EU launches Friends of India group
Indian Express - 29 May 2003
In an effort to promote ties between India and the European Union Parliament, a European Parliament Friends of India group has been formed. The group is a cross-party initiative supported by Members of European Parliament (MEPs) from all EU member states.
Commenting on the launch, President of the group Charles Tannock, MEP, said, "In the next 20 years India is due to overtake China as the world's most populous country. I am delighted to launch the Friends of India group, which will provide a platform within the European Parliament to promote friendship and understanding of India."
Other founding members of the group are Jo Leinen, Co-President and Vice Presidents John Hume, Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, Jose Ribeiro E Castro and Olivier Depuis.
The launch of the group was marked by a reception in the European Parliament in Brussels on Tuesday where the programme included an Indian classical dance.
The UK has over two million EU citizens who come from India originally or are near descendants. The group will be relevant to them in highlighting links to their ancestral homeland and pressing the EU to have good commercial and political links with India, group sources said.
The group will also enable the parliament to be a venue for occasional cultural events such as exhibitions of Indian art. It will serve as a focus for those who support India as the world's largest multicultural secular democracy, which — despite difficulties — has retained a tradition of democracy, an independent judiciary and respect for the rule of law, the sources said.