Rhetoric or Meaningful Partnership?
Chapter 6: EU–India current perceptions and implementation challenges
European Council President, Herman Van Rompuy, recently declared at the India International Centre in Delhi that ‘in politics, images are part of the facts’. There were misperceptions on both sides, he said, and the EU and India had ‘to know each other a little better!’ (Van Rompuy 2012). How international actors perceive or misperceive one another is highly relevant for policymakers. Perceptions and images shape the context in which they interact with their foreign counterparts and guide their behavior and their policy action towards them. As such, they are indeed ‘part of the facts’ that guide their foreign policy. These ‘facts’ include the perceptions they hold of other international actors and how they perceive themselves in the mirror image that is reflected back at them by these actors. Thus, perceptions can help identify discrepancies not only between the worldviews of foreign actors, but also between an international actor’s conception of his or her own role and how it is perceived by ‘Others’ (Lucarelli 2007; Croci and Lucarelli 2010; Jain and Pandey 2012; Chaban et al., 2015). As ‘perceptions are also influenced by behavior’ (Sridharan 2001, pp. 86–7) they can be used to reveal underlying challenges in the relations between international actors. In the case of India and the EU, the divergences and convergences between Indian and EU worldviews are reflected in the ways they perceive one another.
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