Jaishankar said Europe was also silent on many developments in Asia, and added "you cannot be so Eurocentric as in the past" anymore for the world has changed and countries like India were now critical to many of the world's present problems and challenges, from climate changes to emerging technologies.
Europe has to grow out of the mindset that its problems are the world’s problems but the world’s problems are not Europe’s problems, Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said in candid remarks in Bratislava, capital of Slovakia, where he was attending the GLOBSEC 2022 Bratislava Forum.
At an interactive session, Jaishankar also said that the “Chinese do not need a precedent somewhere else on how to engage us or not engage us or be difficult with us or not be difficult with us,” in response to a question on why India's alleged failure to take a tough position on the Russian invasion of Ukraine may lead to a situation where New Delhi may face a similar challenge from China in the future.
“In terms of the connection you are making, we have a difficult relationship with China and we are perfectly capable of managing it. If I get global understanding and support, obviously it is of help to me,” Jaishankar said at the international strategic conference.
“But this idea that I do a transaction – I come in one conflict because it will help me in conflict two. That’s not how the world works. A lot of our problems in China have nothing to do with Ukraine and have nothing to do with Russia. They are predated,” he said.
Jaishankar was asked why he thinks anyone will help New Delhi in case of a problem with China after it did not help others for Ukraine.
“Somewhere Europe has to grow out of the mindset that Europe’s problems are the world’s problems but the world’s problems are not Europe’s problems. That if it is you, it’s yours, if it is me it is ours. I see reflections of that,” he said.
“There is a linkage today which is being made. A linkage between China and India and what’s happening in Ukraine. China and India happened way before anything happened in Ukraine. The Chinese do not need a precedent somewhere else on how to engage us or not engage us or be difficult with us or not be difficult with us,” he said.
Jaishankar said Europe was also silent on many developments in Asia.
“If I were to take Europe collectively which has been singularly silent on many things which were happening, for example in Asia, you could ask why would anybody in Asia trust Europe on anything at all,” he said to an elite audience of European ministers and policymakers, strategic thinkers, media analysts and business leaders.
Jaishankar said India condemned the killings in Bucha in Ukraine and favoured an investigation into it as well.
“First of all you are mischaracterising our position, for example when Bucha happened, we condemned Bucha and we actually asked for an investigation into Bucha,” he said.
“In terms of what is happening with the Ukraine conflict, our position is very clear that we favour an immediate cessation of hostilities. It's not that we have ignored it unless you call phone calls to (Vladimir) Putin and (Volodymyr) Zelenskyy as ignoring something,” he added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made phone calls more than once to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy and Russian President Putin on the crisis and urged immediate cessation of hostilities and return to dialogue.
Jaishankar's remarks were applauded loudly on social media with one netizen saying “He (Jaishankar) shall go down in history as one of the best foreign policymakers and negotiator (sic)."
Earlier, he was applauded for his remarks at a press conference in Washington DC regarding India’s gas purchases from Russia. He insisted that the US look closely at its western allies before calling out India over importing energy resources from Russia. “If you’re looking at energy purchases from Russia, I’d suggest your attention should be on Europe. We buy some energy necessary for our energy security. But I suspect, looking at figures, our purchases for the month would be less than what Europe does in an afternoon,” Jaishankar said.