Bengaluru, June 23 (IBNS) External Affairs Minister SM Krishna on Friday took up bilateral trade with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.
Addressing a joint press conference in Bengaluru, Krishna said: "Despite the ongoing global crisis, our bilateral trade with Germany has been growing steadily over the last few years, and has crossed 18 billion Euros in 2011."
"Going by this trend, we are optimistic about achieving the target of 20 billion Euros for the remaining part of the year. This has been set out by our leaders," he said.
Transcript of Joint Press Interaction:
Deputy Secretary (XP)(Shri Bishwadip Dey): Ladies and gentlemen from the media, I welcome you to today's media event. To begin with, the Hon. Ministers would make brief opening statements following which both Ministers have kindly agreed to take a few questions.
May I now request Shri S.M. Krishna, Hon. External Affairs Minister of India to make his opening remarks.
External Affairs Minister (Shri S.M. Krishna): Your Excellency Dr. Westerwelle, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, members of the media, it's a privilege to have you, Foreign Minister, in our midst today.
Foreign Minister Westerwelle and I had very cordial and extensive discussions on various issues pertaining to our bilateral relations as well as the G20 process, the global financial crisis, reform of the global institutions including United Nations Security Council, the global threat of terrorism, and other issues of mutual interest.
India and Germany share traditionally warm relations based on strong foundations of mutual trust, cultural links and respect for democratic ideals. There has always been admiration and appreciation in India for German technology and creativity. Similarly, Indian culture and philosophy have been of interest to German thinkers and philosophers.
In addition to the traditional areas of cooperation like trade and economics, new areas of thrust are education, innovation and research in cutting-edge sectors. They have emerged as important areas of our bilateral relationship.
Indo-German bilateral relations encompass the entire gamut of political, strategic, economic, scientific and technological, cultural, higher and vocational educational, and civil society interaction. My discussion today with His Excellency provided an opportunity to discuss our bilateral relationship extensively.
Despite the ongoing global crisis, our bilateral trade with Germany has been growing steadily over the last few years, and has crossed 18 billion Euros in 2011. Going by this trend, we are optimistic about achieving the target of 20 billion Euros for the remaining part of the year. This has been set out by our leaders.
Friends, we are currently celebrating the successful completion of 60 years of establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Germany. This positive milestone has provided us yet another opportunity to showcase our economic, scientific and cultural ties through yearlong festivals in both our countries. A variety of cultural, economic and commercial events are being undertaken as the Year of Germany in India and the Days of India in Germany. I hope that these celebrations will serve as yet another catalyst in the intensive ongoing interaction between India and Germany and in promoting people-to-people contacts between our two friendly nations.
When the idea of the distinguished Foreign Minister of Germany coming to India, the venue as to where we meet certainly came up. I knew that Excellency Westerwelle was traveling to Bangalore after Delhi because he was due to inaugurate the Consulate office in Bangalore. Then I thought it would be desirable that the venue gets shifted to Bangalore itself for this bilateral meeting.
Excellency Foreign Minister Westerwelle, this happens to be my hometown. This is a city about which, in spite of the traffic jams, I take great pride for the tremendous contribution that they have made particularly in information technology and human resource development.
On a personal note, I have known you for three years now and I have had interactions with you on various multilateral forums. And it is a great pleasure to welcome you to my home city of Bangalore. I hope you and your delegation will have a very comfortable stay.
Foreign Minister of Germany (Dr. Guido Westerwelle): Thank you so much Your Excellency Minister Krishna and ladies and gentlemen Excellencies:
First of all I would like to express my personal gratitude for this great gesture inviting me to your home city Bangalore, and I would like to say this not only for diplomatic reasons. We arrived last night and I would like to say how impressed we are about the hospitality which we received here in Bangalore. Thank you so much. It is a great personal gesture and we are honoured and we are delighted that you invited us to Bangalore.
I would like to ask the media and the journalists to deliver our personal gratitude, the gratitude of our delegation for the hospitality. People of Bangalore are overwhelmingly friendly and we are really glad that we are happy to be here. Thank you so much.
And I would like to say that Bangalore is one of the cities which is very well-known worldwide and especially in Germany because Bangalore and the whole region showed a breathtaking success story in the last years and this has a lot to do with the leadership, the political leadership and of course the discipline and the precious work of the people of Bangalore. Therefore, Minister Krishna, dear friend, it is a great honour to be here. Thank you so much for the invitation. It is really our pleasure that you could receive us in your beautiful home city.
Our two nations are linked by a strategic partnership based on common values. The ongoing German Year in India shows the quality of our relations. Government consultations in spring 2013 will offer another opportunity to intensify our cooperation.
I would like to ask the journalists for your understanding that I repeat a few sentences in my native language because we have in our delegation also some German colleagues, some German journalists. ...(German language)...
We had substantial and productive talks on a number of issues such as the reform of the United Nations. India and Germany, both countries share the same goal. We think we have to restructure the architecture of the United Nations and we think that the United Nations like we see them now, especially the Security Council, they reflect, they mirror the situation and the world's architecture like it has been. But now time has changed. The situation has changed. We think the situation in the world, the architecture of the world, what we have now, should be represented in the Security Council also with the permanent membership.
