Developments in Ukraine should be understood as part of US/EU's project of stretching the frontiers of "Europe" eastwards as far as possible in order either to eventually topple the present Russian political and economic order from within and make Russia a "European" country, or isolate it as a political and economic backwater beyond a "European" buffer extending into the former Soviet Union's heartland.
"Europe" for the protagonists of this strategy is a geography of shared values of democracy, market economy, freedom of expression, rule of law and respect for human rights.
Contrary to all expectations, the Italian marines have returned to India for trial. After having formally announced that the marines will not come back, the Italian government has dramatically reversed its position. This suggests that the hardliners in the government — apparently the foreign and defence ministers — have been overruled by wiser heads.
The latest turn of events in the Italian marines case is most unfortunate for both India and Italy as the bilateral relationship is being put under serious strain.
The Indian side had greater reason to feel aggrieved by the cause of the crisis. Indian nationals were killed near the Indian coast, plainly without justification, by Italian marines.
The successive visits of French President Hollande and UK Prime Minister Cameron to India this month can be viewed from different angles. Both countries clearly attach increasing importance to the India relationship. Opportunities in India are considerable even now despite the current economic slowdown, and will grow vastly as India continues to rise. Interest in India is also part of the wider reality of economic power shifting steadily towards Asia, with France and the UK, therefore, needing to retain and expand their share of a market that is fostering linkages eastwards.
The back-to-back visits of the president of France, Francois Hollande, and the Prime Minister of Britain, David Cameron, last month have put the spotlight on India’s relationship with Europe. Some belittle the importance of this relationship as Europe is seen as economically crisis-ridden, lacking in dynamism, to be declining militarily and too prone to act as a super NGO in propagating its values. The belief that economic, political and even military power is shifting towards Asia underlies this depreciation of our partnership with Europe.
France was first to offer a strategic dialogue after our 1998 nuclear tests, forswear sanctions and announce a “business as usual” policy towards India. This remarkably pragmatic position, surpassing the acute international anxieties of the moment, demonstrated its longer term strategic view of India’s role in the world. It is this solid investment in a strategic relationship with India that gives particular value to president Hollande’s visit that begins today.
To appreciate better the subject of India’s defence relations with Europe some reflections of a general nature would be pertinent. The point needs to be made right at the start that India does not have defence relations with Europe as such; it has them with individual European countries.
Europe has forged a strong economic personality in the form of the European Union, but it has failed to develop a common foreign and defense policy in the true sense. When it comes to economic issues India, like other countries, has to deal with Brussels.
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