On Sunday (4 October), Chancellor Angela Merkel, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and other members of the German Cabinet travelled to New Delhi, where the third Indo-German intergovernmental consultations are taking place on Monday (5 October). Steinmeier held a bilateral meeting with his Indian counterpart, Sushma Swaraj, on Monday morning. He also signed a joint declaration on promoting the German language in India, thus ensuring the continuation of the German at 1000 Schools project.
At this year’s Indo-German intergovernmental consultations – the first to be held with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new government – the focus was on the two countries’ collaboration in the fields of business, science and technology. Chancellor Merkel and Foreign Minister Steinmeier arrived in New Delhi on Sunday. They were accompanied by Gerd Müller, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Johanna Wanka, Federal Minister of Education and Research, and Christian Schmidt, Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture.
Early on Monday morning, Foreign Minister Steinmeier met his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj for talks. Ahead of the consultations, he gave an interview to the Indian daily newspaper “Hindustan Times” in which he underlined the broad scale and immense depth of cooperation between Germany and India. As examples, he mentioned economic cooperation and Germany’s support for training, further training and climate protection in India.
Scientific and technological cooperation with India is a key topic on the agenda of the intergovernmental consultations, with the two countries planning executive agreements on vocational training, joint IT projects and the establishment of an Indo-German science centre. A high‑ranking business delegation accompanied the German Cabinet members on this trip.
Increased support for the German language
In a joint declaration signed on Monday on promoting the German language, both sides expressed their support for the Goethe-Institut’s work with the Indian state schools association KVS. In the future, it will be possible to continue teaching German as an additional foreign language in KVS schools. This means that the successful project, German at 1000 Schools, which was launched in 2011, can be continued.
Speaking on the margins of the signature of the declaration with Smriti Irani, Indian Minister for Human Resource Development, Foreign Minister Steinmeier said that interest in the German language had increased significantly in India in recent years, with as many as 78,000 pupils at KVS schools learning German as part of the German at 1000 Schools programme in 2014. He added:
I am pleased that we reached agreement today on continuing this successful programme. This is good news in particular for the many Indian pupils who are already learning German with great enthusiasm. During my previous visits to India, I was able to see for myself how much they enjoy learning German.
Focus on the climate and security policy
With a view to the forthcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, climate policy was also on the agenda of the consultations. Germany and India want to work more closely together in the field of renewable energies, thus supporting the common goal of limiting global warming to a maximum of 2°C. They also plan to sign an agreement on an Indo-German solar partnership.
In an interview, Steinmeier underlined that India is a key country in the forthcoming negotiations. He said that as a global threat, climate change could not be tackled by industrialised countries alone. All countries, he said, particularly those with high CO2 emissions, must play their part in international efforts.
Security policy issues and measures to combat terrorism are further topics on the agenda of the consultations. The security policy talks will also address regional matters such as the latest developments in Afghanistan. Arms control measures will also be discussed.