Westerwelle in India: Germany seeks long-term partnership
German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle was in India on Friday, 22 June, 2012 – his third visit since taking office. This time, Westerwelle was in Bangalore, India’s IT and technical hub. It was a packed one-day schedule that combined political parlays, building closer contacts through consular and cultural initiatives, and an evening with business leaders.
The minister began his programme with a formal inaugural ceremony at the new premises of the German Consulate General. Germany was the first country to open a consulate in Bangalore, and Westerwelle stressed upon the importance Germany places on the city’s talent pool. “… you can feel the tremendous energy and dynamism pulsing through this hub of economic activity,” he said. “This is a place of entrepreneurship, research and innovation.”
More than 150 German companies have set up shop in Bangalore – many of them small and medium enterprises that are the engine of Germany’s economic powerhouse. They have created more than 50,000 jobs in the area, 6,000 of them in research and development. Apart from business ties, the region is an important focus for Germany in the field of research cooperation. There are 35 cooperation arrangements already in place between German universities and universities in Karnataka. An outstanding example is the Center on Lipid Research, which was set up jointly in 2011 by India’s National Centre for Biological Sciences and the Max Planck Institute, and is conducting world-class research.
Enlarge image German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle (L) and Indian foreign minister S M Krishna (© Thomas Imo / photothek.net) An important element of Minister Westerwelle’s visit to Bangalore was his meeting with Indian foreign minister S M Krishna that covered bilateral relations as well as the G20 process, the financial crisis, reform of global institutions including United Nations Security Council, terrorism, and other issues of mutual interest.
In the course of discussions, Westerwelle touched upon Germany’s position regarding the economic crisis in the eurozone, emphasizing that “it is not a ‘Euro’ crisis. It is a debt crisis which morphed into a crisis of confidence.” He said that Germany’s policy to tackle the crisis is built on the three pillars of solidity and fiscal discipline, solidarity amongst European nations, and stimulating growth. Responding to a question on whether India was satisfied with the European crisis management, S M Krishna told the media, “The sovereign debt crisis and the banking crisis now on the horizon has grave implications not only for the European community but for the entire global economy. And what we have heard from Foreign Minister Westerwelle is reassuring in terms of Germany’s commitment.”
Enlarge image Minister Westerwelle inaugurated the Indo-German Urban Mela in Bangalore along with the Chief Minister of Karnataka D.V. Sadananda Gowda (© Thomas Imo / photothek.net) After a morning of political deliberations, foreign minister Westerwelle opened the Indo-German Urban Mela along with the chief minister of Karnataka, D V Sadananda Gowda. Set up at the grounds next to Bangalore Palace, this urban extravaganza is part of the celebrations titled “Germany and India 2011-2012: Infinite Opportunities” that commemorate 60 years of the establishment of Indo-German diplomatic ties.
The Mela has been designed as a set of modern, multi-purpose pavilions with the thematic focus “StadtRäume – CitySpaces”. The foreign minister introduced the mobile exposition, saying, “The Urban Mela showcases German projects and our common visions. It gives visitors an impression of the potential of Indo-German cooperation to shape our common future.”
The German foreign minister’s visit to India was rounded off with the Founder’s Day Lecture of the Indo-German Chamber of Commerce. Germany is India’s largest trading partner in the European Union, and bilateral trade is expected to reach 20 billion euros by the end of this year. German businesses have invested more than five billion euros to set up industries in India, which make an important contribution to growth and employment.
Westerwelle pointed out that shared values such as democracy and the rule of law are the foundations of the strategic partnership between the two countries. Talking about India’s increasing importance and clout on the global stage, he said, “Germany is delighted about the Indian success story. We see India’s rise as a huge opportunity for more cooperation.” He concluded with the message that in its relations with India, Germany seeks long-term partnerships, not quick profits.