India – a strategic partner
Foreign Minister Westerwelle visited India and Bangladesh from 21 to 24 June. His trip to the two Asian countries focused on bilateral relations and the expansion of economic cooperation, but he also promoted confidence in Europe and the euro.
Foreign Ministers Westerwelle and Krishna
© Th. Imo, photothek / AA
As part of his trip to India, Foreign Minister Westerwelle visited Bangalore in the south of the country. It was there that he met Foreign Minister Somanahalli Mallaiah Krishna on 22 June. “Our countries are joined by a strategic partnership,” Westerwelle stated, “which is based on shared values.” His talks with S. M. Krishna covered questions relating to bilateral cooperation, as well as international issues such as the situation in Syria, the prospects for Afghanistan, the negotiations on the Iranian nuclear programme and the future of the United Nations.
Both Germany and India have long campaigned for a reform of the Security Council. In Westerwelle’s opinion, the Security Council reflects the geopolitical situation of the past. “But the times have changed,” as he said, stressing that it was now time to adapt UN structures to reflect these changes.
India is considered to be one of the 21st century’s most influential players and an emerging centre of power whose political clout is growing. This makes India an indispensable partner in solving global problems.
Westerwelle also used his visit to boost confidence in Europe and the euro. There could be no doubt, he said, that hard work was needed to ensure the future of Europe and the stability of the euro, but he also expressed his conviction that the debt crisis, which has become a crisis of confidence, can be brought to an end. He stressed that Germany is keen to further intensify its economic relations with India. A major step in this direction would, he said, be the conclusion of a free trade agreement between the European Union and India. Germany is India’s most important trading partner in the European Union.
Bangalore, the third largest city in India with a population of some 9.5 million, is a key business hub and is known as the “Silicon Valley” of India because of the strength of its IT sector. The biotechnology branch is equally well established there. Roughly 100 of India’s 240 biotechnology firms are based in Bangalore.
Gateway to Germany
The opening of the German Consulate-General in Bangalore
© Th. Imo, photothek / AA
German companies are also active in Bangalore. Some 150 firms – many of them from the Mittelstand, Germany’s strong SME sector – have created more than 50,000 jobs in the area so far. Since 2008, there has also been a German Consulate-General in Bangalore. Foreign Minister Westerwelle inaugurated the Consulate’s new chancery building on 22 June. At the ceremony he emphasized the importance of the German mission for Indo-German exchange: “This Consulate-General is a gateway to Germany.” He also stressed that being open to the world was vital for Germany’s success.
The ongoing Year of Germany in India is also designed to strengthen Indo-German relations. One of the highlights of this Year is the Indo-German Urban Mela, a travelling exhibition on show for ten days in various key Indian cities. Mobile pavilions with exhibitions on “Stadträume – City Spaces” illustrate the numerous possibilities of cooperation between Germany and India. On 22 June, the travelling exhibition arrived in Bangalore from Mumbai, and was opened there in the presence of Foreign Minister Westerwelle.
The slogan of the Year of Germany in India is “Germany and India 2011-2012: Infinite Opportunities”. This project is being implemented jointly by the Federal Foreign Office, the Goethe-Institut, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Asia-Pacific Committee of German Business. Federal President Gauck has assumed the patronage.
Four decades of relations with Bangladesh
The Buriganga River, Dhaka
© picture-alliance / Lonely Planet Images
On 23 June, Westerwelle travelled on to Bangladesh. This year, Germany and Bangladesh are celebrating 40 years of diplomatic relations. The Minister’s schedule included meetings with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Foreign Minster Dipu Moni and civil society representatives.
Bangladesh is one of the poorest countries in the world and has long been a priority partner country for Germany’s development cooperation efforts. Support is given above all to projects in the areas of good governance, human rights, improving energy efficiency and promoting renewable energies. Projects to limit the effects of climate change are also supported. As a flat, densely populated country, Bangladesh is especially affected by rising sea levels caused by climate change.
This was Westerwelle’s first visit to Bangladesh and his third visit to India.
- Speech by the Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on the occasion of the official opening of the chancery of the Federal Republic of Germany’s Consulate-General in Bangalore on 22 June 2012
Last updated 25.06.2012