India’s External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar visited Germany to take part in the Munich Security conference. During this visit, Dr. Jaishankar interacted with Foreign Ministers of Oman, Spain, Kuwait, Armenia, Saudi Arabia and Australia. He also met with Defence Ministers of Singapore, Germany and Belgium. He also had an interaction with the President of the European Council.
Later, the External Affairs Minister visited Berlin to have detailed discussions and exchange of views on bilateral relations and other regional and international issues of mutual concern with the German Foreign Minister Heiko Mass and German Defence Minister Ms. Annegrete Kramp-Karrenbauer. India and Germany enjoy strong bilateral relations and very cooperative partnership at the international fora. Continuing this tradition, India significantly joined the Franco-German promoted Alliance for Multilateralism. Dr Jaishankar while declaring this, observed that today, multilateralism is under threat, and stress from nationalism and mercantilism. India believes in the centrality of United Nations and in the relevance of WTO in international trade.
Significantly, the two Foreign Ministers discussed at length the need to speed up the process of expanding the permanent membership of United Nations Security Council. Both India and Germany are the members of Group of four nations called G-4 who are pushing for UN Security Council reforms for extension of permanent membership to them. During his interaction with the media, Dr. Jaishankar elaborated that it is the subject on which India and Germany have worked together for some years. The External Affairs Minister thanked his German counterpart for extending support to two Indian multilateral initiatives International Solar Alliance (ISA) and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI).
India and Germany have been maintaining high level contacts over the years. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited India late last year. The two nations enjoy very cordial trade and have entered into a strategic partnership. The two countries have been collaborating in various international bodies.
During her India visit, Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Modi reiterated that the Indo-German Strategic Partnership is based on the common values and principles of democracy, free and fair trade, and rules-based international order, as well as on mutual trust and respect. India and Germany would be celebrating the twentieth year of their strategic partnership in the year 2020. Both sides have decided to institutionalize the foreign office consultations between the Foreign Secretary of India and the State Secretary of German Federal office. They have also established a Track 1.5 Strategic Dialogue that will enable key stakeholders to annually engage in an open exchange of views and ideas to enhance mutual understanding of national, regional and strategic interests and to work out recommendations for joint engagement and action on individual policy areas. India and Germany are committed to improving information flows between both countries by facilitating visits of Media professionals from both sides.
During his meeting with the German Defence Minister, Dr. Jaishankar discussed the ongoing programmes to deepen defence cooperation. Both countries have entered into implementing agreement concerning bilateral defence cooperation. New Delhi and Berlin now expect that this will provide impetus to cooperation in security policy in existing and new defence and security dialogue formats ,besides focussing on global, regional, maritime and cyber security issues .
Defence Ministers of India and Germany have decided to meet at least once in two years. Germany has also evinced interest in the two defence corridors set up in the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
During his stay in Berlin, the Indian External Affairs Minister also inaugurated the India Pavilion at the Berlin International Film Festival. In his address, Dr. Jaishankar said that India’s partnership at the prestigious Berlin film festival offered tremendous opportunities for excellence in different aspects of film making. India and Germany enjoy multifaceted relationship from defence to economic and from diplomatic to the cultural arena, which is expected to further deepen in coming years.
Script: Ranjit Kumar, Senior Journalist