Visits Visits

Transcript of Media Briefing by Secretary (West) on upcoming visit of Vice President to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia (August 14, 2019)

August 16, 2019

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:Friends, Namaskar, good afternoon and welcome to this special briefing on the visit of Hon’ble Vice President to three countries, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia from 17-27 August, 2019. I have with me on stage Shri Gitesh Sarma, Secretary (West) and Jt. Secretary (CE) Dr. Anju Kumar. Secretary (West) will make his initial remarks and after that we will open the floor for questions. Sir, the floor is yours.

Secretary (West), Shri Gitesh Sarma:Good afternoon and it’s a pleasure to be with you. We are today meeting to brief you on Hon’ble Vice President’s forthcoming visit to the Baltics.

Hon’ble Vice President will be visiting Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia from 17-21 August this year. The Vice President will be accompanied by a high level delegation including Shri Sanjay ShamraoDhotre, Minister of State for HRD, Communications and Electronics and Information Technology, Smt. Rani Nara, Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha), Shri Manas Ranjan Bhunia, Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha), Shri Ramesh Bidhuri, Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) and senior officials from Government of India.

Friends, India and Baltic countries have historical connect and it is generally accepted that there are common linguistic roots notwithstanding the distance. This is sensed a lot in Baltic countries, they feel with Sanskrit and other aspects of Indian culture there is kind of closeness which needs to be nurtured and taken forward.

The cutting edge technology and innovation ecosystems of the Baltic countries also compliment India’s huge market and appetite for these kind of technologies. The important thing is that this is a historical visit in the sense that this was long awaited. Hon’ble Vice President will be the first ever high level visit to the three Baltic countries and therefore it is awaited there as well with great deal of enthusiasm and this takes place as we are working together to increase level of our political engagement as well as trade and commerce.

With respect to the individual countries, I should say that there are really no contentious issues and there is really immense goodwill for India and the other way round. In Lithuania he will be there from 17-19 August and he will be meeting with the President of Lithuania, His Excellency, Gitanas Nauseda and also will meet the speaker of the Lithuanian Parliament. There is an India-Lithuania Business Forum also to take place along with the political aspects of the visit. CII is actually coordinating this business forum from side.

In Latvia, the visit is from 19 to 20 August and Hon’ble Vice President will have a bilateral meeting with President of Latvia Mr. Egils Levits, and also the Prime MinisterKrišjānis Kariņš, the acting Speaker of the Saeima and again there is a business component which is the India-Latvia Business Forum, Assocham from the Indian side. Hon’ble Vice President will also lay a wreath on the Freedom Monument of the Latvia and will unveil a bust of Mahatma Gandhi in the National Library of Latvia.

Estonia, again this is a very focused visit. Engagements will include meeting with the President of Estonia Ms. KerstiKaljulaid and the Prime MinisterJüri Ratas. At the Estonian Parliament he will meet the President of the Riigikogu and the others. As a very special kind of gesture to the Indian side the Estonian Government has invited the Vice President to address their Heads of Missions Conference which has been gladly accepted. There is also a business forum which is led by Confederation of Indian Industries from Indian side.

In all these three countries there is very small number of Indian community members but very vibrant and some of the younger ones are a lot into things like IT and other economic areas. So it is really a historical visit and time to build on the traditional sentiments and take our relationship to entirely new levels. So we are all looking forward to this visit. Thank you very much.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:Thank you sir.

Question:Do we have missions in these three countries?

Secretary (West), Shri Gitesh Sarma:We do not have resident missions in these countries as yet. We are looking after our interests from neighboring countries. For instance Lithuania from Poland, Latvia from Sweden and Estonia from Finland while the three Baltic countries do have their missions in Delhi.

Question:We had the India-Nordic Summit last year, are we looking India – Baltic countries summit if there is a proposal? Secondly, with Estonia, Estonia is one of the very advanced countries when it comes to the IT sector, what kind of cooperation New Delhi is looking with that specific country because that country is known, I mean just five years ago there was a attack on their IT system and that is why it came to the forefront.

Secretary (West), Shri Gitesh Sarma:Indeed you are very right and notwithstanding the relatively smaller sizes of these countries they do have their own niche areas and Estonia is one of the most advanced countries particularly with regards to e-Governance. So we are certainly looking to work together and even during this visit there will be focus on cooperation in terms of IT and e-Governance, cyber security. So these are some areas we are considering.

It is believed that Skype for instance was invented in Estonia, so they are really a big name in the IT and so are we, so there is a lot of synergies in their areas and we hope to cash in on that.

