With Italian PM’s visit to India, both countries will try to make up for ‘missed opportunities’
India, Italy ties to get a new and real boost with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni visit to New Delhi, the first by an Italian premier in 10 years.
Senior officials speaking to India Today said that the focus would be to give the right impetus to “economic” and “commercial” cooperation as Italy is one of the most important members of the European Union (EU) with “the third largest presence of Indian community (estimated at 180,000) after the UK and the Netherlands”, according to a statement issued by Ministry of External Affairs.
“Coming after a gap of more than a decade, the visit is aimed at strengthening bilateral, political and economic relations between the two countries,” the statement said ahead of Gentiloni’s visit.
Romano Prodi was the last Italian Prime Minister to visit India in February 2007.
Prime Minister Gentiloni will be accompanied by his wife and a 15-member Italian CEOs delegation. Italy is India’s 5th largest trading partner in the EU with a bilateral trade of $8.79 billion in 2016-17, as per official figures.
The biggest point of contention between India and Italy was the 2012 case of firing by the two Italian marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, from MV Enrica Lexie, that led to the killing of two Indian fishermen from the state of Kerala. Ever since then, ties between the two nations have come to a near halt leading to impacting India’s dealings with the EU. The case now is at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Seas (ITLOS) at The Hague even as India allowed the marine Latorre to return to Italy in 2014 on health grounds and later in 2016 marine Girone too was sent back.
WHAT IS ON THE TABLE
When asked if this issue would come up during talks, a senior official from Italy said, “It is up to the leadership to decide what they want to discuss”, while a senior official from India said, “There is a realisation that there were missed opportunities and the relationship should not be held hostage to one issue or the other. There is a strong desire on the part of the govt. that this is an issue that needs to be resolved. But can be dealt with separately.”
The other issue that could be part of the discussions is the Agustawestland chopper scam. While there is no confirmation if this would come up, India Today has learnt that both sides will ‘compartmentalise’ sticking issues between the two nations to ensure progress is made on substantive aspects of the ties.
India, Italy will try to make up for the “missed opportunities”.
The focus would be to tap into Italy’s expertise in the renewable energy, railways sector for modernisation of Indian Railways as also to cooperate on food processing to reduce wastage of food in India. Italy would also participate in the ‘World Food India Expo 2017’ to be held in India. There is a lot expected in cooperation in the defence sector as well.
India-EU Broad Based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) could also witness some forward movement. During the Indo-EU Summit of October 6, 2017 there was and understanding that Indian and EU Leadership had “expressed their shared commitment to strengthening the Economic Partnership between India and the EU and noted the ongoing efforts of both sides to re-engage actively towards timely relaunching negotiations for a comprehensive and mutually beneficial India-EU Broad Based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA).”
Finally, Italy today is faced with terrorism and security issues in Europe and hence there will be huge focus on cooperation in the fight against terrorism. India Today has learnt that Italy will back the India-EU joint statement on Counter-Terrorism that named Pakistan-based terrorist organisations and the need to combat these elements. “The leaders agreed to strengthen cooperation to take decisive and concerted actions against globally proscribed terrorists and terror entities, including Hafeez Saeed, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, Dawood Ibrahim, Lashkar-e-Tayibba, Jaish-e- Mohammad, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, Haqqani Network, Al Qaeda, ISIS (Da’esh) and their affiliates”, the Indo-EU joint statement said.
A reaffirmation that, terrorism cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group and agree to enhance their cooperation in combating radicalization and violent extremism._ India Today
THE VOICE TIMES