Speech by Former Prime Minister at the Banquet hosted in his honour by the Prime Minister of Denmark 

October 10, 2002

Prime Minister Rasmussen,

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Thank you for your kind words about India and about the strength of the India-Denmark partnership. As I embark on the bilateral leg of my visit to your beautiful country, I would like to convey warm appreciation for the gracious hospitality extended to my delegation and to me. 

We attach importance to our relations with Denmark. Our relations go far back into history. The 17th Century Danish trading posts in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal encouraged a tradition of Indological studies in Denmark, which is one of the oldest in Europe. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Sanskrit has been continuously taught at the University of Copenhagen since 1833, and that vigorous research is being conducted on a dictionary of our ancient language of Pali.

Our friendly relations are today reinforced by a shared commitment to democracy, rule of law and pluralism. We also have areas of cooperation in international fora on issues of environment and sustainable development. We appreciate the fact that Demark is one of the few developed countries, which has maintained the UN recommended level of 0.7% of GNP for official development assistance.

During the India-EU Summit, we have discussed the threat to open and democratic societies like ours from international terrorism. Denmark has played an important role in the international coalition against terrorism. We look forward to receiving your support in our common fight against terrorism.

In our discussions tomorrow, we will be looking at ways to revitalize our bilateral relations by identifying new areas of potential cooperation. Collaboration in the fields of biotechnology, information technology and renewable energy sources offer particularly interesting possibilities for the future.

The business delegation members from India have had useful exchanges with their Danish counterparts at the Business Summit. The high level of participation reflects the interest that both sides attach to increasing trade and investments to our mutual benefits. The example of Mr. Holck-Larsen shows us that like Danish Indologists, Danish businessmen also have old connections with India. I am hopeful that what he did in India over sixty-five years ago can be replicated by Danish investors in today’s India.  

I am confident that our discussions during this visit will leave an enduring imprint on our bilateral relations. I would like to take this opportunity to invite you, Mr. Prime Minister to visit India at an early date to carry forward this mutually beneficial dialogue at the highest level.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

I now request you to join me in a toast-

-To the health of Prime Minister Rasmussen,

-To the progress and prosperity of the Danish people, and

-To friendship between India and Denmark.

Thank you.

October 10, 2002



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