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Dealings with Taliban “realpolitik”, says German envoy Walter Lindner

Germany’s envoy to India Walter Lindner has called dealing with Taliban as “realpolitik” so that humanitarian support and other issues can be dealt with.   

Speaking to our Diplomatic Correspondent Sidhant Sibal, he said, “We don’t like this government, and they have given some assurances…You have to talk, which is not an acknowledgement of recognition of the government”.  

The envoy also spoke on many issues, including responding to a query regarding PM Modi’s visit to Germany as part of biennial mechanism. 

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He said, “We hope it (PM’s visit) happens within next six months, this will be the first official meeting of the two heads of government.” Germany just had a new government formation after over 15 years rule by Angela Merkel.  

Sidhant Sibal: What details you can give us on the government formation and ties with India?  

Walter Lindner: As we speak, government formation is about to finish. The new coalition have a treaty that took seven weeks to negotiate and normally you have leaks and people are speculating. I haven’t seen the list and we will know, who will take the ministry. For India not much change, yes madame Merkel will not there, we all will miss her. She will be missed worldwide. In a democracy, after 15 years, if she says I’m not running anymore, she has a successor. Her successor comes from a different party but you will see the style of the successor is very similar. He is from Hamburg and have lot of experience of a party and of a major city and will very soon show he is the right person to lead the country.  


Sidhant Sibal: What is the Germany’s role in development partnership when it comes to India? Tell us about any conversations happened in Delhi?  

Walter Lindner: These conversations happen every year. The cooperation, dialogue keeps going on. We discuss what money do you need, what projects can we support and do we have the money to support them. We have been successful again. We have pledged more than 1.2 billion euros for the next year which will be like the same amount like last year. It amounts to more than 20 billion euro, which Germany has given in development assistance to India in last some decades. It will be for one year and cover lots of projects like climate change projects, poverty reduction and development goals.   


Sidhant Sibal: Several development projects are focused on climate issues. How are both countries tackling climate issues?  

Walter Lindner: Every fifth person is an Indian. So, without India you can’t solve many world problems. One of the biggest world problems is climate change. Along with it, renewable energy is also important and we can do this together with India.  We try to help India and fulfil our own goals which we promised at COP26. We have to work together and many of these projects are in this context. So, we can do a lot technology wise. We can also exchange experiences and work on a number of projects in this country. I travel a lot in India, and wherever I go I find projects which we can support in different regions of the country in a huge dimension.  

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Sidhant Sibal: How do you see the camaraderie between PM Narendra Modi and German chancellor Angela Merkel. You have been a part of various meetings.  

Walter Lindner: Yes, I have been a part of various functions, lunches, dinners and wherever they have met. It has always been a special atmosphere, characterised by mutual respect. Merkel always had a lot of respect for PM Modi as he has been ruling such a huge country with over a billion people and many challenges. It is really a task. They had a philosophical talk, like what is the future of work, what do we do when robots replace workers, we have artificial intelligence, so philosophical discussions, deep running discussions which, you don’t have as a leader of the country with every other counterpart leader. It was the ninth time, they met bilaterally (in Rome), maybe they will meet in future.  


Sidhant Sibal: Will PM Modi visit Germany as part of biennial mechanism?  

Walter Lindner: You have to ask your prime minister because this is the standard because every two years either we come, or PM comes to Germany. Merkel was here two years ago, so next year, if covid allows your PM, he may visit Germany. So, we hope it happens within next six months, this will be the first official meeting of the two heads of government.  


Sidhant Sibal: How does Germany sees the situation in Afghanistan and what kind of contact you have with India on this?  

Walter Lindner: I think we see it very similar to India. Realpolitik, we don’t like this government. They have given some assurances that they will allow girls to go to school and women will be present in the government, which is not happening. Still, you have to talk to them, because you need to get people, who were co-workers with our army, out of the war-torn country. You need to get humanitarian assistance because winter is coming, and you need to have some influence as to what is the future course of the country. You have to talk, which is not an acknowledgement of recognition of the government, but quite difficult as we are forced to talk to people, who have just the opposite values. This is realpolitik and I think Indians have the same dilemma but out of necessity we have to talk. 

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