International Affairs


Your Excellency President Constantinescu,
Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to extend a very warm welcome to Your Excellency and to the members of your delegation on your first State visit to India.

We welcome you as the Head of State of a friendly country and an outstanding scholar of international renown. Your Excellency's accomplishments in the field of geology, law, philosophy and literature and as Rector of the University of Bucharest, the oldest university in South Eastern Europe, were well-known long before you assumed the high office of the President of Romania. By conferring on you earlier today the degree of Doctor of Science [Honoris Causa], the University of Delhi has recognised both an esteemed friend of India and an eminent academician.

Excellency, Indo-Romanian contacts go back many centuries. The translations of our ancient texts as well as the works of Rabindranath Tagore into the Romanian language which had enriched the cultural bonds between our countries were reinforced by the visit of Tagore to Bucharest in 1926. Romanian scholars have helped in interpreting Indian thought to the Western world. The great Romanian poet, Mihai Eminescu, was deeply influenced by Indian philosophy. The following lines from his poem "Dacian Prayer" contain echoes from the "Song of Creation" in the Rig Veda:-

"When death did not exist, nor yet eternity Before the seed of life had first set the living free When yesterday was nothing, and time had not begun And `one' included all things, and all was less than `one'"

Excellency, our age-old historical and cultural links and our strong commitment to the shared principles and ideals of democracy provide a firm foundation for strengthening and enhancing our bilateral relations. The economic reforms undertaken by our two countries have thrown up new opportunities for co-operation in our mutual benefit. In this context we welcome the high level business delegation accompanying Your Excellency. I am sure that the exchanges they are having with their Indian counterparts would lead to new partnerships between our business communities. With the revival of the Indo-Romanian Joint Commission and the Joint Business Council and the signing today of an agreement on the promotion and protection of investments, I believe, we have established a durable framework for our economic co-operation.

It is heartening that there has been a considerable increase in bilateral trade in recent years. If I may say so, India today offers perhaps the largest market for Romanian goods in Asia. The direct link between India and South Eastern Europe provided by Romanian airlines is an important factor in facilitating bilateral interaction. The cultural exchange programme and the agreement for co-operation in science and technology, which have also been signed today, would provide a further dimension to the relations between our two countries. All these have been underpinned by the growing contacts between our two Parliaments.

Excellency, the end of the cold war has created new opportunities for forging closer and better relations between nations. We in India have taken bold initiatives in promoting friendship and co-operation with our neighbouring countries. Just as you have embarked upon the Black Sea Economic Co-operation in your region, we are engaged in pushing ahead with the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation in which is involved the peace and prosperity of over one billion people in this part of the world. We are determined to eliminate from our land poverty and underdevelopment and also address new dangers such as international terrorism and drug-trafficking.

Excellency, the task before us, as we step into the next millenium is to strive collectively to tackle these problems. Within multilateral fora such as the United Nations, our two countries have cooperated to address issues of international concern. Both our countries support the democratisation of the United Nations, and particularly the Security Council, to make it more representative of present day realities. India appreciates the support of Romania on issues of vital interest to us.

Distinguished Guests and Friends, I would now like to draw your attention to a happy coincidence. His Excellency has chosen to be in India, in the great city of Mumbai, on the 19th of November. That day happens to be his birthday. I am sure that all those present here will join me in conveying to you in advance our heartiest congratulations and very best wishes on this forthcoming anniversary.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, may I request you to join me in a toast:

- to the health and happiness of His Excellency President Constantinescu;
-to the ever-growing friendship and co-operation between India and Romania; and
- to the well being of the peoples of our two countries.

Thank you

Jai Hind