Before leaving for Germany on Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had shared his agenda of the visit and meeting with Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel in a Facebook post. “We will chart out a future roadmap of cooperation with (the) focus on trade and investment, security and counter- terrorism, innovation and science and technology, skill development, urban infrastructure, railways and civil aviation, clean energy, development cooperation, health and alternative medicine,” Modi said in a Facebook post.
After Modi-Merkel meet on Monday, one can say that Modi used the “future roadmap” term in his post after giving a careful thought. And there are reasons for that. The India PM’ visit to Germany and meeting with Merkel couldn’t have come at a time more apt than now. Global politics is in a flux, with the US under President Donald Trump looking inwards and not even offering a solid assurance of support to age-old allies, especially countries of the Europe.
Trump’s policies to revive US economy have not just confused the world but also irked traditional allies in Europe. No wonder, Merkel on Sunday said after the latest Group of Seven Summit that Europe could no longer be “completely” dependent on the US.
At a rally of her Christian Democratic Union, Merkel said “the times in which we can fully count on others are somewhat over”. While underlining the need for continued good relations with US, Britain and Russia, she added that “we Europeans must really take our destiny into our own hands”, reports IE.
Had a very good interaction with Chancellor Merkel. pic.twitter.com/5SQb5l205M
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 29, 2017
Praveen Swami writes in IE that Merkel’s comment raised the curiosity of reporters on whether Germany would cultivate rising powers like India as new allies. Not only this, on Monday, a top German diplomat Sigmar Gabriel said Trump’s policies have weakened the West. “The short-sighted policies of the American government stand against the interests of the European Union. The West has become smaller, at least it has become weaker,” Gabriel was quoted as saying by Xinhua News agency.
Both India and Germany acknowledge the potential mutual benefits they can enjoy by becoming allies on the world stage at a time when uncertainties have become a hallmark of international affairs. A German diplomat told IE that Germany “sees countries like India, with its growing economy and democratic political system, as important partners”.
Reached Germany. I am sure this visit will lead to beneficial outcomes & deepen India-Germany friendship. pic.twitter.com/RdYLWUYeMn
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 29, 2017
There are suspicions over the way China is trying to stamp its influence on the world with ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) project. Germany fears the Chinese forward march may affect decades-old WTO free trade rules. Raising concerns over the lack of transparency in OBOR, Germany has decided not to participate in the project.
Germany, which is the leading country of Europe, needs new allies from among the rising powers, both for trade and addressing global concerns like climate change and security. But there are not many options except India. While Russia is seen with suspicion in western Europe, Chinese political system is practically an anti-thesis of the one in Germany and other European countries.
India also stands to gain if such new alliance with Germany takes place. C Rajamohan writes in IE that Modi’s visit to Europe is an opportunity to “recaliberate India’s approach to European geopolitics.”
Rajamohan says that present uncertainty in US-China-Russia relations demands that “India move closer to European middle powers — France and Germany” as “European liasion has become an urgent Indian priority” after the end of the “best days” of Russian romance, which looks to be smitten by Beijing now.
Both India and Germany already have a solid foundation to take their relations to a new level. New Delhi and Berlin have over 25 working groups, including in areas such as climate change, energy, infrastructure, and tourism. Germany is the largest trade partner for India in the European Union (EU) and one of the leading sources of foreign direct investment (FDI) into the country.
As many as 1,600 German companies and 600 German joint ventures are operating in India. Moreover, German enterprises support excellence and expertise that match with India’s development priorities of Make in India, Clean India, Skill India, Digital India, Smart Cities.