SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA, SMT. PRATIBHA DEVISINGH PATIL AT THE BANQUET IN HONOUR OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF TURKEY, H.E. MR. ABDULLAH GUL
New Delhi, 9th February 2010
Your Excellency, Your Excellency Mr. Abdullah Gul, President of the Republic of Turkey,
Madame Hayrunnisa Gul,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am happy to welcome you on your first official visit to India, which we are confident, will cement and deepen our bilateral relations.
Our countries have deep and rich historical connections. The influence of the Turkic civilization on Indian art and architecture is well known. The exchange of embassies between the Mughal and the Ottoman courts in the 15th and 16th Centuries, and the enthusiasm of the people of India in supporting the foundation of the Turkish Republic, testify to the longstanding links between our two countries. The Sufi tradition of Islam represented by Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi has always had a deep resonance in our country. Both our countries draw inspiration from his mystical poetry on universal love and brotherhood, and his cosmopolitan outlook, at a time of strife and upheavals. Rumi said and I quote:
"Come, come, whoever you are.
Wanderer, worshiper, lover of living,
It doesn't matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair."
Both India and Turkey are modern democracies based on ethnic, religious and linguistic plurality. We believe that it is time to translate these historical assets and contemporary synergy, to work together to enhance bilateral cooperation, and address contemporary global challenges.
Economic and commercial ties between India and Turkey have gained momentum in recent years. However, the volume of bilateral trade and investment remains much below the potential of our two economies. To some extent, this is due to the impact of the recent global financial crisis. As members of the G-20, India and Turkey worked together for a coordinated response to the global downturn, and are contributing to a new architecture for international economic and financial interaction.
As the world comes out of this financial crisis, we are confident that India-Turkey trade will once again begin to flourish. India and Turkey have started exploring the possibility of negotiating a free trade agreement. We hope that this process will be expeditious and smooth. We should increase investment levels. There are great opportunities for Turkish business and industry in India in sectors like infrastructure development, energy and services. Indian companies are investing in mining, steel, irrigation equipment, tractors and automobiles in Turkey.
Both India and Turkey have developed centres of excellence in Science and Technology, as well as in higher education. We are happy that recently a first-ever micro satellite from Turkey was launched by an Indian space vehicle. We look forward to more such cooperation in the future and also welcome the exchange of students, scholars and scientists.
The foundation of India-Turkey bilateral relations can be consolidated by institutional linkages such as between Parliaments and political parties of both countries. I am happy that a multi-party delegation from the Indian Parliament led by the Indian Minister of Parliamentary Affairs visited Turkey recently and was warmly received by you.
As victims of international terrorism, both India and Turkey, have a vital stake in eradicating this menace and threat to our democracies. We both firmly believe that terrorism is a crime against humanity and it should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group. Our bilateral mechanism in this regard could be further enhanced and updated by developing an Action Plan with timelines and specific measures. Fighting terrorism at various levels requires active international co-ordination amongst like-minded countries. I am happy that India and Turkey will work together in convincing others to come on board for the early finalization in the UN of a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, I would request you to join me in raising a toast:-
- to the continued health and well being of His Excellency President Abdullah Gul and Madame Hayrunnisa Gul;
- to enhanced cooperation between India and Turkey, and;
- to the further strengthening of friendship between our peoples.