Sunday, July 21, 2024

In a first, EU to appoint military adviser in India – Times of India

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For the first time, EU will appoint a military attaché in India as it looks to strengthen security and defence ties with the country, and also to add teeth to its Indo-Pacific strategy that it announced in 2021.

The appointment is significant, coming as it does amid EU’s pivot to the Indo-Pacific and its efforts to play a more consequential geopolitical role in the region since it set out its Indo-Pacific goals 2 years ago. The EU currently has a military attaché only in about a dozen countries.

EU’s new ambassador to India Herve Delphin told TOI that the appointment in the EU Delegation to India will take place next month. “It’s a reaffirmation of the deepening of our cooperation in defence and security. We just had a dialogue on maritime security and cyber security. We will soon have one on counterterrorism. If you look at where we were 2 years ago, and where we are now, the progress we have made is quite impressive,” said Delphin.

For India, which has accused Europe of remaining silent when the rules-based order was challenged in Asia, efforts by the EU to expand presence in the Indo-Pacific and to step up security cooperation are a long-awaited change. Amid some serious differences on India’s Russia policy last year, foreign minister S Jaishankar had advised Europe to grow out of the mindset that “Europe’s problems are the world’s problems but the world’s problems are not Europe’s problems’’.

Speaking about concerns over China’s assertiveness, Delphin said the EU had a strong economic partnership with China, but it won’t allow its economic openness to be abused.

“Most of our trade and FDI in this region. It’s important that there’s stability in the Indo-Pacific and escalation is contained. And also, that international laws, UNCLOS are abided by. We will resist any form of economic coercion. We have a strong economic partnership with China. But we are also systemic rivals. We will never allow our economic openness to be abused or international laws to be ignored,’’ said the ambassador, who assumed office earlier this week.

Delphin said the EU was no longer just an economic power. “People may have realized it also in the way we reacted to Russia’s war on Ukraine. We have mobilised a significant amount of money to maintain the supply chain of weapons to Ukraine. We have changed a lot as a global security actor. There are concrete areas of cooperation with India as we develop Coordinated Maritime Presences (CMP) in the Indo-Pacific by European navies,” said the ambassador, adding that there’s genuine interest in both India and the EU to intensify security cooperation. The EU, which has done CMP in the northwest Indian Ocean, is also funding sustainable connectivity in the region through its Global Gateway initiative.

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