First High Level Visit in 2 Years: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj Visits Belgium

Foreign Affairs

Brussels. External Affairs Minister (EAM) Sushma Swaraj visited Belgium from June 20 – 22.

This is the first high-level visit to Belgium since the visit of Prime Minister in March 2016 for the India-EU Summit. India and Belgium are celebrating the completion of 70 years since the establishment of their diplomatic relations.

On June 20, the EAM called on Jean Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission. During the meeting the leaders discussed India-EU bilateral relations, and the progress made since the 14th India-EU Summit of October 2017.

EAM Swaraj conveyed the high importance India attaches to her cordial friendship and strategic partnership with the European Union based on shared principles and values of democracy, freedom, rule of law and respect for human rights and territorial integrity of States.

Ms Swaraj also called on Antonio Tajani, President of the EU Parliament. They discussed the active and vibrant parliamentary interaction between both the countries and conveyed that India is looking forward to the visit of President Tajani. The EAM also conveyed her appreciation of the positive report on India-EU relations adopted by the European Parliament on September 13.

The next day on June 21, the EAM along with Geoffrey Charles Van Orden, President of the Delegation for Relations with India led the International Day of Yoga celebrations at the European Parliament. Renowned Yoga Guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was the ‘Special Guest’ on the occasion. Over 200 yoga practitioners including a number of European Members of Parliament, officials of the European Commission and members of the Indian community attended the yoga celebrations. In her address, the EAM spoke about the importance of yoga for peace in the world.

Later, Pavel Telička, Vice President of the European Union Parliament hosted an interaction for the EAM with select Members of the European Parliament. During the interaction EAM called for greater Parliamentary exchanges.

She attended an event hosted by Indian Ambassador to Belgium Gaitri Kumar in the prestigious BOZAR – Centre of Fine Arts where she interacted with the members of the Indian community and dignitaries representing a cross-section of the leading professionals and officials of the European Union and Belgium. In her address, the EAM spoke about India-Belgium relations, India-EU relations, importance of international day of yoga. She also praised the diaspora for their achievements and in equal measure expressed her appreciation of the host country for embracing the diversity brought by the Indian diaspora.

On June 22, the EAM participated at the high-level event ‘Climate, Peace and Security: Time for Action’ organised by the European External Action Service (EEAS). the EAM delivered the introductory speech on the theme, ‘Indispensable Multilateralism: A shared responsibility to prepare’ in which she highlighted that India is committed to contributing effectively to the efforts of forging a common and united action in Climate Change initiatives, emphasizing the critical importance of global partnership in maintaining a insustainable lifestyles.

In the afternoon, she had a bilateral meeting with Ms Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice President of the European Commission to review the entire gamut of India-EU relations. They took stock of the on-going cooperation in counter terrorism, cyber security, and non-proliferation. The leaders also discussed the geo-political situation in the Middle East, Indian Ocean region, reviewed the ongoing progress on BTIA, and the follow up on the conclusions of the 14th India-EU Summit.

Later in the evening, the EAM had a bilateral meeting with Didier Reynders, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium. She congratulated Belgium on becoming a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. The two sides reviewed the ongoing bilateral relations and also discussed matters relating to UNSC reforms, development cooperation, counter terrorism and other regional issues. The visit of EAM to Brussels at the bilateral level with Belgium and with the European Union, was highly productive. The visit continues the momentum of high-level exchanges.