Merkel warmer to Modi than what some reports suggested


Berlin: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel today co-chaired the 4th India-Germany Inter-Governmental Consultations in Berlin. Addressing the media after the meeting, the Prime Minister appreciated the Chancellor’s vision for Europe and the world. He said an outcome-oriented momentum is perceptible in the relations between the two countries.

In a statement that should be music to the ears of advocates of a free in India, the Chancellor took serious exception to the worldwide tendency of protectionism. “It’s important that we make progress on the German-Indian, or rather EU-Indian, free trade agreement.”

While sections of the media in India saw it as Germany’s discomfiture with India’s protectionism, if any, it is more likely she was sending the message to US President Donald Trump who has recently objected to the US-Germany trade imbalance, which is in Germany’s favour.

The local press asked the Indian delegates whether this country would pull out of the climate change agreement of following in the footsteps of the US, where President Trump has indicated so. The spokesperson of India’s Ministry of External Affairs refused to respond to the query, dismissing it as a “hypothetical” question.

The Prime Minister said foreign from Germany to India was rising, especially for the Make-in-India initiative. He said German partnership with India was important for the Skill India Mission, with German parameters being the “global benchmarks” that are crucial for India. He said cooperation was envisaged also in the sports arena, particularly in football.

The Prime Minister spoke of themes such as climate protection and smart cities, which came up for discussion. He said German innovation and Indian youth could together add great dynamism in the start-up space. He said a global order based on was the need of the hour in an interconnected and interdependent world.

Addressing a press conference with Merkel, Modi said, “The cohesiveness of EU is very important”. “India wants the world not just to be interconnected but also that it should be sensibly run,” Merkel said to endorse a trade agreement in the works between India and the European Union.

“Whether it be bilateral relations, humanitarian issues, regional or global issues, every discussion with the chancellor has been very beneficial for me,” Modi said, adding, “The pace of development of our relations is fast, the direction is positive, and the destination is clear. Germany will always find India as a powerful, prepared and capable partner.”

Responding to a question, the Prime Minister said Germany and India were “made for each other.” He explained the huge synergy that existed between German capabilities and Indian requirements. He spoke of India’s pursuit of excellence in areas such as engineering, infrastructure and skill development. Describing the values of innovation and democracy, as a blessing for mankind, he said India and Germany shared these values.

In response to a question on climate change, the Prime Minister reiterated India’s historical values of nurturing and protecting nature. He recalled India’s commitment to generate 175 GW of energy from renewable sources by 2022. Emphasising the importance of protecting nature, the Prime Minister said, “Playing with the well-being of future generations would be an immoral and act.”

Earlier, during the IGC, the Prime Minister stressed the big role that the European Union had to play in nurturing a rule-based global order. Both Modi and Merkel shared their deep concern over the global menace of terrorism and decided to strengthen mutual counter-terrorism initiatives.

The Prime Minister thanked Germany for its support of Indian membership of export control regimes. Themes such as clean coal, electric mobility, science and technology cooperation, cyber-security and aviation security came up for discussion. The consultations also touched upon Afghanistan and other global matters.

“EU unity, pro-activeness and strong relations with other countries are extremely important for global development. We want the EU to become stronger and India will play a positive role towards that through the medium of Germany,” Modi told reporters at a joint briefing with Merkel, who hosts Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday.

Both the countries signed 12 agreements. A comprehensive joint statement was issued, covering various aspects of the negotiations.

Germany has extended a €1 bn development assistance to India.

Merkel-Modi handshake: Fact check

Contrary to a report published and broadcast on some sections of the media, Chancellor Merkel did not refuse to shake hands with Prime Minister Modi. After finishing his speech, as Modi extended his right hand naturally, as such occasions normally witness handshakes between the government heads, Merkel had made up her mind that the photo-op should happen with the flags of the two countries in the background. Her reflex action was in conflict with Modi’s at this juncture. She then guided him to the higher part of the dais where the flags were installed. There, the Prime Minister and the Chancellor shook hands.

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