PM Narendra Modi travels to Europe’s heart as world order groans under new strains

PM Narendra Modi has scheduled a meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel scheduled at her official country retreat in Meeseberg

Written by Praveen Swami | Updated: May 29, 2017 8:54 am
Narendra Modi, modi europe trip, modi europe visit, angela merkel, german chancellor merkel, indian express news, Prime Minister Narendra Modi (PTI Photo)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will begin a visit to four European nations in Germany on Monday, with a meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel scheduled at her official country retreat in Meeseberg. The discussions, ahead of visits to Spain, Russia and France, will be the Prime Minister’s first engagement with a European Union whose relationship with the United States has come under intense pressure, and at a time when tensions with Moscow have been rising. Though the Prime Minister’s talks in Germany are expected to be focused on business issues, including stalled negotiations on a free trade deal between the EU and India, as well as investments, technology and terrorism, the summit will also offer Chancellor Merkel an opportunity to push her vision on how the global economic order ought to be defended at a time of declining US leadership, diplomatic sources said.

President Donald Trump was reported to have rounded on Germany at the just-concluded G7 summit in Sicily, attacking the country for its trade surplus, which touched $283 billion last year — $64.9 billion of it with the US. “Look at the millions of cars that they are selling in the United States,” Trump was reported to have said to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk by the newspaper Der Spiegel. “It’s horrible. We’ll stop it.” The remarks raised eyebrows because German firms such as BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen, like their Japanese and Korean rivals, build many of their cars in the US, employing tens of thousands of workers there. In addition, German vehicle sales constituted less than 5 per cent of automobiles sold in the US last year.

Berlin sees New Delhi as a potential ally in defending the global free trade regime against the wave of protectionism Trump represents, since India has also been facing pressure over visas for skilled workers, which pose a problem for its information technology firms operating in the US. It has also been warning about China’s own vision of a new global trade order, with its State-driven One Belt, One Road system, which India has stayed away from. Earlier this month, Germany’s Ambassador to India, Martin Ney, told journalists that “since we have some common questions (about the Belt and Road project) in India and in Germany, this is a good reason why we should be able to sit down and discuss how we should do trade”.

Germany, like other European states, did not sign the document that emerged from the recent OBOR forum. Underlining Germany’s concerns about OBOR, Ney had noted that “while connectivity is not a bad thing, trade must follow free trade policies. Our hesitation has been that there have been no consultations.” Even though India and Germany are on the same side of this debate, aligning the two sides’ interests involves substantial hurdles. In government-to-government consultations scheduled for Tuesday, Germany is expected to push for progress on a Europe-India treaty which would protect investors from the EU states. India had scrapped earlier bilateral investment treaties with several countries but has made slow progress on finalising new ones.

In their Monday evening meeting, Modi may also hear from Merkel her concerns that Russia is seeking to push its borders westwards — an argument that has become unwelcome in Washington since the election of Trump, who has been demanding that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization members in Europe meet their commitment to spend at least 2 per cent of their Gross Domestic Product on defence. Instead of explicitly endorsing the mutual defence pledge at the heart of the alliance at his first NATO summit last month, Trump only gave a loosely worded assurance to “never forsake the friends who stood by our side” after 9/11.

Germany and the United States have also been increasingly at odds over Russia. The German chancellor reportedly brought a map to the White House to help Trump understand the threat posed by Russia, showing the Soviet Union’s 1980s borders to argue that President Vladimir Putin wished to restore them.

