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Transcript (uncorrected) of Media Briefing by Secretary (West) on India-EU Summit (October 06, 2017)

October 07, 2017

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:Good evening all of you and thank you for coming to this special press briefing at a rather short notice. Today was the first day of the visit of the President of European Council and the European Commission and we also had the 14th India-EU Summit earlier today. To brief you all on the visit and on the summit I have with me Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs, Mrs. Ruchi Ghanshyam. I also have our Ambassador in Brussels Gayatri and the Jt. Secretary (Europe West) in the Ministry of External Affairs, Nagaraj Naidu. After the briefing they will also take few questions on this visit and on the summit.

Secretary (West), Mrs. Ruchi Ghanshyam: Thank you very much Raveesh and a very good evening to all of you. I want to reiterate what Raveesh said and that is to thank you for coming here at this short notice and also at a slightly odd hour.

Let me just read out a few points that we tried to put together which may be useful background.

The 14th India-EU Summit was hosted by India today in New Delhi. It may be recalled that last year the 13th Summit was hosted by EU in Brussels. Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi hosted His Excellency Mr. Donald Tusk, President of the European Council and Mr. Jean Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission.

The European Union High Representative Ms. Frederica Mogherini, the counterpart of the Hon’ble External Affairs Minister also participated in the Summit. On the Indian side the talks were led by Hon’ble Prime Minister, External Affairs Minister, Smt. Sushma Swaraj and the National Security Advisor Shri Ajit Doval along with the officials who were part of the Prime Minister’s delegation.

The talks were held in a cordial and friendly atmosphere. They covered a wide ranging agenda of mutual interest. This was an extremely productive summit where the two sides agreed to broaden the area of engagement and cooperation. A joint statement issued at the end of the talks reflects the decisions and areas of convergence. In addition to the joint statement there were several important deliverables. This would include India-EU joint statement on combating terrorism, a joint declaration between the European Union and the Republic of India on partnership for smart and sustainable urbanization and India-EU joint statement on clean energy and climate change.

In addition following documents were agreed and exchanged today. Implementing arrangement between European Commission and the Science and Engineering Research Board for Indian researchers hosted by the European Research Council grants. European Investment Bank Finance contract for Bangalore Metro Rail project phase –II for 300 million Euros. Joint declaration between internal secretariat of International Solar Alliance and the European Investment Bank.

EU as a block of 28 countries is India’s largest regional trading partner. India’s total trade in goods and services exceeds 100 billion USD, so the bilateral trade in goods is over 85 billion while the bilateral trade in services is over 31 billion. Moreover, over the period April 2000 to December 2016, FDI equity flows from EU countries totaled over 79 million dollars at 24.58 percent of total FDI flows to India. This would make EU India’s largest source of FDI.

I would like just to highlight few points from some of the documents and you would then find also the texts on our website where you could look for any further details that you may be interested in. Looking at the India-EU joint statement on cooperation in combating terrorism, the most important highlight, of course there are many important things it, the most important highlight is that for the first time EU has agreed to mention not just terrorist entities but also terrorists in an India-EU document. So this document firstly condemned the recent terrorist attacks in India and member states of the European Union and it also reaffirmed the determination to jointly combat terrorism and violent extremism in all their forms and manifestation irrespective of their motivations wherever and by whomever they are committed.

They welcomed the resolve to deepen cooperation on domestic and international terrorist designation listing proposals through exchange of information. So they have agreed to information on domestic and international listing of terrorists. The leaders also called for the perpetrators of terrorist attacks like at Pathankot, Uri, Nagarota, Anantnag, Sri Nagar, Paris, Brussels, East London, Stockholm, Manchester, Barcelona and of course they recalled the Mumbai terror attacks of 2008. So the leaders called for the perpetrators of these attacks to be brought to justice. They also supported early conclusion of negotiations and adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism in the UN. They recalled that responsible states should take adequate measures to ensure that their territory is not used for terrorist activities.

This documents also speaks of cutting the flow of funds and other financial assets and economic resources to individuals entities involved in terrorism including those proscribed under the relevant UN sanctions. So coming to the list of entities and individuals who have been identified or included in this document, let me read out the whole para.

"The leaders agreed to strengthen cooperation to take decisive and concerted actions against globally proscribed terrorists and terror entities including Hafeez Saeed, Zakir-ur-Lakhavi, Dawood Ibrahim, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Hizbul-Mujahiddin, Hakkani Network, Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Daesh and their affiliates. So that is for this document on combating terrorism.

Let me now turn to the India-EU joint statement. It is a fairly lengthy document, I am trying to see how I can cut it short. It recognized that India and EU are natural partners and recognized the need to further deepen and strengthen the India-EU strategic partnership based on our shared principles, I would not repeat those principles because you can find it in the statement.

