International Affairs


NEW DELHI, JUNE 12, 2001


I have great pleasure in welcoming you to India and in accepting the letter of credence accrediting you as the next Ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of Portugal to India.

Both India and Portugal have shared historic ties for over five centuries. Inspired by the spirit of adventure and a desire to discover new lands, Portuguese travellers chartered a new course of economic and commercial interaction between India and the Western Hemisphere. This civilisational confluence has had a profound impact on India over the last five centuries. However, our broad-based interaction in the last 50 years has transcended the past and has moved in consonance with the dynamic political scenario and the economic challenges of the modern world.

In recent years, our two countries have undergone significant socio-economic and political changes. Keeping pace with changed times, our relationship with Portugal has also acquired a multi-dimensional character, extending to the fields of trade and commerce, science and technology, culture and cooperation to mention a few. Regular interaction at ministerial and official levels has enabled us to reach an understanding on various issues of mutual concern, in the bilateral, regional and multilateral arenas.

I recall my memorable visit to your country in September 1998. The momentum generated by that visit has accorded a new focus and dynamism to our bilateral relationship. To maintain this useful political dialogue, we have invited President Sampaio to visit India. We look forward to receiving him in India in the year 2002, at a mutually convenient time.

Yet another significant milestone in our relationship was the very rewarding visit to Portugal by our Prime Minister on 28-29 June 2000, coinciding with the first-ever India-EU Summit held under Portugal’s Presidency of the European Union. It was Portugal’s keen interest and leadership, which contributed to the success of the Summit. The Summit moved India-EU relations to a discernibly higher political and economic level. The Lisbon Summit Declaration on "Prospects of India-EU Relations in the 21st Century" is a broad vision statement of the India-EU relations and provides guidelines on upgrading relations. Our delegation held very productive discussions on the status of our relationship with the EU and on regional and global issues of common concern. An agreement for Bilateral Protection and Promotion of Investments was signed with Portugal. A reciprocal visit to India by Prime Minister Guterres would allow us to consolidate our ongoing interaction and high-level dialogue.

Parliamentary interaction was also set in motion with the first-ever visit to India by a Portuguese Parliamentary delegation in December 1998. An Indian parliamentary delegation led by the Speaker of our Lower House is expected to visit Portugal in the coming months to continue this useful interaction. It is indeed encouraging to see this shared desire on both sides to maintain close contacts with each other.

Our commercial cooperation has not been commensurate with the development of a political dialogue between the two countries. There is considerable untapped potential for increasing bilateral trade, which stood in India’s favour at US $ 163 million in 1999. Approved foreign direct investment from Portugal has also not kept pace with the rapid economic reform programme in India. Portugal’s businessmen and entrepreneurs could benefit by taking advantage of the enormous economic opportunities that India offers. Excellency, alongwith a full-fledged democracy, multi-culturalism, pluralism and rule of law, India has to her credit, formidable achievements in technology and industry. India has earned praise for its impressive performance in fields like atomic energy, space and rocketry, information technology and telecommunications, to name a few.

Excellency, both our countries share common beliefs of peace, friendship among the peoples, respect for international law and the principles of the UN Charter. However, we do not live in a perfect world. The growing web of interdependence demands that we take a global view of issues relating not only to economy but also to international security. Weapons of mass destruction combined with threats posed by international terrorism and drug-trafficking across national borders necessitate a co-ordinated approach to ensure international peace and security. As two nations committed to democracy and peace, India and Portugal must join hands and cooperate to fight these inter-linked menaces.

It is also important for the United Nations and its institutions to reflect contemporary realities. There is a need for the UN Security Council to be restructured and expanded. A more accountable and expanded Security Council is in the interests of the world community. We have already made a very strong case for our presence in the UN Security Council, as permanent member. We welcome Prime Minister Guterres’ statement that Portugal has sympathy for India’s UNSC candidature. We hope that this encouraging statement will materialise into concrete support for India’s candidature.

Excellency, we value our relationship with Portugal. I am confident that our interaction in the coming years will be strengthened to the mutual benefit of our two countries. We look forward to working closely with you to consolidate our bilateral relationship even further.

I assure you of the fullest cooperation of my Government in the performance of your duties. Please accept our best wishes for a fulfilling and successful tenure in India.

Thank you

Jai Hind