External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar is set to pay an official visit to Slovenia, Croatia and Denmark from 2-5 September, as part of a tour to review the bilateral relationship with the three central European countries.
A ministry external affairs statement said this visit will provide an opportunity for reviewing the progress in India's bilateral ties with these three countries, and strengthening multifaceted relationship with the EU.
While the main focus of the visit will be widening ties, the agenda also includes Afghanistan’s future.
As per the MEA, Jaishankar has been invited to attend an informal meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the European Union Member States on 3 September.
Jaishankar will also hold a bilateral meeting with Slovenia's foreign minister Dr Anze Logar, apart from calling on the Slovenian leadership.
Slovenia's foreign minister Anze Logar in a recent interview had highlighted India's importance and batted for strong ties with the nation. Logar said, "India is a very interesting and very welcome partner for cooperation... see many common positions that we can take together".
In 2013, Slovenia identified India as one of its strategic focus markets and one of its aviation firms is engaged with the military as a supplier. India is a member of the International Center for Public Enterprises, a multilateral organisation with its headquarters in the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana.
Slovenia’s Koper Port situated in the northern part of the Adriatic Sea, connecting mainly markets of central and southeast Europe with the Mediterranean Sea and Far East, is also an attractive proposition for India to expand its outreach in this part of Europe.
The foreign minister will also attend the Bled Strategic Forum (BSF) being held in Slovenia. It is learnt that Jaishankar will present India's vision on the Indo-Pacific region as a key player that emphasises on maintaining rule of law and inclusive approach amid China's aggression.
From Slovenia, Jaishankar will travel to Croatia, where Jaishankar will hold bilateral talks with Croatian foreign minister Gordan Grlic Radman, and call on the Croatian leadership.
In Croatia, Jaishankar will seek to further ties wuth the ex-Yugoslav republic that has old economic links with India since the days of legendary Marshal Tito, one of the founders of the Non-Alignment Movement.
Croatia is a key state in southern Europe and closer to the Mediterranean region where India wants to expand its presence amid Chinese inroads.
During the days of former Yugoslavia, Croatia played an important role in the close links between India and Yugoslavia. Croatia accounted for more than two-thirds of trade between the two nations, including large scale purchases of Croatian ships by India in the 1970s and 1980s.
Opportunities also exist for India to use Croatia as a gateway to the south-east European markets using its major ports of Rijeka and Ploce. Croatian companies are expanding their presence in India across sectors.
During his visit to Denmark on 4-5 September, EAM will co-chair the fourth round of the Indo-Danish Joint Commission Meeting along with Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod.
The JCM will undertake a comprehensive review of the bilateral cooperation under the Green Strategic Partnership, which was established during the Virtual Summit in September 2020.
The Green Strategic Partnership, considered a milestone in the ties of the two nations aims to create a framework for significant expansion of cooperation in areas of renewable energy, environment, economy, climate change and science and technology.
Inputs from agencies