One Possible Reason Why PM Modi's Austria Visit Follows His Meeting With Putin In Russia

Ujjwal Shrotryia

Jul 10, 2024, 06:34 PM | Updated 06:44 PM IST

PM Modi meeting with Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer. (X/ @narendramodi)
PM Modi meeting with Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer. (X/ @narendramodi)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi landed in Austria today (10 July). This is the first visit by any Indian prime minister to Austria after a long gap of four decades. It was former prime minister Indira Gandhi who last visited Austria in 1983.

This visit is well-timed because the year 2024 also marks the 75th anniversary of India and Austria establishing diplomatic relations.

But there's more to be said about the timing.

Prime Minister Modi's visit has come just after his two-day visit to Russia to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Austria, although being a member of the European Union, is not a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). India and Austria have maintained a history of good relations with minimal points of divergence.

Here's where it gets interesting: Unlike other European states, Austria is not entirely anti-Russia and is sympathetic towards India’s attempt for peace due to its permanent neutral status which is enshrined in its constitution.

The law states that Austria shall not join any military alliance at all and maintain permanent neutrality. It is perhaps this that led to Prime Minister Modi going to Austria just after concluding his visit to Russia.

Since Prime Minister Modi's visit to Russia was perfectly timed with NATO's summit in the United States, it raised many eyebrows, including that of Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, who expressed his disappointment when Prime Minister Modi hugged President Putin, saying that it is unfortunate that the Prime Minister of the world's largest democracy is hugging the world's most bloody criminal.

Although there are no indications, if Prime Minister Modi and President Putin did discuss a ceasefire, but if they were held, and any progress was made, then Austria could serve as a channel to convey this to the EU and the US.

Interesting Tidbit

According to Ambassador T P Sreenivasan, who also served as India’s envoy to Austria from 2000 to 2004, India played a crucial role in restoring the sovereignty of the Austrian state.

Former prime minister Jawahar Lal Nehru intervened during the negotiations of the Austrian State Treaty in June 1953 that paved the way for the removal of allied and Soviet occupation from Austria after the Second World War.

To this day, Indian and Austrian officials remember India’s role in bilateral ceremonies.

Staff Writer at Swarajya. Writes on Indian Military and Defence.

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