NEW DELHI: As German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, prepares to make his first visit to India after he became the chancellor, one of the issues that he is likely to discuss with Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, is the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
On Wednesday, German Ambassador to India Dr Phillip Ackermann said, “I am pessimistic about Russia’s intention to end the conflict. President Putin’s speech in Moscow on Tuesday was aggressive. The sanctions that are imposed are temporary and can be lifted based on the response of the country. But, here, Putin isn’t willing to change.”
Germany along with many other countries in Europe is gearing up to vote against Russia in the UNGA, however, they aren’t sure of which way India would move on this. “The decision to vote for, against or abstain is a sovereign decision. We can’t say much about it. It’s the same way like India’s decision to buy oil from Russia as it comes at a low cost, their decision is final,” the German envoy said.
Meanwhile, Chancellor Scholz will embark on his state visit to India with a large business delegation that comprises 12 CEOs that includes companies like SAP and Siemens. The Chancellor and Prime Minister Modi are collectively going to meet business leaders from both countries. Defence will be on the agenda too.
“Our bilateral trade is $30 billion now and we hope to increase it. We are also looking at the India EU FTA getting a boost and moving ahead,” he said adding that there are more than 2000 German businesses operating in India.
Chancellor Scholz and PM Modi met twice in 2022 and this year too they would be meeting twice – on February 25th and then for the G20 summit in September. The German Chancellor is keen on meeting PM Modi annually.
There are four fundamental areas of the upcoming visit. These include cooperation and enhancement in business, cooperation on climate change and energy transition, skilled labour migration to Germany and geopolitics (which includes China and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine).
“Germany needs skilled labour and has approved migration from India. At present 35,000 Indian students are in Germany and 18,000 more are in the pipeline. After completing their studies students get a year to apply for a job and once they get it a work visa is issued, “ Ambassador said.
India is a trusted partner in the Indo-Pacific and Germany shares a lot of concerns with India on this and it will be a part of the bilateral talks between PM Modi and Chancellor Scholz.