July 05, 2020
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‘Germany Can't Interfere In India’s Bid For Un Seat’

German Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel was in India last week. Though optimistic about Indo-German trade ties, he feels infrastructural bottlenecks are a hindrance. He elaborates in an interview with Sunil Narula. Excerpts:

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‘Germany Can't Interfere In India’s Bid For Un Seat’

Germany is western Europe’s most successful economy. What are the prospects of economic and technological cooperation with India?

The further development of our economic relations was an important talking point during my visit to New Delhi. I was accompanied by a large delegation of top German managers aiming to intensify their links with India. After the US, we are India’s most important trade partner. The volume of trade has doubled in five years. At the end of last year, it stood at DM 10 billion, and the trend points upwards. German investment in India amounts to over DM 600 million — here, too, we expect a marked increase. On the other hand, India is only 31st in Germ a n y ’s trade statistics, both as importer and exporter; there is thus room for further growth. The major conference held by the German business community’s Asia Pacific Committee in New Delhi in October-November 1996 opened up new prospects in this respect. Immediately afterwards , the Indo-German Chamber of Commerce celebrated its 40th anniversary. Its success is re flected by the fact that it is now the largest bilateral German chamber of trade and commerce abroad .

What areas of investment and bilateral trade with India are especially attractive to Germany?

German imports from India have traditionally been dominated by textiles and leather goods. This situation is, however, changing in order to reflect India’s potential with regard to industrial production, particularly in future-oriented sectors. For example, in the first six months of 1995 and 1996 there has been an impressive increase of 32 per cent and 37 per cent, respectively, in Indian exports to Germany in the field of chemicals and vehicles. This is a welcome and a necessary development, since India would be unable to sufficiently strengthen its position in the world market solely on the basis of its traditional exports. The Indian Government sees the expansion of infrastructure as a primary task. German business has a lot to offer in this respect; for example, re g a rding traffic routes and means of mass transport, energy production and distribution and telecommunications. I am sure that once the infrastructure bottlenecks have been removed and, following further progress in liberalising India’s economy, German business interest in India will grow. I am convinced that German environmental technology, which is at the cutting edge in many fields, can offer optimum solutions to India’s ever more urgent environment problems.

Why has the level of German investment in India remained low?

Let me state first of all that the statistics are not as bad as you suggest. On the contrary, judged by the number of new cooperation projects approved in 1995, Germ a n y, with 252 projects, was in second place behind the US. However, it was only in 10th position in terms of volume, at Rs 13 billion. But then, two factors should not be overlooked here. First, the fact that the level of funding per project is lower is often due to the happy circumstance that small and medium-sized German firms, the driving force behind our economic power and technological pro g ress, are also involved in these projects. Second, you should bear in mind that a number of well-known major German firms have been producing in India for decades, in some cases for over 100 years. Investment by these long-established firms is no longer even counted as German investment. But, as I said about the balance of trade, there is still room for improvement , and my visit aims to help ensure that more companies in Germany consider investing in India.

What are your views on the UN reforms and the expansion of the Security Council?

UN reforms have already begun and have produced a number of results; the restructuring of the Secretariat and the reorientation of UNCTAD are cases in point. What we now need is a thorough overhaul of the entire UN system, its finances, institutions and structures, in order to make it fit for the next century. Reform of the Security Council is part and parcel of this overall effort. The Security Council still bears the traits of 1945; it needs a new format for the year 2000. Changing the composition of the Security Council to reflect changed circumstances will enhance its legitimacy, credibility and forcefulness.

India is interested in a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Would Germany, which is sure to be given one, back India?

I am indeed pleased that a large number of UN member states are in favour of a permanent seat for Germany on the Security Council. The logic of my position— that is, that the composition of the Council should mirror reality at the close of the 20th century— demands that Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean be given greater representation, and that Japan become a permanent member. We have proposed allotting each of the above regions one additional permanent and one non-permanent seat. However, I feel that we should not interfere in the process by which the countries in these regions decide which country is to represent them as a permanent member. Elements for a solution to this issue are under discussion, and we are following this discussion with interest.

Six years after Germany’s reunification there is still tension between eastern and western Germany over unemployment, economic disparities....

Following reunification, the extent of the economic and environmental failures of the former G D R’s communist regime proved much greater than expected. Over the past six years a unique reconstruction process has been necessary — roads and railway links have been overhauled, a new telecom network was created and a modern business and administrative structure had to be established. New jobs were created. The necessary transfers of funds from West to East have now reached the order of DM 1,000 billion. Nonetheless, the work is not yet complete. The decisive factor is the will of all Germans to tackle this major challenge together.

Germany plays a significant role in determining NATO’s new role in Europe’s security. Russia is concerned about NATO’s relationship with the eastern European countries.

Directly after the end of the Cold War, NATO adapted itself to the radically changed security scenario. The triad of defence, dialogue and cooperation is emphasised in the Strategic Concept we adopted in Rome in 1991. The new NATO regards conflict prevention and crisis management as important tasks. Another element of the changing Alliance is the strengthening of Europe’s security and defence identity; we are busy working on this. One of the central concerns of the new NATO is cooperation with central and eastern European countries. The Alliance is working together closely with these countries, and also with Russia, within the North Atlantic Cooperation Council and the ‘Partnership for Peace’ programme. The policy of opening NATO to new members is being conducted carefully and circumspectly, with the parallel aim of building a security partnership with Russia. Without Russian participation there can be no lasting security and stability in Europe. I have therefore proposed the elaboration of a ‘NATO-Russia Charter’, talks on which will begin soon. I am confident that through intensive dialogue with Russia we will arrive at a security partnership enabling us to jointly secure peace and stability in Europe.

The impetus towards European integration has slackened after the Maastricht Treaty.

The European Union (EU) is doubtless Europe’s biggest political and economic success not just in this century, but perhaps throughout its entire history. The European internal market is of paramount economic significance for all EU members. We enjoy greater freedom of movement, security and prosperity than any previous generation. We Germans are aware that without European  integration we could not have achieved German unity in the way we did. Reforms, especially such epochal ones, are never easy. Therefore, it is understandable when some people criticise them. All this notwith-standing, European unity has no alternative, and we will successfully master the difficult tasks ahead. The world is in a state of flux. Terrorism and international organised crime have become a worldwide problem. Environmental catastrophes respect no national boundaries. Migration pressure is growing. The nation states are losing relative importance and can’t solve these problems alone. There is need to cooperate. These are issues which the Intergovernmental Conference to review the EU has been addressing since March 1996.

What about economic and monetary union?

Economic and monetary union, too, is becoming more visible. The introduction of the common currency, the Euro, is the key to maintaining Europe’s global competitiveness. This is not to say that we seek to construct a ‘Fortress Europe’; on the contrary, free trade in line with the World Trade Organisation principles benefits all countries. After all, the overcoming of the Cold War and the triumph of democracy would merely remain a historical episode, were we not to succeed in creating a lasting order of prosperity and peace in Europe. Integrating central and eastern European democracies into the EU and removing forever the division of our continent is a task without historical parallel.


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