A big agenda awaits Vice President Ansari in Poland

Surender Bhutani

Warsaw, April 22 (IANS) India and Poland will seek to further boost their close ties during the three-day state visit of Indian Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari here from April 26, that will also see the inking of some agreements.

Ansari, who is leading a high-powered delegation to Poland, will be accompanied by his wife, Salma Ansari.

Preeti Saran, Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs, will lead the official team. Four members of the Rajya Sabha will be part of the delegation, including Communist Party of India-Marxist General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, and D.P. Tripathi, spokesperson of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). Giriraj Singh, Minister of State for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises, is also part of the official team.

Since Poland does not have a post of Vice President, Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo will be the main hostess to welcome Ansari and she will lead the Polish official delegation. It is an almost a unique precedent when the Polish Prime Minister will go out of her way to make a new protocol. It also shows the extent of Poland's cordiality towards India.

A few agreements between the two sides will be signed to strengthen the bilateral ties.

During his visit, Ansari will call on Polish President Andrzej Duda. The Polish President is likely to come on a state visit to India later this year.

He will also meet Stanislaw Karczewski, Speaker of the Senate who is the head of the Polish Upper House. Ansari is the head of the Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of Parliament in India.

Vice President Ansari will address the Economic Forum where Indian and Polish businessmen will participate. This seminar is being organised by the Polish Ministry of Economic Development. The main emphasis will be how to increase bilateral trade, which is nearing $2 billion at present.

On April 28, Ansari will be the main speaker at Warsaw University, where he will speak to the faculty members on the success of 'Seven Decades of Democracy in India'.

The same day he will inaugurate the new complex of the Indian Embassy. It took the Indian Foreign Ministry two decades to complete the project and now it is one of the most beautiful foreign missions in Warsaw.

Indian Ambassador Ajay Bisaria will host a dinner for the Indian community to interact with the Vice President. Over the years the Indian diaspora has increased to around 5,000 people and some 3,000 Indian students have enrolled in different Polish Universities and institutions in the last five years. The Indian community has full freedom to practise their religious beliefs. It has a Sikh Gurudwara and a Hindu temple too.

Traditionally India and Poland have been on the best of terms ever since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1954 after the death of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. It was Stalin's veto that did not allow Poland to establish relations with newly independent countries of the Third World, including India. Once they established normal diplomatic relations, their relationship remained strong.

In the past Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Morarji Desai had visited Poland as Prime Ministers and Presidents V.V. Giri, Giani Zail Singh, S.D. Sharma and Pratibha Patil too made state visits to Poland in their tenure.

High dignitaries Edward Gierek, Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski came as the First Secretary of the Polish Workers Party and Lech Walesa and Alexandar Kwasniewski as presidents of the Democratic Poland. In 2010, Prime Minister Donald Tusk paid a state visit.

Poland whole-heartedly supports India's full membership in the UN Security Council. Poland was one of the first few countries which supported the Indian role in creating Bangladesh in 1971 and the third country to recognise Bangladesh. There has been sufficient amount of defence cooperation in the last five decades between the countries.

(Surender Bhutani can be reached at suren84ind@gmail.com)

--IANS

bhutani/rn/bg