International Affairs


Your Royal Highness the Grand Duke,

Your Royal Highness the Grand Duchess,


Ladies and Gentlemen,

I wish to thank you, Your Royal Highness, for your kind words of welcome. My wife and I, along with our delegation, are deeply touched by the warm and gracious hospitality extended to us.

It is indeed heartening that your own personal interest in India is shared by His Royal Highness the Crown Prince Henri, whose visit to India in 1995 hastened the pace of cooperation between our countries.

It is, for me, a great pleasure and honour to be here today in this very picturesque 'City of Culture'. Like the numerous bridges I see here, your country, situated at the very heart of Europe, has been symbolically, a bridge to bring together the nations of Europe. Your own role, Your Royal Highness, in the historical developments in Europe has been memorable and widely acclaimed.

Luxembourg today plays an important role in the continuing process of European integration. The recent historic decision by eleven of the European Union members, including Luxembourg, to adopt a single currency in a few months from now, as also the planned enlargement of the membership of the European Union itself, have global implications. We in India are watching these developments with considerable interest. We hope that the introduction of the Euro will lessen rather than heighten fears of protectionism. All the trading blocs will be looking to European Union to set a lead for a more liberalised trade regime. Through our closer interaction, we hope to benefit from your perspective on these various ongoing European developments.

The remarkable transformation of the Luxembourgeois society and the economy, its key role as a financial centre and its ability to stay in the vanguard of technological progress, is in evidence all around us. This certainly provides scope for further meaningful economic interaction between our two countries.

Your Royal Highness, India has achieved self sufficiency in food, built up a strong industrial base and our scientists have demonstrated remarkable success in several high technology areas - from information technology to genetics, space research to atomic energy. India's economic reforms in recent years have opened up vast opportunities for beneficial mutual cooperation. Despite the tremors that have shaken East Asian economies, the stability of India's economy has remained unaffected. This should inspire confidence among our long-term economic partners. Even as Luxembourg has done in Europe, so has India, in its neighbourhood, played a creative role in making the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) a reality.

Your Royal Highness, an equitable world order is, in our view, the necessary pre-requisite for enduring peace and stability in the world. India, representing one sixth of humanity has for long been calling for global disarmament and non-proliferation. This call went largely unheeded with vast arsenals of nuclear weapons continuing to pile up in the five nations that have sought to enforce horizontal proliferation, without halting their own vertical proliferation. India's recent nuclear tests were carried out to establish a minimum deterrence in the context of our genuine security concerns. We have already announced a voluntary moratorium on further nuclear tests and are willing to move towards its de-jure formalisation. We will never be the first to use nuclear weapons. We are committed as ever to global nuclear disarmament and will work to achieve it on a non-discriminatory basis.

Your Royal Highness, India and Luxembourg share a common commitment to democratic and liberal values which infuse our ways of life. We reject sectarian and ideological narrow-mindedness. Respect for the rights of the individual, the rule of law, an independent judiciary, a free press and a desire to see the emergence of a just and equitable world order are among the basic values that bring us together. Bilateral interaction at different levels between India and Luxembourg is growing and I am confident that the process will accelerate in the near future.

May I request you, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen to join me in raising a toast to:

- the health of His Royal Highness the Grand Duke of Luxembourg;
- the health of Her Royal Highness the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg; and
- the friendship between the peoples of India and Luxembourg.

Thank you

Jai Hind