The failure to resolve the dispute between India and Italy over the deaths of two fishermen has kept India away from becoming a member of the elite group of 34 nations that can buy and share the world’s best missile and other weapons technology. India is one step away from becoming a major global military player.
PM Modi visited Brussels on march 30 for an Indo-European Union summit and it resulted in no easing of the situation between India and Italy over the arrest of two Italian marines who shot dead the fishermen while guarding an oil tanker.Italy is hell bent to to continue to veto against India’s entry into the elite Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). This club accounts for 34 member states that can access top-end technology from missiles and UAV’s.
The European Union shares Italy’s concerns and expects India to free the two Marines at the earliest while India expect due justice for the families of the two Indian fishermen. This dispute has been going on since 2012 and a solution to this is no where in sight.
Italy was the only country to have objected to India’s entry into the MTCR while all other 33 member states unanimously agreed to include India. Italy has effectively used the rule that all new members should be approved unanimously by the 34 member group.
America has been trying hard to get India included into the MTCR group. This will allow both countries to trade high-tech weapons that are currently off-limits for India. India’s entry would seriously enhance its position as a major military power that has the ability to counter China.
America has been a strong supporter to India’s cause but its options are limited since things have been extremely complicated between India and Italy.
Italy knows how important it is for India to become a member of the MTCR and it is effectively using its veto power to blackmail India for the release of its Marines.
The US has urged India to change its outlook on the case and release the Marines for the sake of a larger motive.
India has insisted on taking up the matter of the shooting as a criminal case and not as direct Govt level talks. The marines were doing their duty under the authority of the Italian government.
If India let Girone go home, Italy will accept India into the MTCR.
This will still leave decisions to be made by the Arbitration Panel but the case would go on for years. It is now up to India to decide to either continue to hold up the marine and seek justice or soften its stance to achieve a Global Power status.