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Transcript of Special Briefing by Foreign Secretary on Prime Minister’s Visit to Germany (May 02, 2022)

May 03, 2022

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: A very good evening, late evening to all of you. First of all, I'm Arindam Bagchi, Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs. Thank you very much to all, some of you are friends from media traveling to Berlin, good to see you here. And some of you I don't know, I suppose you are based in Berlin. Thank you very much for joining us so late in the evening. We've been trying to schedule this the entire day. But I assure you that it is not for want of trying that we couldn't find a window. I appreciate your presence here and I'm also equally appreciative of the presence here of the people on the dias here, particularly Foreign Secretary Sir, Shri Vinay Kwatra, who's actually with us, came overnight over the flight. Also, our ambassador to Germany Shri P. Harish as well as Sandeep Chakraborty, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs, looking after the Europe West Division. It's late, I won't talk much. What we will do is try to keep this short. I'll request Foreign Secretary for his brief remarks. And we will try to take a few questions, which is the reason you are here. But let's stick to about a one question and let's see if we can wrap it up. We all have early morning, I'm sure tomorrow. Sir, floor is yours.

Shri Vinay Kwatra, Foreign Secretary:
Thank you very much. Ambassador Harish, Mr. Sandeep, Joint Secretary DG of Europe West Division, friends from the media, thank you very much for coming for this press briefing so late in the evening. We have just concluded the Berlin leg of Prime Minister Modi's three day, three nation tour. It has been an intense day, hectic schedule, quite packed. Started with one to one meeting between Prime Minister and Chancellor Scholz, which was followed by the plenary session of the sixth inter-governmental consultations, which was then followed by a high level business roundtable, which was attended both by Chancellor Scholz and Prime Minister Modi and the leading executives of the business community from the two countries. It was thereafter followed by an address by the Prime Minister to the Indian community, a very enthusiastic diaspora event earlier this evening. And we have just concluded the final segment of the Vision Program, which was Chancellor Scholz private dinner for Prime Minister Modi.

The joint statement, which outlines the overall scope, and the scale of partnership between India and Germany is already out. I think it's in the public domain for all of you to see. Besides that, there have also been the documents signed between the two countries. I think there are what roughly, if I'm correct, Sandeep, there are about 13 to 14 odd documents, specific outcomes, which are there, I would only list out a few key ones, in terms of putting a frame to those outcomes. I think the first and probably the most important of them, would be the declaration of intent signed by both the leaders, Chancellor Scholz and Prime Minister Modi on green and sustainable development partnership. I think this declaration of intent imparts long term strategic perspective to our entire and development cooperation agenda, and as part of which Germany has agreed to make an advance commitment of 10 billion euros of new and additional development assistance until 2030.

The second of them would be triangular development cooperation, essentially, India and Germany cooperating together in third country projects. The third, an important one done earlier today is the declaration of intent, rather initialling of the text of the migration and mobility Partnership Agreement. The fourth would be the collaboration on green hydrogen and renewables, which has been prioritized by our Prime Minister and as part of our partnership in this space, a task force will work towards establishing a green hydrogen hub in India with the German support.

The next one would be the segment relating to defence cooperation and in which the Indian and the German stakeholders would come together, both in the field of defence manufacturing, co designing, co-development and as part of discussions on global developments, the two leaders also shared their respective perspectives on developments on different issues developing all over the world. This included the knock on effects of the Ukraine conflict, particularly in sectors like food, energy, fertilizers, edible oil, these are all subject matter of discussion under the views on the global developments. In sum, what I would say is as was also mentioned by Prime Minister in his remarks, the economy, the ecology, trade, Investment linkages, green partnership, these were the central pillar on which the discussions focused along the three segments of bilateral discussions first between the two leaders, then the inter-governmental consultations, which itself has three specific sub segments. And later on the conversations continued over the dinner. All in all, it has been intense day. But it has also been extremely productive, both in terms of the range of discussions, the scope of the partnership, assessment of the overall range of cooperation and the agenda chalked out in terms of what the two countries and the two systems, will be working together on going forward in months and years ahead. I once again, thank you very much for coming at this evening. And we'll be happy to take any questions, please. Thank you.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: I will open the floor for questions. Please introduce yourself and the organization you represent and try to limit it to hopefully a question each. We'll take a few questions together.

Speaker 1:
Sir I’m from the Times of London. I would like to ask a question about the war in Ukraine, which is when European and American commentators talk about India's position, they very often do so in realist terms, that is in terms of India's interests. It's also clear, though, that there has been a strong value component to Indian foreign policy since at least as far back as the Bandung Conference in 1955. So please, could you help me to understand what the value based considerations are for enduring this conflict? And in particular in two regards first, the argument that is often made that this is a textbook example of a colonialist war. And second, the argument made by the British, the German and the American governments, that this is a moment for democracies to make a stand for democratic values and for the multilateral order. Thank you.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Anybody else on the similar Ukraine question? Why don't take them together? No. Okay. Any other questions? Okay, Sidhant, go ahead.

