WION Exclusive | My visit to India will reinforce bilateral cooperation: Andorra Foreign Minister Font

Andorra’s foreign minister Maria Ubach Font, who was on India, visit earlier this week has said that her visit will “reinforce bilateral cooperation” even as she lauded India’s “active” role at the United Nations. Speaking to WION’s diplomatic correspondent Sidhant Sibal, FM Font said,” India is an active country and member of UNSC and I am sure that also brings ideas and new ways of working in order to help the house of the UN to go further in its objectives.”

This is the first-ever visit by any Andorran Foreign minister to India since the latter established diplomatic ties in 1994. The country, that lies between France and Spain is one of the smallest countries in the world, but has been in existence since 1200 AD.

During the interview, she emphasised on “multilateralism being a priority” for her country and explained how her country in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine supported European Union’s position on sanctions. She said, “we have welcomed some refugees from Ukraine and permitted them health and social support and give them opportunity to integrate in the country.”

During the 3-day long visit, she delivered a talk at Sushma Swaraj Institute of Foreign Service and met NITI Aayog Vice Chairman and discussed Agenda 2030, SDGs and how India and Andorra can collaborate on tackling global challenges such as Climate Change.

WION: How do you see the relationship between Andorra and India?

Maria Ubach Font: This is the first time I have visited your country, and Andorra and India have established diplomatic relations in 1994 so that is a long time we have been working together between the 2 countries, and the first official visit to India. I am sure that it gives the possibility to reinforce bilateral cooperation. 

WION: What is the focus of your India visit, the first such visit by Andorra’s foreign minister since the promulgation of your constitution?

Maria Ubach Font: The will is to promote bilateral cooperation; we have to work further on the economic, fiscal and cultural point of view with the minister of foreign affairs, we have signed a declaration of good cooperation between the two ministries of foreign affairs that will permit us to work together in a more dynamic way between the two administrations.

WION: In Asia, you have focused on two countries, India and UAE, why is that?

Maria Ubach Font: As far as the circumstances concerning the emirates, the expo of Dubai this year happened, and Andorra had a pavilion in the expo, so that was a very good opportunity for our country to be part of this international event. It permits us to also have some meetings, high-level meetings with the authorities in the Emirates and try to develop that bilateral cooperation. 

WION: What is your view of India’s role at the UN, and a reformed UNSC?

Maria Ubach Font: For us, in a small country as in the case of Andorra, multilateralism is the top priority, we think it is impossible to bring out solutions without multilateralism and cooperation between states. That is why our priority at the ministry of foreign affairs and the government of Andorra is to work with the UN and other international organizations. Concerning the role of India at the UN, I may say, India is an active country and member of the UNSC and I am sure that also brings ideas and new ways of working in order to help the house of the UN to go further in its objectives.

WION: You have missions in Europe, in New York, do you plan to open missions in Asia and will India be the first country where Andorra opens missions in Asia?

Maria Ubach Font: For the time being we need to work with the missions that are open, mainly in Europe. We have to think about and analyse opening other embassies, but for the time being it is not the case of opening any embassies. So that is why we try to be present here through official visits and to have direct contact with the authorities. That is the first step, maybe in the future, it will be possible to open other embassies, but you know the Andorran administration is a very small one. When we think about opening new embassies, we need to bring some people to those embassies, so we need to go step by step in this procedure.

WION: What is your view about the Russian invasion of Ukraine?

Maria Ubach Font: Well, in Andorra, we cannot accept the violation of one state by another of international law. Andorra has adopted some sanctions against Russia following the position of the EU, we have welcomed some refugees from Ukraine and permitted them health and social support and given them the opportunity to integrate into the country.

WION: The war in Ukraine must have impacted you domestically…price rise, inflation, what have you done so to mitigate that?

Maria Ubach Font: The war has an impact, as is the case in the other states of Europe, the inflation is one of the consequences of war. The government of Andorra has adopted a special law to give the opportunity to people of Andorra to have more facilities to face the situation of rising prices. For example, we have permitted the increase of wages, a new policy to permit public transportation free of charge and financial help for people with less wages.

WION: I believe at the United Nation, Andorra has supported resolutions against Russia.

Maria Ubach Font: Yes, that is correct. We have supported the resolution, in March at the beginning of the war, we supported it. In our constitution the respect of international law is one of the principal points that we need to take into consideration.

WION: Has Andorra supported any resolution by India at the General assembly?

Maria Ubach Font: Well, we try to support, now we do not have in mind resolutions India has presented, but of course, we have good cooperation with the mission of India at the United Nations, and we try to follow up and cooperate as far as we can with India.

WION: Tensions between China and US impacted your country, can you elaborate on that?

Maria Ubach Font: We are living in a situation where the international order is changing and there is some situation between big countries and from Andorra we are observers of that, and in our position of course what we promote and we have always promoted dialogue between the two countries in order to face complicated situations and specifically in order to achieve a good solution for all the countries, especially population of those countries. We have to think about civil society, and that is why resolution by dialogue, a political solution is the best way to go.

WION: How do microstates face the current geopolitical changes…it looks very difficult, given major countries like China have been aggressive, what message you will give to microstates?

Maria Ubach Font: What we can say, we need to observe in a precise way how the world is going, that is why Andorra is part of international organisations…defend the principals of the international organization, multilateralism, incredible tool that permits to see how the evolution of the situation is going on.

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