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Swiss Peace Summit: India Abstains from Ukraine Declaration, Emphasizes Inclusive Dialogue for Lasting Peace

In a significant diplomatic move, India chose not to sign the joint communique at the Swiss peace summit focused on resolving the conflict in Ukraine. The communique, endorsed by 80 countries, emphasized the territorial integrity of Ukraine as the foundation for any peace agreement to end Russia’s ongoing aggression. India’s decision highlights its strategic emphasis on a balanced and inclusive approach to achieving lasting peace.

The Context of the Summit

The Swiss peace summit, held over two days, gathered representatives from over 90 countries to deliberate on possible pathways to resolve the Ukraine conflict. The event aimed to consolidate international consensus on principles for peace, notably the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, which has been at the heart of global tensions since Russia’s invasion.

India’s Diplomatic Stance

India’s approach to international conflicts has consistently prioritized dialogue and diplomacy. Representing India at the summit, Pavan Kapoor, Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs, underscored this principle. Kapoor stated that India’s participation was to explore a negotiated settlement for what he described as a “complex and pressing issue.”

“Enduring peace can be achieved only through dialogue and diplomacy,” Kapoor asserted. He emphasized that such peace necessitates “bringing together all stakeholders and sincere and practical engagement between the two parties to the conflict.”

The Joint Communique and Its Implications

The joint communique, signed by 80 countries and 4 organizations, firmly stated that the territorial integrity of Ukraine should be the cornerstone of any peace agreement. This aligns with the broader international stance that condemns Russia’s actions and supports Ukraine’s sovereignty. However, Russia’s absence from the summit and its characterization of the event as a “waste of time” presented a significant obstacle to achieving a unified front.

India’s Decision to Abstain

India’s decision to abstain from signing the communique was grounded in the belief that any sustainable resolution must involve and be acceptable to both Russia and Ukraine. Kapoor highlighted that imposing solutions without mutual consent would not lead to enduring peace.

“Our participation in the summit and continued engagement with all stakeholders is with a view to understanding different perspectives, approaches, and options, to find a way forward for a sustainable resolution of the conflict,” Kapoor said. He added, “In our view, only those options acceptable to both parties can lead to abiding peace. In line with this approach, we have decided to avoid association with the joint communique or any other document emerging from the summit.”

Broader Diplomatic Context

Kapoor’s statements reflect India’s balanced diplomatic approach, which has been evident since the onset of the Ukraine conflict. India has maintained a neutral stance, advocating for dialogue and negotiation over confrontation. This position has allowed India to engage with both Western countries and Russia, aiming to foster an environment conducive to peace.

Other Non-Signatories

Besides India, several other countries, including Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Thailand, Indonesia, Mexico, and the UAE, also participated in the summit but did not sign the final communique. Brazil, listed as an “observer,” did not feature as a signatory either. This indicates a significant bloc of nations that prefer a more nuanced approach to resolving the conflict, rather than aligning strictly with the Western-led consensus.

Switzerland’s Role

Switzerland, the host of the summit, reported that over 90 countries took part in the talks, with 80 countries and 4 organizations signing the communique. Switzerland’s role as a neutral ground for such high-stakes diplomacy highlights its historical position as a mediator in international conflicts.

India’s Diplomatic Journey

Pavan Kapoor, who represented India at the summit, has extensive experience in European and Eurasian affairs, having served as India’s ambassador to Russia from November 2021 until February 2024. His tenure included the period when the Ukraine conflict began, providing him with a deep understanding of the geopolitical dynamics at play. This background informed India’s diplomatic strategy at the summit.

International Reactions

The international community has had varied reactions to India’s stance. Some countries appreciate India’s emphasis on inclusivity and dialogue, viewing it as a pragmatic approach that could facilitate long-term peace. Others, however, are concerned that not taking a firmer stance on Ukraine’s territorial integrity might undermine the collective effort to hold Russia accountable.

The Path Forward

The Swiss summit underscored the urgent need for a resolution to the Ukraine conflict. India’s decision to abstain from signing the joint communique reflects its commitment to an inclusive and negotiated settlement. By emphasizing dialogue and practical engagement, India aims to contribute to a sustainable and enduring peace.

As the situation evolves, it remains crucial for the international community to continue its efforts towards finding a resolution that respects Ukraine’s sovereignty while also addressing the broader geopolitical complexities. India’s stance serves as a reminder of the importance of inclusivity in diplomatic efforts and the need for solutions that are acceptable to all parties involved.

The Swiss peace summit has highlighted the complexities of resolving the Ukraine conflict and the varied approaches taken by different nations. India’s abstention from the communique underscores its strategic emphasis on inclusivity and dialogue. Moving forward, the principles of negotiation, respect for sovereignty, and practical engagement will be key to achieving a lasting resolution.

India’s balanced approach, advocating for dialogue and inclusivity, may provide a framework for future diplomatic efforts. As global leaders continue to navigate the complexities of the conflict, the focus on achieving a sustainable and peaceful resolution remains paramount.

Looking Ahead

The path to peace in Ukraine is challenging, but the Swiss summit has provided a platform for dialogue and the exchange of perspectives. India’s participation, despite not signing the communique, underscores its ongoing commitment to contributing to international peace efforts. The future of the conflict will depend on continued diplomatic engagement and the willingness of all parties to find common ground for a sustainable resolution.

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