Kungl. Slottet, Stockholm
(Det talade ordet gäller)
It is an honour and sincere pleasure for the Queen and me to welcome you to Stockholm and the Royal Palace on this first State Visit ever from the Republic of India to Sweden.
With warm and lasting memories I recall the week-long State Visit we paid to India in 1993, which was the first by a Swedish King to your country. It took place at a time when your country was undergoing several reforms in different areas.
When I visited India again in 2005, together with a Royal Technology Mission, I personally could note the comprehensive and significant results achieved. The remarkable development in your country has been of great importance not only to India, but to the world economy at large and also for the relations between India and Sweden.
My grandfather, King Gustaf VI Adolf, married Louise Mountbatten in 1923. Her brother was Lord Louis Mountbatten of Burma, the last British Viceroy of India. A dear friend in the Family.
I still remember him as a remarkable personality. And I understand that his time as Viceroy of India was important in forming the independence of your great nation.
Our countries share long and close ties. Sweden, like India, has been a seafaring nation for centuries, with trade and commerce as strong driving forces. And, as early as in the 18th century, Swedish ships made stops in the ports along the coast of India on their way to China.
But, the exchange between Sweden and India has not only a long history, it has always been solid. Sweden followed the Indian independence movement with respect.
In a strong Indian humanistic tradition Mahatma Gandhi’s principles still live on and inspires far beyond the borders of your country.
Our countries have developed their political cooperation on a steady path for decades. Already in 1957 Prime Minister Nehru visited Sweden, which was followed by a visit to India in 1960 of the Swedish Prime Minister, Mr. Erlander.
And, Indira Gandhi’s participation in the Stockholm Conference in 1972, the first global conference on environment, - where also I took active part - was another important milestone in our bilateral relations.
In this context I was very pleased with our program and discussions this afternoon. As we could see, a lot has been learnt and implemented, but personally my belief is that we should not rest, there is still much more we can do.
Today’s Sweden and today’s India have found each other in many ways. It is with both humbleness and pride we note that an increasing number of students from India have chosen Swedish universities and institutes for high level studies, as well as coming to Sweden for professional careers.
Swedish enterprise benefit from the many skilled Indians who every year make Sweden their home and place of work.
I think it is correct to say that Swedish industry has played an important role in India for a long time. Today nearly 150 000 jobs are directly created by some 150 Swedish companies being active in your country. The other way around, we are pleased to note, and welcome the fact, that more and more Indian companies are investing in Sweden.
Furthermore, we see new opportunities for increased cooperation between our two countries. It is my belief that Swedish companies should be able to contribute to India’s plans of building one hundred new “smart cities” and to the ambition of creating a “Digital India”.
Sweden has shown that it is possible to combine sustainable economic growth while reducing carbon dioxide emissions. This development has been made possible in part by new technologies, which we are keen to share with India.
At the same time, we are inspired by India’s plans to greatly expand the use of renewable energy sources.
And, I know that Swedish companies are also prepared to further contribute to India’s aim of strengthening the domestic manufacturing industry.
Trade and economic exchange may be one of the foundations for our relationship, but nevertheless, for Sweden there is another side of India which may be even more important.
India is the world’s biggest democracy, and a country that tirelessly strives to be a place “Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high. Where knowledge is free “
In today’s globalised world, India - with its multicultural societies - stands out as an example of how diversity is an asset for the development of a country. Sweden too, is today a society of great multi-plicity and we, like you, see a special strength in this.
Our two countries also share a basic outlook on international collaboration, and on the central role of the United Nations. Sweden would like to develop the efforts and work we do together even further on major global issues that are of importance to our common future.
Without mentioning his name, I earlier quoted Tagore who was not only the first Indian citizen, but also the first non-European to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. This was in 1913. My great-uncle Prince Wilhelm met the Tagore family during a visit to Kolkata the year before and my great-grandfather
King Gustav V had the honour of receiving Tagore when he visited Sweden in 1926.
Since Tagore was not present in Stockholm in 1913 to receive the prize, his banquet speech consisted of a telegram with the following wording:
“I beg to convey to the Swedish Academy my grateful appreciation of the breadth of understanding which has brought the distant near, and has made a stranger a brother.”
I hope that your visit may contribute to this – to bring the distant near – and to enhance and strengthen the already excellent relations between our countries.
To you Mr. President, and to the people of the Republic of India, I propose a toast for a healthy and prosperous future.