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PM Modi’s “today’s era is not of war” message resonated widely in Europe: German Ambassador Ackermann

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New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “clear” message to Russian President Vladimir Putin that ‘today’s era is not of war’ resonated widely in Europe in a very positive way, German Ambassador to India Philipp Ackermann said on Sunday while complimenting India’s position that sovereignty and territorial integrity of countries must be respected.

In an exclusive interview to PTI, the envoy said there has been a “certain shift” in India’s position on the war in Ukraine as he referred to the Indian statement on the UN resolution against Moscow’s annexation of four Ukrainian regions.

Ackermann said Germany would not “blame” the Indian side for buying crude oil from Russia, but what it expects is a clear positioning saying international laws must be adhered to.

Elaborating on the global energy crisis triggered by the war, Ackermann said  there is a need for an international network of like-minded countries to deal with it and that Germany counts India in this group.

Asked about Prime Minister Modi’s message to Putin to end the war, Ackermann said, “It is a sentence that has resonated widely in the region in a very positive way.”

“It is a very beautiful phrase. The whole world was listening to it. I think it was a very very clear, very loud sentence that I cannot underline how much I agreed with Prime Minister Modi. So we were very pleased to hear the sentence,” he said.

In his bilateral meeting with Putin in Uzbekistan on September 16, Modi said “today’s era is not of war” and nudged the Russian leader to end the conflict.

Germany has been playing a vital role in formulating Europe’s strategy to deal with the crisis in Ukraine and it has provided shelter to over one million Ukrainian refugees besides sending humanitarian aid to that country.

Ackermann also noted India’s statement at the UN during the discussion on a resolution on the Russian annexation of four Ukrainian regions though New Delhi abstained from voting on it.

“There are certainly some disagreements on some issues. I would say that in the last couple of months if you read carefully the Indian statements on the matter, you will see a certain shift in the Indian position,” he said.

“We read carefully what the Indian representative to the United Nations said during the vote on the resolution on the annexation. Unfortunately, India abstained, but what the Indian representative said made it clear that India has a very strong emphasis on sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said.

Ackermann said respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and international law are crucial and that he saw a growing overlap between German and the Indian position on the crisis.

“I will not blame the Indian side for buying energy from the Russians. What we expect is the clear positioning saying that we must adhere to international law,” he said.

The German ambassador’s comments came in the backdrop of growing disquiet in the Western countries about India repeatedly abstaining from votes condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine and its increasing purchase of crude oil from Moscow.

Talking about overall India-Germany ties, the envoy said the relationship is “very comprehensive and extremely broad.

“In many ways, the sky is the limit for Indo-German relations. I see a great future for them,” he said.

On the unfolding global energy crisis, Ackermann pitched for a network of like-minded countries to deal with it.

“I think that what we need is somehow an international network of like-minded countries and states and I count India very much in this group,” he said.

“I think we should sit together and discuss the burning and urgent questions of our times and energy security is one of them. The terrible Russian war of aggression that we are witnessing has led us to understand that the energy crisis is to be solved quickly,” he said.

The German envoy said the G-20 countries should take up the issue of the energy crisis in its upcoming summit in Indonesia next month, but indicated that a united voice may not come out of it as Russia is part of the grouping.

“I think the G20 should very clearly tackle this energy problem. I see, basically, when you take the Russia factor out right now, I see a great convergence in G20 on this issue,” he said.

Ackermann said now is the time to figure out ways how to minimise dependence on fossil fuel and enhance cooperation to expand the availability of clean fuel.

“India is a great power for us in this context. We feel that in this partnership for green and sustainable development that we concluded with the Indian side in May, this is all laid down. We will work together with the Indian side to get the transition from fossil fuel to renewable sources,” he said.

Expanding on his comments on growing bilateral ties, he said the defence and strategic ties are going to grow in coming years.

“But I would say that the strategic relationship also contains formats that are very important like we started talks on China on a senior official-level discussion with our Indian counterparts, we talk on the burning or the urgent questions for our societies in the years to come,” he said.

“The strategic partnership that we have comprises much more than defence,” the envoy added.

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