EU Understand India’s security preoccupations in Kashmir: Federica Mogherini

EU Understand India’s security preoccupations in Kashmir: Federica Mogherini

Federica Mogherini, high representative of the European Union for foreign affairs and security policy & Vice-President of the European Commission, told Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury in an email interview that the EU understands India’s security preoccupations in Kashmir and elaborated on the strengthening bilateral strategic partnership. Excerpts:

What is your opinion on Kashmir following India’s decision to abrogate article 370 which is essentially an internal affair?

I discussed the matter with minister S Jaishankar on several occasions. Our position has not changed. We understand India’s security preoccupations, but restrictions on fundamental freedoms remain. Some steps have been taken, but it remains crucial that freedom of movement and means of communication are fully restored, as well as access to essential services to all Kashmiris.

What is your opinion on visit by EU MEPs to Kashmir?

The visit was not an official visit of the European Parliament. MEPs were participating in their individual capacity.

What is your opinion on the efforts to revive negotiations on free trade agreement?
The EU is the first trade and investment partner of India. More than 6,000 European firms are established in India. But there is much more that we can do to unleash the full potential of our economic partnership, including by working together towards ambitious, balanced , comprehensive and mutually beneficial trade and investment agreements. The EU and India believe in a multilateral trade system open and fair, with the WTO at its core. We are partners in the G20 and together we can work , to supporting growth and sustainable development not just in Europe and in India, but worldwide.

What is current state of India-EU strategic partnership in the context of India’s renewed focus on Europe?
The strategic partnership between the EU and India is driven, as one might expect, by being the two largest democracies in the world. We believe in multilateralism and in a cooperative approach to international relations, with the UN (United Nations) at its centre. We are spearheading efforts to fight climate change, both in the global arena and in the way we are transforming our economies through renewable energy… The EU and India are also at the cutting edge in innovation, in fostering the digital transformation which has the potential to open new frontiers for future generations. In short, the common agenda is broad and ambitious, but at the same time there is a lot of room to do more.

India & EU decided to form military partnership and add more meat to counter terror ties. Can you update on this?
Our cooperation on security and defence matters has progressively expanded over the past few years. The first maritime passing exercise between the Indian Navy and the EU’s counter piracy operation – Operation Atalanta - off the coast of Somalia was held in 2017. In 2018, the Indian Navy escorted a World Food Programme vessel at the request of Operation Atalanta.

Military to military contacts have been established since. Consultations take place on counterterrorism, including on terrorist financing, terrorist designations and counter radicalisation. Europol, the EU’s agency for law enforcement cooperation, is in regular contact with counterparts in India. The EU and India also hold a regular cyber security dialogue to exchange best practice. Not only should we be consolidating this cooperation, but we are also looking to explore new areas of interest.

Can you update on India-EU connectivity partnership in Indo-Pacific and efforts at rules based world order?
The way we choose to connect our societies, countries and regions will shape the 21st century. That’s why we need to do it in the right way. And with India, we have a natural partner. We share a vision whereby connectivity is transparent, inclusive and sustainable; where what we do, create and build leaves nobody behind. High standards and a level playing field are also crucial for the success of connectivity initiatives. Based on this common vision there is ample scope for working together. And as always, our work will be guided by respect for international law and working within or towards a conducive multilateral framework.

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