India is willing to join “any peace process” to solve the Ukraine crisis, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday. Welcoming German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Mr. Modi urged for reform of the UN Security Council and an end to cross-border terrorism. The crisis in Ukraine was the main focus of the statement by Mr. Scholz, who said that it’s important to state clearly where members of the United Nations stand on the issue of Ukraine, and declared that he would “personally make sure” the fast completion of negotiation for the EU-India Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
“COVID pandemic and Ukraine conflict affected the whole world. Developing countries were especially negatively impacted by these. We both agree that these problems can be solved through joint efforts and in the G-20, we are focusing on this. India has been talking about the need for dialogue and diplomacy since the beginning of the Ukraine crisis. India is willing to join any peace talks to solve this crisis,” Mr. Modi said, presenting the Indian point of view on the biggest issues facing the world.
Mr. Modi urged reform in multilateral platforms, saying that such moves were necessary to make multilateral forums reflect “global realities”. “This is evident in the joint initiative by us under the G-4 to bring reform in the UN Security Council,” he added. He also invited Mr. Scholz for the G-20 summit that will be held in September this year.
In his comment, Mr. Scholz said that India has made “enormous rise” since he visited the country first as the Mayor of Hamburg in 2012. He congratulated India on the G-20 Presidency, adding, “We have been cooperating, which has made it possible to make important decisions. I am pleased to say that India has the G-20 Presidency — a very responsible task at a very difficult time, that has to be underlined. But I am confident that India will fully comply with what needs to be done in this regard.”
Mr. Scholz said the countries in Africa, Asia, America and elsewhere should not suffer because of the shortage of essential items such as food and energy which has intensified because of the war in Ukraine “that was started by Russia”.
“The war in Ukraine began a year ago. It has led to immense losses, destroyed railway lines, energy connections. It is a major catastrophe but above all, it is a major disaster because this war violates fundamental principles to which we all agree — that you do not change borders through use of violence. Thus, it is important that in the UN too, we time and again state very clearly where we stand in this matter,” Mr. Scholz said.
The German Chancellor’s comment on taking position on Ukraine, which came two days after India once again abstained on a Ukraine-related resolution, indicated that Delhi, despite growing Western pressure, remains neutral between Russia and Ukraine. The difference was visible also in Bengaluru, where G-20 Finance Ministers were sharply divided over the Ukraine crisis, with U.S. and European Ministers attacking the Russian officials present at the meeting for being “complicit in the war”. In public remarks, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire indicated he was dissatisfied with the Indian attempt to soften some of the language against Russia, and replace the term “invasion” with others like “crisis”, according to a PTI report.
Mr. Scholz also announced that he would “personally make sure” the negotiation on the India-EU Free Trade Agreement did “not drag on” and was speedily completed. The next, Asia-Pacific Conference of German Industry and Business will take place in India, Mr. Scholz announced, adding that 1,800 German companies active in India have created “tens of thousands of jobs and are among the biggest foreign investors” in India.
“There are many capable companies here. India has so much talent and we want to benefit from that cooperation. We want to attract that talent and employ them in Germany,” Mr. Scholz, who described climate change as the “central topic” before the world, said. The two sides sealed an agreement on ‘India-Germany Vision to Enhance Cooperation in Innovation and Technology’, and a signed a ‘Letter of Intent between Department of Science and Technology and Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems for Cooperation in Green Hydrogen and Clean Energy Technologies’.