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Another honour coming Kalam's way

President APJ Kalam will be the first Indian President to address the European Parliament on April 25 at Strasbourg in France, reports Srinand Jha.

delhi Updated: Apr 24, 2007 01:55 IST

Towards the close of his tenure, there is another honour coming the way of President APJ Abdul Kalam: He will be the first Indian President to address the European Parliament on April 25 at Strasbourg in France.

Departing on a four-day European tour on Tuesday, President Kalam will leave on a three-day state visit of Greece after concluding his engagement at Strasbourg. The significance of the occasion lies in the fact that the head of state of the largest democracy in the world will be addressing the largest union of democratic states in the world.

The European Union - together comprising half a billion people of 27 nation states - is increasingly becoming multi-cultural, multi-linguistic, multi-ethnic and multi-religious. “Not unlike the Indian situation”, remarked a Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) official.

The President’s visit to Strasbourg is taking place in response to an invitation received last autumn from the former President of the European Parliament, Josep Borrell Fontelles. The current President is Hans-Gert Poettering, a senior German politician.

Before the address to the European Parliament and soon after arrival in Strasbourg on Tuesday, the President will speak on “Creative leadership for future challenges in space” at the international space university in Strasbourg.

During the President’s state visit to Greece from April 25 to 28 - coming after a gap of 21 years - three important agreements are expected to be signed: On bilateral investment promotion and protection, Science and Technology - and between the foreign service institutes of the two countries.

President Kalam is scheduled to have a one-to-one meeting with his counterpart in Greece, Dr Karolos Papoulias. He will also meet the Prime Minister of Greece and the President of the Parliament. The latter will award him the Gold Medal of the Hellenic Parliament. The Mayor of Athens, Nikitas Kaklamanlis will also honour President Kalam with the Gold Medal of Merit of the city of Athens.

The President is also scheduled to meet other distinguished personalities including President of the Socialist International and leader of the Opposition, George Andreas Papandreou. During his stay at Athens, he will also visit the Commonwealth War Cemetery and pay tribute to Indian servicemen who lost their lives during the Second World War.