BY SHRI K.R.NARAYANAN, PRESIDENT OF INDIA AT THE BANQUET IN HONOUR
OF MR. PETAR
STOYANOV, THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF BULGARIA AND MADAM STOYANOVA
NEW DELHI, OCTOBER 26, 1998
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.