|SPEECH BY SHRI K.R.NARAYANAN, PRESIDENT OF INDIA AT THE BANQUET IN HONOUR OF MR. ANDRES ASTRANA ARANGO, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF COLOMBIA
NEW DELHI, MONDAY, MARCH 5, 2001
Your Excellency, President Andres Pastrana Arango,
Madam Nohra Puyana de Pastrana,
Distinguished Members of the Colombian delegation,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Government and the people of India, it gives me great pleasure to extend to you, Mr. President and Madame Pastrana, a most cordial welcome to India. Your visit, being the first by a high dignitary of Colombia to India, stands as a significant milestone in the history of relations between our two countries and will lay the foundations of a more extensive and meaningful co-operation in the years to come.
India and Colombia are separated by a vast geographical distance, but are united by common cultural values and democratic ideas and by a similar situational predicament in the world. In the remote past, the Indian civilization and the great civilizations of Latin America had obviously interacted with one another, leaving cultural imprints on the psyche of our peoples. In the more modern times the people of India had admired the liberation movements in Latin America and the part played by Colombia in that movement. Colombia has the oldest traditions of democracy in your great continent and our countries are linked together by our common commitment to ideals of freedom and liberty and the rule of law and to democratic and constitutional governance. Mr. President, we have been watching the steps you have taken towards greater democratization in your country.
Excellency, we recall with particular pleasure the fact that it was at the New Delhi Summit, twenty years ago that Colombia joined the movement of Non-aligned Nations, which, I understand, you had covered as an enterprising young journalist. Later in 1995, Colombia herself had chaired the Non-aligned Summit. Thus our two countries have been working together and joining our efforts, to promote the ideals of non-alignment, peace and peaceful co-existence, on the world stage. As developing countries we have also been working together with other developing countries of the world for South-South co-operation for a more balanced and equitable development of the world economic order. Especially, we have watched the initiatives taken by Colombia in the field of regional co-operation as the Chairman of the Rio Group and as a leading member of the Andean Community and the G-3 Treaty. India attaches great importance to and wish to establish links with these regional co-operation organizations in Latin America. We look upon Colombia, Mr. President, as a trusted friend and special partner in our efforts towards this. As a non-permanent member of U.N. Security Council, Colombia is to-day in a position to play a wider role in international affairs. The United Nations organization to-day needs being democratized, enlarged and strengthened in order to provide greater representation of developing countries in the Security Council. India, as the most populous democracy in the world and in view of the contributions it has made to the world body over the last fifty years, has declared its aspiration to be a permanent member of a reformed and expanded Security Council. We remain confident that as we work together to achieve agreement on expansion of the permanent membership of the Security Council, we will receive the support of Colombia.
Mr. President, the globalisation process is engulfing the whole world and the one-world of our dreams is about to become a practical reality. While we welcome this inevitable process, we are aware of the need for maintaining the diversity of world and protecting the distinctive individualities and the political sovereignties and the economic rights of the nations of the world. We are, therefore, attached to the concept of a pluralistic world order with the equality of all nations recognized and honoured.
Excellency, as the world is being rapidly globalized it is confronted with the new menace of international terrorism threatening to destabilize established nations and societies. In this age of democracy terrorism is the very anti-thesis of democracy. It is a challenge to all democratic and open societies, buttressed as it is by drugs trafficking and the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. We in India have been the victims of cross border terrorism as you in Colombia have been plagued with terrorist forces in unholy alliance with drugs maffia. We appreciate the bold and imaginative steps Your Excellency has taken to bring about peace and reconciliation in your country. We on our part have also taken a bold step by declaring a unilateral cease-fire in Jammu and Kashmir which we hope will be reciprocated by the militants and their sponsors from outside our country. The need of the hour is for the international community to come together against this new scourge of terrorism. We hope that the Comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism proposed by India will be adopted by the United Nations. We also attach importance to the U.N. Conference on Small Arms and Light Weapons that Colombia has offered to host this year.
Mr. President, Nobel Laureate Gabriel Garcia Marques has described Colombia as the land of creativity. It is therefore only natural that under your leadership Colombia is buoyant and creative in its policies and approaches to its problems and to the world. We look forward to forging political, economic and cultural and scientific technological relations with resurgent Colombia. Our public sector Company, RITES has made a long-term commitment to revitalization of Colombia’s rail transport infrastructure. Interaction between business leaders of our two countries holds the promise of significant enhancement of our bilateral economic co-operation in various fields like textiles, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, auto-engineering and above all, the new realm of information technology. Important bilateral commercial agreements have been concluded to-day which should give further impetus to these relations.
Your visit, Mr. President, early in the new Millennium is an earnest of the prospects of enhanced and intensified co-operation between our two countries in the coming years.
Excellencies, Distinguished guests, may I invite you, to join me in a toast:
- to the health of His Excellency President Andres Pastrana Arango and Madame Nohra Puyana de Pastrana,
- to the well-being, peace and prosperity of the friendly people of Colombia and
- to the growing and everlasting friendship between India and Colombia