06 October, New Delhi
India and the European Union on Friday agreed to cooperate in the fight against terrorism while deciding to resume talks on a free trade agreement. At the 14th India-EU Summit here, both sides also adopted a joint statement against terrorism.
“We have agreed to work together against terrorism and expand security cooperation in this regard,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a joint address to the media along with European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker after delegation-level talks here.
On his part, Tusk said both sides adopted a joint declaration on counter-terrorism “to deal effectively with the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters, terror financing and arms supply”.
“We agreed to cooperate in security in the Indian Ocean region and beyond,” he said.
According to the India-EU Joint Statement on Cooperation in Combating Terrorism, the leaders “strongly condemned recent heinous terrorist attacks in India and the member states of the European Union and reaffirmed their determination to jointly combat terrorism and violent extremism in all their forms and manifestations irrespective of their motivations, wherever and by whomever they are committed”.
“Condemning the recent terror attacks in Pathankot, Uri, Nagrota, Anantnag (Amarnath Yatra), Srinagar, Paris, Brussels, Nice, Berlin, London, Stockholm, Manchester, Barcelona, Turku, and other terrorist attacks and recalling the November 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, the leaders called for the perpetrators of these attacks to be brought to justice,” the statement said in an obvious reference to Pakistan.
“They further called for greater unity, stronger international partnership and concerted action by the international community in addressing the menace of terrorism.”
According to the statement, both sides called early conclusion of negotiations and the adoption of the India-initiated Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism in the UN
Stating that the EU continues to be India’s largest trading partner, Modi, in his address to the media, said the 28-nation bloc was also one of the largest investors in India.
Juncker pointed out that the EU was India’s largest trading partner accounting for 13 per cent of India’s overall trade.
Stating that it was time for a free trade agreement, he said talks on this would resume once conditions were met.
A Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) between India and the EU has been hanging fire for 11 years now despite 16 rounds of negotiations.
“The leaders expressed their shared commitment to strengthening the economic partnership between India and the EU and noted the ongoing efforts of both sides to re-engage actively towards timely relaunching negotiations for a comprehensive and mutually beneficial India-EU Broad Based Trade and Investment Agreement,” an overall joint statement issued at the end of the summit said.
Briefing the media here, Ruchi Ghanashyam, Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs, said that the next round of talks for the BTIA will be held on November 13-14.
Both India and the EU also expressed deep concern at the recent spate of violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state that has triggered the outflow of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people into neighbouring Bangladesh.
“Both sides took note that this violence was triggered off by a series of attacks by Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) militants which led to loss of lives amongst the security forces as well as the civilian population,” the joint statement said.
“Both sides recognised the need for ending the violence and restoring normalcy in the Rakhine state without any delay.”
India and the EU also expressed support to the government and the people of Afghanistan in their efforts to achieve an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned national peace and reconciliation.
“India and the EU underline the importance of the regional and key international stakeholders to respect, support and promote a political process and its outcome in order to ensure peace, security and prosperity in Afghanistan,” the joint statement said.
Both India and the EU condemned the nuclear test conducted by North Korea on September 3 and said it was another direct and unacceptable violation of that country’s international commitments.
“They agreed that DPRK’s (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea oir North Korea) continued pursuit of nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and its proliferation links pose a grave threat to international peace and security, and called for the complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, which has been endorsed by the UNSC and the Six-Party Talks,” the joint statement said.
India and the EU signed three agreements following Friday’s talks: between European Commission and the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) for Indian researchers hosted by the European Research Council grantees in Europe; finance contract of Bengaluru Metro Rail Project Phase-2 for 300 million euros out of total European Investment Bank (EIB) loan of 500 million euros; and a joint declaration between the Interim Secretariat of the ISA and the EIB.
Apart from the one on combating terrorism, two separate joint statements were also adopted by the two sides – one on clean energy and climate and another on a partnership for smart and sustainable urbanisation.
During the course of the day, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also called on Tusk and Juncker separately and held a meeting with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini.
External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted that Sushma Swaraj and Mogherini “held productive discussions”.