SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA, SMT. PRATIBHA DEVISINGH PATIL AT THE BANQUET IN HONOUR OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF UZBEKISTAN, H.E. MR.ISLAM KARIMOV
New Delhi, 18th May 2011
Your Excellency President Islam Karimov,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are delighted to once again receive you Mr. President and Madam Karimova. Excellency, you are a long-standing friend of India, and each of your earlier four visits has brought our countries closer together. Your present visit will give a strong impetus to the new Strategic Partnership between India and Uzbekistan, which we have announced today. Uzbekistan is an important partner for us in Central Asia, our extended neighbourhood.
India's ties with Uzbekistan straddle centuries. Located in the heart of Central Asia, Uzbekistan has served as a spring board for human movement, and as a reservoir of knowledge and creative skills. Your great historical cities of Samarkhand and Bukhara opened the gateway for the flow of Buddhism from India into Central Asia. Immortal figures such as Al Beruni - the renaissance Uzbek scholar; Bahauddin Nakshbandi - the Sufi Saint of Samarkhand; and the Great Emperor Babur - the founder of the Mughal Dynasty, are among the few who have found indelible places in the annals of our civilizational links. The Great Silk Route, which connected India with Uzbekistan for centuries, bound together our traders, artists, musicians and artisans.
On the sound foundation of this rich legacy, we have built a relationship woven around common values. We share a secular outlook and a vision of religious tolerance, peace and stability in our region. The Sufi traditions of Central Asia in general and Uzbekistan in particular, set a new foundation of tolerance and co-existence in the entire Asian region and India benefited from this in myriad ways. The message of knowledge and scientific inquiry advocated centuries ago by your national heroes, is a fitting answer to the forces seeking to spread obscurantism and violence in the world. Your national philosopher and poet Alisher Navoi had said that "knowledge and wisdom adorn a person". Similarly, your great astronomer-king, Mirza Ulughbek spoke of the work of scientists lasting forever. These thoughts are the foundation of all progressive societies.
Mr. President, we support your policies for containing religious extremism in your country. Terrorism targets pluralistic societies such as ours. Uzbekistan and India have both been victims of terrorism. We strongly condemn those forces, which are responsible for providing shelter to extremist elements and criminals. We have worked together, and will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with you, to eliminate this scourge from our region.
We, in India, have followed with interest the journey of Uzbekistan in the last two decades under your Excellency's visionary leadership. We rejoice in your achievements, as Uzbekistan today stands tall as an influential leader in the region. Both our countries are marching towards rapid social and economic growth and development in an environment of relentless globalization. We are committed to transforming our historical, cultural and emotional bonds into a regional climate conducive to greater economic and commercial co-operation for the well-being of our peoples.
Excellency, we have together built an impressive edifice of multi-faceted co-operation. We regard our economic and commercial ties as an important pillar of our bilateral relationship. It is a matter of satisfaction that the meeting of our Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic issues, that took place about two weeks back, has identified a number of areas to enhance our trade and economic ties through co-operation in several new areas. Your meetings today have given a strong impetus to these ties.
India remains committed to further strengthening ties with Uzbekistan, drawing inspiration both from common heritage and the immense promise of the relationship. I would like to congratulate you, Mr. President, and the people of Uzbekistan on the 20th Anniversary of Uzbekistan's independence that will be observed on 1st of September this year.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, may I request you to join me in a toast:-
- to the health of His Excellency President Karimov and Madam Karimova;
- to the prosperity and progress of the people of Uzbekistan; and
- to the abiding friendship between our two peoples.