India and Germany – strategic partners
Germany and India have been linked by an extensive “strategic partnership” for over a decade. The two countries thus meet regularly to coordinate their positions on a wide range of political and economic topics. Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle met his Indian counterpart Salman Khurshid in Berlin on 28 January. It was the Indian Foreign Minister’s first official visit to the German capital since taking office.
Foreign Ministers Khurshid and Westerwelle in Berlin
Germany and India held their first intergovernmental consultations nearly two years ago, in May 2011, thus taking their relations “to a new level”, as Foreign Minister Westerwelle emphasized at the ministers’ joint press conference. With the exception of Israel and China, India is the only state outside Europe with which Germany conducts such consultations, a sign of a close partnership. Very soon, on 11 April 2013, the two governments will meet again in Berlin for the second round of intergovernmental talks.
“A partnership of values”
For Germany, maintaining close relations with India is of great political importance for the South Asian country is seen as one of the new global powerhouses. “India is gaining more and more economic weight. So its wish to have a much greater say in global politics is fully justified,” said Foreign Minister Westerwelle. To give but one example, Germany and India cooperate closely on the issue of reforming the United Nations.
The German Foreign Minister described relations with India as a “lively partnership of values,” while his counterpart Khurshid spoke of a “close bond” between the two countries and of dreams which Germany and India wanted to realize together. Foreign Minister Khurshid has a personal connection to Germany. His grandfather studied for his doctoral degree here in Berlin.
Dynamic economic relations
Foreign Minister Westerwelle in talks with the Indian delegation
The two countries have also enjoyed dynamic economic relations for a long time. While Germany is India’s most important trading partner in the EU, German companies regard India as one of the most significant markets of the future and as a target for investment. Key areas of German investment in India are the transport, electrical equipment and metal industries, and in recent years, investors have especially focused on the service sector. According to Foreign Minister Khurshid, India was keen to attract more German investment, particularly in the areas of infrastructure and renewable energies.
Trade between the two countries is to be stepped up, too. Westerwelle said he was convinced that a free trade agreement between the European Union and India would represent a big step towards more exchange, growth and prosperity for both Europe and India. This is why both Foreign Ministers are committed to giving the talks on such a free trade agreement new impetus.
Close cultural dialogue
The mobile pavilions in Mumbai
© Germany+India 2011/2012
In the cultural sphere, too, Germany and India maintain an intensive exchange. An important Indian school association has decided to introduce German as the first foreign language at 1000 schools in the country. Foreign Minister Westerwelle described this step as a “milestone in promoting the German language”. Furthermore, many people in India have been fascinated by the Year of Germany in India, under which events have been taking place in their country since 2011. At the same time, India has been showcasing itself in Germany with the “Days of India”.
The Year of Germany in India, which was launched at the end of 2011 and will continue till January 2013, is intended to mark the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The flagship of this series of events is the “Indo German Urban Mela”, an ensemble of modern pavilions specifically designed for this occasion by a German artist. The exhibition has so far travelled to the Indian megacities of Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, New Delhi and Pune for ten days each. The overarching theme of the Year of Germany in India is “StadtRäume – CitySpaces”.
The education and academic sectors offer further opportunities for close cooperation between Germany and India. India has shown a keen interest in the German system of vocational training. Khurshid said in Berlin that his country had to integrate about 500 million young people into the labour market and so there was still a “huge potential” for cooperation between the two countries.
Last updated 28.01.2013