Mr. Javier Parrondo, Director General, CASA Asia,
Distinguished Speakers and Participants,
It is my pleasure to welcome you to the first ICWA-Casa Asia Dialogue.
We are meeting at a time of intense geopolitical contestations, and heightened strategic uncertainty, as evident from the crisis in Ukraine and the increasing US-China confrontation in Asia. These situations have impacted the dynamics within our respective continents.
Ukraine situation has global implications. In Europe, we see two key trends developing – first, is that while the EU has put forward a proposal for an embargo on Russian oil, there are related questions about the economic impact of such a move for Europe; how alternative supplies would be secured; and what impact it will have on global oil markets. Second, is the impact of the crisis on the evolving security architecture of Europe. From Germany’s pledge to dramatically increase defence expenditure, which marks a turning point in European security, to the creation of a rapid reaction force as part of EU’s Strategic Compass; to Sweden and Finland leaning closer to joining NATO – the crisis seems to have changed the way Europeans think and debate about security. Next month, Madrid will be hosting the NATO Summit, where undoubtedly many defence and security related questions will be discussed.
Globally, the Ukrainian crisis has affected the supply of agricultural commodities which is endangering global food security, particularly for vulnerable populations in the Middle East and Africa. Its impact is seen in rising oil, food and fertilizer prices which are pushing inflation and adding further strain on economies, already under stress, due to the Covid pandemic, which itself was a major disruptor in so many ways.
While the world’s focus is on Ukraine, the situation in Afghanistan continues to be unsettled and it is important that this country is not relegated to the background. The humanitarian crisis has plunged millions of Afghans into poverty. The security situation in Afghanistan is extremely complex with terror groups still operating freely. Formation of a truly inclusive and representative government is essential for the well-being of the Afghan people.
In the Indo-Pacific, apart from the economic dynamism of the region, major consequential factors influencing the recent geopolitical canvas is China’s asymmetric rise, its increasing foothold and assertiveness across the region, increasing US-China contestations, and emergence of new patterns of security and economic cooperation such as QUAD and AUKUS. Balance between availing economic opportunities of China and meeting the strategic challenges from China, is a question for many countries in the region and beyond, including Europe. It would be interesting to hear assessments in our dialogue how dynamics might be evolving in the region.
India is a major stakeholder in the Indo-Pacific and stands for a ‘free, open, inclusive, transparent and rules based’ region. Under its Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative, India seeks partnerships with like-minded countries on 7 maritime pillars like maritime security, maritime ecology and maritime resources. We hope to have fruitful discussions in the second session of our Dialogue on the scope and opportunities for India-Spain joint initiatives in the region. Spain has been in the Indo-Pacific region and has knowledge about it. Besides, Spain is a bridge to Latin America. It is also a country that has close relationships in the Middle East and the Mediterranean; it is an important player in North Africa.
As far as India -Spain relations are concerned, these are marked by a high degree of trust and mutual respect; our ties span political, economic and cultural contacts. We hope to see new drivers of growth.
We look forward to the recommendations by our eminent Speakers and Chairs.