SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA, SMT. PRATIBHA DEVISINGH PATIL AT THE BANQUET HOSTED BY PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF CYPRUS H.E. MR. DEMETRIS CHRISTOFIAS
Nicosia, Cyprus, 31st October, 2009
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is, indeed, a pleasure for my delegation and me to be among time tested friends, on an enchanted island that legend ascribes as the home of the Goddess of beauty and love. Your country's ancient history, archaeological wealth, natural beauty and unique location at the cross roads of Asia, Africa and Europe make it not only a major tourism destination, but also a dynamic centre for shipping, financial services as well as a hub for frontier technologies. India applauds and rejoices in the achievements made by Cyprus, a close and trusted friend.
Your warm words of welcome and traditional hospitality have again underlined the very strong bonds of traditional friendship that have existed between our two countries. Just as Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Mrs. Indira Gandhi have been immortalised in memorials and streets named after them in Nicosia, Archbishop Makarios has been honoured in New Delhi, where a major road is named after him. We fondly remember the successful visit to India in 2006 of former President His Excellency Tassos Papadopaulos.
Our two countries share faith in democracy, respect for diversity, and strive for a peaceful environment in which our people can benefit from the fruits of rapid and sustainable development. We have both overcome conflict and adversity and, in the face of challenges, we have achieved much that we can be proud of. We, however, need to imbue our friendship with far more substantive cooperation on economic, scientific and technological fronts. Cyprus can be assured of India's full commitment to deepening and enhancing the bilateral relationship.
The many opportunities that exist for expanding our interaction should be seized upon. Information technology, renewable sources of energy, innovations in the automobile sector, sustainable tourism projects, infrastructure projects, health and wellness are some of the promising areas for further enhancement of our mutually beneficial engagement. Governments of both the countries need to encourage business people and institutions to impart greater energy in their mutual interaction. Just as the membership of the EU enlarges frontiers of opportunity of Cyprus, the rapid economic growth of India in recent years, even in the adverse global financial conditions, provides profitable opportunities for medium and long-term investments.
India values the consistent support that Cyprus has extended on issues of vital concern. By expressing support for the permanent membership of India in an expanded UN Security Council as well as for the India specific civil nuclear energy waiver at the Nuclear Suppliers Group, Cyprus has shown a deep understanding of our national aspirations. We appreciate the strong and unequivocal condemnation by Cyprus of the terrorist attacks on India. It is important that the perpetrators of terrorist acts are punished promptly so that justice and not impunity prevails. The international community must work together to defeat the forces of terrorism who are inflicting wanton destruction across the globe. This is important for peace and stability in the world.
Excellency, you are currently engaged in crucial negotiations to find a peaceful solution to the painful legacy that has divided your country. We noted with interest your speech at the UN General Assembly last month in this regard. I also recall that at your inauguration as President on 28th February 2008, you had said that you were inspired by a life-long vision: "The achievement of a just solution to the Cyprus problem and the building of a just society". India wishes you every success in transforming your worthy vision into reality.
Ladies and Gentlemen, may I request you to join me in a toast to:-
- the health and happiness of the President and Madame Christofia;
- the progress and prosperity of the friendly people of Cyprus; and
- the enhancement of the friendship between India and Cyprus.