External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar with French Defence Minister Florence Parly in Paris (Image courtesy: Twitter/@DrSJaishankar)
India today said that the issues faced in the Indo-Pacific region will extend beyond, even to Europe, if respect for international law, territorial integrity and sovereignty is not followed.
Making a veiled reference to China while delivering remarks at the opening session of the EU Ministerial Forum on Indo-Pacific in Paris today, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar stated that it is essential that greater power and stronger capabilities lead to responsibility and restraint.
"It means economics free of coercion and politics free from the threat or the use of force. It means observing global norms and practices. And refraining from making claims on the global commons," said the minister.
"Today, we see challenges on that score with the clarity that proximity brings. And believe me, distance is no insulation. The issues we confront in the Indo-Pacific will extend beyond, even to Europe," he added.
Welcoming European Union's commitment to contribute to the security of the region, Jaishankar said that the Indo-Pacific is at the "heart of the multipolarity" and rebalancing that characterizes contemporary changes.
"Countries with shared values and vision can better ensure a regional culture of working together. One in which all nations, irrespective of size, have sovereign options and make their own choices. That is the essence of our shared endeavours," he commented.
The minister said that the EU's strategy is consistent with India's vision of a free, open, balanced and inclusive Indo-Pacific region, anchored in ASEAN centrality, as outlined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Singapore in 2018.
"India's approach is broad-based and emphasises multilateralism, plurilateralism and collective action. These are combined in the Indo Pacific Oceans Initiative launched by Prime Minister Modi at the East Asia Summit in 2019. We are pleased that France, Australia, Indonesia and Japan chair one pillar each. We hope others too will step forward," he said.
He mentioned that, with its economic heft and expertise, the EU can also promote economic development, infrastructure, connectivity, digital transformation, climate change, biodiversity and human-centric concerns like health, besides security.
"This remains a maritime century, and the tides of the Indo-Pacific region will certainly help shape its future. Our collective efforts can keep the oceans peaceful, open and secure, and, at the same time, contribute to conserve its resources and keep it clean," said Jaishankar.
New Delhi is hoping to intensify India-EU ties under the French Presidency which began on January 1, 2022.
"France and the EU may have strong partnerships, presence and interests in the Indo Pacific. The values they espouse and the practices they follow are no less significant," Jaishankar said, saying that France, a resident power in the region, was among the first countries in the world to recognise its strategic geography.
He highlighted that France is already among India's foremost partners in security and New Delhi has an "enhanced partnership and operational level of access" with the EU too.
"In the area of connectivity, India’s Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure and the EU-India Connectivity Partnership have convergence with the Global Gateway. Our efforts must not only offer alternative resources, but also set standards in sustainability, viability and transparency," he said.