They expressed satisfaction with the progress that has been achieved and the bilateral cooperation that has developed since the last summit. The leaders committed to work in a result oriented and mutually beneficial manner to further strengthen the India-EU strategic partnership by deepening their trade cooperation and enhancing investment flows in both directions etc. They commended the strong engagement of European Investment Bank in India in a wide range of sectors.

They reaffirmed their commitment to an open, free, secure, stable, peaceful and accessible cyber space and welcome the holding of the 5thGlobal Conference on Cyber Space in New Delhi on 23 -24 November, 2017.

Again here, they strongly condemned the recent terrorist’s attacks in many parts of the world and amongst other things they emphasized the need to deepen cooperation within the UN and the financial action task force. On disarmament EU congratulated India on its admission to the Missile Technology Control Regime. Coming to regional issues, on Afghanistan both sides agreed and expressed the support for the government and the people of Afghanistan in their effort to achieve an Afghan led and Afghan owned national peace and reconciliation. The EU appreciated the positive role being played by India in extending development assistance in Afghanistan.

On Myanmar, amongst other things, they urged the Myanmar authorities to implement Kofi Annan led Rakhine advisory commission’s recommendations and work with Bangladesh to enable the return of the displaced persons from all communities to Northern Rakhine state. India and the EU also recognize the role being played by Bangladesh in extending humanitarian assistance to the people in need.

On DPRK, both sides condemned the nuclear tests conducted by DPRK on September 3, 2017. Both sides also stressed the responsibility of those who support DPRK’s nuclear and missile programs.

Coming to connectivity, both acknowledged the importance of connectivity in today’s globalized world. They underlined that connectivity initiatives must be based on universally recognized international norms, good governance, rule of law, openness, transparency and equality and must follow the principle of financial responsibility, accountable debt financing practices, balanced ecological and environment protection, preservation standards and sustainability.

The document refers to India’s ‘Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas’ policy initiatives and reaffirmed the importance of global partnerships to achieve the sustainable development goals and poverty alleviation.

They welcomed the establishment of the South Asian Regional Representative Office of the European Investment Bank. The welcomed the new Euro 500 million EIB loan agreement for Bangalore Metro Phase 2 project which is part of EIB’s enhance commitment of 1.4 billion in loans to India in 2017.

The leaders also welcomed the eminent operationalization of 2008 horizontal civil aviation agreement which will enhance air connectivity between India and Europe and help foster better people-to-people contacts and promote travel etc. They agreed to intensify cooperation in skills development. They noted that the EU’s Erasmus program celebrated its 5000th Indian alumni and has offered financial opportunities for institutional cooperation to Indian universities. They recognized the need to work towards greater cooperation in higher education.

I think I should basically stop here. Thank you.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:Thank you very much Ma’am. Floor is now open for questions.

Question:
Two points, you mentioned in passing but can you tell us exactly what the position was of the two sides on the Rohingya, that’s one. And the other point, during his speech a little while ago, Mr. M J Akbar was speaking about Prime Minister Modi’s address and in reply to that Mr. Juncker, perhaps jokingly, mentioned that this was propaganda on propaganda. Would you react to that please?

Question:This is regarding the India-EU FTA. President Juncker just said that we don’t want to re-launch the talks just to re-start them but want to conclude them. What is India’s position on that?

Question:Because he also mentioned that the trade minister and trade commissioner will be meeting soon. Should that be considered the re-start of the FTA talks, or will they meet and then take forward as to how to re-launch the talks?

Secretary (West), Mrs. Ruchi Ghanshyam:Coming to BTIA, the Broadbased Trade and Investment Agreement was obviously part of the discussions. There have been some rounds of discussion between the chief negotiators and now the next round to be held on 13 – 14 November.

Para 32 of the Joint Statement, let me just read it for you. The leaders expressed their shared commitment in strengthening the economic partnership between India and the EU and noted the ongoing efforts of both sides to re-engage actively towards timely re-launching negotiations for a comprehensive and mutually beneficial BTIA. So I think the joint statement basically answers both your questions. But as I said the discussion have already been taking place, four rounds have taken place.

Jt. Secretary (Europe West), Mr. Nagaraj Naidu: Basically there were four stock taking meetings which took place last year.

Secretary (West), Mrs. Ruchi Ghanshyam:Let’s not go into details of those negotiations which are done by the commerce ministry. I won’t call it re-launch, I don’t know if one has to call it a re-launch but the chief negotiators are meeting in November and they will talk about this and if you have any further questions, I don’t like to do that, but I think it would be unfair on my part to answer on behalf of commerce minister.

