Text of the speech by Ambassador of India to Austria Mr. T.P. Sreenivasan on the occasion of presentation of his Credentials to H.E. the Federal President of the Republic of Austria Dr. Thomas Klestil
I have the honour to convey the greetings and good wishes of my President, Shri K.R. Narayanan. It will be my endeavour, Excellency, to further strengthen the traditional friendship & cooperation between our two countries not only for our mutual benefit but also for a positive evolution of a just world order.
Permit me, Excellency, to present my Letter of Credence and the Letter of Recall of my predecessor.
The occasion of the presentation of my credentials provides an opportunity to reflect on the depth, richness and variety of our bilateral relations, which have spanned over half a century. The relations between our two peoples, in fact, go back several centuries and the linkages of the past have enriched the relations between our two nations.
Excellency, Indian Prime Ministers Nehru and Indira Gandhi had close friendship with Chancellor Bruno Kreisky and both of them had visited Austria. There were also visits by Austrian Chancellors Kreisky and Fred Sinowatz to India. The state visit of our President, which took place in November 1999, coincided with the 50th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral relations. The warmth and friendliness displayed and the economic agreements signed during that visit infused fresh content to our friendly ties. We are happy at the ongoing close co-operation between our foreign ministries and other key departments and welcome high level government and parliamentary visits to India. We look forward, Excellency, to your visit to India in 2001.
As two parliamentary democracies, India and Austria share common values, ideals, and aspirations. Both countries play important roles in their respective regions. India is seeking to build stronger links with its neighbours and consolidating the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation. Amongst members of the European Union, Austria has borders with the largest number of new aspirants for entry, and is playing an active role in the process of enlargement of the Union. We see Austria, with its excellent infrastructure and its expertise in key areas of technology as a strategic link in our relationship with Europe. For India, the European Union is the largest trading partner in the world, the biggest source of direct investment, a major contributor of developmental aid and an important source of technology. We are happy that the increased number of direct flights connecting our two capitals is contributing to the promotion of trade, tourism and people-to-people contacts.
Austria is important also as the headquarters for many international organisations. Austria, like India has a strong commitment to the UN Charter and has played a significant role in the UN and other international organisations. We both have participated in UN activities around the globe. India has, over the last 55 years, participated in most of the UN peacekeeping operations in different parts of the world. Moreover, India has been instrumental in shaping some of the seminal resolutions of the United Nations. Both our countries see the need to restructure the United Nations to respond to emerging challenges. The UN Security Council, as it exists today, does not represent contemporary reality. We hope, Excellency, that we shall work together for the restructuring of the United Nations so that the Security Council becomes more representative of its membership and the problems of the world get better addressed.
The Indian community in Austria is relatively small, yet it has made significant contributions in various areas, particularly in the field of health services. The community acts as a bridge between our two cultures, and enables a better awareness of each other through increased appreciation of Indian festivals, music, dance and food. The presence of the Indian community here serves as a stimulant to augmenting our bilateral relations.
The economic reforms initiated by us in 1991 have provided opportunities for the expansion of bilateral economic ties between our two countries. Successive governments have given greater scope, content and direction to this irreversible process. Industrial policy has been simplified, liberalised and made transparent, geared to promote private investments including foreign investment. External trade has been liberalised and the tariffs have been steadily reduced, while import controls that are in vogue on a few of the consumer products are also proposed to be freed within a fixed time frame. We have a huge and growing market with the world's largest middle class, abundant raw materials and highly trained and skilled manpower. Our economic fundamentals are also strong. Our requirements of foreign investment in power, telecom, roads, ports housing and other areas are huge. The investment needs for infrastructure have been estimated at over USD 400 billion in the next 10 years. It is clear that a large part of this will have to be sourced from abroad.
It is my pleasant task, Excellency, to carry this message to Austria where it will be my hope to encourage increased trade, technology transfer and joint venture activities. Our excellent political relations could be further cemented through greater thrust to technological and economic co-operation between our two countries. Alongside, it will be my endeavour to promote increased cultural co-operation and mutual awareness of the rich culture and heritage of both our nations. Austria has carved out a unique niche for itself in the industrial and technological arena, and through increased mutual understanding we can contribute to the mutual benefit of both our peoples. I am confident, Excellency, I will have your support and that of your Government towards the goal of strengthening our bilateral relationship.