Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Wednesday, held a series of high-level crucial talks with his counterparts from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and Finland. The talks took place during the second India-Nordic Summit in Denmark, as part of PM Modi’s ‘three-day, three-nation’ Europe tour. The summit was held in the backdrop of the Russia-Ukraine armed conflict that has created a situation reminiscent of the Cold War era, with the Western block appearing in complete unison against the Russian invasion.
While the Nordic countries have condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and termed it an “unlawful and unprovoked aggression”, New Delhi has been walking on a tightrope ever since the genesis of this conundrum. India continues to stand firm in its neutral position, refusing to name the “Russian side” as an aggressor or condemn its actions. The country maintains that diplomacy is the only way out of the conflict.
The summit in Denmark, attended by Norwegian PM Jonas Gah Støre, Swedish PM Magdalena Andersson, Icelandic PM Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Finnish PM Sanna Marin, and
Danish PM Mette Frederiksen, focused on post-pandemic recovery, blue economy (maritime sector), climate change, sustainable development, and green and clean growth. Addressing a press briefing on the side-lines of the summit, India’s Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said that three clusters ran common to the Nordic Summit. “One, need to combine the skill capability of Nordic countries with the scale of India. Two, clean and green growth solutions and three, to forge new innovation partnerships,” he said.
“Both leaders discussed the potential for deepening engagement in areas like Blue Economy, renewable energy, green hydrogen, solar and wind projects, green shipping, fisheries, water management, rainwater harvesting, space cooperation, long term infrastructure investment, health and culture,” said the Ministry of External Affairs, after a meeting between PM Modi and his Norwegian counterpart, Jonas Gah Støre.
“We discussed ways to deepen bilateral cooperation in key sectors like security, IT, research and innovation. Strong ties between our nations will benefit our people,” tweeted PM Modi, after his interaction with his Swedish counterpart, Magdalena Andersson.
The leaders also discussed the situation in the Indo-Pacific region, a strategic water channel that has gained immense significance and has brought like-minded countries and blocks such as the Quad Security Dialogue and the AUKUS together, to contain the Chinese expansionist policy.
Following the discussion with the Nordic countries, a joint press release was shared by the Ministry of External Affairs, underscoring that India and the Nordic countries affirmed their support for a rules-based international order and multilateral institutions. The countries asserted their commitment to work towards making them more inclusive, transparent, and accountable, with the aim of addressing global challenges more effectively.
“This included working towards reform of the UN, including of the Security Council… and the reform of the World Trade Organisation, as well as strengthening collaboration on global health issues, including pandemic preparedness and response,” read the press release.
The two sides, in the joint statement, also emphasised that the contemporary global order has been built on the UN Charter, international law and respect for sovereignty and the territorial integrity of states. They discussed the destabilising effect of the conflict in Ukraine and its broader regional and global implications.
It is pertinent to note here that both Finland and Sweden, who have been traditionally non-aligned, have now expressed their interests in becoming member nations of the North-Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), a key military alliance that was built post-World War II, to contain the rise of the Soviet Union. Such statements from these two Nordic countries have irritated the Kremlin, who has warned that if they join the NATO, Russia will strengthen its defence, which will include the deployment of nuclear weapons.
Ending his three-day tour to Europe, PM Modi made his last stop in France to meet Emmanuel Macron, who has just won the national election for the second consecutive term as prime minister. Reportedly, the two leaders exchanged warm hugs and discussed bilateral as well as global issues.
“India and France express deep concern about the current aggravation of global food security and nutrition, already impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and especially in developing countries,” read the joint statement issued by the countries. The statement further said that the two countries are committed to addressing the risk of an aggravated food crisis “through initiatives such as the Food and Agriculture Resilience Mission (FARM), which aims at ensuring well-functioning markets, solidarity, and long-term resilience”.