engagements during his three-day Europe visit. He will be visiting 3 countries where he will be spending around 65 hours, government sources said today.
He will hold meetings, bilateral as well as multilateral, with world leaders from seven countries besides having an interaction with about 50 global business leaders.
About his visit to Germany, Modi said, “My visit to Berlin will be an opportunity to hold detailed bilateral discussions with Chancellor Scholz, whom I met at G20 last year in his previous capacity as Vice-Chancellor and Finance Minister. We will co-chair the 6th India-Germany Inter-Governmental Consultations (IGC), a unique biennial format which India conducts only with Germany. Several Indian ministers will also travel to Germany and hold consultations with their German counterparts.”
He said that he sees this IGC as an early engagement with the new government in Germany, within six months of its formation, which will be helpful to identify their “priorities for the medium and long term”.
In 2021, India and Germany commemorated 70 years of the establishment of diplomatic relations and have been strategic partners since 2000.
“I look forward to exchanging views with Chancellor Scholz on strategic, regional and global developments that concern us both,” he said, in an oblique reference to developments in Ukraine, Afghanistan and Indo-Pacific.
Underlining the longstanding commercial ties between India and Germany form “one of the pillars of our Strategic Partnership”, he said that the two leaders will also jointly address a Business Roundtable with the “goal of energizing our industry to industry cooperation, which will help strengthen the post-Covid economic recovery in both countries”.
Continental Europe is home to over one million persons of Indian origin, and Germany has a significant proportion of this diaspora. “The Indian diaspora is an important anchor in our relations with Europe and therefore I will take the opportunity of my visit to the continent to meet our brothers and sisters there,” he said, while referring to an Indian community event.
From Berlin, he said that he will travel to Copenhagen where he will have a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Frederiksen which will provide an opportunity to “review the progress in our unique ‘Green Strategic Partnership’ with Denmark, as well as other aspects of our bilateral relations”. He will also participate in the India-Denmark Business Roundtable as well as interact with the Indian community in Denmark.
Apart from the bilateral engagements with Denmark, he will also take part in the 2nd India-Nordic Summit along with Prime Ministers of Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Sweden and Norway where they will take stock of their cooperation since the First India-Nordic Summit in 2018.
“The Summit will focus on subjects like post-pandemic economic recovery, climate change, innovation and technology, renewable energy, the evolving global security scenario and India-Nordic cooperation in the Arctic region,” the Prime Minister said.
“On the side-lines of the Summit, I will also meet the leaders of the other four Nordic countries and review the progress in India’s bilateral relations with them,” he said.
Nordic countries are important partners for India in sustainability, renewable energy, digitisation and innovation, he said, “The visit will help in expanding our multifaceted cooperation with the Nordic region.”
“During my return journey, I will stopover in Paris to meet my friend, President Macron. 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. This will also give us the opportunity to set the tone of the next phase of the India-France Strategic Partnership,” Modi said.
“President Macron and I will share assessments on various regional and global issues and will take stock of ongoing bilateral cooperation. 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,” he said.
Kwatra, while briefing reporters on the visit, said, “The principal objective is to continue to strengthen its multi-dimensional, multi-faceted partnerships with key countries of Europe.”
The visits to Germany, France and Denmark, and the second Nordic summit is a “very clear manifestation of our focus”, he said.
“When Prime Minister interfaces with these leaders, naturally, the issues of regional and global importance would also figure in the discussions but I must repeat and reiterate that the principal focus of the visits and discussions is to structure and strengthen bilateral partnership across a range of areas and of course, exchange perspective on the Ukraine issues also,” the Foreign Secretary, who assumed office on Sunday, said.
When asked, he also underlined India’s position on the issue of Russia-Ukraine conflict and the crisis that Delhi has called for “cessation of hostilities” and “diplomacy and dialogue” is the path to resolution of the crisis.