Welfare of the Indian diaspora, the crisis in Ukraine and renewable energy are expected to be in focus during the three-nation Europe tour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that starts on May 2. In a pre-departure press statement, Mr. Modi said his visit would strengthen the spirit of cooperation between India and the European countries.
“My visit to Europe comes at a time when the region faces many challenges and choices. Through my engagements, I intend to strengthen the spirit of cooperation with our European partners, who are important companions in India’s quest for peace and prosperity,” said Mr. Modi in his statement.
The visit is the first major engagement by the top Indian leadership of the major European powers since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
Mr. Modi will reach Berlin on Monday morning where he will hold talks with Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz. The two leaders will lead the Indian and the German delegations during the Inter-Governmental Consultations (IGC). Holding a special briefing on the visit, the newly appointed Foreign Secretary, Vinay Mohan Kwatra, said External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will accompany the Prime Minister and hold talks with their counterparts during the visit.
“I see the IGC as an early engagement with the new government of Germany, within six months of its formation, which will be helpful to identify our priorities for the medium and long term,” said Mr. Modi. The visit comes in the backdrop of multiple visits from the European side, including that by European Commission’s President Ursula von der Leyen, who had pressed for the historic necessity to forge a common front against aggressor Russia.
Mr. Kwatra, however, indicated that India is expected to stick to the cautious stance regarding Russia and said, “We have been calling for cessation of violence.” India has refused to endorse an outrightly pro-Ukraine line at the United Nations and has maintained neutrality in the face of mounting pressure from the Western partner countries.
He also said that the outreach to Indian diaspora would be an important part of the PM’s visit. “Continental Europe is home to over one million persons of Indian origin, and Germany has a significant proportion of this diaspora,” said Mr. Modi informing that he will meet “brothers and sisters there”. Mr. Modi is known for his interaction with the Indian diaspora during his foreign tours. However, these exchanges were limited during the last two years as the pandemic raged.
From Berlin, Mr. Modi will fly to Copenhagen where he will lead the Indian team at the second India-Nordic Summit along with Prime Ministers of Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Sweden and Norway. The summit is expected to focus on the post-pandemic economic path, climate change, digitisation and renewable energy, which has acquired greater relevance in the aftermath of Russia’s military campaign against Ukraine as the West tries to cut off Russia from the global energy market.
On his way back, Mr. Modi will meet French President Emmanuel Macron who won the re-election against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. “President Macron and I will share assessment on various regional and global issues and will take stock of ongoing bilateral cooperation. It is my firm belief that two countries that share such similar vision and values for the global order, must work in close cooperation each other. “