The Vice President of India, Mr. M. Venkaiah Naidu was on a three-nation visit to Serbia, Malta and Romania. Advocating the issue of greater cooperation between India and Serbia, Mr. Naidu held detailed discussions on a range of bilateral and multilateral issues with President Aleksandar Vucic, Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and Speaker of the National Assembly of Serbia Maja Gojkovic. He also addressed a special session of the National Assembly of Serbia where he hailed the strengthening of relations between the two countries and called for a greater economic engagement. Serbian President Vucic assured Zagreb’s support to India at all forums like the United Nations, Nuclear Suppliers Group etc. Both countries also signed two agreements— one on Plant Protection and Quarantine, and the other on Revised Air Services. While addressing a business forum, the Indian Vice President urged Indian businessmen of Serbia to invest in India.
In the second leg of his visit, Mr. Naidu visited Malta and held discussions with President Ms. Marie-Louise Coleiro-Preca on a wide array of issues including satisfying levels of political interaction, greater need for economic cooperation, and enhanced partnership on terrorism, global warming, climate change and renewable energy among others. Three MoU’s were signed on Maritime Cooperation, mutual cooperation between the Foreign Service Institute, India and The Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies, University of Malta, and in the field of Tourism Cooperation between the two countries. Malta reaffirmed its support to India’s candidature into multilateral forums like UNSC, NSG etc. Pitching to improve trade and multilateral ties between the two countries, India invited Maltese business firms to come and invest in India. To further strengthen bilateral ties, India has also reopened its resident mission in Malta. Further, Mr. Naidu invited Malta to consider collaboration in economic, scientific and technological, human resource development and also in the sectors of generic drugs, yoga, Ayurveda and healthcare facilities.
The Vice President’s three nation tour concluded with his visit to Romania. He called upon Romanian President Klaus Iohannis and the President of Romanian Senate. Mr. Naidu also addressed a session of the Chamber of Deputies in the Romanian Parliament. The visit coincided with the 70th year of Indo-Romanian ties and the centenary year of Romania. A MoU in the field of Tourism Cooperation between India and Romania was signed to intensify people to people connectivity. India and Romania have witnessed a positive trend in the bilateral economic relations over the years. This has been intensified with stronger focus on strengthening trade and investment relationship covering sectors such as ICT, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, infrastructure, logistics, agri-foods and tourism. The visit to Romania will conclude on 20 September 2018.
The Indian Vice President’s visit to south-east European countries was quite eventful. The visits were mainly centred on strengthening economic relations with those countries for which Indian government’s initiatives to attract foreign business and entrepreneurs were outlined. It needs to be mentioned that India has good economic relations with several European countries like France and Germany and is also a strategic partner of the European Union in general. However, if India is to fulfil its commitment towards building a five trillion-dollar economy by 2025, then bolstering economic, trade and investment connections with other European countries like Serbia, Malta and Romania is a step in the right direction.
On the other hand, cooperation between India and the south-east European countries to face new challenges and threats will provide a common platform to discuss and solve issues with insight which undoubtedly will forge greater links between them. Greater support for India in multilateral forums by different countries can present India’s case much more firmly. Towards this end, the visits were significantas all the three important European countries rendered their valuable support to India’s candidature in the UN Security Council, NSG and the Human Rights Council.
Script: Dr. Sanghamitra Sarma, Strategic Analyst On European Affairs