The Chairman of the Socialist International and PASOK Mr. George Papandreou travelled on the 29th January 2007 to New Delhi in order to honour with his participation one of the greatest personalities of the 20th century and the historical leader of India, Mahatma Gandhi. The visit took place during the International Conference on Mahatma Gandhi’s vision and values in the 21st Century organized by the ruling National Congress Party on the occasion of the completion of 100 years since its foundation.
During his visit, Mr. Papandreou met with the President of the Congress Party Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and the Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh, who had as his teacher Andreas Papandreou in Berkley and one of his niece are studying in Athens. In the meeting with Mrs. Gandhi present were the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shri Pranab Mukherjee and many members of the Cabinet of the Indian Government, since the President of PASOK was given the honours of a Prime Minister. He also met with 2006 Nobel peace laureate Muhammad Yunus, the founder of the Bangladesh-based Grameen micro-lending concept.
The result of the discussions, as noted by Mr. Papandreou, was the upgrading of the National Congress Party’s participation in the Socialist International, something which as he stressed, will give a wider voice to India, but, will at the same time strengthen the voice of the International. This way, added Mr Papandreou, the role of the Socialist International is elevated in the world discussion concerning the big issues that occupy the planet.
Also discussed were regional issues, such as the growth of Asia, something that, as he noted, interests Greece, since it is a dynamic continent.
Addressing Congress delegates and international dignitaries, Papandreou, Greece’s former foreign minister, emphasized that Gandhi’s life was in itself an example towards others. He linked his principles, beliefs and struggle in today’s globalized society and presented a policy revolving around the triptych of “peace, development and education”, all in tandem with the implementation of the values related to social justice.
He added that the international democratic and progressive movement owes a great deal to Mahatma Gandhi, whose philosophy is almost identified with the principles of the modern socialist movement, as expressed by the Socialist International.
Regarding Gandhi’s renowned promotion of “non-violence” as a lever for social and political change, Papandreou said the latter was definitely not a “weakness” of the Indian statesman’s philosophy but a “powerful practice”.
He referred to his own initiative regarding an “Olympic Truce” for the 2004 Games, a policy that led the marching of South and North Korea athletes under one banner at the Athens Games. He also said the policy of “non-violence” led to tangible results in Greek-Turkish relations, when he and the late Ismail Cem inaugurated a policy of rapprochement following the 1999 earthquakes in the two countries.
Papandreou called on delegates, and through them the international peace movement, to struggle for the elimination of three walls in the world today, which are ?none other that the walls of Nicosia, Palestine and Mexico”.
Among others, he said the SI is committed to peace efforts in the Balkans, the Caucasus, Latin America, Asia and Africa, whereas he made particular reference to strife-plagued Nepal, the focus of a SI-sponsored peace initiative in 10 days.
Read Papandreou’s speach here