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Europe is truly a priority for India: External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar

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New Delhi: Dr S Jaishankar, Hon’ble Minister of External Affairs, Government of India while speaking at the inaugural session of the 2nd CII India Europe Business and Sustainability Conclave on February 20 at New Delhi said Europe is truly a priority for India.

Elaborating his statement, he said: “The Prime Minister of India during his tenure has been 27 times to Europe. He has received 37 heads of European governments. I have visited Europe 29 times and I have received 36 of my colleagues during this period. I underline these numbers to emphasise how deep, how sustained and how continuous the relationship has been.”

The External Affairs Minister said there are six broad elements that drive the world economy — production and consumption, connectivity and logistics, technology, demographics, values and comforts and architecture or framework to do business.

“In a digital age, we all appreciate the importance of trust and transparency, this is the age of AI, it is the age of Electric Vehicles, it is the age of critical and emerging technologies, of space and of smart cities and smart technologies. We see this reflected in our daily lives, in the economic developments that surround us, and certainly a lot of what we are doing, we believe today that there are opportunities for European companies,” the minister added.

Speaking about human skilling and mobility, Dr Jaishankar said: “We have in the last few years concluded a number of agreements on mobility with our European partners and the plus point of these agreements are that one, they promote legal movement and two, they promote movement of certain skillsets. So, it is something that fits in very neatly with the consumer requirement at the other end as well.”

He also underlined the importance of concluding free trade agreements with European Union and EFTA. “It is important because you can already see that our trade levels have been growing steadily, but there is a well-founded realisation that we need a more positive framework to accelerate it,” he noted.

Talking about connectivity and climate change, the minister said that apart from the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor, a polar route could open up a different logistical pathway between India and Europe that would go through the Indo-Pacific.

However, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Estonia Mr Margus Tsahkna, stated: “Estonia has very well-educated people who can think out of the box. Digitalisation is changing the process of governance. India has innovation and technology, we can have a huge potential together.”

Mr Giorgos Gerapetritis, Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Hellenic Republic (Greece) said: “India has emerged as the voice of Global South during G20. India-EU partnerships offer unique opportunities. I am convinced that the India-Middle East-Europe Corridor will bring prosperity to India and Europe. Greece aspires to be an integral part of this regional project. Being the gateway for India to Europe, this very ambitious connectivity project will enhance the strategic importance of the region both economically and geopolitically, and promote greater peace and stability.”

Addressing those present in New Delhi, Mr Krišjanis Karinš, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Latvia, said that in the current geopolitical climate the European Union and the world’s most populous democracy needed closer economic contact.  Krišjanis Karinš, further stated “Our country is hungry to learn, it is hungry to work.” He stressed that the European Union and India both need each other and that Latvia can be an entry point for a large European market.

Kariņš, together with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Baltic States and Nordic countries, is also scheduled to meet the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi and take part in a discussion on “Exploring synergies between NATO and India’s outlooks for future security challenges” hosted by the conrad Adenauer foundation and an Indian think-tank the Observer Research Foundation.

On February 22, the Minister of Foreign Affairs will take part in the Raisina Dialogue sessions and in a working lunch hosted by the Minister of External Affairs of India.

-With Agency Input

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