SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA, SMT. PRATIBHA DEVISINGH PATIL AT THE BANQUET IN HONOUR OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF ICELAND, H.E. DR. OLAFUR RAGNAR GRIMSSON
New Delhi, 14th January 2010
Your Excellency President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson,
Madame Dorrit Moussaieff,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is with immense pleasure that I welcome you and Madame Dorrit Moussaieff as well as your delegation to India.
Mr. President, you are a long-time friend of India. We have with great respect and admiration observed your deep knowledge and interest in our country. You have personally played an important and active role in promoting friendship between our two countries from the early 1980s, as the President of the Iceland-India Friendship Society.
In the words of Har, in the Norse Poems of EDDA,
"If you know that you have a friend and that he is true,
and that you will get good from him,
share your mind with him, exchange sincere thoughts,
and visit him often"
Mr. President, we are delighted to have you, our friend, in our midst once again. We are particularly happy that you are with us as the recipient of the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had a unique role in the making of India as a nation and how India is perceived by the world. He constantly strove for establishing harmony amongst countries. By accepting the Award that bears his name, Mr. President, you have honoured the memory of that great Indian visionary and statesman, who has a special place in our hearts. We also recall that you earlier received, on behalf of the Parliamentarians for Global Action, the first Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development. You richly deserve the awards conferred on you.
It is also deeply satisfying that our two countries have had a very friendly and warm relationship. Iceland is acknowledged as the world's oldest functioning democracy and India as the world's largest democracy. We share the cherished values of democracy, human rights and personal freedoms and hold similar views on a wide variety of regional and international issues.
Iceland which was classified as a developing country until the 1970s, today occupies a high rank in the global Human Development Index. This remarkable achievement has made Iceland a model for the world, to learn about how innovation and renewable energy can improve the economy and environment, in a single generation. Mr. President, your deep commitment to environmentally friendly measures has played a significant role in this. Iceland's achievements in Science and Technology cover a wide spectrum from genome mapping to hydrogen cell research. India has also had successes in agriculture, Information Technology, pharmaceuticals and space research, among others. We are confident that your visit will further enhance our relations by strengthening bilateral trade and investment, as well as by opening up new mutually beneficial opportunities for both our countries.
We believe that our cultural, educational and youth exchanges should be expanded. The splendours of nature that Iceland is gifted with, coupled with our traditional and holistic health approaches such as Ayurveda, can create a new dimension in the area of wellness tourism. Mr. President, the major role you have played in the international drug prevention campaign, can contribute to promoting the cause of the well being of our peoples.
Both India and Iceland are committed to the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations. We believe that there is an urgent need to reform the United Nations, to make it more in unison with contemporary realities. We greatly value Iceland's support for our just aspirations to be represented in a reformed United Nations Security Council.
We deeply appreciate Iceland's unequivocal condemnation of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in November 2008. International terrorism poses a major threat to global peace and security. The international community must fight the scourge of terrorism unitedly.
Mr. President, we look forward to continued friendship and cooperation with you and your country, to further strengthen our relationship and to open up new vistas of further opportunities of working together. It is significant that you are with us on a day when we are observing Makar Sankranti in India, a festival in which we rejoice as we celebrate friendship and mutual understanding. We traditionally share sesame sweets as tokens of goodwill. I invite all to taste the sesame sweets on the table, as a symbol of friendship between our two countries.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, join me in a toast to:-
- the health and well being of President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson and Madame Dorrit Moussaieff;
- the progress and prosperity of the friendly people of Iceland; and
- friendship and cooperation between India and Iceland.