The European Union’s (EU) envoy to India, Joao Cravinho on Friday described Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as a “person of great prominence” in India’s political scene and said that the EU respected the judicial verdict that granted him a clean chit for the 2002 Gujarat riots, on which there were “enormous” concerns around the world.
The statement comes a year after EU ambassadors hosted a lunch for the BJP PM nominee to end their 11-year boycott. Cravinho told reporters that the views of the 28-member bloc on the Gujarat riots were based on India’s judicial and political process and that the EU engages with Modi like with any other leader. “Of course, we are interested in knowing his (Modi’s) views, seeing what plans he has if he comes to power,” he said, adding that their position was to respect the judicial and political process. “We have no issue whatsoever with the competence and capacity of the Indian judicial system”.
The ambassador said the EU was following “political developments” in India in a “non-active manner” and that it has been engaged with all important “political actors”, including Modi.
He said there has been no impact in business between European countries and Gujarat as European companies have been active in the BJP-ruled state for many years. “Business-wise, there has never been any issue, he said.
“Whoever is the Indian PM, we will certainly respect the democratic legitimacy of that position. So we will work with him as we will work with anybody else,” he said.
On the economic front, he said the long-pending Free Trade Agreement is likely to be signed after elections in India and for the European Parliament are conducted. “I would expect it to be signed as soon as there are conditions to return to the negotiating table which will happen when we have respective democratic processes in 2014. I think it is possible within months to finalise the pact once the negotiation take off,” he said.
Asked whether a new government after 2014 Lok Sabha polls could pose hurdles to the proposed pact, he said “we are too close not to have an agreement” as “most chapters” in negotiations are “pretty much closed”.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines