Germany respects India's Ukraine stand, every country has right to calibrate as per interests: Envoy

The envoy said the Ukraine war had given an 'extra push' and 'urgency' to the efforts to work towards an EU-India free trade agreement
Last Updated 27 May 2022, 14:48 IST

Germany respects India's stand on the Ukraine conflict and it never sought to criticise New Delhi over the matter, the European country's envoy here Walter J Lindner said on Friday and asserted that every nation has the right to calibrate according to its interests.

Interacting with journalists at the Indian Women's Press Corps, Lindner also announced that his assignment as the German ambassador here would come to an end in some weeks and that he is retiring soon.

The envoy said the Ukraine war had given an "extra push" and "urgency" to the efforts to work towards an EU-India free trade agreement, stressing that "we need partners to keep the trade flowing".

Lindner also said there is a G7 meeting in about five weeks' time that Germany would host, and added Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been invited to attend it and he has agreed to come.

Asked about India's stand on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the German envoy said such a question was not new anymore because the war was now over three months old.

"At the beginning there were negotiations within the United Nations on the adoption of resolutions and there was the expectation that India would condemn more clearly the Russian invasion, they didn't. But I think it has never damaged our relationship because we as Germans but also others in Europe have said, we respect Indian position," Lindner said.

Every country in the world has its own interests, neighbourhood and dependencies, he said, adding that every nation has its right to calibrate according to its interest and regional position.

"Our point was from the beginning not to criticise India...our point was to make clear what is at stake. There we share the same wave-length as India. What is at stake is if a brutal aggression like (Vladimir) Putin's war on peaceful neighbour Ukraine, an independent, sovereign state, would go unpunished, then who is next," he said.

"There are quite a number of countries in the world, including big ones and including those who are close (in terms of proximity) to India, who might get some appetite...border corrections, border disputes (and may say) let's use force because Putin used force, let us do the same," Lindner said without naming any country.

Asked what role he expects India to play in defusing the Ukraine crisis, Lindner said everyone will have to use his own strength to influence the stakeholders.

"Everything that could be done or said to Putin has to be done right now. It is a question to talk to both sides...there is one aggressor. This aggressor does not understand the language of diplomacy anymore," the German envoy said.

"I don't know what can be said to him and who can talk to him. I think anyone who had any sort of influence has already talked to him including your PM (Narendra Modi), and so far we do not see any resolution to this that is why we may increase the sanctions and make sure that Ukrainians defend themselves well," Lindner said.

On efforts to work towards an India-EU trade agreement, Lindner said he was very optimistic and confident following the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen's meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month.

"The setting up of negotiation teams took some time and now with this visit (of EU Commission president to India) it is an excellent push. I understand that they are already working on the first text but of course the devil is in the detail. But the most important thing is that things are happening right now and I think the Ukraine war has put some urgency into this," he said.

"We need partners to keep the trade flowing in the world. If we have partners with similar values which is European Union and India, I think it gave an extra push of urgency to both sides," he added.

Lindner's remarks come after European Union Executive Vice-President and Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said the EU will formally launch negotiations for the proposed free trade agreement with India "very soon".

In May last year, India and the European Union (EU) announced to resume negotiations for a balanced and comprehensive trade agreement after a gap of over eight years.

Later, in a tweet, Lindner said, "Soon my job as GER Amb to India & Buthan comes to an end. But in fact, since I came to IND 1976, the country has been in my veins, never left me, so this time leaving the H.E. behind is just beginning of another chapter of my exploration of IND magic & mystic. A lifelong journey."

(Published 27 May 2022, 14:42 IST)

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