|SPEECH BY SHRI K.R.NARAYANAN, PRESIDENT OF INDIA, AT THE LUNCHEON HOSTED BY MR. VIKTOR KLIMA, FEDERAL
CHANCELLOR OF AUSTRIA
VIENNA, MONDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 1999
Your Excellency Mr. Viktor
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am deeply grateful
to you, Excellency, for the gracious words you have spoken and the warm
welcome you have extended to my wife and me and to the members of my delegation.
It is a pleasure and
a privilege to be in Austria and in this historic Hall where Prince Metternich,
one of your illustrious predecessors in office presided over the Congress
of Vienna. At this moment I am overwhelmed by a sense of history. In the
relationship between India and Austria this is also a historical moment.
Exactly 50 years ago it was in the same month and perhaps on the same day
that diplomatic relations between our two countries were established. Our
political relations, of course, go back even further. I may go back little
further and recall that it was in the early 1930's that one of India's great
patriots and freedom fighters Subhas Chandra Bose had come to Vienna and
established an India-Central European Society for the promotion of commercial
and cultural co-operation between India and the countries of Central Europe
foreshadowing, prophetically, present-day co-operation with Austria as an
important member of the European Union. A former Austrian Ambassador, presenting
his Credentials to President Radhakrishnan on November 9, 1966 referred
to the role played by India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru with
regard to the evacuation of the Occupation Forces from Austria and the complete
affirmation, thereafter, of Austria's freedom. Former Chancellor Bruno Kreisky,
in a major essay has recorded how, at Foreign Minister Gruber's instance,
Nehru and the Indian statesman Krishna Menon put across to the then Soviet
leadership, in a positive light, Austria's refusal to grant military bases
to foreign powers and to conclude military alliances with foreign powers.
The developments leading to the Austrian State Treaty of 1955 are now not
just part of the history of Europe but of the spirit of independence and
autonomy in international relations.
It is a happy co-incidence
that I should be here to-day as the first President of India to visit Austria
and commemorate the golden jubilee together with you. It is pleasant for
me to recall that over 50 years ago in the summer in 1948 I had the pleasure
of visiting Austria as a student. It is satisfying to see that how Austria
has changed since then and developed into one of the prosperous and happy
countries of Europe.
To-day for India, the
European Union is the largest trade partner in the world, the biggest source
of direct investment, a major contributor of developmental aid and an important
source of technology. Austria is a strategic link for India in this relationship
with Europe. Your excellent infrastructure, successful industrialization
programmes as well as your expertise in industries such as steel, manufacturing
technology, railway equipment, transport equipment, metallurgy and others
have already benefited India through a large number of collaborations, technology
transfers and joint ventures. We have an active Joint Economic Commission
and on-going collaboration between our Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
The regime of economic
reforms adopted by us has provided opportunities for both countries to expand
relations in these areas. The visit to India of the Austrian Federal Minister
for Economic Affairs in February this year and those of the Austrian Finance
Minister and of the President of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce earlier
indicate that we are moving in the right direction.
The direct air link established
last year between Delhi and Vienna is an important development. It has helped
in promoting bilateral trade, tourism and people-to-people contacts.
India and Austria are
both playing important roles in their respective regions. Austria is a member
of the European Union and has played an active role in the on-going enlargement
process. It has also been in the forefront of deepening integration within
the Union. India, similarly is seeking to build stronger links with its
neighbours and consolidating the South Asian Association for regional co-operation.
We are committed to the peaceful resolution of all differences through bilateral
dialogue with our neighbours and to building mutually beneficial and forward
looking relationships. With Pakistan, the Lahore process that our Prime
Minister initiated together with his counterpart, received a setback when
Pakistani forces violated the Line of Control and mounted an attack in the
Kargil Sector of Jammu and Kashmir. The intruding forces were driven back
by the Indian armed forces. This was followed by a military take-over in
Pakistan. India, to-day, is watching the situation in Pakistan, and is prepared
to engage in peaceful discussions with Pakistan, once the atmosphere of
trust destroyed by armed intrusions has been restored. If meaningful progress
is to be achieved in the dialogue, it would however be essential for cross-border
terrorism to cease.
It is natural, Your Excellency,
that Austria, as an important centre of European culture should be instinctively
drawn towards Indian culture and civilisation. The Institute of Indology
symbolizes the interest you have in Indian studies. We do feel, however,
that these natural affinities could be further encouraged and we would be
happy to welcome initiatives which would meet the desire of the people of
Austria and India to know more about our two great cultures.
Your Excellency, our
two countries have common positions on many important international issues
and collaborate actively in the United Nations. We both agree that the United
Nations needs strengthening and reform. India, which is home to one sixth
of humanity, is ready to play its due role in a restructured United Nations.
We would look forward to working together towards our mutual objective of
creating a truly representative world body, which reflects current realities,
which would promote development and security, and safeguard human rights
and human dignity.
On this 50th anniversary
of the establishment of diplomatic relations as two independent and friendly
nations with long and proud historical traditions, let us, Your Excellency,
jointly pledge to renew our ties of friendship and commit ourselves to working
for a new and just world order.
I thank you, once again,
Excellency, on behalf of my delegation and on my own behalf for your generous
May I request you Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, to join
me in a toast :
- to the health and happiness
of His Excellency Mr. Viktor Klima,
- to the continued prosperity
of the people of Austria,
- to 50 years of diplomatic
relations between India and Austria,
- to the growing friendship
and co-operation between India and Austria.