This Press Conference was called to brief you on Prime Minister’s visit to Germany, to St. Petersburg, and
to Evian. However, I will take this opportunity to brief you also on the meeting of the CCS that took place
today. In fact, I will begin with that.
In its meeting of May, 26th, the CCS considered matters relating to Iraq. India welcomes the fact that the UN Security Council has reached agreement on the way forward in Iraq, as expressed in the United Nations Security Council’s Resolution 1483. We note that in the Resolution, which is under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, the United Nations has appealed to all its member-States to assist the people of Iraq in their efforts to reform the institutions in their country and rebuild their country, and to contribute to the conditions of stability and security in Iraq.
The CCS decided that (a) India’s Ambassador to Iraq will return to
Baghdad, and (b) the Ministry of External Affairs will initiate consultations with the United Nations
including the UNSG Special Advisor, the Authority in Iraq as recognized in UN Security Council Resolution
1483, and the concerned countries to obtain clarifications on the parameters and scope of the appeal mentioned
above. MEA will report back to the CCS on these consultations. That is it on that.
With regard to Prime Minister’s visits to these three countries, he will begin with the visit to the Federal Republic of Germany from 27 to 30 May. This is the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Germany in nearly a decade, the last being that of former Prime Minister Shri P.V. Narasimha Rao in February 1994. The visit assumes special significance since it is a follow-up of a decision taken during the Chancellor Schroeder’s visit in October, 2001 to hold the annual summits alternately in New Delhi and Berlin. Our Prime Minister will be accompanied by Shri Yashwant Sinha, the Minister of External Affairs and Shri Arun Jaitley, the Minister for Commerce and Industry.
You are probably aware that a high-level interaction in the last two years had been maintained between India and Germany, as envisaged in the agenda for Indo-German partnership in the 21st century signed in May, 2000 between the Foreign Ministers of the two countries. There have been several exchanges of high-level visits. From the Indian side, the Ministers of External Affairs, Finance, Human Resources Development, Commerce, Home, Health; the Minister of State for External Affairs and the Minister of State for Non-Conventional Energy Sources have visited Germany. From their side there have been two visits by their Foreign Minister and a visit by their Defence Minister, apart from a highly successful visit of the German Chancellor who was accompanied by his Ministers of Economics and Technology and Interior.
The most recent visit from the German side has been that of the German President Johannes Rau during 1-6 March 2003 underlying the continuing priority which Germany accords to this political and strategic dialogue at the highest political level. I may also mention that the German Foreign Minister’s visit to India is under consideration for 4th July. During his stay in Berlin the Prime Minister will call on President Rau, he will have a meeting with Chancellor Schroeder who will host a lunch in his honour.
The German Foreign Minister Mr. Fischer will call on the Prime Minister, he would also be having a separate meeting with the EAM. Prime Minister will also have a meeting with the President of the German Bundelstag and interact with the German Parliamentarians including the members of the Indo-German Parliamentary Friendship Group. You may be aware that recently the Speaker of the Lok Sabha has constituted an Indo-German Parliamentary Group in the Indian Parliament to deepen and strengthen Parliamentary interaction between the two countries.
A Parliamentary delegation from India recently visited Germany. When
the Prime Minister is in Berlin, the Mayor of Berlin will receive him at Brandenburg Gate where
he will sign the Golden Book. The Leader of the Opposition and the President of the Christian Democratic Union
Ms. Angela Merkell and the President of the Free Democratic Party will also call on the Prime Minister.
Finally the Prime Minister will interact with the Indian community in a reception hosted by our Ambassador in
Prime Minister’s visit also includes a visit to Munich, the leading hitech region of Germany. The recent opening of our Consulate in Munich is recognition of the potential for expanding our trade and commercial ties with that State. Bavaria with its eleven universities, 15 technical colleges, and an economy dominated by hitech sectors like electronics, information and communication technology, mechanical engineering, automotive industry, and aerospace industry provides a very good opening for Indian businessmen in European markets.
Many Indian companies have opened their branch offices in Munich
recently such as Tata Consultancy Services, Hansoft Systems, TSC Software, Wipro, Satyam, Infosys, etc.
Bavaria is also keen to develop business research and academic links with India in particular, and in India
with Karnataka. The highpoint of this programme in Munich will be the interaction with Germany industry and
business organized by Federation of German Industry and the meeting with Minister President of the State of
Bavaria, Mr. Stoiver, who will also host a dinner for our Prime Minister. Before his departure for St.
Petersburg on May 30, the Prime Minister will also have a meeting with Indologists and members of the Friends
of India Group in Munich.
Germany as you know is one of India’s major strategic partners. Maintaining close political ties with Germany is a priority for India given Germany’s stature and influence in major international institutions and its leading role within the EU. The decision to institutionalize annual summits demonstrates the importance that both countries attach to the relationship. The Indo-German Strategic Dialogue, the Indo-German Consultative Group, the Joint Working Group on Terrorism, the Joint Commission and various bilateral Working Groups have contributed to the development of a multi-faceted relationship between our two countries. In economic terms, Germany is India’s fourth largest trading partner, sixth largest investor, although German investment has dropped substantially and this is something which we need to address and we hope that the Prime Minister’s visit and especially the interaction with German industry in Munich will help us to redress this.
