Statements, Speeches, Interviews

Statement by the Hon'ble President to the Media, on her departure for a State Visit to Spain and Poland

20-04-2009 :New Delhi

I am delighted to be visiting Spain and Poland. Both are countries with which India has close relations, which we wish to further deepen and strengthen.

My visit will be the first State Visit by an Indian President to Spain and the fourth by an Indian President to Poland. The last visit to Warsaw was by late Dr. Shanker Dayal Sharma ji in October 1996.

Our relations with both Spain and Poland are multi-sectoral and we have useful exchanges in trade matters, investment, Science and Technology, tourism, culture, defence and renewable energy. Our collaboration with both these countries, in multilateral fora is of long standing. Both these countries were supportive of India's quest for civil nuclear energy.

India shares with Spain and Poland common values and principles such as plural democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, tolerance, the determination to fight terrorism and to strengthen democratic values. I will be visiting the Parliaments of both Spain and Poland.

Spain has become an important trade partner. Last year our bilateral trade touched 4.5 billion US Dollars. There are, however, concrete opportunities for much more trade and investment, especially in this time of global financial and economic difficulty since we have clear complementarities that can be exploited. I see considerable potential in our working together with Spain in areas such as, agriculture, renewable energy -Spain is a leading power in wind and solar energy; tourism, automobiles, IT, infrastructure and Science and Technology.

Poland is a country with which we also have civilizational links. It has a long history of the study of Indology, and Sanskrit was taught in Krakow as early as 1893. Schools of Indology are flourishing in Krakow and Warsaw. Our trade exchanges have begun to grow and we exceeded 1 billon US Dollars in bilateral trade last year. Indian companies are showing growing interest in Poland in areas such as energy, health, Information Communication Technology and chemicals.

There is a presence of the Indian community in both Spain and Poland and during my visit, I will be interacting with them.

A composite business delegation comprising members of CII, FICCI and ASSOCHAM is accompanying me. It is my expectation that in their contacts with their counterparts in Spain and Poland they will be able to identify and concretize opportunities for doing business together in their respective areas of strength. I will address joint meetings between our businessmen with their Spanish and Polish counterparts in Madrid and Warsaw respectively.

My visits to Spain and Poland will also help consolidate our rapidly developing relations with Europe and the European Union. The European Union is a Strategic Partner of India and we are in the process of implementing a comprehensive Joint Action Plan.

Both Spain and Poland were forthright in their condemnation of the Mumbai terrorist attacks in November last year. We greatly appreciate that both these countries were forthcoming in expressing strong support in the global fight against terrorism.

I am looking forward to my visit and discussions, and am confident that following this, we will begin a new phase in strengthening our partnership with these two important European countries, along with whom we face common challenges and the common determination, to strengthen the forces of peace, security and development.