BY SHRI K.R. NARAYANAN, PRESIDENT OF INDIA,
AT THE BANQUET HOSTED BY HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS THE GRAND DUKE JEAN OF LUXEMBOURG
LUXEMBOURG, TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 1998
Your Royal Highness
the Grand Duke,
Your Royal Highness the
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.