Germany has been a partner in India’s education system particularly in the field of technical education, Industrial Training Institutes. It is one of our oldest partners in science and technology with institutional cooperation beginning with the establishment of the IIT, Chennai in 1959 and the opening of the German Academic Exchange Service in 1960. In the past 25 years, more than 650 joint research projects have resulted in 1200 joint research justifications, monographs. It will be useful to expand these contacts.
Our objectives from this visit would be (1) to project the new India
in high level political interaction and in interaction with the business
community; (2) to promote India’s strength in the knowledge- based industries; (3) to demonstrate
willingness of the Indian industry to invest in the German market and seek greater German economic engagement
in India; (4) to promote science and technology and educational exchanges through student exchanges and
tie-ups with educational institutions; (5) to use the democratic dividend and project ourselves as a key
strategic partner of Germany in the maintenance of international peace and stability; and (6) to outline our
vision of a cooperative, integrative international framework that would permit free flow of people, goods and
After his visit to Germany the Prime Minister will go to St. Petersburg. He will be in St. Petersburg on 30-31 May in the context of tercentenary celebrations of the city of St. Petersburg. President Putin specially invited the Prime Minister to participate in the celebrations during President Putin’s visit to New Delhi in December, 2002. The invitation was renewed. Prime Minister’s programme includes participation in various events organised on the Russian side in connection with the tercentenary celebrations. I have the list of places that he is going to visit. I do not know how much interest you may have in those. The Prime Minister may not himself attend all these events because the programme is quite heavy. It is Isaac Cathedral, State Academy, Marinsky Theatre, Palace of Congress, Acatarena Palace, State Museum, State Hermitage Museum, etc., etc.
I have a lot of write ups here about Indo-Russian bilateral relations but clearly this visit is not bilateral. So, I do not think I will tax you and myself by reading out all these details. But basically, the invitation to our Prime Minister and the keenness to have our Prime Minister was intended to signal to us how keen the Russian side is to have our Prime Minister present there at these tercentenary celebrations. You can well imagine that we have had very high level exchanges of visits very regularly with Russia. Normally speaking, the Prime Minister would not have gone to an event of this nature because of the fact that he is hard-pressed for time. But, from our side also it is intended to reciprocate the Russian gesture in inviting us to also to convey the importance we attach to a very strong and growing strategic relationship with Russia.
After his visit to St. Petersburg the Prime Minister will visit Evian for the G-8 Summit in last dialogue. He will be attending the informal summit prior to the formal G-8 summit meeting in Evian at the initiative of President Chirac. The other countries invited are China, Malaysia which is the Chairman of NAM, Brazil, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, NEPAD-5 from Africa, Egypt, Senegal, Algeria, South Africa, Nigeria, Greece as EU President, Mr. Prodi as President of the European Commission, the UN Secretary-General and Heads of IMF, World Bank and WTO.
President Chirac’s proposal is a continuation of the initiative
taken earlier by Japan, Italy and Canada. During the Okinawa G-8 Summit in 2000, informal consultations had
been held with leaders of developing countries. During Italy’s chairmanship in 2001, Italy had sought to
engage in a more formal dialogue with non-G-8 members on poverty reduction which was the main theme of the
2001 Summit. But Italy has invited only the President’s of South Africa, Mali and Nigeria as well as the
Prime Minister of Bangladesh. In 2002 G-8 Summit Heads of State of Algeria, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa
had attended. So, you can see that the Evian G-8 Summit Enlarged dialogue is intended to consult emerging
countries as well as least developing countries on the major issues facing the world today and is a part of
President Chirac’s desire to see greater involvement of the non-G-8 countries in the consultative process of
During the New Year Address to the diplomatic corps on January 7, 2003, President Chirac had elaborated on the proposed themes of this informal Summit. These include (1) solidarity with particular emphasis on the partnership for Africa’s development and access to water for all - that explains the invitation to NEPAD-5; (2) the spirit of responsibility that not only Governments but all economic actors, especially business corporations, need to display in the financial, social, environmental and ethical spheres; (3) security in order to strengthen the fight against terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; and (4) democracy through ongoing dialogue with civil society and with other States.
In his speech on the G-8 Summit on
Wednesday, 21 May, President Chirac again reiterated the themes of security, growth and stability, and
emphasized the special needs of Africa - continent which is marginalized but whose leaders want to change the
situation. The discussions will also cover such issues as terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass
destruction, drug-trafficking and organized crime which are all issues high on the international agenda.
The invitation to our Prime Minister to attend the informal summit prior to the formal G-8 Summit demonstrates also the importance of the bilateral relationship between India and France. I will end here. I am ready to answer any Questions that you may have.