On India – Baltic countries summit, well at this moment there is no specific proposal in that way but as you have seen that in one go Vice President is covering the three countries. It is a very-very harmonious society there and in all three countries there is consensus that friendship with India should be enhanced and taken to new levels.

Question: What has been their stand on India’s candidature to United Nations Security Council permanent membership and also to India’s proposal for Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism?

Secretary (West), Shri Gitesh Sarma:I think generally we remain engaged with them and they are supportive of India’s claim to permanent membership of UNSC. On terrorism also I think they have been very-very understanding and post Pulwama also they have been extremely responsive.

So I think there is very common ground with these countries but you are also aware that they are part of the larger European space as well so when we work with these countries we also get the opportunity to work these friends as within the European space, so there are a lot of advantages in working with such friendly countries in the European space.

Question:You just mentioned that we don’t yet have the missions in these three Baltic countries, what are the reasons for it because these are all pretty significant countries and even their land mass is quite big. This comes at a time when we are trying to open up missions in very small African countries, so what is the reason why these three very significant countries we don’t have any diplomatic missions and are we planning to open embassies in these countries?

Question:Aapne bataayaa ki in deshon ke saath Bharat ka ek gahraa rishtaa hai khaastaur par Sanskrit ko lekar. To main chaahungaa ki aap is par thodaa prakaash daalein aur kis tarah kii yojanaa aage hogi language ke term mein agar baat karein to Sanskrit ko core rakhate hue dono deshon ke rishton ko jodne mein aur aagey is par kaam karne mein?

(You said that these countries have close ties with India especially due to Sanskrit. So I would like you to elaborate on this point and what future plans we have with regards to language, keeping the Sanskrit language at the core, to further enhance people to people ties in these countries?)

Secretary (West), Shri Gitesh Sarma:I think on the issue of diplomatic missions, the ideas is to have missions everywhere that is definitely a country of India’s stature but then there are very careful evaluations done at various points of time in terms of presence.

At the moment we are operating from very close proximity. These are all, you mentioned large, but they are really not all that, they are compact territories and it is not difficult at this stage to operate from very close proximity.

For instance Helsinki and Tallinn but you are right that at some stage there may be a situation where India would look at having a resident mission there. It is a matter of time and bringing all the different elements together but as of now you are entirely right that we do not have a presence but this has not really impaired our ability to conduct business with them.

Question Contd.:…………. Inaudible…………

Secretary (West), Shri Gitesh Sarma:Lithuania we are covering from Warsaw, Latvia we are covering from Sweden and Estonia we are covering from Helsinki, Finland.

Jt. Secretary (CE), Dr. Anju Kumar: Jo Lithuania mein bhaashaa bolii jaatii hai usmein bataayaa jaataa hai ki 10 hazaar words aise hain jinkaa root Sanskrit se nikaltaa hai, usmein se 108 ko unhone publish kiyaa hai aur wo kaafi similar words hain, unse lagtaa hai ki parent inkaa ek hii hai. To wo target hai kii poore ke poore 10 hazaar shabdo ko khojaa jaayega aur unkaa translation appropriately kiyaa jaayegaa.

Har country mein Hindi Chairs hain, Indology ka culture bahut strong hai aur aap dekhenge ki bahut saare students, jo Agra mein sansthaan hai Hindi kaa, usmein aate hain for higher studies.

(The language that is spoken in Lithuania, it is said that there are 10 thousand words in it which have their roots in Sanskrit and they have published 108 words among them and they are quite similar words which depicts that their parent language is same. So the target is to search all the 10 thousand words and get their appropriate translation.

Each of these countries have a Hindi Chair and the culture of Indology is very strong there and you will see that many of the students come to the Hindi Institution in Agra for further studies.)

After they gave studied in the universities, the India Center, then they come to Agra for advanced studies.

Bahut saare log aapko aise milenge aur hamaare pass bhi Baltic Studies ke liye ek center hai Haridwar mein. To wo bhi ek important connection rahta hai dono bhashaaon ko jodne ka.

(You will find many such people there and we also have a center for Baltic Studies here in Haridwar. That is also an important connection to connect both the languages.)

Question:China has opened Confucius centers in all these three countries. So are we not thinking on those lines to promote people to people contacts and move forward in these lines?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:Dr. Anju just mentioned what we are doing.

Question Contd.:In these very countries China has opened Confucius centers, we don’t have similar ventures in those countries?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:Dr. Anju just mentioned that we have Indology centers in these countries and we have Hindi Chair in all these countries.

Thank you all for coming here.



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