The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Denmark public show of rift irks India

Copenhagen, Oct. 10: India has expressed its displeasure to Denmark, which holds the current presidency of the European Union, on the manner in which its differences with the EU over Pakistan and Kashmir were brought to the fore by its Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

At the same time, Indian officials seemed to be engaged in a damage control exercise after the spat. It was suggested that since today was also election-day in Pakistan, perhaps the EU did not want to embarrass General Pervez Musharraf by criticising him.

Unable to negotiate a mutually acceptable formulation on Kashmir, Indian officialdom could only express “surprise” at Rasmussen going public with the differences over Kashmir. “It was far from our thinking that such confusion would be created at the last minute,” a senior Indian official said.

The Danish Prime Minister had said at the joint press conference with the Indian Prime Minister that Kashmir was not mentioned in the joint statement issued at the conclusion of the summit because “we did not agree on a text”.

The official felt that making the spat public was a failure on part of the EU. Rasmussen’s behaviour at the press conference was indeed surprising. His body language was aggressive and his choice of words blunt. Wisdom would have demanded that he not air the EU’s differences with India publicly and in the abrupt manner that he did.

However, there is also a view that this is equally, if not more, a diplomatic failure on India’s part.

Considering that the drafting of the joint statement had been going on for nearly two to three weeks, a moderate formulation broadly consistent with the EU’s earlier positions could have been found.

Instead, a senior Indian official tried to explain that “the EU’s reluctance to say anything publicly (on Pakistan, cross-border terrorism and Kashmir) was because of the elections taking place in Pakistan”. He argued that this had nothing to do with “lack of preparation but then the unexpected happens unexpectedly”.

But had not the EU earlier condemned Pakistan for cross-border terrorism publicly' And yet, there was not even a mention of cross-border terrorism by the EU today. The official tried to rationalise the behaviour of the Danish Prime Minister and current President of the EU by saying: “You know how strongly they (EU) feel about General Pervez Musharraf. They are a bit reticent when it comes to crticising General Musharraf. On the day of elections to Pakistan’s Parliament, if in a joint statement with India, the EU had said anything (critical) then it might have had political consequences for General Musharraf.”

However, he also said: “This is a mistaken perception from our point of view.” Earlier, the EU had made public statements about Pakistan’s sponsorship of cross-border terrorism even when General Musharraf was under domestic public pressure, the official said. “They have to be consistent about their position,” he argued.

In the joint statement issued today, there is a whole paragraph on terrorism which talks of generalities, but Indian diplomacy could not get the EU to get to the specifics. The statement says: “We emphasise that there can be no justification for terrorism, and those who perpetrate and sponsor it will be brought to justice.”

But from Rasmussen’s statements it was clear that suddenly this did not apply to Pakistan.

The Indian official, however, criticised the “lack of coherence” in the EU’s position and remarked: “They decrease their own capacity to talk to us on any credible basis if the fail to be consistent in adhering to their principles.”

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