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Speech by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on the Federal Government’s proposal on the occasion of the tabling of the coalition proposal on strengthening Indo‑German relations

24.10.2019 - Speech

If there is one country that is out of the limelight in Germany far too often in spite of its importance and scope, then it is India; the country has long since become a geostrategic, political and global economic heavyweight. This is all the more so in a world in which we are increasingly heading towards great‑power competition between the US, Russia and China. In such a world, it would be dangerous also from a European point of view to restrict policy on Asia too much to China, especially since, with India, we have a partner that is much more closely aligned to our values and our understanding of democracy. It is therefore a good decision to make this issue the subject of a debate in the German Bundestag today; we must also talk about how we can make our relations with India still more dynamic.

This is also the objective with which we are travelling to India for the fifth Indo‑German intergovernmental consultations on 1 November. We also liaise closely between these consultations and have over 30 different consultation and dialogue formats. That speaks for itself. This has helped trust grow between our countries over the years. In a world in which conflicts – we have held debates about this today – are not getting any fewer, India is a partner for us that is, like us, committed to a rules‑based international order.

India is now the most important anchor of stability for us in South Asia. It is not only because of our commitment in Afghanistan that we have a great interest in this region, which is one of the least developed and integrated in the world, developing much more peacefully than we have witnessed in recent decades. We also share Delhi’s interest in maritime security in the Indo‑Pacific region, in free shipping routes and in military restraint. Moreover, we must not forget that we are now liaising closely with one another also in international forums. I need only mention that within the framework of what is known as the G4, i.e. Germany, Brazil, Japan and India, we are continuing to press and work towards UN Security Council reform and are also of the opinion that these four countries should have a permanent seat on the UN Security Council in the future.

We want to go still further and cooperate with India even more closely on global issues for the future. This is why it was so important that India joined our Alliance for Multilateralism last month along with 80 other countries around the world. Take climate protection, for example. Without India, which, accounting for approximately six percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, is the third‑biggest emitter, the energy and climate transition will be incredibly difficult. This is why we are setting aside one billion euros over the next five years in order to continue to develop this area within the framework of the Indo‑German Green Urban Mobility Initiative.

Another thing makes India a natural partner for us, namely the fact that it is the biggest democracy in the world. I know that this is often used as a subtitle; however, to be honest, it should actually be the heading for our bilateral relations. For all of the difficulties and social tensions that we are witnessing in India, 1.3 billion democrats, particularly in this day and age, in an increasingly authoritarian world, should be indispensable to us as partners.

Members of this House, Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson once said the following:

“You make a great gift to yourself and to the world when you emphasise the things we have in common.”

I think that this is a good motto for Indo‑German relations and encourages us to place our common interests, Germany and India’s interests, and the values that connect us even more firmly at the centre of our policy.

Thank you very much.

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