India and Central and Eastern Europe

AuthorDinoj Kumar Upadhyay,Patryk Kugiel
Published date01 January 2017
Date01 January 2017
Subject MatterArticles
India and Central and
Eastern Europe: Post-Cold
War Engagement
Patryk Kugiel1
Dinoj Kumar Upadhyay2
The end of the Cold War and subsequent geo-political developments had trans-
formative impact on India’s relations with the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).
Consequently, India and CEE countries recalibrated their foreign policies, but
changed external orientations did not augment their bilateral relationships. Their
political interactions became less frequent and economic linkages relatively mod-
est. Despite a positive mutual perception, cultural and people-to-people contacts
are not so vibrant and extensive. Since the 1990s, India and CEE have registered
reasonably impressive economic growth. They have been pursuing economic
reforms and taking initiatives for building digital and physical infrastructure for
facilitating further growth and development and greater integration with the
global economy. Therefore, an urge for enhancing India–CEE partnership now
seems gradually gaining momentum, and positive measures, new synergies have
been evolving. India’s multiple programmes ranging from ‘Make in India’,
‘Clean India’ to Skill India’ offer opportunities for enhancing cooperation. While
taking a brief account of historical relationship between India and the CEE, the
article analyses contemporary status of their relations. Finally, it examines
the untapped potential of India–CEE cooperation, major challenges and prospec-
tive policy orientations.
Central and eastern Europe, economic & political transition, European integration,
‘Make in India’
International Studies
54(1–4) 127–143
2018 Jawaharlal Nehru University
SAGE Publications
DOI: 10.1177/0020881718790165
1 Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM), Warsaw, Poland.
2 Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA), Sapru House, New Delhi, India.
Corresponding author:
Dinoj Kumar Upadhyay, Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA), Sapru House, Connaught Place,
New Delhi-110001 India.
128 International Studies 54(1–4)
Transformative impact of the end of the Cold War brought significant changes in
the external orientation of India and Central and Eastern European countries
(CEECs). The new global order and domestic changes determined foreign policy
priorities of both India and the CEECs. In a quest for greater international coop-
eration as well as conducive global atmosphere for its economic transition,
New Delhi has sought to enhance its partnership with the Western nations and
deeper economic integration with the process of globalization. India also empha-
sized on cooperation with the immediate and extended neighbourhood. The ‘Look
East Policy’ was launched in the mid-1990s and subsequently a renewed push has
been given to boosting relationship with Central Asia, Africa and West Asia.
On the other hand, the CEECs sought their ‘return to Europe’ after break down
of communist system and bipolar world order. Accessions to the European Union
(EU) and to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) became their key
priorities in the post-Cold War era (Tulmets, 2014, p. 1). Since 1999, 13 countries
from the region joined NATO, and from 2004 onwards 13 countries (though not
always the same) joined the EU. The economic transition and accession to the EU
ushered a new momentum of growth of major economies of the region. Having
achieved key strategic and economic goals, the CEECs appear to be keen to
rebuild their relations with beyond the European region. In recent years, they
have also started exploring more vigorously economic opportunities beyond the
European continent (Kugiel, 2016). Their regional initiatives, for instance, ‘16+1’
mechanism with China inaugurated in 2012 (The State Council, The People’s
Republic of China, 2016) or push to develop ‘a long-term engagement’ with Japan
(Berenyi, 1996, p. 237; Ikemoto, 2005) illustrate this trend. It opens a new oppor-
tunities for CEECs cooperation with India.
As the region is quite broad and heterogeneous, therefore, it is proposed here
to understand CEE as confined to 13 countries that joined the EU since 2004:
namely the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia,
Slovenia, Malta, Cyprus, Croatia, Romania and Bułgaria. The term CEEC is alter-
natively used with EU-13. The region excludes therefore countries like Ukraine,
Turkey or Serbia, that are usually seen as part of the Central and Eastern Europe
from Indian perspective (categories used in the Ministry of External Affairs
includes around 30 countries in its Central Europe Department). The article starts
with a short review of overall relations between EU-13 and India since the end of
the Cold War and places special attention to the period following the EU Eastern
Enlargement in 2004. It then describes contemporary cooperation in political,
economic and people-to-people dimensions. It finally sheds more light on CEECs
attractiveness for India and potential for future cooperation.
India–CEECs Relations in the Post-Cold War Era
Historically, India and the CEECs shared close political and economic relation-
ship that was positively perceived at the social level as well. During the Soviet
period, a wide range of cooperation was developed in areas of defence, trade and

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