German Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to discuss her vision for expanding the country’s strategic partnership with India during a one-on-one meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi late Monday evening, when the two leaders meet at the Baroque castle of Meseberg, 65 km north of the capital. Following on from growing strains with United States on a range of issues from climate change to free trade, as well as Britain’s looming exit from the European Union, Merkel said at a Sunday rally of her Christian Democratic Union that “the times in which we can fully count on others are somewhat over”.
Though the Chancellor underlined the need for continued friendly relations with the United States, Britain and Russia, she said that “we Europeans must really take our destiny into our own hands”. Her comments led reporters to press official spokespersons for comment on whether powers like India would now be cultivated as new allies, at a briefing held at Germany’s Foreign Ministry Monday.
Even though Germany continued to see its trans-Atlantic relationship with the United States as key to its future, a German diplomat told The Indian Express, it “sees countries like India, with its growing economy and democratic political system, as important partners”. Merkel and Modi are also expected to discuss climate change, a key concern for Germany, which has pitted it against the United States. President Donald Trump has announced he is close to making a decision on the landmark Paris accord on climate change, and is reported to have told close advisors he intends to walk away from the multination deal.
Following the one-on-one meeting between Merkel and Modi Monday evening, inter-governmental meetings will be held between officials of the two countries on a range of issues on Tuesday, with trade, technology and security expected to be among the focus areas. The two leaders will also be meeting with Chief Executive Officers of major German firms Tuesday afternoon for a round-table discussion on business and investment issues. German businesses have been concerned at the failure to firm up a treaty between India and the European Union, which would safeguard their investments in the country.
Modi’s visit coincides with that of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who has been seeking greater German participation in the One Belt, One Road initiative. Like India, Germany has said it has concerns over the lack of transparency on the norms that would govern OBOR, and is seeking guarantees that existing World Trade Organisation free trade rules would apply to the ambitious project. The presence of both the Indian and Chinese leaders in Berlin has been interpreted by several writers in the German media, however, as a sign that the country increasingly sees its economic destiny as linked to Asia, rather than its traditional Western partners.