Ireland wants to further deepen its strong economic, cultural ties with India

The Irish government wants to further deepen its strong economic and cultural relationship with India as part of its renewed Asia Pacific strategy launched this week
Ireland’s deputy prime minister Micheal Martin
Ireland’s deputy prime minister Micheal Martin

Dublin | The Irish government wants to further deepen its strong economic and cultural relationship with India as part of its renewed Asia Pacific strategy launched this week, Deputy Prime Minister Micheal Martin has said.

Ireland's Asia Pacific Strategy had a target of EUROS 100 billion in trade with the region by 2025, which has been exceeded two years ahead of time.

“We have a strong economic relationship but also a strong cultural relationship (with India),” Martin told reporters in Dublin on Tuesday.

“We want to deepen that and we're launching our Asia Pacific strategy to support our continued ambitions to expand across Asia Pacific, which will fuel economic growth into the future across the world,” Martin, also Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence, said.

The Tanaiste, as the Deputy Prime Minister is known in Ireland, swapped roles with the country's Indian-origin Prime Minister (Taoiseach), Leo Varadkar, as part of their coalition arrangement at the end of last year.

In his role as Minister for Foreign Affairs, he is focussed on deploying the country's Global Ireland strategy and renewed the country's commitment to the Asia Pacific region within that strand this week.

India is a key aspect of the renewed Asia Pacific strategy, building on a new Consulate General in Mumbai as part of efforts to expand Ireland's footprint in the region.

Addressing a query on the US and UK stance in favour of Canada over the withdrawal of Canadian diplomats from India recently, Martin said that both countries must eventually find the capacity to engage over the issue and work things out.

It came after Canada said last week it had withdrawn 41 diplomats following an alleged Indian threat to unilaterally revoke their status amid strained bilateral relations over Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's claims of Indian agents being involved in the June murder of Canadian Sikh Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

It led to the US and UK siding with Canada to say the move impacted the effective functioning of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has strongly rejected the allegation of Indian involvement and also refuted any violation of the Vienna Convention in relation to the diplomats' exit.

“It would not be for Ireland to arbitrate or mediate between two major countries, they are two friends of Ireland,” said Martin.

“But we believe that India and Canada ultimately will develop the capacity to resolve this. I think it's in both their interests to do so. It is a challenging issue. But I don't have any doubt that over time, this will evolve and moderate, and we would like to think that all countries have the capacity to engage and work this out,” he said.

When asked about raising matters related to areas such as Manipur and Kashmir with India directly, the minister added that Ireland looks at issues through a human rights lens especially as it approaches its election to the UN Human Rights Council in a couple of years' time.

“It is a fundamental obligation of all states to uphold freedom of expression, freedom of opinion, vision, of fundamental rights, identity, and so forth. So, it's through those lens that we would discuss with other states specific issues,” he said.

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