International Affairs



Your Excellency, President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, and

Distinguished Members of your Delegation,


Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to extend to Your Excellency and the members of your family and your distinguished delegation a very warm welcome on your first State visit to India. Though you have been to our country more than once in the past, it is for the first time that we have the honour of receiving you as the first President of the Republic of Iceland to visit India. As such this is a historic occasion.

Though our two countries are separated by a vast distance we are close to each other in the realm of ideas. As you have often said yours is the oldest democracy in the world and ours is the largest democracy. We have worked together in the pursuit of peace and for the enlargement of human freedom in the world. In the realm of literature our two countries have interacted with each other and influenced each other. Your great writer and Nobel Laureate Mr. Halldor Laxness who has written a book entitled "The Great Weaver of Cashmir" was attracted by the poetry of Rabindranath Tagore. In the Centenary Volume on Tagore, Halldor wrote "In my country, as elsewhere among Western readers, the form and flavour of the Gitanjali had the effect of a wonderful flower we had not seen or heard before; its great attraction was a direct stimulus for many poets to undertake new experiments in lyrical prose". You yourself, Excellency, has been an ardent student of Indian thought and culture and as the President of the Indo-Icelandic Friendship Society you have, even in your earlier days, played an important role in promoting friendship between our two countries.

Iceland has been known as the land of fire and ice, of volcanoes and glaciers. It is to-day, despite its small population, known for its modern economy with the highest GNP per capita in the world. Your achievements particularly in fisheries, in medicine, food processing, metallurgy, bio-technology and information technology, make it possible for us to co-operate with your country constructively for our mutual benefit. I am confident that your State visit, accompanied by a significant high level delegation, would help in strengthening and expanding Iceland’s linkages with this part of the world.

As an old democracy your country has played an important role in promoting democracy in the world. You yourself have been for many years the President of the International Association of Parliamentarians for Global Action. In the Six Nation Five Continent Peace Initiative you have personally played an important role together with our late Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi and the late Olof Palme of Sweden. In 1987 in recognition of this Peace Initiative we have had the privilege of presenting to you the Indira Gandhi Peace Prize at a ceremony held here in the Rashtrapati Bhavan. We have great pleasure, Excellency, to welcome you once again as a fighter for peace and freedom, and as a great friend of India, and wish you and your delegation a happy and satisfying stay in our country.

Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, may I now request you to join me in a toast:

  • to the good health of His Excellency the President of the Republic of Iceland Mr. Olafur Ragnar Grimsson;
  • to the prosperity and well-being of the people of Iceland; and
  • to the friendship between our two countries.

Thank you

Jai Hind