While denying that the European Union was exercising pressure on India in the matter of clemency for the mastermind of the Parliament attack Mohammed Afzal Guru, President APJ Abdul Kalam has confirmed that European Parliament President Hans-Gert Potering did raise the matter with him during their one-to-one talk at Strasbourg on Wednesday. “After the issue is referred to me, I will take a decision in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and law”, he told a group of accompanying journalists on his return from a four-day European tour on Saturday.
“The law of the land is supreme and all matters need to be processed and carried out in accordance to the provisions of the Constitution”, President Kalam said on his return journey from Athens. Asserting that “there was no question of any pressure being exercised by the European Union on India”. Kalam said, “the European Parliament President raised the matter and I told him that the law - which was supreme - would take its course”, he said. Asked about the 22 other clemency petitions pending with the President’s secretariat, Kalam said they were being processed at various stages and would be decided upon in due course
President Kalam had the honours of being the first Indian President to have addressed the European Parliament at Strasbourg. Subsequently, he proceeded on a three day state visit of Greece - the first in the last 21 years.
While President Kalam was addressing parliamentarians at the European Union at Strasbourg, Kashmiri activists associated with the Brussels-based “Kashmir Centre” had staged a protest demonstration outside.
Kalam once again parried questions about a possible second term in office and said that the question was “not relevant” to his visit of France and Greece. Pressed further, the witty Kalam said: “I am told that the Air India has prepared a beautiful lunch for you. Better you have it before it gets cold”. Sources close to Kalam, however, indicated that he would not be averse to a second term provided a political consensus on his candidature is arrived at.
Wrapping up his visit, President Kalam expressed the hope that his visit would initiate a lab to lab cooperation and convergence of technologies between India and Greece - and with the other 27 nations of the European Union. Tremendous movement will start between India and the European Union countries for ensuring that future energy requirements of planet earth are met. “I am talking about the confluence of civilizations and not about the clash of civilizations”, the President said - while expressing the hope that trade between India and Greece would cross one billion euro by 2010.
He said his proposals for the setting up of a World Knowledge Platform and a National Prosperity Index (NPI) had been appreciated by the European Union countries. The European Union completely supports the nuclear power demands of India, he said. "Nuclear power is the cleanest energy and this notion is going to spread fast."
Speaking about the need to prevent weaponisation of outer space, Kalam said European nations had agreed to promote this idea wherever they could.
The policy of governmental protection is not always possible in the era of globalisation, the President said - expressing his favour for the policy of competion in every field including agriculture and good processing. "We should double our products to 400 billion tonnes by 2020. By introducing protection, farmers look for greener pastures. You can't get away from competition and for that we have to struggle hard," he said.
He also called upon politicians to focus on developmental issues by saying that politicians should compete with each other in making India a developed nation as quickly as possible. “Developmental politics” should be the aim, he said.