Germany first to open consulate in Bangalore

November 21st, 2008 - 8:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Nov 21 (IANS) Germany Friday became the first country to officially open its consulate here, signalling the growing bilateral relations between the two countries and the importance of people-to-people contact.Visiting German foreign affairs minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier unveiled the ceremonial plaque ‘Bundes Republic Deutschland Indian General Consulate’ at a five-star hotel in the presence of German ambassador Bernd M├╝tzelburg, consul general Stefan Graf and an 80-member-strong trade delegation accompanying him.

Till the consulate moves into a permanent building in the city, its office will function from rented premises in the central business district.

“The consulate will start issuing visas and work permits only a year later, as we are yet to identify the staff to be posted, install hardware and software for the process and finalise other consular services,” deputy consul Fridrich Rahn told IANS.

The consulate will, however, receive applications and process them for issuing visas or work permits from the consulate in Chennai. Applications for a Schengen visa can also be submitted to the consulate here.

A Schengen visa allows entry into 15 other European member nations besides Germany and eliminates the need for seeking multiple visas to travel from one country to other in the region.

The Bangalore consulate will cater to the people in Karnataka and Kerala when fully operational.

“The Chennai consulate issued about 24,000 German visas to applicants from Karnataka and Kerala in 2007. The number of visas has been going up by 10 percent annually, with Karnataka accounting for two-thirds and Kerala one-third,” Rahn said.

Addressing the gathering, which included about 150 Germans working in German subsidiaries or joint ventures, Steinmeier said he felt honoured to open the first foreign consulate in Bangalore, with which Germany had a long cultural and economic ties dating back to the 1950s when German automotive major Bosch set up its subsidiary MICO (Motor Industries Company).

“It is my privilege to be here on this historic occasion to officially open our fourth consulate, after Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai. For many years, Bangalore has been known as the Silicon Valley of India and a powerhouse of technology. My visit to this garden city, which is first, is an expression of determination and commitment to foster the ties between the two countries in diverse areas,” Steinmeier said.

After brief opening remarks in English, Steinmeier switched over to German language to highlight the importance of Bangalore to Germany and German industry, as the tech hub was also a cluster for aeronautics, space, biotechnology, automotive, garments, pharma, machine tools and agro-processing industry.

“It is not only the talent pool, engineering skills and strong educational resources, but the cosmopolitan nature of the city with multi-ethnic people from across India that makes Bangalore a vibrant place to invest and collaborate for our people in Germany,” Steinmeier said, drawing applause from the audience.

As a preferred overseas investment destination, Bangalore is host to about 120 German owned or joint venture firms in diverse verticals spanning manufacturing, services and academia. About 300 German experts in diverse fields reside here.

“In these times of global challenges, we can successfully address the tasks if we act together at an international level across various disciplines. It is the resources and competencies of cities like Bangalore that will enable us to overcome the economic crisis we are facing the world over,” Steinmeier noted.

The federal minister, who is on a three-day visit to India, later interacted with the representatives of German firms and institutions located in Bangalore. He also called on Karnataka Governor Rameshwar Thakur at Raj Bhavan.

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