SPEECH OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF INDIA, H.E. SMT. PRATIBHA DEVISINGH PATIL AT THE BANQUET HOSTED IN HER HONOUR BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE AUSTRIA, H.E. MR. HEINZ FISCHER
Vienna, Austria, 5th October 2011
Your Excellency President Fischer,
Excellencies, Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
I am delighted to be here in this beautiful capital city of Vienna. Excellency and Madam Fischer, at the very outset, I would like to say that we are deeply touched by the warm reception and hospitality accorded to us in your beautiful country.
India greatly values the excellent relations it has with Austria. Excellency, as you know, our cultural and political links go back in time. An independent chair for Indology was established in the University of Vienna in 1880. Archduke Franz Ferdinand visited India, around a century ago. In 1921 and 1926 India's national-poet and Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, whose 150th Birth Anniversary is being celebrated this year, was in Vienna. In his lecture on "Religion of the Forests" that he delivered here, he spoke of the importance of developing the values of compassion and caring. He said, "the highest purpose of this world is not merely living in it, knowing it and making use of it but it is realizing our own selves in it, through expansion of sympathy." Later in the 1930s, one of our great patriots and freedom fighters, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose had come to Vienna and established an India-Central European Society.
The foundations of the friendship between our two countries in recent times were laid by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Mrs. Indira Gandhi and Chancellor Bruno Kreisky. On the solid strength of this rich legacy we have built a relationship based on the common values we share. These have been further strengthened and sustained through exchanges at all levels.
I would like to recall your visit to India in February 2005 which is an important landmark in our bilateral relationship. Your deep interest in my country has helped to strengthen this partnership. I am confident that my visit would provide the momentum to our bilateral relationship, to take it to a new level.
As vibrant parliamentary democracies, India and Austria today share common values and aspirations. Both our countries have an abiding faith in the democratic values. Our unshakeable faith in the rule of law, respect for human rights, and resolve to preserve peace and foster international understanding, brings both of us much closer.
Over the past six decades we have developed strong ties and institutional framework for dialogue and cooperation in the political, economic and commercial and science and technology fields.
In recent years, our bilateral relationship has acquired a new dynamism particularly in the economic and commercial sector. The total bilateral trade between India and Austria has crossed over 1 billion Euros in 2008. There are many technical and business collaborations and tie-ups between Indian and Austrian companies.
This is only indicative of the vast potential of economic cooperation between our two countries. Excellency, there exists far greater scope for significantly expanding our bilateral economic cooperation. An economically resurgent India today offers a variety of investment opportunities, both in the traditional and new sectors. We look forward to greater cooperation and engagement between business communities on both sides. India would also like to benefit from Austrian expertise in advanced technology areas, environment and infrastructure sectors.
Excellency, the edifice of the relationship between nations gets reinforced by interaction and exchanges between its peoples. Hence, it is important to foster people to people exchanges, including through academic cooperation, as we look at future friendships. I am happy to note that a Chair in Indian Studies at the prestigious University of Vienna has started functioning recently.
We are living at a time when terrorism poses a threat to global peace and security. Democratic societies like those of India and Austria, which protect freedom and individual dignity, are particularly vulnerable to this threat. The terrorist attacks in Mumbai and recently in Delhi, remind us that the international community must resolutely persevere with its efforts to root out terrorism.
Austria plays an important role in Europe and in the world. Vienna is host to several UN organizations, in fields as diverse as nuclear energy, outer space, the fight against drugs, crime and corruption, which are issues of vital importance. We share your strong commitment to the UN and multilateralism. India strongly believes that there is urgent need to reform the UN. The Security Council should be restructured to reflect the changed realities to effectively respond to emerging collective security challenges. We see Austria as a partner in our efforts at international fora, to meet the new challenges that the international community now faces.
Given the excellent relations enjoyed by our two countries and the potential ahead, we in India would like to work closely with Austria, both in the bilateral as well as in the international context for the mutual benefit of our people, and progress and prosperity of the world as a whole.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, may I request you to join me in a toast:-
- to the good health of President Fischer and Madam Fischer;
- to the prosperity and continued progress of the people of Austria; and
- to the abiding friendship between our two countries and people