German Foreign Minister kicks-off her first trip to India amidst concerns over Russia-Ukraine war | The Financial Express

German Foreign Minister kicks-off her first trip to India amidst concerns over Russia-Ukraine war

In her inaugural trip, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is in New Delhi for a two-day visit and this is her first major ministerial level interaction between the two countries since the new government of Olaf Scholz came to power in Germany.

German Foreign Minister kicks-off her first trip to India amidst concerns over Russia-Ukraine war
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock held discussions with her counterpart, Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar with the main agendas revolving around Indo-German cooperation. (Image Courtesy: MEA/Twitter)

India and Germany reiterate strong partnership and discuss expanding cooperation in the energy sector as well as in the Indo-Pacific Region.  

In her inaugural trip, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is in New Delhi for a two-day visit and this is her first major ministerial level interaction between the two countries since the new government of Olaf Scholz came to power in Germany and the onset of Russian aggression in Ukraine. She held discussions with her counterpart, Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar with the main agendas revolving around Indo-German cooperation on the transition to renewable energy and India’s relationship with Russia and China.

At a joint press conference after the meeting, both the ministers reiterated that Indo-German relations have a long tradition and history, and that both countries are strong strategic partners for the past two decades. Both ministers interacted on various international issues including the Indo-German bilateral relationship, the Indo Pacific strategic situation, as well as the conflict in Ukraine, developments pertaining to Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as other countries.

The ministers also discussed the issue of Indian baby girl Ariha Shah, who was taken by German authorities under their care, alleging the parents sexually harassed their child. The visiting minister assured that the baby’s well-being is their priority and that pending the verdict in the case, there will be a formal review.

In response to a question regarding the content of their discussion, Jaishankar informed that the issue of Afghanistan and Pakistan were also talked about. He  outlined to his counterpart, the challenge of cross border terrorism. In a departure from Baerbock’s earlier statement in Pakistan with regards to Kashmir and the UN intervention, India made its position clear and Jaishankar explained that Germany also understands that India engages with Pakistan bilaterally on all outstanding issues.

Migration and Mobility Partnership Agreement

They both signed the agreementwhich will make it easier for people from the two countries to study, do research and work in each other’s countries ensuring greater flow of talent and skills between the two countries. Minister Baerboack said, “In concrete terms, we also want to cut red tape, for example, by reducing waiting times for such visa applications. Because foreign policy not only means that foreign ministers meet, it also means that there are diverse people to people contact and people can live together.” She also added that Germany is keen to get highly skilled workers and young people to come to her country and “we want to make it easier for them to study here to work here.”

Reiterating that India is a natural partner to Germany, Baerbock said that India will be a role model and bridge for many countries in the world as an emerging economic power and a solid democracy, despite internal social challenges. The minister also pointed out that the clearer positioning of the G20 against the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine is ultimately also thanks to India.

Ahead of her visit, Minister Baerbock had stated that she plans to ‘discuss containing the climate crisis and maintaining a rules-based international order’ with India, which has recently taken over the G20 presidency and is set to ‘play its role globally’. The minister congratulated India on the G20 presidency, even as Germany was just concluding its G7 presidency. She said that as industrialised nations in the G20, we are responsible for 80% of global emissions and she is glad that India in its presidency is putting a special focus on containing the climate crisis. She said Germany and India will further expand their cooperation for accelerating the energy transition.

In addition to high -level discussions, Baerbock also plans to interact with civil society representatives and non-governmental organizations working for women’s rights as well as participate in a trilateral India forum of the transatlantic foundation of the German Marshall Fund, which works to encourage cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region. The forum is a leading platform for transatlantic and European dialogue with India, with members comprising experts from American, European and Indian politics, think tanks and business.

Views of the minister on China & other issues

“As our European friends, we pursue a tripartite approach that is enshrined in our coalition treaty as well. almost to the day we have been in office for a year. And we are pursuing a strategy with three parts. China is seen as a partner in global challenges, a competitor and increasingly as a systemic rival as well. China has changed very much over the last few years and I think the whole region can see this and feel this.”

According to her, “the exchange of actors from the region is very important to us, especially India as the direct neighbour. This is very important for us to have a good assessment of the challenges ahead. One of the newer points in our China strategy is the Indo Pacific strategy. We will have more diversification in the Indo Pacific area.”

Potential for Germany and European companies

“There is huge potential for German and European companies. Until now we’ve been focusing very much on China, but there are also ties with India and Japan, but not so much with many other neighbouring countries. And when it comes to India, we have both highlighted that there is huge potential for further cooperation both in terms of economic ties, but also when it comes to the security situation. In Germany, we have seen what it means when you become strongly dependent on one country, a country that does not share your values. With a view to the political and security policy aspects and developments in the region, we will closely cooperate with our partners in the region,” she added.

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First published on: 05-12-2022 at 19:30 IST