Your Excellency, Taoiseach Enda Kenny,
Members of the media,
It is truly a pleasure to be here in Ireland. Short this visit may be, it is historic. It has taken 59 years for an Indian Prime Minister to visit Ireland.
Thank you for your very warm reception and gracious hospitality. Thank you for your kind words of friendship for India.
India and Ireland share much in common. We can compare notes on our shared colonial history. Our Constitutions have something sacred in common. The Directive Principles of State Policy in the Indian Constitution are inspired by the Irish Constitution.
Irish experts gave us institutions like the Geological Survey of India and the first Linguistic Survey of India. Today, sports manufacturers in India keep Ireland’s passion for rugby going.
From the friendship between Rabindranath Tagore and W.B. Yeats to the spiritual contribution of Sister Nivedita in India, the Irish and Indian people have formed strong bonds of affinity.
Today, 26,000 Indians constitute a vibrant part of the Irish community. And, the victims of the bombing of the Air India Kanishka aircraft find a resting place here. In the 30th anniversary year of that tragedy, we thank you once again for the memorial that honors them.
In the pain of their unfading memory, we are also reminded of all that binds us today – our values and our aspirations and the challenges that we all face today.
India and Ireland must seek closer partnership and cooperation.
India and Ireland are among the fastest growing economies of Asia and Europe.
We are pleased that our bilateral trade and investment ties are growing, despite global and regional uncertainties. Our economic partnership can have a strong technology focus – information technology, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, agriculture and clean energy.
Greater sensitivity of the European Union to India’s commercial interests and challenges will help us resume discussions on India-EU Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement.
India and Ireland are ideally placed to form productive partnerships to take advantage of the opportunities in the digital age. I hope that our Joint Working Group on Information Technology will meet soon to chart out the roadmap for collaboration.
I also hope that Ireland’s visa policy will be sensitive to the requirements of India’s Information Technology firms. I also conveyed our interest in concluding a social security agreement, which will be of great help to professionals from both countries.
I am glad that we will soon have direct air services by airlines of both countries. This will not only promote our business links, but also give a strong boost to our tourism ties that are already growing at 14% per year.
Science and technology and education are two other areas, where we have a good history of cooperation, and where we can do much more. Ireland’s Science Centre in Karnataka is one example of that cooperation.
I was pleased to exchange views on a broad range of international challenges, including terrorism, radicalization and the situation in Europe and Asia. Our discussions underlined the importance of closer cooperation between countries like India and Ireland, which share democratic values and are consistent advocates of international peace and stability.
In this context, we discussed the role of the United Nations and its Security Council in meeting these challenges in the 21st century. India and Ireland have been partners in peacekeeping operations.
I thank Ireland for its leadership in sustainable development goals.
I sought Ireland’s support for the reforms of the UN Security Council within a fixed time frame – in particular, for successful conclusion of inter-governmental negotiations in the 70th year of the United Nations. I also sought his support for India’s permanent membership of the reformed Security Council.
India and Ireland are peace-loving countries. We have both been at the forefront on non-proliferation. We respect Ireland’s strong and principled position on this issue. India has also been a leading voice on universal nuclear disarmament since Independence. We remain strongly committed to that goal. Our credentials and record on non-proliferation are second to none.
Ireland’s support was crucial for India-specific exemption from the Nuclear Suppliers Group in 2008. With rapid growth in India’s enormous energy demand, it has opened a big option to pursue a sustainable development path.
I have now sought Ireland’s support for India’s membership of the NSG and other international export control regimes. India’s membership will deepen our bilateral cooperation and strengthen international non-proliferation efforts.
Mr. Prime Minister, I leave convinced that India and Ireland must invest more to realize the vast potential of this relationship. India was the first country with which you established diplomatic relations in Asia. We can now be your anchor in Asia. Similarly, for India, I see Ireland as a vital gateway to Europe and a bridge across the Atlantic.
Thank you once again for your hospitality. It has been a couple of decades since you last visited India. I look forward to seeing you in India.