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Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh addressing the Joint Session of Ethiopian Parliament, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on May 26, 2011.

The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh addressed the Joint Session of the two Houses of the Parliament of Ethiopia at Addis Ababa today. Following is the text of Prime Minster’s speech on the occasion:

“I am deeply honoured to be given this opportunity to address the Joint Session of both Houses of the Parliament of Ethiopia.

I feel privileged to be the first Prime Minister of India to visit this great country.

For me, this is a voyage of friendship and solidarity. I bring to you warm and friendly greetings from a fellow democracy – a democracy that, like yours, faces the challenges of development and a democracy that, like yours, treasures diversity and federalism.

I am conscious that when one visits Ethiopia one visits the cradle of humankind. It is strategically located in the Horn of Africa and is the gateway to East Africa. It is a land of great natural beauty which was home to the most ancient kingdom in Africa.

India and Ethiopia are no strangers to each other.

Many millennia ago, Africa and India were joined as one landmass. Today we are separated by the waters of the Indian Ocean but our connections are deep and they have brought in their wake rich and varied exchanges in the ebb and flow of history.

Indian traders flocked to the ancient port of Adulis, trading silk and spices for gold and ivory. A sizeable Indian community consisting of merchants and artisans came and settled in this ancient land in the latter part of the 19th century.

There was movement in the other direction too. Thousands of people of Ethiopian origin have settled as an integral part of Indian society along the West Coast of India. The fort of Murud Janjira in the State of Maharashtra stands as a symbol of African influence in India.

These exchanges have produced remarkable and often overlooked similarities in our traditions and cultures.

The Siddis of African descent living in India have created a fusion of Indian and African styles of music that thrives today. The tradition in southern India of using fermented flour for making Dosa is similar to the Injara in Ethiopia. The sight of women with heads covered and men wearing turbans is strikingly common in Ethiopian and Indian villages. Hospitality in humble village homes begins with simple offerings, and guests are treated as incarnations of the gods.

Unlike large parts of Asia and Africa, Ethiopia never suffered the humiliation and trauma of colonization. Yet, when Abyssinia was invaded in 1935, it deeply affected Jawaharlal Nehru, and he led India in offering sympathy to the people of Ethiopia. In his appeal to the people of India to observe Abyssinia Day in 1936 he said:

“We in India can do nothing to help our brethren in distress in Ethiopia for we also are victims of imperialism. But we can at least send them sympathy in the hour of their trial. We stand with them today in their sorrow as we hope to stand together when better days come.”

I believe the better days that Jawaharlal Nehru spoke of have come.

Ethiopia has overcome many adversities to become one of Africa’s fastest growing economies. Ethiopia is a magnet for foreign investment.

Its economic performance and political stability are the fruit of the hard working people of Ethiopia and a tribute to the progressive leadership of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

The voice of Ethiopia is heard with respect. Addis Ababa, the new flower, has become the diplomatic capital of Africa. It is the Headquarters of the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

I heartily congratulate the people of Ethiopia on their splendid achievements.

Relations between India and Ethiopia have expanded impressively in the last few decades. We attach high importance to our relations with Ethiopia.

Our development and economic partnership is progressing well.

Education and capacity building are high priorities for both our countries.

The Pan-African e-Network project in Ethiopia implemented by India has connected Addis Ababa University with the Indira Gandhi National Open University.

We have agreed to the early establishment of a Vocational Training Centre in Ethiopia.

In the infrastructure sector, India has assisted in a rural electrification programme in Southern Ethiopia which has brought benefit to hundreds of thousands of people in rural Ethiopia.

India has provided a line of credit of 640 million US dollars for the development of Ethiopia’s sugar industry.

We will support the new Ethio-Djibouti Railway project to promote regional integration. We have decided to extend a line of credit of 300 million US dollars for this important project.

India is one of the largest foreign investors in Ethiopia. More than 450 Indian companies have committed upwards of 4 billion US dollars in investment in Ethiopia.

Our bilateral trade is on course to reach the target of 1 billion US dollars by 2015.

Our political ties are close. Indian troops were part of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea to secure peace and security. Military training is a valued area of our cooperation.

The decisions Prime Minister Zenawi and I took in the course of our discussions yesterday will strengthen our partnership even further.

Going forward, our bilateral cooperation should help to make a difference to the real problems affecting the common man.

India and Ethiopia must work to address the challenges of food security, energy security, health security, sustainable development and climate change. We have to learn to solve our own problems by collaborating with each other.

Our farming communities and scientists should collaborate to usher in a second Green Revolution. This is the lasting solution to the scourge of hunger that afflicts millions in both our countries.

Providing affordable health care to our people, particularly in rural areas, is another major challenge. Indian pharmaceutical companies are known for providing cheap and good quality generic drugs. I am happy they have begun to invest in Ethiopia.

We have to be conscious of our environment and ensure the judicious management of our natural resources. We should protect our rich biodiversity and traditional knowledge.