We discussed of course other issues. On Afghanistan I assured His Excellency Minister Krishna that our commitment to Afghanistan will not stop in the end of 2014 after withdrawal of international combat troops. In the interest of long-term stability in Afghanistan and in the region, we will continue to support Afghanistan with civil assistance and by training. In this context we appreciate very much that India will soon host a private sector conference to encourage more private investments in Afghanistan. We share this philosophy, we share this policy because we know security and development are two sides of the same coin.
I sharply condemn the hostage-taking at the hotel in Kabul. I deeply regret the loss of innocent lives. The terror will not stop us to work for a better future of Afghanistan. ... (German language)...
Of course we also discussed other global issues. Development in Syria concerns all of us. And of course we agree that it is necessary to support the efforts of Kofi Annan to find a political solution to the conflict.
We also discussed the situation in Iran and with Iran. We agree that Iran has of course the right to use nuclear energy for civil reasons. But it also has to fulfill its international obligations concerning the transparency and nature of its nuclear programme.
His Excellency mentioned that we of course also discussed the situation in Europe. Both Head of Governments, Prime Minister Singh and Chancellor Merkel, just met in Los Cabos in Mexico on the occasion of the G20 meeting. I would like to repeat what I just said to His Excellency Minister Krishna. For us there is no doubt that we have to work hard for the future of Europe and for the stability of our European currency. But I am optimistic and I am full of confidence that we will manage this debt crisis. It is not a Euro crisis. It is a debt crisis which morphed into a crisis of confidence.
The Euro is a currency. The European economy is stable and successful, especially the German economy is doing excellent. And I would like to say what our philosophy is. Our policy is built on three pillars. All three pillars are part of our strategy to overcome this debt crisis. It is solidity and fiscal discipline because we think you cannot solve a debt crisis by making it easier to take up new debts. Second is solidarity. I think the size of solidarity Germany shows in this debt crisis is respectable and remarkable. And third, we agree that it is necessary to stimulate growth. Growth is one of the key issues, one of the key answers to this debt crisis in our European continent.
Germany is India's most important trading partner in the European Union. In Bangalore alone 150 German companies are active. We want to further deepen our economic relations. An important step would be quick conclusion of a free trade agreement between the European Union and India. We will continue to work on this. ...(German language)...
Thank you so much for your attention. Thank you so much once again Minister Krishna for your invitation and for your hospitality. I am very grateful for being here, and it is good to be back in India. Once again, thank you so much.
Deputy Secretary (XP): Hon. Ministers have kindly agreed to take a few questions.
Question (Indian Media): Mr. Krishna, this question is for you. You spoke about the two countries celebrating sixty years of establishment diplomatic relations between the two countries. If you could just give us a brief as to how these celebrations are really panning out, some detail on that?
Foreign Minister of Germany: Shall I say ...(Inaudible)... First of all, the fact that I am here shows you that we really think that this diplomatic tradition is very important for both countries. We have the German Year in India; we have the upcoming Indian Days in Germany. This shows you there is a lot on the agenda to celebrate this anniversary of sixty years of our diplomatic relations.
Please allow me to add one point. We think the diplomatic relations are important. We think good friendship and a good partnership between the Governments are important. But the most important issue in our relationship is the exchange of our people, is especially the exchange of the young generation, is education, is exchange of students, is the whole area of education, science and research. And I could not imagine a better city in India to underline and to underscore this issue because I think this is our future. Our future is good connection between our societies and the people know each other, and they understand each other, even if they have a totally different cultural background and if they grew up in totally different circumstances. This is from my point of view what we have to increase. And what we are strongly working on is the exchange of the young generation, especially of course of the students.
Question (German Media): I have two questions, one going to Mr. Krishna. Are you satisfied with the European crisis management, or do you expect from Europeans further more?
One question to Mr. Westerwelle. There will be a delay in the German ratification process on the European Rescue Fund. So, the President won't sign the laws ...(Inaudible)... due to Constitutional concerns. So, what does that mean? What will be the consequences? And can Germany and can Europe afford its delay?
External Affairs Minister: I think I entirely agree with Foreign Minister Westerwelle when he expounded the strength of the bilateral relationship between our two countries. I think the relationship assumes special significance in the light of what has been happening in Europe in recent months. Europe is of particular concern as it accounts for a significant share of global economy and is also India's major trade and investment partner.
The sovereign debt crisis and the banking crisis now on the horizon has grave implications not only for the European community but for the entire global economy. And what we have heard from Foreign Minister Westerwelle is reassuring in terms of Germany's commitment. Germany which has one of the strongest economic presence in the world, and when they say that they are going to stand by the European community I think that goes a long way in creating the right kind of psychological impact that is needed in overcoming a crisis of this kind.
A crisis in the European banking system can choke trade, finance quite quickly, and end up choking economic growth not just in the Eurozone but in the world at large. I think there is need to substantially expand the resource base of multilateral development banks so that they have the firepower to help developing countries in pursuance of their developmental goals.
Foreign Minister of Germany: If you please allow, I will answer that question in both languages - in English and in my native language. Thank you so much. ...(German language)...
It is not up to me to comment on decisions by our Federal President. I can only say that the Government for its part will do what it can so that the Fiscal Compact and the ESM will enter into force as quickly as possible. We know our responsibility for Europe and of course for the economy in the world. This is also our responsibility not only to our partners like in India, it is our responsibility as one of the leading economic centres in the world for the world.
Deputy Secretary (XP): With that we come to the conclusion of this media interaction. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.