This Week in Indian Diplomacy

Indian External Affair Minister Dr S. Jaishankar/ Image source: Times Now

On 2 July 2020, Ministry of External Affairs released two very important information. The first information was Telephonic conversation between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Russian President Vladimir Putin and second was regarding the Arbitral Tribunal award on the request of Italy in respect of a dispute concerning the incident of 15 February 2012 involving Italian tanker “Enrica Lexie” and Indian fishing vessel “St. Antony”.

India-Russia strengthening ties

PM Modi on Thursday held a telephonic conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin and congratulated him on the success of celebrations marking the 75th anniversary of the victory in World War II, and also for successful completion of the vote on constitutional amendments in Russia.

According to the Economics Times report of July 3rd, Indian Prime Minister was the first world leader to speak to President Putin after the vote, which would allow him to extend his rule until 2036.

PM Modi also recalled the participation of 75-member Tri-service contingent of Indian Armed Forces in the military parade held in Moscow on 24 June 2020, as a symbol of abiding friendship between the people of India and Russia.

Russian President also thanked the Indian Prime Minister for the phone call and reiterated his commitment to further strengthen the Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership between the two countries in all spheres.

The telephonic conversation came after the Indian government approving a move to acquire 33 new combat jets from Russia, including 12 Su-30MKIs and 21 MiG-29s.

According to Ministry of External Affairs, the leaders took note of the effective measures, taken by both the countries to address the negative consequences of the Covid-19 global pandemic and agreed on the importance of closer India-Russia ties for jointly addressing the challenges of the post-COVID-19 world. They also agreed to maintain the momentum of bilateral contacts and consultations, leading to the annual bilateral Summit to be held in India later this year. Prime Minister conveyed his keenness to welcome President Putin in India for the bilateral Summit.

This telephonic conversation can be seen playing a vital role in India and Russia’s strong strategic and military tie. Russia has played a key role by putting efforts to reduce tensions between India and China following the standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Arbitral Tribunal award on the request of Italy

On Thursday, the Arbitral Tribunal constituted under Annex VII of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on 26 June 2015, on the request of Italy in respect of a dispute concerning the incident of 15 February 2012, involving Italian tanker “Enrica Lexie” and Indian fishing vessel “St. Antony” has transmitted its award.

The Tribunal upheld the conduct of the Indian authorities with respect to the incident under the provisions of the UNCLOS. It held that the actions of the Italian military officers and, consequently, Italy breached India’s freedom of navigation under UNCLOS Article 87(1)(a) and 90.

According to Ministry of External Affairs, the Tribunal also decided that India is entitled to payment of compensation in connection with loss of life, physical harm, material damage to property and moral harm suffered by the captain and other crew members of “St. Antony. The Tribunal also held that the Parties are invited to consult with each other with a view to reaching agreement on the amount of compensation due to India. The Tribunal also decided that it shall retain jurisdiction should either Party or both Parties wish to apply for a ruling from the Arbitral Tribunal in respect of the quantification of compensation due to India.

The Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastav said “The Tribunal observed that India and Italy had concurrent jurisdiction over the incident and a valid legal basis to institute criminal proceedings against the Marines. The Tribunal rejected Italy’s claim to compensation for the detention of the Marines. However, it found that the immunities enjoyed by the Marines as State officials operate as an exception to the jurisdiction of the Indian courts and, hence, preclude them to judge the Marines.”

On 15th February 2012, The two Italian marines–Latorre Massimiliano and Salvatore Girone were posted on a ship named Enrica Lexie. They shot two Indian fishermen on a fishing vessel, apparently mistaking them for pirates in the waters off the Kerela coast in India’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). They were arrested by Indian authorities for allegedly killing two Indian fishermen off the coast of Kerala in 2012. In their defence, the marines claimed that they were in International waters when the shooting occurred.

According to news agency reports of the time, after the incident, Latorre returned to Italy in September 2014 following an order of the Supreme Court issued on health grounds and Girone was allowed to go back to Italy in May 2016.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team

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Vasundhra Singh Panwar

Vasundhra Singh Panwar is a Former Journalism Intern at The Kootneeti

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