Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Germans Push For Eurofighter Inspite Of Opposition At Home

German chancellor Angela Merkel lobbied hard for Eurofighters during her visit to India to receive the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding, 2009.

“We are participating in a lot of very interesting economic projects. It is certainly not a secret that with the Eurofighters we made very good proposals and suggestions. Germany is very much interested in intensifying its relationship with India,” Merkel said during a joint press conference with prime minister Manmohan Singh.

Push for fighter jets deal: India plans to procure 126 MMRCA. The deal if done may give a business worth $11 billion to the European consortium. Germany, which is a major stake holder in the consortium, is expecting this could balloon to another 80 more fighter aircrafts (total 200) translating the total deal to $18 billion, going by India’s trend of procuring Hawk, Sukhoi and MI-17.

“Procurement procedures are very transparent in India as they attempt to be the world over. We are convinced that we have the best product on offer as our competitors do too. We will certainly not exert any kind of influence on this process. We wish this to be a very transparent process and a smooth one. We are aware of the fact that we have a good product and we shall wait and see,” the German chancellor said.

Support for IMF chiefcandidate: It was speculated that Merkel would also seek India’s support for the candidature of French finance minister Christine Lagarde for the job of new IMF chief. India has been rooting for an IMF candidate from the emerging economies like the Bric countries. But it seems now that India has left the insistence as the PM said that “the best person should win regardless of nationality”.

Bilateral talks on defence, security, trade: The two sides held bilateral talks on cooperation in defence and security, trade and United Nations Security Council (UNSC) reforms. India and Germany reviewed the security situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Germany has expressed its intention to withdraw its soldiers from Afghanistan. India wants NATO forces to stay in Afghanistan. Manmohan Singh said terrorism would have to be fought on all fronts and not selectively.

“Our cooperation can be further enhanced because we face similar challenges — fight against terrorism… we are united in the wish that Afghanistan may become a state and take security matters in its own hands. Afghanistan has to develop as an independent security architecture, taking its security into its own hands because this is a better possible protection against the terrorist attacks,” Merkel said.

Inspite of being non-permanent members in the UNSC, India and Germany do not agree on the issue of reforms in the Security Council. Germany, which was so far was on board with India, has taken a different stand and is talking about an interim solution for 10 years, while India is strongly pushing for reforms. India is aiming to collect signatures from 100 countries to push for immediate reforms in the UNSC.

Four agreements for cooperation in vocational education, medical research, science and technology and nuclear physics were signed between the two countries. Germany has also expressed intention to train Indian commandos from the National Security Guards and provide equipment to combat terror mechanisms.

Nuclear proliferation worry: Merkel made a strong pitch for curbing nuclear proliferation with special focus on Iran. “We need to keep a close eye on nuclear proliferation. We need to see to it that we prevent this (nuclear proliferation) from spreading. Iran is a particularly a topical case,” she said.

Merkel is facing opposition at home for pushing Eurofighter to India.The German Red and Green parties are opposing sale of Eurofighter Typhoons to India. The German opposition parties SPD and Greens have criticized the government of the desired business with India as “a contribution to the escalation.”. German Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg (CSU) who announced his resignation, March 1, 2011, was criticized for his promotion of the Euro Fighter in India. During Aero India 2011.