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The 'sky's the limit' for Indo-German relations

Expanding ties are creating new prospects and potential for India and Germany, says Germany's ambassador to India, Michael Steiner.

Auf dem Bild: Michael steiner, deutscher Botschafter Indien. Photos taken on 06. Sept 2012 at Hotel Taj Ambassador, New Delhi on the ocassion of launch and press conference for DW HIndi's TV Magazine 'Manthan' Copyright DW

Michael Steiner is Germany's ambassador to India

To mark German Unity Day, Berlin's ambassador to India, Michael Steiner, said he was hopeful that Europe would come out stronger from the eurozone crisis. Looking at India, Ambassador Steiner said that there was a trust bonus in relations between both countries. On defense issues, he added that if the Indian government had a rethink about multi-role combat aircraft, the decade's largest military purchase, the Eurofighter, would be ready.

DW: On this momentous occasion for Germany how do you see the Indo-German story shaping up?

Michael Steiner: I think it is fantastic. I have a feeling that we even have a trust bonus. We have so many constructive and positive sentiments from India towards Germany and the other way around as well. If I look at the potential we have, if you look at the demographics, the young people you have eager to work and learn and how we can work together in so many fields. The only thing I would have to complain about in the relationship is that we have not fully exploited the relationship. The sky is the limit.

You have talked about the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with India in the past. Where does it stand now?

I have just come back from Germany where we have had a productive meeting of industries from India and Germany and the co-chair of the Deutsche Bank where 30 people sat in. This is the Indo-German group counseling the two heads of government: Prime Minister Singh and Chancellor Merkel. And this group whom I made a presentation to on the importance of the FTA, endorsed that we should get this done because it is in the interests of Europe and India. It would flank in a marvelous way the reform process of the Indian government.

How do you see the eurozone crisis playing out right now?

You know the phrase: what does not kill you makes you stronger. That's an expression in German. You need crises sometimes to undo the mistakes of the past. That is my impression of what is happening at the moment. What we have is a position from all important leaders of industry and politics in Berlin and other leaders from Europe. We want more Europe, not less. We want to strengthen it, we want to have growth, but also financial sustainability. We are going that way, but it is not easy, also socially, as you know for the countries conncerned. But it is pretty impressive. We have achieved all this in the last two years and my feeling is we will master this crisis. And remember: a strengthened Europe is good for India.

What are your thoughts on the Multi-Medium Combat Role Aircraft Deal? France's Dassault Rafale won the competition due to its lower life-cycle cost and the Eurofighter Typhoon lost out.

We in Germany respect India's decisions. We have the feeling European industry has made a good offer but that's up to India to decide. If the Indian government has any requests, the Eurofighter consortium is ready to respond.

Do you think there is any ray of hope for the Eurofighter? It is India's biggest single defense deal with a purchase of 126 fighter planes for the Indian Air Force? Are you disappointed?

That is not up to me. What we have to be very clear about is to respect the Indian decision, readiness if there is any request from the Indian side and conviction that we have a good offer. That's it.

This interview was conducted by Murali Krishnan in New Delhi.