Thursday, June 29, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

PM’s plea to end terrorism
EU appreciates India’s efforts on CTBT

From Amar Chandel
Tribune News Service

LISBON, June 28 — Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee today made an impassioned plea before the European Union to eliminate the scourge of terrorism which posed the biggest danger to peace and stability in the world today.

Addressing the plenary session of the summit, he used the occasion to underscore the fact that for more than a decade India had been a victim of cross-border terrorism that had taken the lives of thousands of its citizens. He appreciated the position taken by the EU when India was subjected to an act of premeditated aggression in Kargil, and again during the hijacking of an Indian Airlines flight.

The joint declaration issued at the end of the summit said that the EU and India shared the conviction that terrorism remained a major threat to regional and internations peace and security, and constituted a serious violation of the rights of innocent individuals and of the integrity of states. The two sides decided to bolster joint efforts by striving for a Comprehensive Convention on International Terorism.

This issue formed a major constituent of the Agenda for Action agreed upon by the two sides. The agenda is designed to step up political as well as economic cooperation. From the present indications, the summit would help more in enhancing trade, rather than investment, in the near future.

The line taken by the EU on the CTBT did not deviate from the standard western viewpoint that India would be well advised to append its signatures. The joint declaration noted that India was engaged in discussions on a range of issues, including the CTBT. It was working towards building the widest possible consensus domestically. The EU welcomed India’s current voluntary moratorium on nuclear testing and its willingness to move towards a de jure formalisation of this basic obligation of the CTBT.

Mr Vajpayee said that in an increasing interdependent world, a plural security order alone could deal with the challenges of the new era. The development of Indian nuclear capability should be seen in this context.

At a joint Press conference addressed by Mr Vajpayee, the President of the European Commission, Mr Romano Prodi, and the Prime Minister of Portugal, Mr Antonio Manuel de Olivira, the latter urged India and Pakistan to hold talks to solve their bilateral problems. Mr Vajpayee pointed out that while India remained committed to a composite dialogue with her neighbour, for this to happen, that country must demonstrate its commitment to existing bilateral agreements and abjure cross-border terrorism. Jehad cannot be a foreign policy, Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh sitting next to him said.

“Kargil was a violation of trust, a rude setting aside of the hand of peace that I had extended in February, 1999, when I travelled from Delhi to Lahore. That journey was a demonstration of our sincere commitment to peace, a commitment betrayed by Kargil. More than aggression on our territory, it was a transgression of our trust. This breach, you will agree, is much more difficult to repair,” Mr Vajpayee said.

India thus utilised the first ever summit with the EU to explain at the highest level its reasons for developing nuclear capability and also gave an indirect commitment to sign the CTBT provided there was domestic consensus on the subject.

Mr Chris Patten, Commissioner for External Relations, and Mr Jaswant Singh signed a financing agreement for the EU-India Civil Aviation Project amounting to 32 million Euro through which the Commission would provide a grant of 18 million Euro to the project over a period of three years. India forcefully put up its “natural claim” to a permanent seat in the Security Council in its capacity as the world’s largest democracy and rapidly growing economic power.

Mr Romano Prodi said that the EU did not have a common stand on the subject and it was for the member countries to evolve their individual response. It was decided to enhance the bilateral dialogue by holding forth regular summits. The next one will be held in Delhi next year. There will be Foreign Ministers’ meetings every year and senior officials’ and experts’ meetings each semester which will address foreign policy and security issues of common concern.

The cooperation to combat international drug trafficking and drug abuse would be strengthened. The two sides will coordinate efforts to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms referred to in the joint declaration.

While the differences over the CTBT remain, the two sides agreed to work together for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, proliferation and their means of delivery. They will continue to work together to eradicate chemical and biological weapons.

The summit announced several important steps towards creating the ground for better people-to-people contacts and understanding. These included the initiation of an India-EU Round Table of eminent non-official personalities and a network of EU and Indian think tanks to hone a dynamic and durable partnership.

The inclusion in the declaration of the shared belief that “democracy is the basis for equitable and sustained economic growth and development” is of vital importance and is a veiled criticism of the countries veering away from this path towards dictatorship or military rule.

India’s concern regarding the ill-effects of globalisation was reflected in the commitment that globalisation should take into account the development aspirations of developing countries while bringing the world close together.

Key areas identified by the two sides for working in tandem are information technology, science and technology, culture, elementary education, health services and environment.

It is learnt that the EU thinking went towards linking trade with certain political and environmental issues which India resisted successfully.

The EU supported the economic reforms being undertaken by India, which contribute to creating a climate more favourable to trade and investment. The two sides will work jointly to promote and increase the flows of goods and services.

There was no consensus on the scope of future WTO negotiations but the two sides agreed that the objective of any such negotiations should be to enhance market access, develop and strengthen WTO rules and disciplines, support the economic growth, development needs, and integration into the trading system of developing countries and contribute to the goal of sustainable development. The Summit instructed its senior officials to meet at least twice a year in a regular high-level dialogue covering all WTO matters, with a view in particular to identifying common approaches that India and the EU could take in these matters.

In sectoral discussions yesterday, Mr Pramod Mahajan impressed with his extempore speech dotted with personal anecdotes. Prime Minister Vajpayee read from prepared text as did Mr Yashwant Sinha and Mr Murasoli Maran. 

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