Copenhagen, Oct. 9: The successful completion of elections in Jammu and Kashmir and the level of popular participation have strengthened India’s position.
As a result, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee would be attending the third India-European Union Summit here with enhanced Indian credibility to deal with the Kashmir problem, foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal said.
Neither Jammu and Kashmir nor Pakistan is the focus of the summit but these issues are nonetheless expected to figure in the dialogue on terrorism. “The EU has been supportive of the elections in Jammu and Kashmir. It has come out openly against terrorism and cross-border terrorism sponsored by Pakistan in India. The EU ambassadors in Delhi have said that the elections we had organised were free and fair and one of them went to the extent of saying that he was ‘astonished’ by the keenness of the people to vote,” Sibal said.
He felt the India-EU summit was a good opportunity to consolidate the gains made in Jammu and Kashmir despite attempts by Pakistan to disrupt the polls through terrorism.
No undue pressure is expected by India at Copenhagen to restart a dialogue with Pakistan. As of now, however, New Delhi also believes that there is no need to reward Pakistan with any engagement. “We have conducted free and fair elections and we are going to be asked to reward General Pervez Musharraf' For what' Pakistan’s behaviour before and during the election has failed the litmus test,” the foreign secretary said.
India, obviously, would not close the door for a dialogue forever. “If even now Pakistan stops cross-border terrorism, we are willing to offer a dialogue. The leaders of the European Union understand this. So there is unlikely to be any undue pressure on us on this count,” he added.
India places special significance on the summit with the European Union for several reasons. The EU is the largest economy after the US and Japan. Of its 15 member states, two (France and the UK) are permanent members of the Security Council, another (Germany) is the strongest contender for the membership of the Security Council once it is expanded, four are members of G8 and all are among the most advanced economies in the world today.
Sitting at the high table with them is of tremendous significance for India. The EU is also India’s largest trading partner.
Also, the dialogue at the summit level is held by the EU only with its strategic partners. Up to two years ago, the EU summit-level dialogue took place only with the US, Russia, China, Japan and Canada. Then in 2000, the first India-EU summit was held at Lisbon, followed by the second one in Delhi in November 2001.
The EU summit dialogue with India positions it as one of the poles of a multi-polar world the EU is working towards. This fits well with India’s own assessment of its growing economic and political profile.
“The stature that the EU is willing to give to India is in harmony with India’s claim to be a permanent member of the Security Council once it is expanded. It is a reflection of India’s real and potential role in the world,” Sibal said.
The foreign secretary said the three main elements of the agenda of the India-EU summit would be to deepen the political dialogue on terrorism, the development dialogue and the India-EU business dialogue. There has been good progress on these issues in the past and the trend is expected to continue.
On the eve of the summit, an India-EU business dialogue has also been organised. India is also planning to increase the mechanisms that foster better ties with the EU, including increased interaction with the European Parliament.