It is essential for rich countries to share the financial burden of combating climate change, participate in research and development and promote the transfer of technology to ensure green growth. Prime Minister Zenawi has made an invaluable contribution to these issues as co-chair of the United Nations Secretary General’s High-level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing.

India owes a debt of deep gratitude to Africa for it was here that Mahatma Gandhi experienced his political and spiritual awakening. It was in Africa that he first experimented with the philosophy of non-violence and passive resistance or satyagraha that shook the colonial powers of that time.

The struggles for freedom in India and Africa and the collaboration of our leaders were glorious chapters in our history. After we attained freedom, we worked shoulder to shoulder to fight apartheid and strengthen the Non-aligned Movement and the United Nations. India supported liberation movements such as the African National Congress and South West Africa People’s Organisation. We fought to build a just, equitable and democratic international order.

This is the legacy of friendship that we have inherited from our forefathers. Our empathy with our African brothers and sisters is of long standing and comes from our hearts and minds.

The world has changed. Globalisation is a reality today. Our people have rising expectations. Africa is responding to these challenges and discovering its rich potential. The world is reaching out to Africa and seeing it as a new growth pole in the world economy.

India sees Africa as a natural partner in our growing engagement with the world.

India and Africa have to work together to make global interdependence work for the benefit of all people and particularly for the millions who live in the developing world. This is our next project.

We must work towards market access for some of the poorest commodity producers in Africa. Vulnerable sections of our peasantry need to be protected from the vagaries of the international marketplace. It is imperative that the development dimension of the Doha Round of multilteral trade negotiations is not diluted.

Prices of many agricultural commodities remain volatile. The problem is made worse by speculation. The G-20 countries have taken the initiative of supporting work on regulation and supervision of commodity derivative markets. This is an area where India and Ethiopia have vital interests and should cooperate with each other.

The Second India-Africa Forum Summit which concluded yesterday here in Addis Ababa under the theme “Enhanced Partnership: Shared Vision” has opened a new era in India-Africa relations.

Our development cooperation with Africa is based on the principles of mutual equality and mutual benefit. We want the participation of as many of our African brothers and sisters as possible in our aid and economic cooperation programmes. Local employment generation and capacity development are the pillars of our development cooperation.

African students find a welcome home in India. The Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme has enabled the training of thousands of African youth in industrial training institutes, medical colleges, engineering colleges and in fields such as business administration, agriculture and legal services.

We have decided to increase scholarships and training slots for Africa. Their total number will stand at over 22,000 during the next three years.

The development of infrastructure in Africa is a priority and an area where Indian technology is very appropriate.

We will offer 5 billion US dollars for the next three years under lines of credit to help achieve the development goals of Africa. We will offer an additional 700 million US dollars to establish new institutions and training programmes in consultation with the African Union and its institutions.

India and Ethiopia are pluralistic and diverse societies. We share the belief that democracy and respect for the free will of the people are the only durable basis to find solutions to our problems.

We believe that similar principles should be applied in the conduct of international governance.

The Horn of Africa is today faced with threats from piracy and terrorism. International piracy in the Red Sea and off the coast of Somalia has become a well organized industry. It is important that the United Nations takes the lead in developing a comprehensive and effective response to this threat. Simultaneously, the international community should continue with efforts to restore stability in Somalia.

As a littoral State of the Indian Ocean, India is ready to work with Ethiopia and other African countries in this regard. We would all like the Indian Ocean to remain a secure link between Asia and Africa through which international maritime trade can take place unhindered.

The winds of change are blowing in West Asia and North Africa. We believe it is the right of all peoples to determine their own destiny and choose their own path of development. International actions must be based on the rule of law and be strictly within the framework of United Nations Resolutions. We support the efforts of the African Union in bringing peace and stability to the region.

The birth of a new nation in a few weeks time in South Sudan will be a historic event. We hope it will contribute to peace and reconciliation among the people of Sudan.

The changing world order calls for corresponding changes in the structure of institutions of global governance, whether these are international financial institutions or the international monetary system or the United Nations Security Council. These are issues which have to be tackled and resolved. We are grateful to Ethiopia for its strong support to India’s permanent membership in an expanded Security Council and look forward to our continuing cooperation with Ethiopia on these issues.

Ethiopia is one of most stable and progressive states in Africa. The engine of African growth is being driven by economic dynamism in countries like Ethiopia.

Ethiopia has the credentials to shape a new vision for Africa’s prosperity and development. I call upon you, the parliamentarians and people of Ethiopia, to take a lead in this process. The people of India will stand with you every step of the way.

Our economies have been doing well in recent years. Let us cooperate with each other so that we can reinforce and build upon our successes and achievements.

In conclusion, let me say once again how fortunate I feel to have visited your beautiful country. I feel a sense of deep personal fulfillment to see the coming together of our two brotherly nations.

You have honoured me and the people of India today for which I am indebted to you.

I wish Ethiopia greater peace, prosperity and happiness in the years ahead. May your dreams come true.”

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