While the world’s democratic superpower has kept its distance from Narendra Modi (then the chief minister of Gujarat in 2012-13), Europe led by a European Union delegation in India was in quiet talks for nearly two years before the Lok Sabha elections. with the BJP leader. Ambassador Joao Cravinho, head of the EU delegation, led ambassadors from several European countries to a quiet lunch with Modi in the capital last year. And in the run-up to the polls, he even traveled across India to get an idea of the likely outcome and interacted with all players from across the political spectrum, something foreign envoys rarely do. In an interview with ET, Ambassador Cravinho described India’s new Prime Minister as a clear-headed man who has a clear vision of India and governance. The ambassador believes that EU member states have the potential to boost Modi’s economic diplomacy and boost India’s economic health.
How do you view this victory of Narendra Modi and the BJP? And how will it affect the Indian economy?
We want India to do well. These elections have ensured political stability for the next five years. Bold leadership would lead to tougher decisions, and good governance is impossible without tough decisions. The BJP-led NDA has a clear mandate to make bold and innovative decisions. International politics is not about a zero-sum game and while India would turn to other powers economically, the EU has the potential to boost growth in India. The EU is already the largest trading partner as a bloc and is the largest source of foreign direct investment for India as a bloc. We are ready to meet India’s technology and funding needs.
You had contact with Modi when he was the chief minister of Gujarat. How would you rate him as the leader of modern India?
As a former State Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Portugal, I was in contact with several leaders around the world and I can say that Mr Modi is one of the best. He has a clear mindset and a clear vision of governance and that is what India needs. He also has a very clear understanding of the challenges the country faces. He is both a good listener and a good talker and can engage in enriching discussions. No prime minister would like to have a common struggle on his record, and I am sure he would not allow any communal tensions in India. His priority is to stimulate the economy and that is what he has his eyes on.
Where do relations between India and the EU come from? What are the priority areas for India-EU and what is the future of the FTA that has been under negotiation for many years?
Negotiators from India and the European Union are in the process of concluding the free trade agreement. The intended agreement will lead to more openness. In the past, the EU has held talks with the BJP on the free trade agreement. We regard Mr Modi’s speech on economic issues on February 27 as positive. I have no doubt that the free trade agreement will benefit India. We hope that progress will be made on the free trade agreement before the next India-EU summit in Brussels.
This post Narendra Modi has his eyes on boosting business: Joao Cravinho, EU Ambassador
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