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Event Reports

Indo-German Security Dialogue

Dialogue Programme for Indian experts and politicians from the field of foreign and security policy

By Philipp HuchelAug. 10, 2018

provided by: India Office

Also available in Deutsch

From June 24th to 30th, 2018, a delegation of Indian experts from the India Foundation and politicians focused on the fields of foreign and security policy visited Brussels and Berlin to have a dialogue on foreign and security related topics.

The delegation consisted of Mr. Swapan Dasgupta, Member of the Indian Parliament (Rajya Sabha), Ms. Meenakashi Lekhi, Member of the Indian Parliament (Lok Sabha), Major General Dhruv C. Katoch, Director of the India Foundation, Vice Admiral (retd.) Shekhar Kumar Sinha, Board of Trustees of the India Foundation and Former Commander-in-Chief of the Western Naval Command of the Indian Navy, Mr. Shakti Sinha, Director of the Nehru Memorial and Museum and Library (NMML), Ms. Vandana Mishra, Assistant Professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, and Mr. Apurv Kumar Mishra, Senior Research Fellow, India Foundation.

In Brussels the delegation met German and European politicians, government officials, military officers as well as experts on foreign and security policy. During a meeting with Mr. Gunnar Wiegand, European External Action Service, explained that the European Union is coming out with a strategy document on India-EU relations later this year. However, even under its present EU-Asia strategy, there is a very strong effort to grow the engagement beyond trade to other policy areas like cross-border terrorism, cyber-security and migration. He noted that practical co-operation with India is “still to be discovered” and highlighted the need to understand how we can work together in a third country. India and EU have a common view on navigation and rules-based order for Indian Ocean Region. Both sides should have a high-level dialogue on these issues. With Dr. Wolfgang Klapper, Ambassador and Vice-President of the East West Institute, the members of the delegation discussed about the current situation in Afghanistan and the growing scepticism of the European Union towards the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. In the meeting with Major General Giovanni Manione, Deputy Director General of the European Union Military Staff, a broad outline of the functioning of the European Union Military Staff was given by him. He stated that while EU was basically a political and economic union, it had been pushed to create military capability which could intervene during a crisis. Mr. Gabor Iklody Director, Crisis Management and Planning, European External Action Service, explained that a closer security and defence cooperation is now being demanded by population of Europe due to security concerns emanating from a threat of terrorism on European soil and of hybrid warfare from Russia in the East. Consequently, military cooperation is no longer unpopular and member states are looking to collaborate and invest more in security. During an roundtable discussion on 26th June, the delegation deliberated on the topic “Geopolitical Trends and Challenges: Implications for India’s Regional Security” with participants from various foreign missions, think-tanks and the political establishment. After the discussion round, the delegation met Elmar Brok, Member of the European Parliament. He highlighted his concerns about the Belt and Road Initiative being one of the most aggressive initiatives by China to get dependence of other countries including in Europe. Member states of EU had finance but need to develop a coherent economic and security strategy. He noted that the cancellation of TPP has created a vacuum in Indo-Pacific and that is of concern to European companies looking for open market access. Mr. Brok however expressed optimism over the long-term future of India, vis-a-vis China since it was a democracy. Besides, the members of the delegation also met General Mikhail Kostarakos, Chairman of the European Union Military Committee. He expressed his hope for greater military exchange with India. EU was interested in keeping sea lanes and lines of communication open and wanted to work together with India on maritime security. He said that the EU has extensive trade with China, and that the trade component with India could increase.

In Berlin the group met among others Mr. Jan Techau, Senior Fellow and Director of the Europe Program of the German Marshall Fund. Mr Techau focused his presentation on the loss of order at three levels: within EU, in transatlantic relations and domestically within member countries. He stated that the rise of China imbalances this fragile system to create the same crisis of order. OBOR is primarily a land-based initiative to circumvent USA’s domination of the seas and its impact is already being felt in the voting behaviour of countries in European Council. Dr. Christian Wagner, Senior Fellow of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, pointed out that China’s BRI is changing South Asia and the conception of the region. He noted that regionalism in South Asia was weak. India was, accordingly, cooperating with other powers to respond to BRI with initiatives like North-South Transport Corridor and India-Africa Growth Corridor. The delegation visited also the German Parliament where they met Mr. Markus Koob, Member of Parliament and Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, along with other members of the Indo-German Parliamentary Group. The subject of discussion was Germany’s current international and security challenges and its relations with India. Mr. Koob stated that EU-China relations were ambivalent although at the moment it looked like China was a more reliable partner than the USA. Dr. Guenter Krings, Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Interior, Building and Community focused in his presentation on the threat of radical Islam, especially from foreign returned fighters of ISIS to Germany and on the threat of cyber-attacks. He highlighted the difference in number of security personnel between India and Germany which had a much smaller force. This was further complicated by the fact that due to extreme federalism, Germany had a decentralized security structure with relatively weak police forces. On 28 June 2018, KAS organised a roundtable discussion on “India: Current Security and Foreign Policy Challenges”. The panellists were Mr. Swapan Dasgupta and Major General Dhruv Katoch from the India Foundation delegation along with Brigadier General Rainer Meyer zum Felde, Senior Fellow at the Institute for Security Policy at Kiel University. The discussion was moderated by Dr. Garima Mohan, Research Fellow at the Global Public Policy Institute in Berlin. Mr. Dasgupta gave his views on the upcoming 2019 Indian general elections and the possible outcome scenarios. General Katoch spoke on ‘Geo-Strategic Shift in South Asia’. Brigadier Meyer made several key observations on challenges to EU on the east from Russia and from the south by migration crisis and ISIS. He noted that Germany had outsourced security to western institutions like NATO and EU. While there was some instability due to the present dispensation in the USA, he concluded that US would continue to remain a reliable power for Europe. He also cautioned about the rise of China as an European power and its attempts to gain influence in Eastern Europe using unhealthy lending practices. After the roundtable discussion the delegation met Commodore Axel Deertz, Head of Division 22 at the Federal Chancellery. The subject discussed was “Germany’s current international and security challenges with reference to India in context of Global Governance”. Commodore Deertz highlighted the twin problems of migration crisis and Russian aggression as key security challenges for Europe. The message coming from USA is that EU must do more for its security. He stated that NATO has remained the backbone of collective defence for Europe while the EU military simply complemented it. The last meeting of the delegation was with Mark Hauptmann, Member of German Parliament. He focused his remarks on energy security and trade agreements. He noted that Germany had made substantial investments to shift to renewables energy, including providing subsidy to individual farmers engaged to become energy producers. While talking about a pending FTA agreement with India, he was apprehensive about the end of a US-led international trade regime.

The delegation perceived the exchange of views as insightful. It provided a deep understanding of EU security concerns and highlighted the fact that India, Germany and the EU can cooperate on many issues, both economic and security related.


ImagePeter Rimmele
Resident Representative India
Phone +91 11 26113520

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