Le priorità della politica estera indiana

Il discorso della Segretaria agli Esteri Nirupama Rao del 27 giugno scorso all'International Institute of Strategic Studies di Londra. Segnalazione di Sonia Cordera.

India and the UK share a special and unique relationship- there are shared values and ties that bind us – with the ideals of democracy, the rule of law, inclusiveness and pluralism informing the political systems in both our nations. Our multi-faceted bilateral relationship with the UK was infused with further strength after its upgradation to the level of a strategic partnership in 2004. Importantly, the visit of Prime Minister David Cameron to India in July 2010 saw these relations elevated to an ‘Enhanced Partnership for the Future’. You sense from all this that the partnership between our two democracies is going to further strengthen and deepen in the years to come.
As open, pluralistic societies, we understand well that respect for freedom and human rights must inform the emerging world order. We also take great pride in the fact that along with giving importance to our political, economic and commercial ties we emphasise our educational, scientific, tourism and cultural cooperation.
In global affairs, India holds as its lodestar the values and the ideals of multilateralism, peaceful coexistence, justice, freedom, equality and fraternity, which are required for an equitable and sustainable world order in the 21st century. With our vision firmly rooted in these values, we seek to engage the international community in essential reforms of the international governance system so that its much more tuned into the atmospheric space of the twenty first century.
Today, it is normal to speak of the dynamic Indian growth story despite the ravages of the global economic crisis. But to put your arms around the Indian experience, you must understand the nation as it has evolved and acquired its current attributes.
Our Republic is sixty one today, and, the course of our foreign policy also covers almost the same period. As the country has grown, so also our foreign policy has evolved, innovated and adjusted to changed global circumstances, in accordance with the national interest. A fundamental goal of India’s foreign policy is to promote our economic growth targets and ambitions in a conducive and a peaceful, stable, external environment.
India is placed in an extremely complex neighbourhood which has seen rapid and often, turbulent, change in the last thirty years. A peaceful periphery is a an irreducible requirement for the success of our efforts to accelerate domestic economic development. This thread runs through our foreign policy.
With our largest neighbour, China, we have consciously practised a policy of engagement that has yielded positive dividends. Alhough there is an unresolved boundary question between our two countries which should be settled on mutually acceptable terms, we have not held the rest of the relationship hostage to this complex issue. We have also collaborated usefully on a variety of multilateral issues.
With Pakistan, we have consistently made efforts to go back to the negotiating table to solve difficult issues. We have striven to promote better relations with Pakistan. Naturally, such relations can only grow in an atmosphere free of terror and violence. The trajectory of our relationship over the last few decades has been distorted and adversely impacted by the factor of cross-border terrorism. A stable Pakistan which acts as a bulwark against terrorism and extremism is in its own interest and also in the interest of our region.I have just returned from a productive and positive round of talks with Foreign Secretary Bashir in Islamabad.
We help Afghanistan in its reconstruction efforts with the aim of bringing peace and stability in that country. During his recent visit to Afghanistan (May 12-13, 2011), our Prime Minister announced an additional assistance of US $ 500 million, over and above India’s existing commitments of US $ 1.5 billion. India’s assistance programme is spread across Afghanistan and spans almost the entire gamut of economic and social developmental activities. It places particular emphasis on capacity building and human resource development.
With Bangladesh, with whom we share the longest border among any of our neighbours, relations have improved significantly over the last two years. Our dialogue has yielded benefits for both countries, in a people-centred manner that stresses trade, connectivity, easier transit, development, and the enhancement of mutual security cooperation against insurgency and terrorism. There is enhanced trust and mutual confidence that oxygenates our relationship.
With Sri Lanka, the end of the civil war, has brought historic new opportunities for reconciliation between the Tamil and Sinhalese people and for the reconstruction, rehabilitation and economic development of the Northern and Eastern Provinces. Mahatma Gandhi called India, Sri Lanka’s “nearest neighbour”. It is through that prism that we see our ties with this island nation.
The satisfactory conclusion of the peace process and constitution drafting are eagerly awaited goals in Nepal, both for the people of that country and for India because of the symbiotically close relations we share.
We have articulated a policy in our neighbourhood that emphasises the advantages of building networks of inter-connectivity, trade, and investment so that prosperity can be shared and so that the region can benefit from India’s rapid economic growth and rising prosperity. We want to create an environment with our neighbours that enables us to work together to fulfill our common objectives of economic development.
In this context, I sense a new vigour and dynamism in the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) which has completed 25 years of existence in 2010. This has been generated as a result of initiatives taken by the Member States in recent years that herald the move of the Association from a hitherto largely declaratory phase to an implementation phase. India’s enhanced profile in SAARC in recent years is based on an asymmetrical and non-reciprocal approach where we are willing to go the extra mile in order to strengthen regional cooperation.
Our ‘Look East’ Policy enunciated in the early nineties, represented India’s vision of the changing dynamics in international relations. It was meant, at a fundamental level, to reconnect and reach out in the civilizational space we share with our near neighbours in Southeast Asia, and catalyse the sharing of capacities and opportunities to improve the economic well-being of our peoples. Our relationship with ASEAN was the natural pivot in this deepening collaboration. It is a fact little recognized that India is as much a Southeast Asian nation as a South Asian nation, given the rich linguistic and ethnic mosaic of our Northeast, and the fact that we share borders with a large ASEAN nation – Myanmar. Our Andaman and Nicobar islands chain are also in the very close vicinity of Southeast Asia.
Two decades of India’s Look East Policy have, therefore, seen India’s quick integration with Southeast & East Asia at the strategic, political, economic, cultural and people-to-people levels. This to me also represents the renewal of the rich civilizational contact expressed in India’s contact and interaction with this region in the annals of history.
