Home / News / World /  Cooperation, and controversy, on the cards as German foreign minister visits India

Germany’s chief diplomat Annelina Baerbock will embark on her first visit to India as Foreign Minister. Baerbock will be in India for a 2-day visit on December 5 and 6. Discussions on bilateral cooperation, energy security and Germany’s Indo-Pacific pivot will figure in the agenda for this visit.

“During her stay in New Delhi, Ms. Baerbock will be hosted by External Affairs Minister, Dr S. Jaishankar for bilateral talks on 05 December 2022.," reads a statement by the Ministry of External Affairs. 

The visit comes just days after the announcement that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will likely visit India twice in 2023. Chancellor Scholz will look to make a bilateral visit to India in advance of the G20 Summit to be held in India in 2023. 

Foreign Minister Baerbock’s visit speaks to the importance of bilateral relationship to both sides, according to Ankita Dutta, an expert on European politics who is Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, a think tank. 

“India is an important partner for Germany in Asia. Similarly, for India, Germany is a critical partner in Europe. The visit will aim to take forward the partnership. The visit is important as this is the first high-level visit to India as it takes the G20 presidency," says Dutta. 

Prime Minister Modi visited Germany in May 2022 for the annual consultations between New Delhi and Berlin. 

According to the Ministry of External Affairs, Ministers Jaishankar and Baerbock will “hold discussions on bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest."

“The priority agenda would remain the strengthening of the green and sustainable development partnership. Germany had recently announced that it had finalised 22 projects totalling €1 billion to support transition to renewable energy in India. So the focus will remain on renewables and emerging technologies. Of course, the global impact of conflict in Europe will feature in the discussion along with the price cap on Russian oil which gets implemented on 5 December. Apart from these, the Indo-Pacific is another area where there are synergies as Germany looks to play a larger role and is looking towards like-minded partners," says Dutta. 

The bilateral relationship has not been without controversy. Minister Baerbock was at the receiving end of pushback from India’s foreign ministry when she appeared to support internationalising the Kashmir issue. The fact that the Minister’s remarks came during a bilateral press conference with Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari made matters worse. 

The German Foreign Ministry also controversially weighed in on the arrest of journalist Mohammed Zubair in June 2022. 

“Journalists should not be persecuted and imprisoned for what they say and write," said the German Foreign Ministry spokesperson in relation to the Zubair case at the time. This sparked a sharp rejoinder from India’s Ministry of External Affairs.

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