‘Germany, India strategic partners with excellent economic relations’(The Hindu)

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Interview with Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German Foreign Minister to The Hindu

This is the first real engagement between the new
Indian and German governments. Give us a sense as to why the meeting
between PM Modi and German top leadership could not take place when he
landed in Berlin on his way to BRICS. There are differing reports.
Prime
Minister Modi fully understood that the Chancellor was keen to be
present in Rio to support the German football team in the World Cup
final. The Chancellor’s trip to Rio meant it was not possible to have
talks during the Prime Minister’s stopover in Berlin. However,
Chancellor Merkel had a very amicable and productive telephone
conversation with the Prime Minister on 17 July – her 60th birthday,
during which they agreed to meet in person soon. My current three day
visit and the large delegation accompanying me also underscore the
importance of our relations.
Please tell us what
you hope to achieve from your visit to New Delhi, and what are the
possibilities of Indo German cooperation with the new NDA government in
India
?
Germany and India are strategic partners
with excellent economic relations and numerous common interests. We want
to make good headway until the next intergovernmental consultations
next year by tackling and looking closely at a whole host of issues
connected to our cooperation. These include our economic relations, as
well as issues relating to vocational training and infrastructure
projects, renewable energy or the remedying of environmental damage,
especially in river basins. Germany has much to offer in these spheres.
Furthermore, I am looking forward to experiencing at first hand the mood
of economic upswing in your country which I have heard so much about.
There
are also reports that Germany has offered better terms to India for the
MMRCA fighter aircraft deal, in case the deal for the Rafale aircraft
is not completed. How hopeful are you that India will rethink the deal?
We
believe that the Eurofighter Typhoon consortium has made a good offer,
and we support it. At the same time, however, we respect the Indian
Government’s right to make a sovereign decision in this matter.
Apart
from bilateral issues, what are the global issues you hope to engage
Ms. Swaraj and PM Modi about? In particular, you have just been to Erbil
and spoken about German cooperation to the US on a coalition to help
arm Kurds and to defeat ISIS …. what kind of role would you like India
to play?
Naturally, a strategic partnership
requires close coordination in the foreign policy field. During my
visit, I will therefore have an exchange with my interlocutors on many
different foreign policy issues; these will include lasting peace in
Afghanistan, as well as current crises, such as those in Ukraine and
Iraq. And, last but not least, our joint efforts to bring about United
Nations reform.
Germany has been a key member of
ISAF in Afghanistan. As international forces prepare to pull out, how
worried are you about the security situation there, and do you think
India should accept the Afghan government’s request for more lethal
hardware and transport vehicles to assist their army?
The
Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are already in charge of combat
operations across the country. By the end of the year, they will have
assumed full responsibility for their country’s security. ANSF have
faced challenges, but they have proven they are capable of providing
security for the Afghan people, for example by successfully ensuring
security during two national elections. After the end of the ISAF
mission, a new mission – “Resolute Support” – will provide training,
advice and assistance. The ANSF need further support with equipment as
well. Afghanistan will continue to need considerable support from the
international community for the foreseeable future. It is in our common
interest that a new president is appointed and a new government formed
as soon as possible and that they cooperate closely with the
international community.
Finally, later this
month, PM Modi will travel to the UNGA for the first time … how
confident are you of a UN security council reform that would enable
countries like Germany and India to be permanent members? How do you
hope to coordinate in this effort?
Security
Council reform is indeed an important issue and we are working on it
together with India, as well as with our other G4 partners Japan and
Brazil. The Security Council no longer reflects today’s geopolitical
realities. Without reform, its credibility is in danger of being further
eroded. Therefore, we believe that 2015 – 70 years after the founding
of the UN and 10 years after the last reform – could be the right time
to move forward. Germany, India and their G4 partners, together with
other reform minded countries, will continue to push for comprehensive
reform. In this regard, I also look forward to our next G4 meeting at
ministerial level, scheduled to take place during the General Assembly
in September in New York.
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