India has strongly supported the process of reform and restructuring of the UN to make it better equipped to effectively respond to an era of transformational change in global affairs. India along with Brazil, Germany and Japan (together known as G-4 countries) have proposed expansion of the Security Council membership from the current fifteen to twenty-five members, with the addition of six permanent and four non-permanent members. The G-4 efforts have helped launch the text-based inter-governmental negotiations in the UN on the Security Council reform issue in July 2010. This was a significant development after many years of meandering discussion. The effort is an ongoing one, and support for reform and expansion from member countries is growing in a substantive manner.
India joined the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member on 1 January 2011 for a two-year term after winning a record number of votes. In these six months, our focus and effort has been concentrated on the need for resolution of conflict through reasoned negotiation and diplomatic means rather than the use of force. We have also supported the greater involvement of regional organizations like the African Union in the resolution of disputes within their regions.
India is one of the oldest, largest and consistent contributors to the UN peacekeeping operations. It is currently the third largest troop contributor with 8,691 personnel deployed with nine UN Peacekeeping Missions. The high standards of performance maintained consistently by the Indian troops and policemen, including our women personnel I might add, deployed on UN Missions under challenging circumstances have won them high regard.
As the chair of the Security Council's Counter Terrorism (1373) Committee (CTC), and the 1566 Working Group, we are committed to taking global counter-terrorism efforts forward.
We also consider the 1267 regime against Al Qaeda and Taliban as a core instrument available to the International community in our fight against terrorism. The challenge before the 1267 regime is to ensure complete commitment to eliminating the scourge of terrorism, and to resist the dilution of such efforts for reasons that may seem compelling today but may not withstand the test of ground realities.
Adoption of a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT), a draft for which was proposed by India way back in 1996, is a key objective for us. We feel that with some modifications, the text currently being discussed in the Working Group [of the Sixth Committee of the UNGA] could find acceptability with the majority of Member States
India has committed its full support to international anti-piracy efforts. An Indian naval ship deployed in the Gulf of Aden has successfully thwarted several piracy attempts and provided security escort to several merchant ships in these waters. As a founder member of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS), India actively participates in its deliberations and anti-piracy efforts. The Indian Navy also coordinates and shares operational information with other Navies under the Shared Awareness and De-confliction (SHADE) mechanism.
India has welcomed efforts for countering piracy by the enhancement of regional cooperation and capacity building of littoral states. India also supports determined action against the kingpins, financiers and facilitators of piracy through tracking of financial flows. A key issue for India is the welfare of hostages in the custody of pirates.
India remains steadfast in its commitment to the goal of global, universal and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament, as outlined in the Rajiv Gandhi Action Plan. We believe that nuclear disarmament can be achieved by a step-by-step process underwritten by a universal commitment and an agreed multilateral framework for achieving global, non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament in a verifiable manner. India is willing to engage in a meaningful dialogue among all states possessing nuclear weapons to build trust and confidence and reduce the salience of nuclear weapons in international affairs and security doctrines. India supports negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament towards a universal, non-discriminatory and verifiable FMCT that bans the future production of fissile materials for weapons purposes.
Over the recent years, our Civil Nuclear Initiative has resulted in international civil nuclear energy cooperation with various international partners, including the US, France, UK, Russia, Canada, etc. This has reflected recognition of India’s impeccable non-proliferation record and its contributions to global non-proliferation objectives. We have in place strict and effective controls over the export of sensitive items in line with the best international standards. India has expressed interest in the full membership of the four multilateral export control regimes which we believe will be mutually beneficial. We are engaged with the regimes and regime members and hope to make progress in that direction with the support of our partners, including the UK.
The tragic incident at the Fukushima Daichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan has raised world wide concerns about the safety aspects of nuclear power. The lessons learnt from the Fukushima incident will be useful for the global nuclear power industry. At the national level, India is taking measures to reassure our people about the safety of our nuclear power plants, including technical review of safety of our plants and strengthening the safety regulatory framework. We also participated in the recent IAEA Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety in Vienna.
Climate change is an extraordinary global challenge facing humanity today and requires an urgent, collective and coordinated global response. For the developing countries, the issue of climate change goes beyond environmental sustainability and directly impacts on their developmental aspirations. The global effort to address climate change must be anchored to the basic principles of “equity” and “common but differentiated responsibility (CBDR) and respective capabilities.” Equitable burden sharing that provides for an equal sharing of the resource of the atmosphere for all human beings is a natural expectation we have from the on-going negotiations. Talks in Bangkok and Bonn this year have shown that for a successful outcome at COP-17 in Durban, it would be important to maintain a balance between the operationalization of Cancun decisions and working on the unresolved issues under the Bali Action Plan. This, and urgent implementation of commitments by Annex-I parties for a 2nd Commitment Period under the Kyoto Protocol would be the key to a comprehensive, ambitious and balanced outcome in Durban. For a country like India, with one of the smallest carbon foot-prints in the world, the first and overriding priority is to pursue economic development, to alleviate poverty and to address our severe energy deficit. Half a billion people in India still need to be given access to commercial energy. Any international agreement will, therefore, have to be sensitive to the enormous challenges we face in bringing the benefits of growth to the poorer sections of our population.
In conclusion, I would like to reassert that India’s Foreign Policy is an amalgam of national interests, our conviction that inclusive structures of dialogue and cooperation to address the new dimensions of security threats are necessary, that the institutions of global governance including the United Nations should reflect current realities, and that the dynamism and energy of the Indian economic growth story must be shared with our region, and that to sustain our growth trajectory we need an environment that is free from transnational threats like terrorism.

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