Sunday, October 10, 2004

Some you win, some you lose

Some summits happen and are successful, some summits happen and are not so successful, and some do not even take place. That’s life in the international fast lane.

The ASEM Summit (which we shall cover) probably came into the second category. After a great deal of trouble it took place. And what good came of it all? As old Kaspar replied in Southey’s poem:
“Why that I cannot tell, …
But ‘twas a famous victory.”
At least it took place, much to the delight of seasoned summit watchers. Another one did not even happen.

It seems that the EU-India Summit, scheduled for October 13 -14 in The Hague, has been cancelled, which is something of a relief to the rest of the world, that had not even realized it was happening.

Not everyone is pleased. Armin Laschet, the German Christian-Democrat MEP, who is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and a substitute member of the Defence and Security Sub-Committee has expressed his disappointment. The EU, according to him, is India’s largest trading partner and source of foreign direct investment but India is only the EU’s 20th trading partner. The problem with those figures is easily seen. If one broke them down member state by member state, the correlation might turn out to be different. Nevertheless, trade has grown constantly and is now worth €27 billion. Fine, but does this require a summit?

It seems that there was going to be a secondary, business summit on October 13 as well, but the main one was to discuss the EU-India Strategic Partnership that was proposed by the European Commission in June.

The details seem a little vague. Herr Laschet again:

“With India, Europe shares not only common interests but also common values. This is a very important basis for a strategic partnership.”
Tomasz Koszlowski, head of the Asia taskforce in the Council of Ministers listed conflict prevention and post conflict reconstruction (such as in Afghanistan), the fight against terror and organized crime and the non-proliferation of weapons as some of the key areas to discuss.

Is India doing conflict reconstruction in Afghanistan? Not according to the Heritage Foundation research paper. What about that non-prolifaration of weapons? Is India about to stop her mind-boggling games with Pakistan? I think not. But, above all, why is there no mention in this list of the Galileo surveillance system? Was that not going to be discussed? Hardly worth having a summit.

Anyway, it was all cancelled for “pressing domestic circumstances” in India – a small matter of ethnic clashes in the nort eastern province of Nagaland. More than 60 people were killed in the last few days and not a word filtered through to the British media. Common values Herr Laschet?

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