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India and Italy defence agreement

  • Category
    International Relations
  • Published
    24th Feb, 2023

Context

India and Italy are expected to hold discussions about a bilateral defence cooperation that is likely to be announced during Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni’s visit to India.

About

Key-highlights

  • Meloni would be travelling to Delhi as chief guest of the Raisina Dialogue conference (March 2).
  • She will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, three months after they met on the sidelines of theG-20 conference in Bali.

Background (controversies surrounding the bilateral relations)

  • During 2012-2015, Italy-India ties nosedived over the arrest of two Italian marines for the killing of Kerala fisherman off the Indian coast.
  • In 2015, Italy also vetoed India’s application to join the exclusive club of countries in the Missile Technology Control Regime, and lobbied for India to be designated a human rights violator at the European Parliament.
  • Subsequently, the Modi government decided to send the marines back to Italy, and the case was resolved mutually at the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which declared that the marines had immunity when they shot at the Indian fishermen and not under Indian jurisdiction, and India chose not to appeal the verdict.
  • In addition, the controversy surrounding the Agusta Westland VVIP helicopter dealdisrupted bilateral relations as well as defence cooperation for several years.

Even so, Italy and India remained involved in some ways.

Diplomatic relations between India and Italy

  • Military Cooperation Group (MCG): The two countries also have a Military Cooperation Group (MCG).
    • MCG is a forum established to boost defence cooperation between the two countries through regular talks at the strategic and operational levels between Headquarters, Integrated Defence Staff and the Joint Staff HQ of Italian Armed Forces.
    • The 11th MCG meeting was held in June 2022 in New Delhi.
  • Engagement at multilateral for a: India and Italy are also engaged in multilateral fora in the Indian Ocean Region and Indo-Pacific.
    • Last year, the Indian Navy joined the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), a Bahrain-based, U.S.-led multilateral construct, as an associate partner.
  • IORA: Italy is also a dialogue partner of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Dialogue Partner since 2019.
  • Italy is also evaluating the possibility of sending an International Liaison Partner at the Indian Navy’s Information Fusion Centre for Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR), which also hosts several Liaison Officers and has emerged as a centre for maritime domain awareness in the region.
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