International Affairs


Your Excellency President Akaev,

Madame Mairam Akaeva,

Distinguished Guests from the Kyrgyz Republic,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have great pleasure in welcoming to India Your Excellency and Madame Akaeva and the distinguished members of your delegation. I have pleasant memories of my visit to your beautiful country in 1996, the warmth with which my wife and members of my family were received by your people and the opportunities I had of exchanging views with you, Mr. President, and the members of your Government. The exchange of high level visits between our two countries since the emergence of the Kyrgyz Republic as a sovereign independent State, has contributed to the strengthening of our bilateral relations. Your Excellency's present visit will, no doubt, raise our relations to yet higher level.

Mr. President, the roots of our relations go back to ancient times and have received sustenance from our civilisational contacts. The Great Silk Route connected our peoples not only in trade but also in the commerce of ideas. Buddhism travelled to Central Asia and beyond; likewise Sufism linked India to Central Asia. Our cultural affinity is depicted and treasured so artistically in 'Manas' in your country and in the 'Mahabharata' and 'Ramayana' in India. In contemporary times, we have both developed and nurtured multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-religious societies. We both seek to preserve this pluralism through our basic policies of toleration, secularism and opposition to extremism of every kind.

Mr. President, you are visiting India after seven years. During this period, India has seen many changes. Economic reforms, liberalisation and deregulation have been pursued consistently but with caution mindful of the need for the role of the State in the alleviation of poverty and in human development. We have also sought integration with the world economy in an appropriate pace. Science and Technology continue to lead our economic progress. Today India's economy ranks 5th in the world. Its achievement in fields as diverse as agriculture, computer software, space research and nuclear science are a source of great pride for our people.

Progress, however, require an environment of peace and security. Mr. President, you are aware that for decades, India has advocated comprehensive and universal nuclear disarmament. But far from following this path of peace the powers have been seeking to consolidate the division of the world into nuclear-haves and have-nots, thus perpetuating the inequality at the very core of the world order. India, Mr. President, continues to strive for non-discriminatory, comprehensive and universal nuclear disarmament and abolition of all weapons of mass destruction. We have declared a voluntary moratorium on further tests and expressed our willingness to convert it into a de jure obligation. India has vowed not to be the first to use nuclear weapons. Since India seeks only minimum nuclear deterrence, it will not be engaged in any nuclear arms race.

In our region, India has taken several initiatives to improve its relations with its neighbours. In order to normalise relations with Pakistan, Prime Minister Vajpayee undertook a historic bus-ride to Lahore. Based on the principle of 'bilateralism', India is now conducting a composite dialogue with Pakistan to find peaceful solutions to all outstanding problems between the two countries. Another dimension of this effort is to simultaneously to promote cooperative relations in the economic and cultural fields and to establish confidence building measures.

The end of the cold war raised hopes of a new multi-polar world order. But, Excellency, events of the last few weeks suggest that powerful countries would rather have a world to order rather than a world order based on the sovereign equality of nations.

Mr. President, it is a matter of immense satisfaction that in the years after the establishment of the Kyrgyz Republic, relations between our two countries have progressed steadily. Two sessions of Indo-Kyrgyz Joint Commission have been held. Indo-Kyrgyz Joint Business Council has been established and its first session is being currently held. Our scientists have been interacting with each other. Political consultations between Ministries of Foreign Affairs have taken place regularly. Cultural exchanges have been frequent and fruitful. In 1997, Days of Indian Culture were observed in Kyrgyzstan. Days of Kyrgyz Culture were marked in India earlier this year. While your great epic 'Manas' was translated into Hindi two years ago, 'Mahabharata' was translated into the Kyrgyz language last year. These happy developments have helped in promoting people-to-people contact.

Excellency, on the threshold of a new century and a new millennium, our two countries are facing new opportunities as well as challenges of development and social justice and of peace. We are ready to continue working with the friendly people and government of Kyrgyzstan sharing our experience in a spirit of true partnership. Let us also commit ourselves together to the cause of international peace that is based on the principles of peaceful existence, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of States, non-interference in the internal affairs of each other and willingness to solve all problems among the States through peaceful negotiations.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I request you to join me in a toast:-

- to the health and personal well being of His Excellency President Akaev and Madame Mairam Akaeva;
- to the abiding friendship between India and the Kyrgyz Republic; and
- to the continuing friendship and prosperity of our two peoples.

Thank you

Jai Hind