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Transcript of Virtual Media Briefing on India-Denmark VBS by Joint Secretary (Central Europe) (28 September, 2020)

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September 30, 2020

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson:

Namaskar and Good evening.

Welcome to the special briefing.
We have just concluded the India-Denmark Virtual Summit between our PM and Prime Minister of Denmark. To brief us on this Summit, I have with me Joint Secretary (Central Europe) Smt. Neeta Bhushan. May I invite Joint Secretary to make her opening remarks, following which we will respond to your questions. Over to you ma'am.

Ms Neeta Bhushan, Joint Secretary (Central Europe): Thank you Anurag. Good evening to all of you.

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and Denmark’s Prime Minister, Her Excellency Mrs. Mette Frederiksen held their first ever Virtual Summit today, on 28th September. The meeting lasted about one hour. This was also the first such virtual Summit held with any country in EU bilaterally. The discussions between the two Prime Ministers were held in a very friendly and cordial atmosphere. There was good chemistry between the two Prime Ministers.

In the current Covid-19 pandemic scenario, the successful conduct of the Virtual Summit shows the high degree of commitment the two leaders attach to strengthening of their bilateral relations. Both the Prime Ministers recalled the tele-conversation on 14 May 2020, during which they had exchanged views on the Covid-19 situation and the way forward. Our PM thanked Danish Prime Minister for her offer to host the Second Nordic Summit in Copenhagen and conveyed that he would be happy to visit Denmark, once the Covid situation improves. He also invited the Danish PM to visit India soon. Both sides noted with satisfaction the continued development of bilateral relations based on historical links, common democratic traditions and shared values of democracy, pluralism, inclusivity and freedom.

The two Prime Ministers agreed to elevate India-Denmark relations to a Green Strategic Partnership. Our Prime Minster stated that this was a new age partnership and will take add a new dimension to our bilateral relations. This will help to expand economic relations and green growth, and strengthen cooperation on addressing global challenges; with focus on an implementation of the Paris Agreement and the climate change goals. Our Prime Minister also stated that the concept of circular economy should be added and time bound action plan needs to be drawn up. Our Prime Minister proposed setting up of "India-Denmark Green Energy Park in areas where there are large numbers of Danish companies. He also proposed setting up of India Denmark Skill Institute so that the Danish companies will be able to get skilled manpower as per their requirement. Both sides mentioned about the strong trade and investment links. Over 140 Danish companies are present in India and are participating in the make in India initiative. PM also mentioned that the Danish companies are already "making in India for the world”. PM mentioned the mantra- Denmark has the skills and India has the scale. To this "scope” and "speed” should be added. He also welcomed Denmark’s decision to join the International Solar Alliance.

A large number of regional and multilateral issues were also discussed.A Joint Statement is being released. Thank you.

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: Thank you ma'am. I'll move on to the questions which we have received. Manish Jha from Business World, he wants to know India-Denmark virtual summit results in signing green partnership with India - "what exactly the green partnership pertains to and what is the action plan to achieve such objective?"

Ms Neeta Bhushan, Joint Secretary (Central Europe):This is the first agreement of this kind. It will help in expanding cooperation in renewable energy, environment, circular economy, water and waste management, in reducing air pollution, etc. So several sectors have been identified on which both sides will cooperate to increase our collaborations, joint ventures and technology transfers, etc. The action plan as you heard will be drawn up so that we have some specific targets for the next few years on this.

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: The next one is from Maha from CNN News18 - "Danish companies have set up some waste-to-energy facilities to deal with paddy stubble. Do they also wish to invest in the overall management of paddy stubble, the first being low-cost stubble extractors? Do these companies have an overall wholesome solution that can be offered to India as it deals with this recurring problem of air pollution due to stubble burning?"

Ms Neeta Bhushan, Joint Secretary (Central Europe): Yes, Danish companies have a lot of niche technologies and expertise in such areas and they have offered to help us in meeting our, you know, targets of reducing air pollution and I think that Danish companies are already looking and talking to our companies on how to take this forward.

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: Sidhant from WION wants to know on Covid crisis - "what kind of discussions took place? Any specifics on Covid vaccine?"

Ms Neeta Bhushan, Joint Secretary (Central Europe): Yes, the Covid crisis was definitely mentioned and the Danish Prime Minister said that the scale at which it is being handled in India cannot be imagined and she expressed deep appreciation for our Prime Minister's leadership in that context. On the issue of vaccine, it was mentioned that collaboration between like-minded countries will help to meet the challenges of this pandemic and India is well known for its pharmaceutical capabilities, and we are working in the field of vaccine development as well.

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: Manish Jha from Business World. His question is - "was there any discussion on EU-India FTA? What are the issues discussed and what is Denmark's position in resolving tariff and fresh talks with India-EU?"

Ms Neeta Bhushan, Joint Secretary (Central Europe):Yes, this issue was discussed and it was agreed that both sides will work to an early conclusion of the bilateral broad-based trade and investment agreement.

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: Sidhant from WION. He has another question - "was the extradition of Kim Davy discussed by the Indian side?"

Ms Neeta Bhushan, Joint Secretary (Central Europe): Yes, it was mentioned and it was agreed that the concerned officials on both sides will be in touch with each other and that both sides will work for the early resolution of the issue.

Shri Anurag Srivastava, Official Spokesperson: I don't see any further questions. So thank you ma'am for joining us and thank you, this concludes this special briefing.