Ukraine Issue: EU Wants India to Leverage Ties With Russia

New Delhi
Ukraine Issue: EU Wants India to Leverage Ties With Russia

The European Union today pitched for India's engagement to resolve the Ukraine crisis, saying it can use its privileged relations with Russia to persuade the country to abide by international laws as well as the ceasefire agreement.

European Union Ambassador Joao Cravinho said India can play an important role in finding a peaceful solution to the Ukraine crisis on which Western countries have threatened Russia of more sanctions if it fails to deescalate the tension.

"India's privileged relations with Russia and longstanding relationship with it should build the basis for promotion of a greater understanding (on the issue).

"We hope that India, in its interactions with Russia, should express concerns with regard to territorial integrity (of Ukraine), with regard to maintenance of ceasefire agreements that was agreed upon," Cravinho said.

He said the 28-member European Union will welcome any involvement and engagement of India in resolving the issue.

The US and Western powers have accused Russia of violating the ceasefire agreement on Ukraine and threatened of more sanctions. India has been adopting a cautious approach on the Ukraine issue and has not said anything against Russia.

Asked about Prime Minister Narendra Modi's comments yesterday about the recent church attacks, the EU Ambassador welcomed them and said the remarks were in line with India's Constitution.

"We know that there are elements of discomfort resulting from radical statements by different individuals and groups. We believe that anywhere in the world, it is important for political leaders to be very aware of the explosive potential of religious divisiveness and Prime Minister Modi's comments yesterday were I think manifestations of that kind of concern," he said at a media interaction.

Cravinho said Modi's remarks were not a matter of surprise and that it would have been surprising if he had said something different.

"I would consider it very welcome and at the same time unremarkable because it is a normal position from a political leadership," he said.

Commenting on the church attack issue, Modi had yesterday said his government will not allow any religious group to incite hatred and will strongly act against any religious violence.

Identifying terrorism as a major threat facing the world, Cravinho said European Union and India can expand cooperation in counter-terrorism efforts.

"India lives constantly with concerns regarding terrorist threats. We need to work more closely. We should do whatever we can to promote each other's security," he said.

He said EU wants to improve ties with India in diverse fields and identified Digital India project and Urban Development as possible focus areas for enhanced cooperation besides energy and trade.

He said there has been plenty of scope ensuring "ease of doing business" between the two sides and hoped that the EU-India free trade pact will be firmed up soon.

Launched in June 2007, negotiations for the proposed Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) between India and the 28-nation European rpt 28-nation bloc have witnessed many hurdles as both the sides have major differences on crucial issues.

"We are waiting for India's response on trade relations. We are waiting for the new trade policy," Cravinho said while sounding disappointed over delay in negotiations to remove hurdles for the BTIA.

He said both sides have identified political priorities and hoped engagement between the two sides will pick up momentum in the current year. He said India-EU summit will take place in the current year and an important EU delegation will visit here next month.

On the Italian marines issue, he hoped a mutually agreeable solution will be found. He also played down a recent resolution by the EU parliament on the marines issue.

When asked about the climate change issue, he said all the countries including India must have a strong commitment to cut emissions. But at the same time, he said EU understands India's position and its requirement for sustained growth.

Replying to a question on the alleged human rights abuses in Sri Lanka during the war against LTTE, he said there must be a through inquiry into it.


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