Modi scraps Brussels visit

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi with veteran BJP leader L K Advani during the BJP Parliamentary meeting at Parliament library in New Delhi on Tuesday. PTI Photo by Kamal Singh(PTI3_3_2015_000063A)   | Photo Credit: PTI

Upset by what the government perceives as a snub from the European Union, India has called off plans for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s travel to Brussels during his visit to Europe and Canada next month.

The incident could set off a bigger row as the decision comes just as a high-level delegation of EU parliamentarians, including two senior most members of the European Parliament in charge of relations with India, Mr. Geoffrey Van Orden, and Ms. Neena Gill, are in India for official meetings and to address trade ties that have been lagging in the past year.

Officials confirmed that the Ministry of External Affairs had informed the EU, headquartered in Brussels, some weeks ago that the Prime Minister would be travelling to Hannover in Germany and later to France in April, and suggested holding the EU-India summit during the visit.

However, after receiving no reply from the EU for a month, the MEA has decided to continue with the plans without Brussels on the Prime Minister’s agenda. He will now continue from Europe to Canada for the second leg of his eight-day tour.

‘Working on dates’

In a written response to a question from The Hindu on the issue, the EU however, said it was still working on dates for the summit. 

"The EU is keen to have a Summit with India and is looking for a mutually convenient date which would allow for sufficient preparation,” said Cesare Onestini, Chargé d'affaires for the European Union delegation.  Mr. Onestini also pointed out that other exchanges on issues including cyber security, science and technology are ongoing, adding “pending an agreement (on dates for the summit), high level visits continue to take place.”

A senior diplomat from an EU nation countered the contention that there was “any snub intended” and said that their understanding was that India had sent its request for the EU-India summit and it proposed only one date for it in April. “Given the time that we had to prepare, we were unable to fix the date as per the government's convenience,” he added.

MEA officials, however, said there was absolutely no response from the EU.

The incident has taken on a more political tone as reports suggest that the EU’s unusual behaviour reflects anger over the treatment of the two Italian marines charged with the killing of Indian fishermen off the coast of Kerala. In a very strong resolution, led by EU Foreign Affairs High Representative Federica Mogherini in January 2015, the European Parliament had accused India of a “serious breach of human rights”, demanding that both marines, one of whom is convalescing in Italy, be repatriated. The resolution was rejected by India.

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Printable version | Nov 28, 2021 2:15:35 PM |

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