BY SHRI K.R. NARAYANAN, PRESIDENT OF INDIA, AT THE
BANQUET HOSTED BY THE PRESIDENT OF TURKEY MR. SULEYMAN DEMIREL
ANKARA, THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a singular pleasure
for me and my wife, my delegation and members of my family to be in this
beautiful country. I thank you, Mr. President, most sincerely for your kind
invitation and the gracious words you have just spoken about my country.
The warmth and friendship with which we have been received have brought
back memories of a very pleasant and fruitful stay that we had had in Turkey
in the 1970s. What is more, they epitomise the long and historic relations
between the Indian and the Turkish peoples. The deep and lasting impact
that Turkish culture has left on our culture can be seen even to-day in
our customs, language, dress and cuisine. No wonder we have always felt
at home in your country.
It is a happy co-incidence
that we are here on the eve of the celebrations to mark the 75th anniversary
of Turkey's rise to nationhood. May I convey to you, Mr. President, and
through you to the people of Turkey, our heartiest felicitations on this
historic anniversary. We in India, have just concluded the 50th year of
our independence. On this occasion I should like to recall the inspiration
that India's freedom movement drew from Turkey's fight for independence
and from the ideas and philosophy of Kemal Ataturk. Mahatma Gandhi described
Ataturk as "a great son of mankind". Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru hailed him
as "one of the creators of the modern age".
With her ancient heritage
of democratic institutions and traditions of religious tolerance India reacted
spontaneously to Ataturk's ideas of democracy and secularism. Indeed to-day
India and Turkey have developed into bulwarks of democracy and secularism
in the East. Mr. President, if I may be permitted a personal recollection,
when I was India's Ambassador to Turkey, I had the pleasure of meeting you
in April 1973 soon after your historic presidential elections. I recollect
vividly your telling me then that between Japan and the Adriatic, India
and Turkey were the only two democracies and that by co-operating with each
other, we could set an example of the success of democracy, especially in
the field of social and economic development, to the third world.
It is a great pleasure
for me to see with my own eyes how vibrant Turkish democracy is, how secure
Turkish secularism has become and how remarkable has been the social and
economic progress made by Turkey, thanks to your wise political leadership
and the success of your economic reforms. As in geography, so also in economics,
Turkey can be a bridge between the continents of Asia and Europe.
India too, Mr. President,
has taken remarkable strides towards social, economic, scientific and technological
development since our independence. One of our significant achievements
has been the Green Revolution that brought self-sufficiency in foodgrains
for our nearly one billion strong population. Our industrial progress has
also been considerable. In science and technology we have climbed some of
the peaks of achievement, both in research and in applications for development.
During the last seven or eight years we have been engaged in liberalizing
our economy and opening it up to the world.
In this new environment
the scope for co-operation between our two countries has expanded in an
unprecedented manner. Your State visit to India in 1995 was a landmark event
in our relations. The agreements signed to-day, in our presence will, I
am confident, help in carrying these relations further forward.
Both India and Turkey
are living in a neighbourhood and international environment that pose major
challenges and also offer opportunities. It has been India's basic policy
and first priority to live in friendship and co-operation with its neighbours.
In spite of every obstacle we have stuck to this policy and we have taken
initiatives to improve our relations with all the countries of South Asia
with whose progress, prosperity and stability our own destiny is cast. In
this we set great store by SAARC. We are keen that the concept of South
Asia Free Trade Area should become a reality by 2001. India also seeks to
strengthen its links with countries of the Indian Ocean Rim, ASEAN and the
Excellency, we also look
beyond to the larger world, which is to-day a pluralistic world nearer to
what was envisaged by the non-aligned than by bloc politics. The most significant
feature of the world that has emerged from the Cold War is the emergence
of developing countries on the international scene. The United Nations must,
in restructuring the Security Council, take into account this pre-eminent
political reality of our times.
India, Mr. President
has espoused with passion the cause of peace and disarmament, particularly
nuclear disarmament. We pursue that cause as ardently as ever. A monopoly
over nuclear weapons in the hands of a few powers cannot be in the interests
of peace or equality in the world. We have unilaterally declared a moratorium
on nuclear testing and announced that we would not be the first to use these
weapons. We are willing to join any agreement or arrangement that would
ensure the non-use of these weapons and their phased elimination on a non-discriminatory
While the weapons of
mass destruction threaten world peace, a new insidious threat has emerged
in several parts of the world, that of terrorism. International terrorism,
the new scourge of our times, is causing untold suffering to innocent people
and seeking to destabilize nations and societies. We are ready, Mr. President,
to associate ourselves with Turkey and the international community to root
out this scourge.
Mr. President, we believe
as Ataturk said: "The fortune of mankind may be realized by getting closer
to each other, by loving each other and by meeting each other with pure
feelings and thoughts".
With these noble thoughts
may I invite you, Ladies and Gentlemen, to raise your glasses in a toast
- to His Excellency Mr.
Suleyman Demirel, President of the Republic of Turkey and Madame Demirel,
- to the 75th Anniversary
of the Turkish Republic,
- to the continued peace
and prosperity of the Turkish people, and
- to everlasting friendship
and co-operation between India and Turkey.