Speeches by Abdul Kalam

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I.

We are happy to see India again and that the long-planned visit - despite the tense international situation - is finally taking place. Yes, it's a reunion: a good 15 years ago my wife and I were already in India. My conversation with Prime Minister Gandhi and my wife's meeting with Mother Teresa in Calcutta left a deep impression on us.

II.

We Germans have always been fascinated by India and its culture. The great India researcher Max Müller once put a series of lectures under the heading: "What can India teach us?" His résumé was: "If I were asked under which heaven the human spirit would have most fully developed some of its choicest gifts [...], then I would point to India." Another compatriot of mine has judged: "India has the gold of wisdom and the silver of eloquence and the precious stones of all virtues in sufficient measure". This quote is a bit older - 1,200 years to be precise. It comes from the great cleric and teacher Rhabanus Maurus.

III.

India has also recently made a historic achievement that is recognized in Germany and around the world. After your independence, you managed to unite your citizens in a democratic state. You have formed a modern nation from this subcontinent with very different peoples, languages, cultures and religions. I warmly congratulate you on the 50th birthday of your Parliament a few weeks ago.

Relations between India and Germany have always been friendly and trusting. India is our preferred partner in South Asia. The economic relations are stable, the scientific exchange is exemplary. The German-Indian advisory group meets annually, and last September I received them at Bellevue Palace.

IV.

We not only work together, we also face international challenges together. Longstanding conflicts are still unresolved. They can be violently discharged at any time. The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is a particularly acute danger. Terrorism has become a global threat. We have to fight him, but we also have to eliminate the causes of sympathy and support for him. It's about hunger and poverty, about education and justice, about the fear of cultural infiltration, but also about the many unresolved political conflicts that generate hatred and increase it with increasing victims.

V.

We have all been looking at the Middle East with great concern for weeks. Saddam Hussein must be prevented from producing and using weapons of mass destruction. All states are completely in agreement on this goal. However, we differ on the question of how we can best achieve this goal. The collective memory of Germans is shaped by memories of two world wars that were a catastrophe for Europeans. We have bitterly learned that armed conflicts develop a momentum of their own and often enough only bring suffering and ruin. After the Second World War we saw that stability and security - and not least prosperity - can only be achieved through peaceful cooperation. That does not mean that we do not know that in the last instance one has to be ready to make sacrifices for peace and freedom. We have demonstrated this through our participation in the United Nations peacekeeping operation in Afghanistan. But we are deeply convinced that war can really only be the very last resort and does not have to be imperative. All other resources must be exhausted beforehand. The consequences of every war are too terrible for the people, but also for the stability and prosperity of a region. This conviction guides our politics in these difficult weeks and we believe that we are acting in the interests of all.

We have had the historical experience that Germany, as a result of the policy of cooperation and peaceful settlement, is now only surrounded by friends. We can therefore only encourage everyone to seek peaceful, political solutions in dialogue with their neighbors - in the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi, who said: "What is achieved through hatred is in truth a burden, because it increases hatred."

VI.

Mr President, the two days that we were able to spend in New Delhi and Jaipur with its fairytale magic made us understand why so many people are fascinated by India, by the Indian myth. One of them was the German poet Hermann Hesse, who said: "Anyone who has not only been to India with their eyes [...] but with their soul will remain a homesick land [...]".

That applies to my wife and me, and I am convinced that it also applies to everyone who accompanies me on this visit.

Mr President, I hope that your vision of a prosperous India that can live peacefully with its neighbors will come true.

Ladies and gentlemen, I raise my glass to the well-being of President Kalam, to a happy and peaceful future for the Indian people, and to the friendship between Germany and India.