The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, addressed a gathering of diplomats, policymakers and academics in Athens today (June 19, 2018) on the subject “India and Europe in a Changing World”. The event was organised by the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) – a leading foreign policy think tank in Greece and in Europe.The President said that India is committed to world peace. He said that India sees peace not just as the absence of conflict but as a reflection of sustainable development and indeed of any effort that anticipates and prevents strife and suffering. When we work for combating climate change, we contribute to world peace. When we assist other developing countries, as per their priorities, and strive for a less unequal world we contribute to world peace. When we rescue and evacuate not just our own citizens from troubled regions, but those of 40 other countries – as we did during the Yemen crisis of 2015 – we contribute to world peace. When we put considerable troops and resources at the disposal of United Nations peacekeeping operations, we contribute to world peace.President said that radicalisation and terrorism are pressing global concerns. Pockets of instability and extremism can be found in the region to Europe’s east and India’s west. They are a worry for both Europe and India. Promotion of terrorism by state and non-state actors; extremism in a variety of forms and rooted in senseless hate; the proliferation of sensitive weapons; the use of regular communication and financial channels by terror groups – these pose a challenge to not one nation or the other but to all humanity.
The President said that India and the EU must persuade the world to not distinguish between so-called “good” and “bad” terrorists, to shame and sanction state sponsors of terrorism, and to strengthen multilateral platforms such as the Financial Action Task Force and the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum. He expressed India’s willingness to share its domestic experiences and success stories in a manner that may be useful to EU.On clean energy and climate change, the President said that India and the EU are united in their commitment to the 2015 Paris Agreement. India is scaling up the share of non-fossil fuels in its energy mix. This will go up from the current 31 per cent to 53 per cent by 2027. We are targeting 175 gigawatts of renewable energy, of which 100 gigawatts will be solar energy, he said. The President invited Greece to join the International Solar Alliance (ISA). He also expressed happiness at the European Investment Bank’s willingness to mobilise finance for affordable solar energy projects in ISA member countries.The EU is among India’s largest trading partners. President said that EU is a critical source of investment and technology, especially for sustainability programmes. Indian companies are significant investors in the EU, in industries as far apart as pharmaceuticals and automobile components. President Kovind said that India remains committed to an India-EU Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA), to be achieved in a generous spirit of mutual accommodation and of pragmatism.Earlier in the day, the President addressed the India – Greek Business Forum meeting in Athens.
Speaking on the occasion, the President said that India-Greek bilateral trade at US Dollars 530 million is way below its potential. With some efforts this can easily be made to cross US Dollars 1 billion in the next few years and India is keen to take lead in this effort.The President said that there are clear complementarities between the Indian and Greek economies. He urged Greek shipping, agriculture, food processing, tourism, infrastructure, technology, defence and Start-up companies to look at investment and technology tie-up openings in India. He stated that there are lucrative opportunities for the Greek Shipping Industry in India's ambitious Sagarmala project. He also touched upon the opportunities to collaborate in defence manufacturing, pharma, tourism, real-estate, entertainment, infrastructure and technology sectors as well.Yesterday evening (June 18, 2018), the President attended a banquet hosted in his honour by the President of Greece. Speaking on the occasion, the President said that both India and Greece have a common stake in promoting multilateralism and global peace and security. He thanked the Government of Greece for its consistent support for India’s candidature for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. He also highlighted the possibility of collaborating in areas of renewable energy and climate change.Later in the day (June 19, 2018), the President departed for Suriname – the second leg of his visit to three countries – Greece, Suriname and Cuba.