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Opening remarks by External Affairs Minister, Dr. S. Jaishankar at the First India-Namibia Joint Commission Meeting

June 06, 2023

My Sister, Hon’ble Netumbo Nandi Ndaitwah, Deputy Prime
Minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation,
Deputy Minister Jenelly Matundu,
High Commissioners,

Colleagues,


I am delighted to be here Hon’ble Deputy PM (inaudible) and the opportunity allows us to meet for the third time in less than a year. I remember our first meeting in Kigali and then your visit to India. And I would like to thank you for the warmth of the welcome, hospitality and for the fact that we are today doing the first Joint Commission Meeting. This happens to be my second visit to this beautiful country, I came here almost three decades ago. But I believe its the first by any External Affairs Minister to India. So I am very conscious of that privilege and that responsibility. At the outset, I would like to thank you for the preparations of condolences and sympathy at the train tragedy in India. And I think at difficult moments like this, when friends all over the world stand by you, its a source of great strength and great courage.

Excellencies,

Namibia occupies a very special place in the hearts and minds of Indians. And that is because we supported Namibia’s independence and we were very pleased to see Namibia take its rightful place in the comity of nations and to become a proud upholder of international order. And when we look back on this relationship, we recall not just that the first SWAPO Embassy was established in India, I learnt yesterday that His Excellency, the President was actually physically present on that occasion. But also that, one of our very distinguished diplomats was a UN Commissioner for Namibia, at a particularly important time (inaudible) your independence. And you mentioned, Honorable Deputy Prime Minister, another diplomat of ours, with whom I happen to work, who made a contribution to the evolution of your foreign policy. So, as you celebrate 33 years of your independence, I must tell you that we share your pride and we applaud your progress, your success and we take equal satisfaction.

Today is a unique and momentous occasion because we start the inaugural Joint Commission. Joint Commission, which would steer forward our relationship, which will obviously review and assess the progress we have made, which would come up with new ideas an suggestions. And this process of high level visits and constant dialogue, which is backed up by a platform, will surely help us to navigate our partnership, bettered in times to come. Our ties are forged in our developmental cooperation, in our capacity building programmes and in our political solidarity. And it is important, that together we grow, develop and prosper.

Excellency,

Our cooperation in recent years has particularly seen a pick up on the economic side, there has been a very significant increase in trade, your own visit to India last July, I think was very important in energizing our ties, three important agreements were signed. And the immediate and tangible outcome of that was the trans-location of cheetahs from Namibia to India, and this infact is a very big step, because its the first program for the re-introduction of a large carnivore anywhere in the world. So it has wildlife and environment implications, but it also has a direct contribution to make to the growth of tourism. And I certainly hope that our cooperation in these areas will continue to grow.

Another area where we have a strong partnership is ofcourse, in the regional, in the global arena, and the commonalities of interest, beliefs and outlook, that underpins our bilateral relations also applies to the wider global stage. And we both work for the prosperity and wellbeing of the people. India is a proud partner of Namibia in your developmental journey and I would like today to underline that in areas like energy, infrastructure, transport, toursim, health care, digital delivery, creation of capacities and defence etc. We would be very happy to explore more ideas and come up with more projects. And today many of the officials who are accompanying me are from these very domains, so I hope we will have a very productive discussion.

You also mentioned Excellency, a number of Indian companies are operating here. I had the opportunity yesterday to meet the growing Indian community in Namibia. I think I shared with you, almost 400...they were, yesterday….and also interacting with our companies who are here. And we certainly again would like to see stronger investments by India, more collaborations, a stronger skills partnership, because what we would like to see (inaudible) are really businesses in which your participation is equally strong as our contribution. Which is why I am very pleased today that two very important business leaders from India, naturally dealing in oil and gas, and with infrastructure development, road and rail, are with us today, and their presence I think, is an indication of our serious business interest. I also know that just a day before, you had yourself received a business delegation from the state of Karnataka, and I was told that you gave them the message that resources plus skills equals prosperity. I want to tell you that is also our belief and I think this should be our shared motto to build India-Namibia relationship.

Today as we meet, we cannot be oblivious to the world, to the challenges that the international order is facing in different respects and because they do impact the lives of our people, and the global south has been a particular victim, of what has been happening in the world for the last 3 or 4 years. The health, economic and social challenges posed by the post pandemic combined with the debt crises with high interest rates, tensed geopolitical situations, besides the ecological, economic and social costs of climate change. I think these have all combined today to really create a very challenging international situation. So this is a time, ofcourse for countries like us to work together, to think together, to cooperate on the international stage. But that is best done by also forging a strong bilateral partnership. So I hope today that our Joint Commission would live up to that responsibility, would become a platform for ideas, for innovations, for exchanges of skills and technologies. And we will see in a range of areas like pharmaceuticals and health; green and clean energy; because we too are increasingly getting involved in green hydrogen; in the digital era, because one of the big changes in India, we spoke about it during your visit, has been digital delivery of public services on a scale, which has really never been done by any country in history before, where we are giving food support to 800 million people, we are giving financial support to 400 million people, where our housing and our health programs today have been scaled up from the single millions or the early tens today to the hundreds. So there is a lot that we have share and there is lot that we have to talk about and to collaborate.

So once again I thank you today for your very warm welcome. I look forward to our discussions and deliberations. And I am very confident that our partnership today is entering a new era and I look forward Deputy Prime Minister to work (inaudible) in that regard.

Thank you.



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