New Delhi: A day after a group of 25 foreign envoys concluded a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir, the European Union (EU) said “the visit confirmed that the Government of India has taken positive steps to restore normalcy” but added that it is important that the remaining restrictions be lifted swiftly”.
The EU also said that it “recognises the serious security concerns” of Indian authorities, and that “the visit presented a welcome opportunity to see the situation on the ground and to interact with local interlocutors”. The EU’s statement is being seen as setting the stage for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s expected visit to the Belgian capital Brussels next month for the 15th India-EU Summit.
“The EU ambassador to India along with some ambassadors of EU member states accepted the invitation extended by the Government of India to visit Srinagar and Jammu, on February 12-13 ... The visit confirmed that the Government of India has taken positive steps to restore normalcy. Some restrictions remain, notably on Internet access and mobile services, and some political leaders are still in detention. While we recognise the serious security concerns, it is important that the remaining restrictions be lifted swiftly. The visit presented a welcome opportunity to see the situation on the ground and to interact with local interlocutors,” the EU spokesperson for foreign affairs and security policy Virginie Battu-Henriksson said.
“The programme of the visit organised by the Government of India included meetings with civil and military authorities, some political representatives, as well as selected representatives of civil society and the business community. ...We look forward to continuing the dialogue with India on the situation in the region,” the EU added.
About half of the 25 foreign envoys who formed the second batch of foreign envoys visiting J&K had significantly belonged to the European Union member nations, including Germany and France. The envoys had visited Srinagar on Wednesday and Jammu on Thursday. As many as 12 of the foreign envoys were Europeans. While 11 were from EU member-nations, one was the EU envoy.
Apart from the EU envoy, the EU member-nations nations represented were — Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Slovakia.
It may be recalled that the European Parliament had recently postponed until March a vote on a joint motion criticising India’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and also the revoking of Article 370 at Brussels. India had then said it had noted a clarification put out by the European Commission that “the opinion expressed by the European Parliament and its members do not represent the official position of the European Union (EU)”. New Delhi had however said it would “continue to engage with the MEPs (Members of European Parliament) and other stakeholders” on the matter.