Indian Council of World Affairs, New Delhi held its seventh strategic dialogue with its MoU partner in Poland, The Polish Institute of International Affairs (RIAC) on ‘Towards a Stronger India-Poland Partnership in Times of Global Change’ on 27 October 2020. Speakers in the Inaugural Session included Mr. Sławomir Dębski, Director, The Polish Institute of International Affairs, Dr. T.C.A. Raghavan, Director General, Indian Council of World Affairs, Amb. Adam Burakowski, Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to India and Amb. Tsewang Namgyal, Ambassador of the Republic of India to Poland.
2. In the Inaugural Session, the emphasis was placed on the changing contours of global order in the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was stated that the current pandemic and the global responses to it have reflected strategic convergences between EU and India’s interest in collaborative response to the crisis. Pandemic has also provided strong case in shifting of policy priorities for both India and the EU over a wide spectrum of issues ranging from security to developmental cooperation. It was highlighted that India and Poland being two largest economies in their respective regions, the post-COVID economic recovery offers opportunity for the two countries to explore full potential of economic cooperation. Strengthening strategic dialogue between ICWA and PISM was emphasized. DG, ICWA Dr. TCA Raghavan noted that, the global order is changing due to rise of a new hegemonic power and India particularly feels it very directly being in its proximity. US role in Asia, in the Indo-Pacific, developments in Afghanistan, and crisis in Pakistan, each of these specific issues should be seen in the larger picture of global geopolitical churn.
3. Session 1 on US-China Rivalry & Emerging New World Disorder? was chaired by Mr. Łukasz Kulesa, Deputy Head of Research, PISM. Speakers included Dr Stuti Banerjee, Research Fellow, ICWA and Ms. Justyna Szczudlik, Deputy Head of Research, PISM. US foreign policy post-Presidential elections and China’s growing assertiveness across Asia, the Indo-Pacific region and Eurasia was discussed. It was stated that Poland’s approach to China is based on EU’s policy, it has been sharpened based on reciprocity, but that has failed to bring any substantial and tangible change in China’s behaviour. While the EU is not becoming protectionist, it is putting its interests first. Perhaps it was time for EU to move from its defensive approach towards China and adapt a pro-active agenda setting approach which would be the right step going forward.
4. Session 2 on EU and South Asia during Covid-19 - Strategic Convergence at Last? was chaired by Dr. Nivedita Ray, Director Research, ICWA. Speakers for the session were Dr. Vivek Mishra, Research Fellow, ICWA and Ms. Jolanta Szymańska, Head of the European Union Programme, PISM. It was stated that the EU is facing a huge economic crisis due to the pandemic which is testing its solidarity. However, the pandemic has created a favourable push for strategic autonomy for EU’s single market. Discussion on respective neighbourhoods, on post-Brexit Europe, on Indo-Pacific was held. It was stated that the EU is moving from the periphery to the centre of the Indo-Pacific as a consequence of the ongoing shifts in the global order.
5. Session 3 on Prospects for India-Poland Cooperation: Time to Go Strategic? was chaired by Mr. Damian Wnukowski, Senior Analyst, PISM. Speakers included Dr. Ankita Dutta, Research Fellow, ICWA and Mr. Patryk Kugiel, Senior Analyst, PISM. It was highlighted that India and Poland share a long-standing relationship, defined by economic engagement, cultural links and high political contacts. Three strategic areas of convergence for the two countries are: support for rules based international order, convergent views on climate change and fight against global pandemic and post-pandemic recovery. These can form a basis for strategic cooperation. Factors that would have an impact on India-Polish ties include US, EU, China, Russia and Brexit. Poland can benefit and also contribute to strong India-EU partnership. Cooperation at multilateral platforms and reform of global institutions could be important areas of cooperation. New avenues of cooperation like green energy, mining, artificial intelligence, pharmaceuticals were identified for furthering bilateral cooperation.