PM Modi concludes four-nation visit, heads home

| Updated: Jun 04, 2017 01:17 IST

Paris [France], June 3 (ANI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi concluded a six-day four nation tour of Europe this evening and was on his way home after vigorously taking India's bilateral ties with Germany, Spain, Russia and France to the next level. The visits to these three nations and Russia were bilaterally impactful not only for India and Europe, but also for the world as well. Focus was on counter-terrorism, climate change, energy cooperation, trade and commerce, application of high-end technology, cultural and student exchanges and an assessment of incidents happening around the world. The first stopover at Europe's economic bellwether Germany received extensive media coverage in the German media, something that was missing in visits undertaken by previous Indian Prime Ministers. A web site revealed that German and Indian media gave wide coverage to developments related to the visit. For instance, WELT / N24 newspaper said: "Germany wants to expand its relationship with India massively." Another newspaper, the Frankfurter Allegmeine Wirtschaft, highlighted India as the next best hope for Germany post Trump's tirade on twitter, and said, "India will profit from Germany's Trump-problem." After hosting Prime Minister Narendra Modi for 24 hours, German Chancellor Angela Merkel used a joint appearance in front of business representatives of both countries to re-emphasize Germany's commitment to revive efforts to conclude a free trade agreement between the European Union and India. Merkel said at the joint interaction that, "It's important for us to proceed with the German-Indian - or rather, the EU-Indian - free trade agreement." She said, "Germany will make a massive effort in Brussels so that these negotiations get going again and perhaps proceed more quickly than was possible in the past." Talks on a free-trade deal between the EU and India got under way a decade ago but hit buffers after six years, amid disagreements over agriculture, generic drugs and the movement of workers. Apart from attending the 4th round of the biannual Inter-Governmental Consultations (IGC) in Berlin on Tuesday that was aimed comprehensively reviewing the bilateral relationship, Prime Minister Modi and Chancellor Merkel stood witness to the signing of twelve agreements. The agreements covered digitalization, empowerment and economic impact; collaboration on training of Indian skill development officers and cluster managers; establishment of an Indo-German Centre for Sustainability; cooperation on cyber policy; a joint declaration of intent on Indo-German development cooperation; continuation of cooperation in the field of advanced training of corporate and junior executives; cooperation in vocational education and skill development for machine tools; cooperation in the health sector; cooperation in alternative medicine; collaboration between the foreign service institutes of the two countries; cooperation in railway safety and cooperation for sustainable urban development. Chancellor Merkel re-emphasized that cooperation between Germany and India was of 60 years standing and described New Delhi as a proven reliable partner on major projects. She further stated that the over decade-and-a-half strategic partnership between the two nations has stood the test of time, and now, both aimed to further deepen cooperation in many areas, including research and education for example. ". We have witnessed the signing of number of agreements and a declaration of intent, total of 1 billion Euros goes into development cooperation in areas like smart cities, renewable energy, established a solar partnership with India and its impressive to see the way in which India is speeding up the solar energy in its country," she added. A significant aspect of the joint statement issued after delegation-level talks was the common concern and anxiety over the spread of terrorism across the world. Both Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Modi agreed that strong measures were needed at the bilateral and multilateral levels to counter the scourge and work against all those who encourage, support and finance, provide sanctuary and safe havens that sustain and support terrorist groups and organizations. Both welcomed the close collaboration between India and Germany to counter these challenges through regular meetings of the Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism and called for finalization and adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. They concurred on fostering security cooperation with the goal of promoting peace and strengthening stability and the capacity to meet all global and regional security challenges. Chancellor Angela Merkel also used Prime Minister Modi's visit to her country to welcome India's accession to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and to strengthen their commitment to strengthen global non-proliferation efforts. Germany also welcomed India's intensified engagement with the other export control regimes - the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), Australia Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement - and expressed its support for India's early accession to these regimes. Both reaffirmed the urgent need for a comprehensive reform of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to be truly representative of the global order in the 21st century. Both leaders expressed appreciation for the successful cooperation on fostering renewable energies in India and highlighted the success of the Indo-German Solar Partnership founded in 2015 as well as cooperation on Green Energy Corridors established in 2013. They reiterated their support for the Indo-German Climate and Renewables Alliance as an overarching alliance between India and Germany with the objective to give recognition to ongoing collaboration of various stakeholders on energy and climate change as well as to enhance cooperation and synergies in these fields. Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Modi also welcomed efforts of the High Technology Partnership Group (HTPG) to identify specific opportunities for high technology collaboration between the two countries, and reiterated the need for identifying priority areas of skills development in manufacturing under the "Make in India" program, enhance cooperation in defence manufacturing and machine tools and enhance cooperation in maritime technology and the development of blue economy. At the end of the visit to Berlin, it was apt for Prime Minister Modi to describe the relationship between India and Germany as one of reliability and outcome oriented momentum based on a philosophy of "made for each other". From Germany, Mr. Modi proceeded to Spain, the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister to that nation after 25 years. The visit saw the signing of seven agreements across multiple sectors following delegation-level talks, co-chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Spanish counterpart Mariano Rajoy in Madrid. They included an agreement for transfer of sentenced persons; MOU on cooperation in organ transplantation; MoU on cooperation in cyber security; a MoU on technical cooperation in civil aviation; an agreement on visa waiver for holders of diplomatic passports, a MoU between Foreign Service institutes and a MoU on cooperation in renewable energy. The two day visit to Spain also focused on issues such as terrorism, progress in economic ties and a review of global developments of mutual interest to the two countries, besides an interaction with captains of Spanish industry with the objective of attracting investment and establishing a global footprint. Spain is the twelfth largest investor in India and seventh largest trading partner in the European Union. Currently, there are over 200 Spanish companies in India actively involved in road construction, railways, wind power, water desalination, defence and smart cities. More than 40 Indian companies have operations in Spain, in the fields of technology, pharmaceuticals, automotive and energy. Two-way trade in 2016 totalled USD 5.27 billion. Talks between the Indian and Spanish delegations also veered towards counter-terrorism and issues related to the Mediterranean region. Prime Narendra Modi and his counterpart Mariano Rajoy underscored the key role both nations play in addressing global challenges such as terrorism. They noted that countries of the Maghreb region and southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean are crucial to Europe's security and stability. They also recognized the need for promoting regional integration and constructive dialogue among the countries of the Mediterranean by supporting regional cooperation and dialogue initiatives. Rounding off his four-nation tour with a visit to Paris, France, Prime Minister Modi used his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron to once again highlight and assert that climate change and terrorism are the two largest threats to humanity and that there was an urgent need for the world to unite to combat both effectively and efficiently. Terrorism, Mr. Modi said is visible and affects the world in a debilitating manner, whereas the issue of combating climate change is a shared legacy of the world. He added that the Paris Agreement should only be seen and felt as an "Article of Faith" that will benefit future generations. This view was endorsed by President Macron, who said the governments of both France and India are in a position to do a lot in tackling climate change, and not limit themselves just to the Paris framework. Both leaders reiterated their commitment for taking concrete initiatives in the fields of solar energy, foster progress in partnership of industries; strengthen cooperation in civil nuclear energy, transport and trade as also cooperation in industry and defence sectors. On terrorism, President Macron said it was a topic discussed at length with Mr. Modi, and a commitment was made to cooperate in defence, maritime security, cyber crime and intelligence. He said cultural ties were also in focus, as also the need to promote greater student-level exchanges. (ANI)