New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday concluded a six-day tour of Germany, Spain, Russia and France. The visit took place against the backdrop of Britain’s impending exit from the European Union or “Brexit" and US president Donald Trump announcing Washington’s pullout from the Paris climate accord reached in November 2015. Modi’s trip also took place against the backdrop of tensions in India-Russia bilateral relationship over the past year—over the role of the Taliban in Afghan talks and Russian overtures to Pakistan.
Mint takes a look at the key outcomes from Modi’s four-nation visit.
Climate change: With the US withdrawing from the Paris climate change pact, all eyes were on the next move by India, which is seen as one of the biggest sources of carbon emissions. Modi, on his part, assured German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Emannuel Macron that India would not step back from its commitment. In Paris, Modi said the Paris pact was “part of the world’s shared heritage" and that India would “continue working... above and beyond the Paris Accord". In Berlin, Modi said that climate protection and living in harmony with nature is a part of Indian ethos. India’s commitment could likely help burnish its credentials as a responsible power that can be seen as a rule shaper and maker.
Pact for two more nuclear power plants at Kudankulam: India and Russia signed the general framework agreement and the Credit Protocol for Units 5 and 6 of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant. Russia will offer credit for half of the Rs50,000 crore required to set up the plants that will be built by India’s Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) and Russia’s Atomstroyexport, a subsidiary of Rosatom, the regulatory body of the Russian nuclear complex. Each of the two units will have a capacity to produce 1,000 megawatt (MW) of power.
Also read: Why nuclear power still makes sense for India
India-Russia ‘energy’ relations: India and Russia decided to build an “Energy Bridge" to expand the scope of bilateral relations in all areas of energy—nuclear, hydrocarbon, hydel and renewable energy sources and in improving energy efficiency.
Support for India’s bid to enter export control regimes: India found support from almost all the four countries Modi visited for its bid to join the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) that sets the rules for global nuclear commerce, the Australia Group which sets rules for exports of substances aimed at curbing trade and proliferation of chemical or biological weapons and the Wassenaar Arrangement that sets down export control regulations for conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies. India’s bid to join the NSG has been blocked mainly by China.
Boost for bilateral defence relations: India and Russia agreed to “upgrade and intensify" cooperation, through joint manufacture, co-production, co-development of military hardware and military spares, and sharing of future technologies. Both agreed to hold regular joint land and sea military exercises with the first-ever Tri-services exercises later this year.
In the case of Germany, Modi and Merkel agreed to “pursue closer cooperation and strive to conclude negotiations in 2017 on a binding agreement concerning enhanced cooperation in the defence field including in defence industry cooperation". And in Spain, President Mariano Rajoy and Modi focussed on “cooperation between defence industries, including co-development and co-production agreements and technological cooperation", particularly in the aerospace sector. Taken together, it can be seen as a boost to Modi’s Make in India initiative.
Also read: Three years of Narendra Modi’s foreign policy
Indian support for a united EU: Modi, in his meetings with the leaders of Germany, Spain and France, backed the idea of a strong and united European Union which he said was in India’s interest. “A strong, progressive EU, a forceful EU is something India has always supported and I would like to see France’s energetic visionary and young leadership impart new strength not only to France but to the EU as well, a successful and powerful EU will play a big role, a balancing role in global affairs," Modi said after talks with Macron. In Germany, Modi backed Merkel’s strong leadership in uniting the EU.
Terrorism: Modi pitched for united and decisive action to eliminate terrorism and radicalism. “Terrorism poses grave threat to future generations. Humanitarian forces must unite to combat the menace," he said, after talks with Merkel in Germany.
The joint statement after talks with president Vladimir Putin of Russia said the two countries “strongly condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and stress that there can be no justification whatsoever for any acts of terrorism, whether based upon ideological, religious, political, racial, ethnic or any other reasons... We are convinced that the unprecedented spread of this threat requires decisive collective response on part of the entire global community, without double standards and selectivity, in accordance with international law and the UN Charter. We urge all countries and entities to work sincerely to disrupt terrorist networks and their financing, and stop cross-border movement of terrorists."