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Reports on Conference/Seminars

Name of Event: “An Interaction with a delegation of Editors/Journalists
from East European countries”
Date: January 10, 2011
Venue: Sapru House, New Delhi

The Indian Council for World Affairs (ICWA) organized "An Interaction with a delegation of editors/Journalists from East European countries" on 10 January 2011. Following editors/journalist from East Europe participated in the meeting.

Mr. Jozsef Gyorgy Farkas - Hungary

Mr. Peter Nemeth- Hungary

Mr. Laszlo Benda - Hungary

Mr. Anthony Georgieff - Bulgaria

Ms. Dimana Trankova, Bulgaria

Mr. Wojciech Jagielski - Poland

Ms. Karolina Cygonek - Poland

Mr. Milan Libiger - Chez Republic

Mr. Karel Toman - Chez Republic

Mr. Andrej Miholic- Slovenia

Mr. Zoran Senkovic - Slovenia

Mr. Marko Biocina - Croatia

Mr. Cristian ampeanu- Romania

Ms. Irinea Stoica - Romania

Chairman's Remarks by Amb. Sudhir Devare, DG, ICWA

The Chairman extended a warm welcome to the guests and gave an introduction about past and present activities of ICWA.

He highlighted that India and countries of Eastern and Central Europe have enjoyed very cordial relations over the years. India was among very few developing countries which had excellent relationship with countries of the region during the Cold War and afterwards.

While briefing about India's foreign policy priority the Chairman noted:

Basic foreign policy principles of India remain unchanged namely independence, freedom of action, non-alignment (not in classical sense). However, in last 10-15 years there have been considerable innovations and evolution of Indian foreign policy. India is increasingly becoming a major partner of the global community in the matter of security and non security issues like climate change, WTO, global financial issues and so on.

The Chairman and participants in the meeting structured the discussion along the following themes:

(a) India's foreign policy - The main issue of debate was- whether India has a foreign policy? It was argued that Indian foreign policy is in the process of evolution. India is a non threatening power and it has a nuanced policy of playing a balancing role and it should not be seen as a lack of policy.

(b) Future of Non-aligned Movement (NAM) - It was noted that NAM has gone through tremendous evolution and change and it needs to be redefined.

(c) India's difficult neighbourhood - The issue of difficult neighbourhood was discussed in the context of China, Pakistan and Afghanistan. It was noted that India is patiently waiting to see a change of mind in leadership and armed forces of Pakistan so that they can live with India without using terrorism as a tool of foreign policy. The situation in Afghanistan was described as volatile and fragile while stakes in Afghanistan is considerable for India. India's contribution in the reconstruction of Afghanistan was acknowledged while the important issues like withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan in 2014 and the idea of 'moderate Taliban' was questioned. China remains a principle foreign policy challenge for India. Partnership at one hand and competition at the other was mentioned as policy of India towards China.

(d) India's quest for permanent seat at the reformed United Nations Security Council (UNSC). It was suggested that the reform of UN including UNSC is required and India deserves a permanent seat at the reformed UNSC.

(e) India's infrastructure development- India's quest for infrastructure development and its plan to spend one trillion dollar in coming years was noted. It was clarified that foreign companies are involved in the process and they are welcome in India.

(f) Rapprochement between Russia and East Europe- It was argued that rapprochement between Russia and East Europe primarily depends on Russia. In the context of Russia's relations with NATO, it was suggested that both can go together and this could be a good opportunity for Russia to gain what it lost in 1980s.

(g) East Europe and India - It was pointed out that the countries of East Europe also see India as an investor (as done by TATA in Hungary) and not only as market.

The visitors from East European countries felt that India is an emerging global power. Further, India needs to explain its foreign policy to global community.

Report by:        Sanjeev Kumar, Research Fellow, Indian Council of World Affairs