Sidhant: Sir Sidhant, from WION. Will the Prime Minister be traveling to Germany next month for the G7, since the invite has been extended now?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: Two days ago, you people were asking whether the invite has been extended. Anyway. Any other questions?

Ashish: Sir, this is Ashish from TV 9. You mentioned about the defence cooperation specifically in the manufacturing area. Was there anything specific that were discussed in the submarine deal? Because that's one of the biggest things as far as the German companies and the government is concerned specific to project P75 India. Second, was there invite by Prime Minister for German chancellor to visit India?

Isha Bhatia: This is Isha Bhatia. Sir you briefly mentioned that there was talk about third country's project. So if you could throw a little bit more light on what was really discussed as far as the third countries are concerned, thank you.

Speaker 2: I was just wondering, should it come to an oil embargo from the European side, how India would react to this with regards to commerce with Russia?

Shri Vinay Kwatra, Foreign Secretary: Thank you. I think it's obviously very clear from the outcomes of the discussions between the two leaders. But I'll still make it very clear. I think we all need to keep in mind that the principal objective of the inter-governmental consultations is to focus on the entire range of bilateral partnership. That is the core purpose for which the intergovernmental consultations take place in which the ministers besides the Prime Minister, the ministers are there from the two respective sides to assist the two principles. As part of extensive conversation between the two sides, the developments happening in other parts of the world are also taken up. But the principal objective is the bilateral cooperation between the two countries. In that context, let me just first answer Ashish. I think, when you talk of Defence cooperation, it is not about particular transaction as you're referring to, I think the focus in the Defence Partnership, between our two countries, at least in terms of discussions held today has been on how the two countries can work together on co-designing, co-development, co-manufacturing, of different elements of Defence manufacturing, I think that has been the principal scope in which the discussions took place. With regard to the triangular cooperation, essentially, it's a conceptual frame in which India and Germany would come together to undertake development partnership projects in third countries. In this particular case, to start with, there are three African countries and one country in Latin America, where the initial projects would be undertaken. And depending upon our experiences in this, this will be carried forward.

I think with regard to the question on Ukraine, I would not really go into the details of the elements of position of India, because this has been amply clarified in many, many statements of ours, what I would broadly put forward to you and the major strands of it, one has been that we have consistently right from the onset of the conflict, talked about immediate and early cessation of hostilities and the resolution part, which goes through diplomacy and dialogue. I think these have been the central pillars in terms of our position, which we have explained many times. You know, the question of principles, question of values, question of interest I think eventually it's a question of balancing principles and interests, and I think our position and it takes care of our principles, is also our interest. I think, so far as Ukraine is concerned, I would limit myself to that.

I think there was a question relating to Prime Minister. I think invitation to the chancellor. Yes, Prime Minister did extend an invite to Chancellor Scholz, and I think we'll work out the subsequent elements of it through the regular diplomatic channels. Sorry, I didn't quite get a question on G7. I think it was Sidhant’s question. I think we all heard what Chancellor Scholz said in his Press remarks, so I think will now we will be taking it forward through regular channels in terms of how this is taken forward. In terms of oil embargo, again, I think if you look at the actual situation on the ground, the quantum of oil imports by India from Russia, is probably a small fraction of what perhaps the rest of the world imports from Russia. Ultimately, we essentially look also, this element from the perspective of energy security, which I think it's not just India but other countries are also pursuing.

Danish Khan: Hi, this is Danish Khan from Times Now. I will be really interested in knowing a bit more on the migration and mobility one. Because generally the perception is India is looking towards UK or US or Australia. So, something about migration and mobility in Germany, is there some visa regime changes? What is it?

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson: No further questions. I think we'll keep it to the last one.

Shri Vinay Kwatra, Foreign Secretary: I think the central element of migration and mobility agreement is actually connectivity between the people of the two countries. It has elements which essentially facilitates a movement of professionals between the two countries. It would also have elements in terms of looking at how the entire question of migration can be systematized between the two interior ministries. But yes, it does have elements which facilitates movement of professionals, leading to increase in trade in services, and maybe in some elements trade of goods also.

Shri Arindam Bagchi, Official Spokesperson:
Sir, thank you very much for take time out. Thank you to all of you. I'd also like to thank our Ambassador, Shri P. Harish as well as to Sandeep Chakraborty Joint Secretary (Europe West) for being here. Thank you for joining us. Good evening.

Shri Vinay Kwatra, Foreign Secretary: Thank you.

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