BY SHRI K.R.NARAYANAN, PRESIDENT OF INDIA, AT THE BANQUET IN
HONOUR OF MR.
CONSTANTINOS STEPHANOPOULOS, PRESIDENT OF THE HELLENIC REPUBLIC
NEW DELHI, JANUARY 13, 1998
indeed a privilege for us to have in our midst the President of the
Hellenic Republic. On behalf of the Government and the people of India,
may I extend a very warm welcome to Your Excellency and to your daughter
Irini Stephanopoulos to India in this fiftieth year of our independence
also like to welcome the distinguished members of your delegation. I
do hope that your stay in our country would be both fruitful and enjoyable.
happy, Your Excellency, that apart from this capital city of New Delhi,
you will be visiting old and modern venues like Agra, Udaipur, Mumbai
and Calcutta during this visit. This will provide you with glimpses
of the ancient splendour of India as well as the many-sided and far-reaching
developments that have taken place in our country in social, economic,
scientific and technological fields. These will evoke parallels in the
histories of our two nations and our future destinies in the age of
modernisation and globalisation.
and Greece were in contact with each other almost from the dawn of history.
The most dramatic event that brought us face to face was the arrival
of Alexander the Great -- known to us in India as Sikandar -- at the
upper valleys of the river Indus in the fourth century BC. We are told
by historians that our peoples were in touch even before Alexander's
time and that Greece and India, had, in fact, constituted the highway
between the West and the East. This encounter between India and Greece
left its imprint on political, social and cultural relations between
our two civilizations and, indeed, between our two continents. The Indo-Bactrine
community which arose in the north-west of the sub-continent was gradually
Indianized and a fusion between the Greek and Indian cultures arose
in the form of the beautiful Gandharan art.
This contact between India
and Greece went beyond these local experiments to the world of thought
and culture of the two civilizations. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had claimed
that "India is far nearer in spirit and outlook to the old Greeks
than the nations of Europe are to-day, although they call themselves
children of the Hellenic spirit." Excellency, we do not dispute
the claim, generally advanced, that modern Europe is in many ways the
spiritual and intellectual child of ancient Greece. We only wish to
advance our own conception that we have been close to the spirit of
ancient Greece, of truth, beauty and balance. We are happy to-day that
the Hellenic Republic is at the heart of modern Europe, in the European
Union, and just as in ancient times Greece was the highway between India
and Europe, we believe that to-day you will be the gateway for India
to the European Union.
we value greatly our relations with the European Union. It is India's
largest trade, investment and technology partner. The "Communication
on India for Enhanced Partnership" by the European Union confirms
the importance which the European Union also attaches to its relations
with India. We are hopeful that our excellent bilateral relations with
the Hellenic Republic will now serve to promote our relations with the
European Union. We hope the EU will remain an outward looking entity
and we look forward to your country's continued support in strengthening
our relationship with it.
amount of goodwill which we have for each other has not, in recent times,
been reflected adequately in the exchange of high level visits or in
the volume of trade between our two countries. We do hope, Your Excellency,
that your visit to India will pave the way for enhanced interaction
between our two countries. The business communities of our respective
countries are poised to establishing closer contact with each other.
We could explore the possibilities of promoting institutional links
between our apex business associations to provide greater continuity
to this inter-relationship. Your interaction with CII in New Delhi and
Calcutta and that with the Chamber of Commerce in Mumbai will, we are
sure, also generate new ideas for stepping up economic co-operation
between our two countries. I wish you a pleasant and fruitful stay in
our country. We are confident that your visit will contribute a new
content and a contemporary dimension to our ancient relationship and
will provide a sound basis for future co-operation.
Ladies and Gentlemen, may I now request you to join me in proposing
a toast :
- to the
health and happiness of President Constantinos Stephanopoulos;
- to the
progress and prosperity of the friendly people of the Hellenic Republic;
- to the
further strengthening of cordial ties between our two countries.