International Affairs



Y our Excellency President Stoyanov,
Madame Stoyanova,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me and my wife great pleasure to extend a very warm welcome to Your Excellency and Madame Stoyanova and to the distinguished members of your delegation.

Excellency, our two countries and civilisations have interacted closely over the centuries. Indian and Bulgarian scholars have sustained our interest in each others' history, culture, language and literature. The renowned Bulgarian freedom fighter, poet, philosopher and ethnographer of the 19th century, Georgi Rakovski, was deeply interested in India and its culture. He was also equally sensitive and sympathetic to India's yearning for freedom. In 1857 at the critical period of India's first war of independence, he had proclaimed: "India has been Indian, India must be Indian, India will be Indian." Excellency, as a symbol of our respect and admiration for that great friend of India, we feel honoured that during your present visit, a school in New Delhi will be named after Georgi Rakovski.

The visit of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore to Sofia in l926 was another landmark event in the encounter between our two cultures. Later in this century, several eminent Bulgarian scholars devoted their life to the study and translation of the Vedas and other philosophical works. In turn, translations of eminent Bulgarian poets have appeared in Indian languages. The publication in Sofia in June this year of the compilation "Peacock Feathers", incorporating translations of Hindi and Sanskrit poetry and prose from ancient to modern times, including some of the poems of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, is evidence that interest in each other's culture and literature continues as a living tradition.

Jawaharlal Nehru, our first Prime Minister and Georgi Dimitrov were both present at the historic Congress of the Anti-Imperialist League in 1929. This encounter gave us a deep sense of admiration for the resistance of the Bulgarian people against Imperialism, Fascism and Nazism. After the end of the Second World War and during the period of the Cold War, India, true to its belief in world unity and peace has pursued a policy of non-alignment and peaceful co-existence that remains equally if not more relevant to our own times.

One of the distinguishing features of this period has been the spread of democracy worldwide. But we are disturbed by the prevalence of inequalities in the world -- political, economic and technological. These get reflected in the structure of the world's highest decision making forum - the Security Council of the United Nations and in major world issues like security, disarmament, environment and development.

We are confident, Excellency, that as two democracies, which are striving to develop economically and technologically, India and Bulgaria will be able to function in concert towards a new, just and more equal international order. The consolidation of democracy in Bulgaria has brought us even closer in terms of values, beliefs and aspirations. The enhanced interaction between our Parliaments reflects the importance of the commitment of both countries to our cherished ideal of democracy.

Excellency, India's socio-economic progress over the half century since its independence, has been largely determined by the vision of our freedom movement, which wanted a free India to combine political freedom with economic freedom for its masses. In tune with the general development of the world we are now pursuing the path of economic reforms, but with our commitment to social justice undimmed. We have, therefore, watched with appreciation the progress made by Bulgaria in political and economic reforms in recent years.

We regard Bulgaria as an important economic partner in South East Europe and welcome its efforts at economic integration at regional and global levels. Promising new avenues have opened up between our two countries for mutually beneficial economic and commercial co-operation.

Excellency, I am confident that your visit will be a landmark in our ever growing co-operation and friendship.

May I wish Your Excellency, Madame Stoyanova, and your delegation a most pleasant, memorable and fruitful stay in India.

May I now request all present to join me in a toast to:
- the health and happiness of President Stoyanov and Madame Stoyanova; and
- the friendship between our two countries and to the progress and prosperity of the peoples of Bulgaria and India.

Thank you

Jai Hind