Confident of agreement with India on war crime accountability: German Chancellor

AHEAD of his meeting Monday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Berlin — their first since his election as German Chancellor in December 2021 — Olaf Scholz has told The Indian Express that he is “confident” there is a “broad agreement” between India and Germany on Russian actions that violate “core principles of the UN Charter”, and on the principle that “massacres against the civilian population are war crimes” and “those responsible must be held accountable”.

Modi, who leaves for Berlin Sunday night, is expected to hold talks on a range of bilateral issues. Scholz said the “fight against climate change” and “efforts for sustainable development” will be part of the common agenda, and “concluding a Free Trade Agreement” between India and the EU would be an “important step.” Edited excerpts of the interview: Chancellor, this is your first meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in your current capacity. It comes when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has posed a new challenge in the geo-political landscape. How do you see India’s position on Russia, what’s your message to India? The Government Consultations with the Republic of India are the first such consultations since I took office in December. This might give you an idea of the importance the relationship with India has for my administration. I am looking forward to welcoming Prime Minister Modi and several members of his government here in Berlin. This will be an opportunity not only to deepen our already close relationship, but to bring them to a whole new dimension.

The attack on Ukraine by Russia is on the top of the agenda for all of Europe and beyond. Russia’s war breaks with the core principles of the UN-Charter; sovereignty and the inviolability of international borders. The brutality of the Russian aggression against civilians in Ukraine is shocking and appalling. Massacres against the civilian population are war crimes and those responsible must be held accountable. I am confident that there is broad agreement between our two countries on this.

India’s position stems from its dependence on Russia for military supplies. Germany, too, is dependent on Russia for energy security. Do you see both countries responding differently as they make strategic choices?