Source: The Economic Times
4 June 2014
While the world’s democratic superpower was maintaining armslength from Narendra Modi (then Gujarat Chief Minister in 2012-13), Europe led by an European Union delegation in India was quietly engaging with the BJP leader nearly two years before the Lok Sabha elections. In fact, AmbassadorJoao Cravinho, head of the EU delegation, led Ambassadors of various European countries to a quiet lunch with Modi at the capital last year. And in the runup to the polls, he even travelled across India to get a sense of the probable outcome and interacted with all players cutting across the political spectrum, something foreign envoys seldom do. In an interview with ET, Ambassador Cravinho described India’s new Prime Minister as a man with clarity of thought who has a clear vision for India and governance. The Ambassador feels that EU member states have the potential to drive Modi’s economic diplomacy and help boost India’s economic health.
How do you view this victory of Narendra Modi and the BJP? And how will it impact the Indian economy?
We want India to do well. This election has ensured that there’s political stability for the next five years. A decisive leadership would mean tougher decisions, and no good governance is possible without tough decisions. The BJP-led NDA has a clear mandate to take bold and innovative decisions. International politics is not about zero-sum game and while India would economically engage other powers, EU has the potential to drive growth in India. EU is already the single biggest trading partner as a bloc, and is the single largest source of FDI for India as a bloc. We are ready to meet India’s needs in the fields of technology and funds.
You have interacted with Modi when he was the Gujarat Chief Minister. How do you rate him as a leader of modern India?
As a former Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Portugal, I had interacted with various leaders worldwide and I can say that Mr Modi is among the best. He has clarity of thought and clear vision of governance and that’s what India requires. He also has a very clear understanding of the challenges before the country. He is a good listener as well as a good talker and can engage in enriching discussions. No Prime Minister would like to have communal strife on his record, and I am certain that he would not allow any communal tensions in India. His priority is to boost the economy and he has his eyes set on that.
Where do India-EU relations go from here? What are the priority areas for India-EU and what’s the future of Free Trade Agreement that’s being negotiated for many years now?
Negotiators from India and European Union are on the job to conclude the FTA. The proposed agreement will lead to greater openness. In the past, EU held discussions with the BJP on the FTA. We take Mr Modi’s speech on economic issues on February 27 as a positive. I have no doubt that the FTA will benefit India. We hope that there will be progress in FTA before the next India-EU Summit at Brussels.