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  1. E
    Eve Fernandez
    May 29, 2017 at 11:16 am
    Mr Modi's foreign trips have not yielded significant results. He has to be positive and not pursue the single point agenda of isolating Pak. Foreign countries have their own interests and will not be in alignment with our interests. Today our great country has gone down to the level of bickering and wrang with a puny country like Pak , due to the present govt's inability and bung . So far he has been cheered by a his group and managed to keep his image of a toughness. But the reality is other wise. PM has to restore the loyal friend ship of Russia. Russia seems to be swaying towards china. India is never in US scheme of things. US interests lie in middle east, china, EU and Russia. India seems t be sidelines by all nations. Who ever the leader be, he/she should make India's voice heard in the globe.
    Reply
    1. S
      sochee
      May 29, 2017 at 12:38 pm
      Dear Ms Eve Have u read the article before commenting ? I am afraid you didn't and just habitually commented to show that what an expert in diplomacy you are without knowing ABC of that. The article talks about Donald Trump's obsession about making America great again. He has raged against Germany's trade surplus against America as much as he resented India's predominance in exporting human resources to America through HB1 visa. There is a convergence of interest and India can encash it. That is the task Modi has on his hand. If he can persuade Germany that India will be able to help EU which has been left to lurch by Donald Trump's we are going to get something big out of that. Don't worry about Putin's Russia and Jin pins China. Inspire of vast stretches of Siberia in Asia Russia is an European power. It will never cut it's leg by allowing China to capture Europe through OBOR. It will need India for that. So Putin is not going anywhere. Chabahar will tie him down.
      Reply
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        Imran
        May 29, 2017 at 1:52 pm
        I guess you guys don't know but actually Modi ji is going to Europe to get laid. He is stressed out because of so many long hours at prime minister office. So just like hi ji, Modi ji is going to get some special massage and spa treatment from a German bodybuilder. Later , Modi ji will also visit a sauna and will enjoy with anonymous guys which are cherry picked and screened by the fraternity of the Indian foreign service. After all Putin refused to sleep with Modi ji so that's why Modi ji wants a ego boost by sleeping with handsome white German guys. Wish Modi ji a beautiful honeymoon and also wish that he finds a man of his dreams in Germany to counter Ms. SONIA hi in the next election.
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          Eve Fernandez
          May 29, 2017 at 3:14 pm
          We are talking about results of PM's trips and not the effort he is taking. Donald's obsession of making America great again is good for his country. You expect president of US to work for our country's interests? Why should US(Trump) import human resources from India thro H1B visas. Americans dont need Indians. Will you allow American grab our jobs in India?Trump is against Germany's trade surplus as it hurts US. Trump works for his country. India helping EU? Unimaginable. India is far lagging in technology to be of use to EU. Govt should focus on making our country great in 20 to 30 years. It cannot happen tomorrow. But are necessary actions being taken.??? Gov
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            Mahak Goyal
            May 29, 2017 at 9:23 pm
            @Sochee........Fully AGREE with U
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            Anil
            May 29, 2017 at 1:02 pm
            What times and which world are you living in? Russia is no more than a gas pump and an arms supplier, a declining power--- and it is terrified of China with the latter's vast economic muscle and vast population. They have to kowtow to China, whatever their misgivings. Go back to the 1980s when China started building up it's economy and reforming massively-- what was the Indian government of that time doing? Modi is the first one to bring back focus into building India's capacities and a man with a long term plan. And China will trip up one day with it's overambitious, egoistic and colonizing OBOR. By the way, no one listens to anyone's so called 'voice', they only respect power. Surely you are not that naïve?
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            1. R
              Rajeev
              May 29, 2017 at 1:12 pm
              This is the reality that his support group (RSS BJP) has manage to put some hypothetical images by manipulating the Figures which was never true as said by you. More or less the Make in India is also not worked in the idea of Creating and Engineering Hub and Jobs. But one thing for whoever is heading the Country he has to ensure a Growth which is not there so far and a Formadible alliance with the Trustworthy Country like Russia Government should take interest on the Industry which only can solve the Problem of Economy and Create Jobs
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                Imran
                May 29, 2017 at 1:56 pm
                Dear Ms. Eva You should thank your stars that these Indian Hindus did not bring your religion or gender for speaking your mind. If you were in India, you would have been r a p e d and called a Christian converter for espousing such views. Christians of India unite and rebel against the Indian state, let's make a Christian homeland for us in India.
                Reply
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                  Mahak Goyal
                  May 29, 2017 at 9:22 pm
                  @imran LOL....language & pathetic mentality of ur other comment on this post already declared which infamous religion u belong to :P
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                bitterhoney
                May 29, 2017 at 9:23 am
                Modi ji on CHAR DHAM YATRA from today.
                Reply