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India increasingly important for Germany due to role in Indo-Pacific, says ambassador

Hindustan Times logo Hindustan Times 27-09-2021 Rezaul H Laskar, New Delhi
Noting that a significant chunk of trade routes used by Germany pass through the Indo-Pacific, German ambassador Walter Lindner said these routes could be “blocked by turmoil” or affected by states that don’t follow international rules. (ANI) © Provided by Hindustan Times Noting that a significant chunk of trade routes used by Germany pass through the Indo-Pacific, German ambassador Walter Lindner said these routes could be “blocked by turmoil” or affected by states that don’t follow international rules. (ANI)

India is an increasingly important partner for Germany because of its strategic role in the Indo-Pacific and the next government in Berlin is expected to continue a policy of working closely with New Delhi, German ambassador Walter Lindner said on Monday.

Speaking shortly after the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) claimed victory in Germany’s federal election by securing an edge over Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party, Lindner said all German political parties have largely similar security, global strategic and environmental interests in which the “importance of India is obvious”.

With India set to become the world’s most populous country, major global issues – including global warming, climate change, population growth, vaccines, trade and terrorism – cannot be resolved without India, both at the multilateral and bilateral level, Lindner told a group of journalists.

India and the Indo-Pacific may seem far away from Germany, but the region is increasingly taking on a central role in the German government’s vision because of its importance to global trade. Noting that a significant chunk of trade routes used by an export-driven economy such as Germany pass through the Indo-Pacific, Lindner said these routes could be “blocked by turmoil” or affected by states that don’t follow international rules.

Germany’s focus on the Indo-Pacific is not a military strategy but part of an overall effort to protect the country’s interests, the ambassador said. As a part of these initiatives, Germany has sent a frigate to the Indo-Pacific, with the warship making stops in several countries.

This was done despite some resistance to the move in Germany because of the increased interest in the Indo-Pacific and the frigate will also travel to Mumbai, Lindner said. The enhanced cooperation between the militaries of the two countries has dovetailed with the increased interest in the Indo-Pacific, he added.

The two sides have also had a very strong strategic partnership for 12 years and bilateral trade is currently worth more than $20 billion. Some 2,000 German companies have a presence in India with 600,000 jobs and Germany is one of India’s biggest development partners. Germany is also home to about 25,000 Indian students, one of the largest concentrations in Europe.

Lindner was confident that the next German chancellor would have enough advisers to help steer relations with India. Relations between France and Germany, which are the “motor of the European Union”, too will be crucial, he said.

Responding to questions on the situation in Afghanistan, Lindner said Germany and other countries will have to talk to the Taliban to ensure preservation of human rights and formation of an inclusive government, to facilitate the distribution of humanitarian aid, to ensure the evacuation of those who wish to leave, and to prevent any “fostering of terrorism”.

“Do we talk to the Taliban? Yes, we do [like others] but not to establish relations, but to get those people out whom we still have there...we still have people there who worked for us,” he said.

States will also have to talk to the Taliban to provide immediate relief through the UN and “so that we have some sort of influence” on issues such as human rights, guaranteeing the rights of women and children, inclusiveness of the government, and “no more fostering of terrorism”, he said.

Lindner acknowledged that there was a “misjudgement of the Taliban and the velocity of the spread of the Taliban everywhere” by most countries. “No one predicted this outcome, everyone thought it would take longer and there would be more time to get people out,” he said about the fall of Kabul on August 15.

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