BY SHRI K.R. NARAYANAN, PRESIDENT OF INDIA,
AT THE BANQUET HOSTED BY MR. JORGE SAMPAIO, PRESIDENT OF
LISBON, FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 1998
Your Excellency, President
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure
for me, for my wife and other members of my delegation to be in your beautiful
country. We have been touched by the warmth of the welcome which we have
received in Portugal from the moment of our arrival. I would like to thank
you for the gracious words that you have just spoken, and for this magnificent
banquet hosted by Your Excellency and Madame Sampaio, the First Lady of
Portugal. May I take this opportunity to convey the greetings and good wishes
of the Government and people of India to Your Excellencies personally and
to the Government and the people of Portugal.
It would be a truism
to say that India and Portugal have been linked by history. Portugal has
led some of the greatest voyages of the modern world impelled by the spirit
of adventure and the lure of the unknown. Five hundred years ago Vasco da
Gama, the great Portugese navigator, landed in the west coast of India and
ushered in a long and eventful era of encounter between Europe, and India
and the East. To-day, happily we are free of the colonial aspect of this
encounter, but the impact of culture, ideas and institutions is palpable
in the highly assimilative society of India. Some of the enduring and positive
aspects of the encounter between Portugal and India can be seen in the arts
and architecture, cuisine, music, customs and manners of the people of Goa,
Diu and Daman. They can be seen in our textiles and in the variety of fruits
and vegetables, the Portuguese brought from South America and planted in
the Indian soil. According to a well-known writer these are the real "seeds
of change" in the history of mankind that affect the life of people.
This historic city of
Lisbon has been witness to great human endeavours emanating from the European
continent. It is most appropriate and befitting that the World Exposition
to celebrate the heritage of the Oceans is taking place in Lisbon. The Exposition
is also an acknowledgement by the whole world of Portugal's economic achievements
over the last decade, as well as its role within the European community.
India has always looked
forward to building closer linkages with Portugal and the visits of my predecessors
in 1992 and 1995 and the visit of your distinguished predecessor Dr. Mario
Soares to India in 1994 have symbolised our strong desire at the highest
level to further strengthening our relationship. We look forward in a continuation
of these exchanges, a visit to India from you, Mr. President, and Madame
Sampaio in the near future.
Both Portugal and India
are standing at important crossroads of our history and have embarked on
new economic policies which are harbingers of a new and prosperous future
for our people. India is seeking major investments in the infrastructural
sector and we invite Portuguese companies to invest in areas like power,
roads and telecommunication in which Portugal has an outstanding record
and valuable experience.
The Indian economy is
taking great strides under the impact of our policies of liberalization
and is opening up to the world. With the variegated basic industrial infrastructure
it has built up, its large stock of scientific and technical personnel,
with the agricultural progress it has achieved under the Green Revolution,
and with its vast and expanding market, India could be a significant economic
partner for Portugal and for the European Union. Europe is already India's
major partner in the world for trade and investment. We look upon Portugal
as a friendly gateway to the European Union.
Mr. President, we have
always been conscious of the fact that India's economic development, political
stability and over-all progress are inter-twined with those of our neighbours
in South Asia. We believe that with goodwill, patience and sincere efforts
every problem existing between us can be resolved peacefully and to the
benefit of the one-fifth of humanity living in this strategic region.
We, in India, are committed
to working with our neighbours in the SAARC region and in building on our
commonalities and shared aspirations for greater development and progress.
In areas such as river-water disputes we have entered into agreements with
our neighbours, Bangladesh and Nepal. And despite the fact that the differences
continue to hamper a normalisation of our relations with Pakistan, we intend
to keep our bilateral dialogue going.
Mr. President, India
since independence has ceaselessly worked for peace, co-operation and for
a world where no nation or group dominates or exploits another and where
there is equitable sharing of duties, benefits and responsibilities. We
are convinced that the United Nations to be representative and effective
should reflect, through restructuring the realities of the present-day world
and accommodate the rights and aspirations of the developing world.
As a country that has
advocated, passionately, during the last fifty years the cause of world
peace, India believes that disarmament, especially nuclear disarmament,
universal, comprehensive and non-discriminatory, is imperative for the peace
of the world. We are willing to join any non-discriminatory international
arrangement that would safeguard our security for realizing this objective.
Towards this end we have unilaterally announced a moratorium on nuclear
testing and no-first use of nuclear weapons. India believes that its traditional
commitment to the policy of non-alignment has been borne out by world events.
Mr. President, India
is almost a world in miniature. It contains all the great religions of the
world. Christianity came to India soon after Christ, and there are to-day
20 million Christians in our country. It is Indian democracy that sustains
this luxuriantly pluralistic society. We are dedicated to the principles
and the practices of democracy as Europe is, as Portugal is. Based on this
democratic affinity and economic complementarity, we look forward to enhancing
our co-operation with Portugal. We must move towards the next millennium
with a shared agenda for the benefit of our two countries and peoples, for
the continents of Asia and Europe, and for the good of humanity.
May I, Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen, request you to join me in raising a toast :
- to the good health
and happiness of the President of Portugal H.E. Mr. Jorge Sampaio and Madame
- to the progress and
prosperity of the friendly people of Portugal; and
- to the strengthening
of friendship between India and Portugal.