India, Mexico have different ways to arrive at same point on Russia: Mexican Foreign Minis...

India, Mexico have different ways to arrive at same point on Russia: Mexican Foreign Minister

The main objective is not to corner Russia, but avoid escalation of the conflict in Ukraine and try to find out a political solution, says Marcelo Ebrard 

Mexico, like India, has taken a stand against sanctions on Russia, making the case that the current polarisation in the world is a threat to global security. Mexico’s Secretary of External Relations (Foreign Minister) Marcelo Ebrard was in New Delhi for meetings with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, and spoke to The Hindu about his discussions.

Tell us about the purpose of your visit here

The purpose of the visit mainly, is to advance India and Mexico’s ties to a strategic partnership, which is going to be an economic reality. Currently, India is the ninth largest partner of Mexico in trade. So, we need to structure a more definitive relationship for the future. We are in a crisis in the multilateral system: India, as well as Mexico and other countries, and we are very concerned about that. We need to organize ourselves in order to reduce polarisation, which is increasingly a threat for global security and stability.

You discussed cooperation at the UN Security Council where both India and Mexico are members this year. Yet last month, when Mexico and France sponsored a proposal for a resolution on the humanitarian crisis in the Ukraine, India abstained both in the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly. Were you disappointed?

No, not really, because both countries have a different reality, and we have our different ways or mechanisms to reach the same point. And that main point is: not to corner Russia, avoid escalation of the conflict in Ukraine in all the multilateral spaces and try to find out a political solution as soon as possible. So we are in the same position that Turkey and others are, because if you cannot find a political solution to the conflict, we are going to have an uncertainty in economic, economic and political relations worldwide.

What kind of coordination do you hope for on this issue with India?

I think that we can work together on political issues, for instance, we are preparing for the G 20 meeting in Indonesia, along with some other countries like South Africa. It is important that countries like ours [non P-5] talk among ourselves about how to reduce polarisation. Why should we wait for others to take decisions? So this was the main dialogue with India on my visit.

The US has said publicly that they would like for Russia to be kept out of the G 20, due to the war. What is Mexico’s position? Is this something you discussed as well with Indian officials?

Yes, I have spoken to several friends including Indonesia, India, that is not a good idea to to exclude the Russians from G 20. Because the G-20 is not a political forum in the first place. And secondly, assuming that this happens in the future, what’s going to happen next? Russia is the 11th largest economy [11 th in terms of nominal GDP, 6 th in terms of PPP] in the world. So, are we going to organize two different groups of countries, some Cold War style grouping… what’s next for the United Nations? How far will this go? So it doesn’t make sense for me, and for Mexico’s foreign policy.

Despite some pressure from the United States, Mexico like India has not joined the sanctions. Do you think that the sanctions that have been imposed by more than 30 countries on Russia are going to be effective?

Let me point out historically, for instance, the Cuba situation. The blockade on Cuba has been on for 60 years, with huge suffering for the people and the economy. But they [remain] there. So it seems that sanctions don’t work, really. Obviously, these countries [sanctioning Russia] have all the freedom to take those decisions. But Mexico will not join this sanctions policy.

You have been on this visit, you have been to the Middle East, you visited the Saudis, you visited the UAE, amongst other issues on the mind of the world, if you like is rising fuel prices, especially out of this crisis. Is there a conversation between India and Mexico on cooperation when it comes to oil and petrol?

Well, this is always a part of our conversation, because Mexico exports a lot of crude oil to India [6th largest supplier in 2021]. Traditionally, we are close partners in this regard.

Given bans on Russian oil imports by US, and Russia’s condition for Rouble payments, are you worried about the global economy being divided into a dollar and non dollar world- comprising those that follow sanctions against Russia and those that don’t?

It is difficult to predict what’s going to happen, but certainly, if this conflict, grows and takes time to resolve, maybe we are going to see a multipolar global system at the end of the day, which is not something wise for humanity. So we need to look for a political solution and try to reduce escalation, and polarisation.

On another issue where the world is polarised…did you discuss the proposal by India and South Africa at the WTO for a full waiver of patents on Covid vaccines and medicines?

Yes, we are preparing an MoU between our regulatory authorities, to bring India and Mexico’s positions closer. One of the biggest problems we face is that in Mexico, for instance, we have 40 million people who have taken the [Russian] Sputnik V vaccines or [Chinese] CanSino vaccines etc., but they haven’t yet got approval for these from the World Health Organization. Those vaccines are working, we have the facts to prove that. We see Covaxin has similiar problems. So we are talking about this with India, on how to build an approval process for vaccines, which is not politicised. We are talking about a life and death situation here.

The External Affairs Ministry has referred to this as vaccine discrimination…

Yes, this is inequality and discrimination, and puts poorer countries in a weak position, It also goes against multilateral objectives. So, we are very close to the position proposed by India. And we agree that patent waiver is the way forward.

Your visit to India coincides with many other global leaders, officials from UK, US, Russia etc. Where do you think India’s role lies when it comes to the conflict in Ukraine?

India is a very important country at this point, because India can talk at the same time with Russia, UK, Mexico, United States, and very few countries that have this network. So, India can be very important in trying to look for a resolution to the crisis. And you have a brilliant Foreign Minister, if I may say, so.

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