SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA, SMT. PRATIBHA DEVISINGH PATIL AT THE BANQUET IN HONOUR OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF KAZAKHSTAN H.E. MR. NURSULTAN NAZARBAYEV
New Delhi, 24th January 2009
Your Excellency President Nazarbayev,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure in welcoming Your Excellency and members of your delegation, to India on this historic visit. I say historic, because this is the first time, that a leader from a Central Asian country is gracing our Republic Day celebrations, as our honoured Chief Guest. This is indicative of the importance India attaches to the Central Asian region, which is our extended neighbourhood, and to the Republic of Kazakhstan, in particular.
Our countries figure on the fabled Silk Route of ancient days. Buddha's images in the etchings found on the banks of the Ili River in Kazakhstan stand testimony to the historic linkages that existed between our two nations. The dynasties of the Sakas and the Kushanas took the legacy of our linkages forward. Our multi-ethnic and diverse societies today are based on pluralism, mutual respect and tolerance. Our countries are secular and firmly believe in inclusiveness. We are committed to take forward our historical linkages into the future, by developing a multi-faceted and a mutually beneficial bilateral relationship. Your visit, Excellency, will further consolidate our dynamic relations.
We are deeply touched by the words of condemnation expressed by Kazakhstan, on the terrorist attacks that took place in November last year. Your words of support reinforced our resolve to firmly deal with the menace of terrorism, which requires coordinated efforts globally. We regard Kazakhstan as a valuable partner in this fight against terrorism.
We, in India, admire the remarkable progress achieved by Kazakhstan in a short period of time. This progress is not merely economic growth, but overall development of Kazakhstan as a nation. We congratulate Your Excellency, for the far-sighted vision and exemplary leadership with which you have steered Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan is fortunate to be endowed with a variety of natural resources, which have contributed to its economic growth. It gives me satisfaction to know, that our two countries are cooperating in the critical area of energy security - hydrocarbons and civilian nuclear energy - to mutual advantage.
Education has figured high in India's national priorities and, as a result, we have very good educational institutions and a vast qualified human resource capability. Cooperation in education, therefore, holds promise. I am delighted to learn that there are academic exchanges between our two countries, under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation and other scholarship programmes. There are many Kazakh ( ) nationals who have trained in Indian educational establishments. I believe that impressions about a country, as a student and the friends that one makes at that impressionable age, remain for a lifetime. Education builds long-term bonds and, as friendly countries, we should foster and nurture these bonds, which bring us closer.
During the successful visit of Vice President Hamid Ansari to Kazakhstan last year, I understand that cooperation in agriculture was discussed and our two Governments are pursuing the idea further, to develop institutional linkages. Such cooperation addresses the critical area of food security and has a human dimension. I feel that it is in the interest of our two countries, to ensure that we capitalize on this opportunity.
Allow me also to wholeheartedly commend your initiatives on promoting world peace and harmony. Kazakhstan is uniquely placed on the crossroads of Europe and Asia and Kazakhstan's elevation to chair the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe in 2010 is truly deserved. The Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia initiative has now matured into an important multi-lateral forum and the agenda has expanded to include areas such as transport and tourism. India is committed to the CICA process and looks forward to contribute to other such initiatives of Kazakhstan.
Excellency, your presence at our Republic Day celebrations is a major milestone in our relationship. The agreements and understanding concluded during this visit strengthen our bonds of friendship. As we continue on this journey, let us weave a strong fabric of friendship.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, may I request you to join me in a toast to:
- the good health and long life of His Excellency President Nazarbayev;
- the prosperity of the friendly people of Kazakhstan; and
- the everlasting friendship and cooperation between our two countries and peoples.