- Significance of recent Vice President’s visit to Baltic Countries
- Areas in which India can collaborate with Baltic Countries
- How it will help India in getting a permanent member status in UNSC?
- Is International Solar Alliance (ISA) a good start for India?
- IT’s Input
- Which are Baltic Countries?
[RSTV India’s World] India’s Ties with Baltic States
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- Recently, Vice President of India has visited Baltic countries: Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.
- During his visit, he expanded India’s outreach in the region, with all the three countries agreeing to support India’s claim for a permanent seat on the United Nation’s Security Council (UNSC).
- This meeting of Vice President of India with the top leaderships, including President, Prime Minister and Speaker of the Parliament of Baltic countries shows that India have strengthened its political relationships with them.
Significance of recent Vice President’s visit to Baltic Countries
- India established diplomatic ties with all three Baltic countries — Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia in the early 1990s after their independence post the disintegration of Soviet Union in 1991.
- However, there was a huge imbalance in the incoming and outgoing visits of India and the Baltic countries as there were only one sided visits of President, Prime Minister and other higher levels officials from the Baltic countries to the India. The recent visit of Vice President tried to reduced that imbalance.
- This visit will definitely help India in gaining a strong status for permanent seat on the United Nation’s Security Council (UNSC) because all the member countries whether big or small have a single vote in the UN system.
- India have been very focused on the neighborhood first policy, the look East policy or the act East policy. However, by the vice president’s visit to the Baltic states, it can be seen that India is looking beyond the present neighborhood. It shows that India will not only reach out to the bigger countries but also focuses on building relationship with smaller nations.
Areas in which India can collaborate with Baltic Countries
- The Baltic countries and India has many cultural similarities such as in dance, music and language. For instance, Sanskrit and Lithuanian language have 10,000 common words very similar to each other.
- Ayurveda is extremely popular in
- Estonia is world leader in technology and artificial intelligence. India has already signed agreements on e-governance and cyber security with Estonia.
- Vice President of India appreciated Estonia’s e-residency scheme, which has facilitated about 2200 Indians to become e-residents of Estonia.
- The International North–South Transport Corridor (INSC) is a 7,200-km long network of ship, rail, and road route for moving freight between India, Iran, Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia and Europe. Latvia can serve as a entrepot or transshipment port for India in this corridor.
- Moreover, the Riga port of Latvia, situated in Baltic sea, can be utilized for transshipment of Indian products and goods as it never freezes during the winter season.
- The ship movement through Baltic sea, near Latvia on INSC route, decreases the sea travel distance to Nordic countries from 16000 km via Suez Canal to just 6000 km, reducing cost and time.
- There are increasing number of students from India that are going for study in Baltic countries.
- For instance, there are 2000 Indian students studying in Latvia and about 1,000 students in Lithuania.
- However, the educational relationship can be more strengthen by arranging educational fairs, exchange of faculties and also exchange of students programs by the Baltic countries in India.
Tourism and connectivity
- The areas of these three countries are totally unexplored. And as the levels of prosperity is growing for the Indians, they want to explore something new other than the usual tourist places like Southeast Asia.
- All the Baltic countries are receiving a large number of Indian tourists. So, there is a good potential for tourism in these countries.
- India is also going to start a direct flight to Poland soon, from which connectivity to Baltic countries will be easy.
- Moreover, Baltic countries can get e-visa to come to India which will help India to get tourists from these three countries. However, the population of these countries are very small but still, due to increased people to people interaction through tourism, there is a possibility to explore in business/commercial activities.
- The trade with Baltic countries are much lower than other countries. Hence, it needs to be increased by inviting Baltic companies to invest in India in various sectors such as e-governance, digitization and renewable energy.
- These countries can prove to be good representatives of India (speak behalf of India) in European Union. Many of the issues that India have with EU can be resolved through Baltic countries. For instance, bilateral free trade investment agreement which is still pending since 2007, can be resolved through these countries as this agreement will also benefit Baltic countries.
Conducive environment for women
- Learning from each other will give both the countries benefits. It can be in terms of the best practice models like Gender Equity Indexes where these countries have better ranking as compare to India.
- In 2017, Estonia ranked 27th as compared to 127th rank of India in 2017 UNDP Gender Inequality Index.
- India can learn about kind of environment that needs to be provided to women in order to overcome inequality, in terms of job, wage and conducive environment for women to return to work.
- There is also a potential for Indian Cinema to shoot films in Baltic countries due to their untapped natural scenery. This could result in more people to people interactions between these countries and India.
How it will help India in getting a permanent member status in UNSC?
- The three Baltic countries which the Vice President visited has committed that they will support India in UNSC for a permanent seat.
- Estonia is elected for the position of a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2020-2021. During the visit of Vice President of India, Estonia said that it is going to support India’s candidature as a non-permanent seat in UNSC in 2021.
- It must be noted that these small nations have equal voice in the UNSC as the bigger countries, which can put pressure on the bigger nations to give India a permanent seat in UNSC.
- Hence, support of Baltic countries add the value to India’s stature that even smaller states are feeling that India deserves a permanent seat in UNSC.
Is International Solar Alliance (ISA) a good start for India?
- As far as the Baltic nations and India are concerned, the ISA is an excellent platform to connect with these nations and bring them on board for future projects.
- Also oil exporting countries like Saudi Arabia has also majorly invested in ISA.
- So, the alliance will give India an opportunity to interact and forge deeper ties with the Baltic States and most importantly it puts India in the leadership position.
- In a scenario where world’s existing superpower not wanting to tackle climate change (US’s withdrawal from Paris Climate change and US President’s statement citing climate change as a hoax), the ISA is filling the vacuum and India is playing a major role in addressing climate change with the support of France.
- Given the smaller geographical size of Baltic countries, there is little trade between these countries and less strategic areas with which India can collaborate. However, India can cooperate with Baltic countries in e-governance, e-security, cultural linkages and in educational areas.
- To enhance the level of association a bit higher, India needs to focus more on the Central European, Eastern European and Baltic countries in order to mobilize India’s support in the European continent.
- India has embassies of all the three Baltic countries. However, India have no embassy in either of these countries. Hence, India need to look in that direction to have a diplomatic presence at these countries or at least one of them.
- Apart from big projects of energy security and cyber security, India need to identify the niche small areas which are far more effective and find solutions to the existing problems which India has such as urbanization or infrastructure.
- Good relations with Baltic states would enable Indian companies and entrepreneurs to use them as a launchpad for entering the Baltic, Nordic and European markets and also will help in strengthening India’s position in getting a permanent member status at UNSC.
- A good start between India and Baltic countries have been made, it remains to be seen how India build and take the relationship forward.
Which are the Baltic Countries?
- The group of countries presently referred by the shorthand Baltic states are: Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
- These countries occupy the largest landform in Europe without mountains.
Location of Lithuania
- Located in Europe, it shares land borders with 4 countries: Belarus, Latvia, Poland, Russia.
- It is also bordered by the Baltic sea.
Location of Latvia
- Locate in Europe, it shares land borders with 4 countries: Belarus, Lithuania, Estonia, Russia.
- It is bordered with Gulf of Riga and Baltic sea.
Location of Estonia
- Estonia shares land borders with 2 countries: Latvia, Russia.
- It is also bordered by the Baltic Sea, Gulf of Riga and Gulf of Finland.
- The countries that have shorelines along the Baltic Sea: Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Finland, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, and Sweden.