Your Excellency Foreign Minister,
Friends from the media,
Let me begin by saying that I am really very very pleased being in this beautiful country. I think Minister, you mentioned that this is the first visit of a Foreign Minister of India in thirty years. Clearly my predecessors didn’t know what they were missing. But I can tell you, I’ve been here a few hours, and its really something breathtaking. I think that’s the only description I can find.
It is of course your thirtieth anniversary as a nation. It is also very close to the thirtieth anniversary of our bilateral diplomatic relationship, the establishment of it. So from a bilateral perspective, I think that the timing is important, and I am very glad today, that we spent a lot of time on our bilateral relationship.
Slovenia has many strengths, and these make you valuable as a partner. Apart from the fact that you represent the bridgehead and I would say a larger avenue to our EU relationship, which is becoming more and more important for India.
We spent a little time discussing how to expand our business possibilities, and I told the Minister that we will be very happy to receive business delegations in India who are able to convince our businesses of the importance of this partnership.
Today, immediately after this, I have an opportunity and I thank you for the invitation, Minister to address the Bled Strategic Forum. A lot of our conversation today was centred around Afghanistan, which is understandable, I think the Minister mentioned it as well. Some of it related to the Indo-Pacific. Some of the views which I shared with the Minister, you’ll hear me express in the Forum.
I will of course tomorrow, at the invitation of Slovenia, have an opportunity to attend the Gymnich EU Foreign Ministers luncheon. So once again, I very much value your initiative in that regard.
We exchanged notes on the COVID situation in our respective countries, what was happening in terms of other global developments. Many of you know, we are right now members of the UN Security Council. So I think Slovenia as the EU President, and India as a UNSC member, its important that our communications are regular and smooth.
I also thanked, through the Minister, Slovenia for the strong support we got for the resumption of our negotiations with EU in the Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement. We have made commendable progress. We would like to see that fructify as soon as possible. We count very much on your sustained support.
After we had our lunch meeting, I had the opportunity to call on the President of Slovenia H.E. Borut Pahor. He was very gracious, he was very warm. He recalled his own visit to India some years ago, and that of our President two years ago. And again, I think his support for our relationship is something that we recognise.
Even within a few hours, there is a lot that we have talked and done. I look forward very much to the participation in the Forum later this afternoon, to the other meetings I have today, and with the Prime Minister and Speaker tomorrow.
Once again, thank you for a very warm welcome.