To come to the question on Rohingya, I think I would refer you to para 16 of the joint statement. Whatever I can say is said there. On the speech by MoS M J Akbar and the response, since I wasn’t even there and I haven’t even heard it, I don’t think I am in a position to even say anything about it. So I think on that I would pass.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:
Thank you very much Ma’am. Just to share with you that we have just uploaded the India-EU Joint statement on MEA’s website, so if you have connection you can take a look at the paragraph which Secretary West has referred.

Question:Abhi aapane trading partners ki baat kahi, 100 billion dollars exceed kiya hai, ko 85 billion dollar ka jikra kiyaa aapane, to ye jo pichhale 10 varshon ka jo data hai usmein kya iski koi comparative study hamaare pass hai, number one. Number two, European Union side se, there are 28 countries, to unki taraf se kitna hamaari taraf vriddhi hui hai, iski koi jaankaari ho to ek comparative study ka ek accha avsar milega aur kuch hum logon ko input milega. Dhanyawaad.

Secretary (West), Mrs. Ruchi Ghanshyam
:Is waqt to koi comparative study, jaise aap chaah rahe hain utna detail mere paas available nahi hai lekin jo mere paas available hai uske anusaar Bharat ka jo bilateral trade hai EU-28 ke saath 2016 mein, from January to December 2016, iska figure 85 billion dollars thaa in goods. Ismein se jo India ke exports they wo 43 billion they aur Bhaarat ke jo import they wo 41 billion ke upar they.

Iske alaawaa jo bilateral trade in services hai wo 28 billion tha 2015 mein aur ismein se Bhaarat ke exports they wo 15 billion se kuch upar they aur Bhaarat ke import they wo bhi 15.94 billion they. To agar dekhaa jaaye to hamaara jo trade hai wo reasonably well balanced hai, matlab dono ko hi baraabar tha.

Question Contd.:Teen saal mei kuch ghat-badh nahi hua?

Secretary (West), Mrs. Ruchi Ghanshyam: Teen saal ka figure to mere pass hai nahi to main is waqt uska answer nahi karna pasand karungi. Par aapko baad mei ye information jaroor available karaa sakte hain.

Question:UN ke world food program missions ke liye Bhaarat ki bhaagidaari kab tak sambhav hai aur ismei kya samasyaa aa rahi hai? Joint statement mein iska jikra hai.

Secretary (West), Mrs. Ruchi Ghanshyam: Joint statement mein actually possible participation ke baare mein kahaa gayaa hai kyonki iske upar abhi. In paragraph 12, it talks about India’s possible participation in escorting. Is proposal ka to adhyayan karna padegaa, to jab iske baare mein poori jaankaari ho, jo concerned mantralay ya departments hain unki raai jaane, to uske binaa to hum kuch kah hi nahi sakate. Iske baare mei main is samay to yahi kah sakati hoon.

Question:The External Affairs Ministry is being accused of…

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:
Only questions related to India-EU.I am not going to take that question. Is there any other question on India-EU summit?

Question:Abhi aapane bataaya bhi tha Rohingya ko lekar aur hum logon ne paragraph mein dekha bhi tha, Jis samay European Union Council ke President bol rahe they us samay unka kahnaa ye thaa ki India ko as a neighbor country ismein aagey aana hoga. To kya expectation hai European Union ki India se is poore issue ko lekar?

Secretary (West), Mrs. Ruchi Ghanshyam:European Union ki jo bhi expectation thi wo to unhone bol hi di aur jo agreed position hai wo joint statement mein maujood hai. Thank you.

Question:There was an agreement signed to join the Solar Alliance, they have agreed to support the International Solar Alliance. Could you share more details about that?

Secretary (West), Mrs. Ruchi Ghanshyam:Hamara jo India-EU joint statement on Clean Energy and Climate Change jo hai, usmein iske baare mein i.e. ISA ke baare mein jikra hai. Ismein kahaa gayaa hai ki Both are committed to jointly further the objectives of the International Solar Alliance including through synergies with other international initiatives to promote renewable energy. And then it also speaks about exploring concrete activities on arranging affordable finance, training activities and disseminating best practices for solar deployment as well as on de-risking finance. Jaise ki shayad aapko yaad hoga ki November 2015 mei COP-21 ke dauraan ISA ka launch kiyaa thaa aur kai desh ismein bhaagidar banane ke liye apani Ruchi jaahir kar chuke hain. Kuch log already ismein member banane ke liye aagey aa chuke hain, kuch ne ratify kar diya hai. Ye to ek process hai jo ki is waqt chal raha hai aur baaki jo ye document hai, isko hum website par daal denge taaki uske jo bhi details hain wo aapko usmein mil jaayenge.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:As there are no other questions, we conclude this special press briefing. Thank you all for coming.

(Concludes)

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