SPEECH BY HER EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA, SHRIMATI PRATIBHA DEVISINGH PATIL, AT THE STATE BANQUET HOSTED BY THE PRESIDENT OF POLAND, H.E. MR. LECH KACZYNSKI
Warsaw, Poland 24th April, 2009
Your Excellency President Lech Kaczynski,
Your Excellency Madame Maria Kaczynska,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
May I first of all say how happy my delegation and I are to be in Poland, a country with which we have traditional ties of friendship and cooperation which we value very much.
I am deeply touched by the friendly welcome extended to us and the sentiments of goodwill that have been expressed, both towards me personally and my country.
My husband, I and members of my delegation also greatly appreciate the gracious hospitality that has been extended to us.
Since the time of our arrival in Warsaw, the natural beauty of your city, the meandering Vistula River, the historical buildings, green parks and squares have attracted my attention.
India is an old civilization. Our people are steeped in a culture and ethos which has valued and promoted tolerance, diversity, pluralism, compassion and discussion and debate for more than three millennia. The Indian Constitution reflects these deeply ingrained values of the Indian people. India has been home to many cultures and religions of the world. We seek to build a peaceful and prosperous world.
Relations between India and Poland have traditionally been close and cordial. It is gratifying that leaders of India's freedom movement, Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Nehru and Poet Laureate Rabindra Nath Tagore and others, notably the Maharaja of Jamnagar also played a role in nurturing this friendship. Today, our two countries have mutual complementarities across a broad spectrum that includes sectors such as mining, energy, IT, pharmaceuticals, Science and Technology, education, culture among others.
Our bilateral trade could benefit from greater focus on mutual comparative advantages. I do hope that the accompanying business delegation from India has managed to network with their Polish counterparts so that the full potential of the trade and economic relations between the two countries is realized.
Our two countries have shared civilizational bonds for centuries. The Polish language also has some connectivity with Sanskrit, an ancient Indian language. There is thus a very useful foundation to enable us to enhance our cultural and people-to-people contacts. More and more Indians wish to visit Poland. We need to enhance academic and student exchanges. There should also be more media cooperation and exchanges of films and television programmes.
India and Poland share common values of freedom, human rights and democracy. International terrorism poses a major threat to these values and to international peace and security. We need to confront the menace of terrorism unitedly. We deeply appreciate in this context, Poland's unreserved condemnation of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai last November.
Both India and Poland are committed to the principles enshrined in the UN Charter. We believe that there is an urgent need to reform the United Nations to make it more compatible with contemporary realities. Our two countries cooperate well in the international fora. We greatly appreciate Poland's support for India's candidature for a permanent seat on an expanded UN Security Council. I should also like to thank your Government for Poland's support for an unconditional India-specific waiver by the NSG last September.
As I speak here today, in my country, the largest democracy in the world, the electoral process to constitute the new Parliament is underway. This is, indeed, a gigantic exercise involving an electorate of over 714 million people. Our robust democracy gives every Indian the right to have a say in the kind of Government they want to have to run their affairs.
Before I end, I would like to once again convey my gratitude for the warm hospitality that has been extended to me and my delegation. I can assure you, Mr. President, that we will carry many happy memories of our visit to your beautiful country.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
May I now request you to join me in raising a toast:-
- to the good health and happiness of President Lech Kaczynski and Madame Maria Kaczynska;
- to progress and prosperity of our two friendly people; and
- to the continuing friendship and growing co-operation between India and Poland.