BY SHRI K.R. NARAYANAN, PRESIDENT OF INDIA,
AT THE LUNCHEON HOSTED BY THE PRIME MINISTER OF LUXEMBOURG
LUXEMBOURG, WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 1998
Your Excellency Mr.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The sentiments expressed
by you Mr. Prime Minister, are characteristic of the warmth and friendship
experienced by me, my wife, members of my family and my delegation during
our stay in your beautiful country. This visit has proved to be extremely
productive and enriching for us. We were charmed by the natural beauty and
the rich cultural heritage of your country, impressed by your remarkable
industrial and economic achievements and above all touched by the friendship
that greeted us everywhere.
During this visit we
have also learnt a great deal about the significant role your country plays
in European developments. It is only appropriate that today a worthy son
of Luxembourg heads the European Commission. The numerous institutions of
the European Union hosted by Luxembourg symbolise your critical role.
We recall with pleasure
the visit of His Royal Highness Crown Prince Henri, accompanied by the Secretary
of State for External Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation,
to India in May 1995. That visit opened up new avenues for cooperation between
our two countries. We look forward to your visiting India to carry forward
the existing momentum in our relationship.
Excellency, as you are
aware, socio-economic transformation in India in recent times have been
profound, leaving no segment of the Indian society untouched. The social
upsurge, witnessed in India, has been channelised through a democratic and
multi-party system, to provide for development that is both stable and equitable.
Our policies are consensus-based and are not subject to sudden reversals.
Our democratic system provides the sound basis for a healthy, rapidly modernising
economy which answers to the basic urges of a vast society. It also ensures
that the basic resilience and transparency are preserved.
While the State in India
continues to play a decisive role in key areas, India has a dynamic private
sector, an extensive financial infrastructure, a highly developed marketing,
sales and technical services network, sophisticated legal and accounting
systems and a vibrant capital market. This together with our technological
base and human resources can form a sound basis for closer economic interaction
between our two countries.
With the economic reforms
that have been brought into operation in India since 1991, our industrial
policy has made private investments, including foreign investments, more
simple, liberal, transparent - and rewarding. External trade has been freed
of various controls and the tariffs steadily reduced from 350% in 1991 to
a peak duty rate of 40%. Import controls on few of the remaining consumer
products are also proposed to be freed within a fixed time frame. As a result
of all this our foreign trade as a percentage of GDP has increased from
14.1% in 1991 to 22% in 1996-97.
The opportunity provided
by this climate is what India would like the European Union and a country
like Luxembourg to make use of, for mutual benefit.
The democratic values,
which we share with Luxembourg, create a common bond between us. Our growing
relationship, however, given its potential, needs to be diversified to embrace
all sectors of governmental and non-governmental activity.
Our dialogue, between
two democratic, pluralistic, liberal and transparent societies would also
play a stabilising role, in international affairs. We look forward to cooperation
with Luxembourg on various global issues of common concern especially in
seeking the creation of a stable and equitable world order. A closer interaction
between the delegations of our two countries at various multilateral fora
would contribute towards the achievement of this objective.
Excellency, we look forward
to an era of closer cooperation between our two countries in bilateral and
multilateral contexts and to the realization of the cherished hope of creating
a peaceful and democratic world order.
May I request you, Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen, to join me in raising a toast:
- to their Royal Highnesses;
- to the Grand Ducal
- to His Excellency Prime
Minister Jean- Claude Junker;
- and to the happiness
and well-being of the people of Luxembourg.