On the eve of its President Horst Koehler’s visit, Germany said India had sprung a “nasty surprise” on it by cancelling a billion-dollar tender for aircraft refuellers and held the Indian bureaucracy liable for not being able to ready four pacts for signing.
Berlin said that as a leader in civil nuclear technology, especially in the safety field, it was prepared to look at the prospects of collaboration in a “positive way” but had not received a request for specific areas in which India was interested.
“For the multi-role tanker tenders, our aircraft [European] was chosen but it came as a nasty surprise for us and [it was] very disappointing [that] it was rejected at the political level. We were not explained the reason in detail and it seems quality was not exactly the criteria,” German Ambassador Thomas Matussek told journalists here on Friday.
Germany wanted to sign several agreements during Dr. Koehler’s visit but they were not cleared by India on grounds that the bureaucratic procedure would take some time.
Germany was most keen on inking a memorandum of understanding for cooperation in security and anti-terrorism to follow up on the real-time exchange of information taking place between intelligence agencies of the two countries. Though the draft was sent last July, the Ministries of External Affairs and Home were still discussing it and thereafter it would have to be put up to the Cabinet for approval. “I spoke to Mr. Chidambaram and he said he will push very hard for it,” observed Mr. Matussek.
Germany was also miffed over the last-minute pulling out of an Indian team for a course on counter-intelligence and felt it would be tough for the organisers to accommodate Indians in future if this attitude continued.
An agreement on economic and technical cooperation worth about Rs. 2,500 crore also could not be finalised despite being initialled last year as was the proposed pact on corporate and social responsibility. A fourth pact on social security too is still being negotiated.
Nevertheless, Mr. Matussek took comfort from the fact that these agreements would be signed in future and both sides were going ahead with closer partnerships in a number of fields. Dr. Koehler’s visit, he said, signals Germany’s desire to enrich and deepen the strategic partnership.
And despite the cancellation, Germany believes it is still in the race for this re-tendered competition as well as for supplying 126 fighters and engines for an indigenously built combat aircraft. Though the cutting edge technology will not come cheap, the German Ambassador maintained that the cost of maintaining European military hardware will be less than the offerings by competitors from the U.S. and Russia. Another advantage over the U.S. was that Germany would not insist on monitoring procedures including on-the-spot inspections.
Dr. Koehler will arrive here on February 1 and during his nearly week-long stay, interact with the entire top political leadership. He will also visit Pune and Mumbai.