No mention of Kashmir in EU-India declaration
23 November 2003
The News International
BRUSSELS: Nothing against Pakistan will be included in the final document of the upcoming EU-India summit in New Delhi this week, as European leaders, during the course of the preparations for the summit, have declined to be embroiled in the 'nagging conflict' between India and Pakistan, a source in Brussels told The News.In a recent diplomatic contact between India and the EU, the source revealed that sharp differences have emerged on the issue of reflecting the official Indian positions on Kashmir, dialogue in South Asia and cross-border terrorism in the final text of the joint statement expected to be carried in the fourth EU-India summit to be held in New Delhi on November 29.The differences in the EU and Indian positions on these issues have become conspicuous at a stage when the international community is hoping for a possible interaction between the top leaders of Pakistan and India during the World Summit on the Information Society in Geneva on December 10-12, 2003, and later in the SAARC Summit to be held in Islamabad in the first week of January 2004.The EU Troika - the countries holding the current, previous and future EU presidencies, Italy, Greece and Ireland - is consistently unanimous on the EU policy covenant that the block of 25 countries (15 member states and 10 accession countries) would encourage dialogue between Pakistan and India by carefully guarding its policy of not taking sides in the conflict between the two nuclear rivals in South Asia, the source told.'In the agreed text of the joint statement expected to be carried in the EU-India Summit on 29 November, either there will be no reference to Kashmir; or the paragraph on Pak-India relations would not go beyond a call to initiate bilateral dialogue as soon as possible', a EU official claimed on the condition of anonymity. He added that the EU would adhere to the same policy based on nonconformism in the earlier announced 'EU Troika-Pakistan ministerial meeting' to be held in Islamabad in the first week of February 2004.The disagreement between the EU and India on the issues of Kashmir, dialogue in South Asia and cross border terrorism surfaced after India's abortive attempts to get the drafts reflecting Indian national position carried in a resolution at the latest G-8 summit of the most industrialised countries at Avian (South of France) and the Third EU- India summit at Copenhagen. Prior to the fourth EU-India summit to be held in New Delhi, the EU pledges to uphold the 'spirit of the position taken by the Danish Presidency of the EU after the third summit'.Noting that the reference to issues like Kashmir, dialogue in South Asia and cross-border terrorism were missing conspicuously in the agreed text, the Danish Presidency was asked why there was no reference to Kashmir in the agreed text of the EU-India Third summit.In response to several such questions the Danish Prime Minister and EU President (at that time), Anders Fogh Rasmussen was candid to explain the EU policy as he reportedly said: 'To be honest and frank, we did not agree on a text. But I would like to urge all parties in this conflict to find a peaceful solution. We did not think it would facilitate further progress to write a text,' the EU official quoted Fogh as saying.When asked to explicate the 'spirit of the Danish presidency's position on this issue', the EU official said: 'The source predicted that all references to South Asia related to Kashmir and cross-border terrorism would be dropped from the recommended draft of the joint statement, which had been under negotiation for some time during the course of preparations for the EU-India summit to be held on November 29 in New Delhi.'While the EU expresses its resolve to prevent all such attempts to make sure that the Fourth EU-India summit is not hijacked by the core conflict between Pakistan and India, the EU top leaders intend to send a clear message to Pakistan and India to engage them in meaningful, productive and composite bilateral dialogue, the source said.The EU- India summit will be attended by the current EU President, the Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, the President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, the EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, Commissioner external relations, Chris Patten, along with a high-level official delegation. An EU-India Business Summit will also be held on November 27-28.The EU leaders expect discussions on the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan and non- proliferation issues during the fourth EU-India summit. Several meetings in Brussels, Rome and New Delhi are in progress to finalise the agenda points to be discussed. The Ambassador of Italy in New Delhi, Benedetto Anari, is in regular contact with the Current EU presidency as the documents to be carried in the summit are being finalised, the source said.Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi and Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee are expected to sign a joint declaration on International terrorism during the summit, besides discussing some important dimensions of International and regional situations, as well as issues related to the impact of the EU enlargement, the source indicated.The EU-India Business Summit, preceding the high-level political dialogue, would be attended by several top chief executive officers of large companies in the EU member states. The forum would discuss issues including genetically modified organisms, information technology, tourism, food processing, chemicals and pharmaceuticals.