European envoys could visit J&K before EU-India Summit on March 13
The envoys’ visit, originally scheduled for the summer, could be moved ahead in the light of European Parliament’s joint draft resolution on Kashmir and CAA
The Narendra Modi government is likely to take ambassadors from the European Union (EU) nations on a tour of Jammu and Kashmir in the aftermath of the European Parliament’s joint draft resolution on J&K and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), multiple sources told ThePrint.
The government had taken 15 foreign diplomats, including US Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster, for a visit to the erstwhile state last month. The EU leaders had declined the government’s invite at the time.
Speaking to ThePrint, a diplomatic source said the EU envoys’ visit is expected to take place before the EU-India Summit scheduled to be held in Brussels on 13 March.
While the Modi government hasn’t yet invited the diplomats officially, EU envoys say they are ready for the visit now.
“We are ready to visit Kashmir and have a first-hand look of the place and make an assessment ourselves. There is no official invitation from the (Indian) government yet. But we hope it will take place before the (EU-India) Summit,” an ambassador of one of the EU member countries told ThePrint.
While it is still not confirmed whether or not envoys from all 27-member countries of the EU will be part of the visit, ambassadors of some of countries such as like France, Germany and Spain among others, are likely to be part of the trip, said a EU diplomat who didn’t wish to be named.
Originally, the government had planned to organise a visit for the EU diplomats in early summer. However, the visit could now be moved ahead in the wake of the European Parliament’s debate last week over a joint draft resolution on Kashmir and the CAA, much to India’s discontent.
After the debate on 29 January, the European Parliament decided to defer the vote on the resolution even as India called it a “diplomatic victory”. The voting is likely to take place in the next plenary sitting of the European Parliament that could be held on 31 March-1 April, said the source.
India’s EU-Kashmir issue
Envoys of the European Union had earlier declined to participate in the Kashmir trip organised by the Modi government on 9-10 January.
At the time, the EU had said it would not be keen on a visit to the Valley, which will be solely designed by the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Home Affairs, and that they would want to assess the “real situation” there.
According to the diplomatic sources quoted above, EU is concerned about the prolonged communication restrictions imposed in Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of the scrapping of Article 370, and the continued detention of local political leaders.
The sources also said while the position taken by the European Parliament may not necessarily be that of the EU, it does impact the foreign policy decisions of some of the member countries.
During his visit to New Delhi last month, EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell had discussed the Kashmir issue with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, according to the sources.
EU Ambassador to India Ugo Astuto had said last year that the EU continues would remain concerned on Kashmir and it is “important to restore freedom of movement and normalcy in Kashmir”.
At a press briefing last week, Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs, said India will “continue to engage” with the members of the European Parliament on Kashmir as well as CAA.
Last year, the foreign ministry had organised a tour of Srinagar for a group of mostly Right-wing MEPs. The visit was criticised and was labelled as a PR stunt.
Courtesy: The Print