This content was published in the period between 3 October 2014 and 20 January 2019

Ministers on this page who have left the Government

Between 3 October 2014 and 10 September 2019 she was Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Ministers on this page who have left the Government

Between 3 October 2014 and 10 September 2019 she was Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Introductory remarks by Margot Wallström on the occasion of the State Visit by the President of India


Uppsala University, 2 June 2015

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Honourable President,

Your Royal Highnesses,

Vice-Chancellor, Rectrix Magnifica,

Excellencies, friends and students,

It is a privilege and a pleasure for me to introduce the Honourable President of India, Mr Pranab Mukherjee. And it is particularly gratifying to do so here in Uppsala, at the University.

Among the many factors that draw our two countries together are our cooperation on science, research and technology, and the meetings of students, minds and ideas. During this historic State Visit – the first ever from India – we have deepened our relations in these and numerous other areas, such as trade and people-to-people contacts, renewable energy, sustainable development and health. A Memorandum of Understanding on Sustainable Urban Development has been signed, as have various agreements between universities.

Uppsala has been the host and home to some of the greatest Indian and Swedish voices of peace and global dialogue. Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore is, as we have heard, one of them. He embraced humanism and universalism. He was an idealist, an internationalist and an environmentalist. He was also, as you know, the first non-European to receive the Award.

During his first visit to Sweden, in 1921, he was guided around Uppsala by Archbishop Söderlund, who, less than a decade later, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Alva Myrdal, another Nobel Laureate and the first Swedish ambassador to India, called Uppsala home, and former UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld had this University as his Alma Mater. As we keep our eyes on the road ahead, I believe we should also once in a while glance back, to learn from these women and men who preceded us.

Mr President, you have had a long and outstanding career in Indian and global political affairs representing the people of India, the world’s largest democracy. I have learned that you draw strength and inspiration from the great Indian civilization and way of life, and from the fundamental principles and ideas about peaceful coexistence between humans.

I will soon leave the floor to you, Mr President, to speak to us about Tagore and Ghandi – do they have contemporary relevance for global peace? Before doing so, I would like to briefly address three areas, to which I believe India and Sweden share a commitment. They all centre around the topic of your speech, that of global peace.

First, global peace calls for global dialogue.

The world knows India as a strong advocate of global collaboration within the framework of the United Nations. Our two countries have a steadfast confidence in multilateralism, and in the belief that the nations of the world can meet collective challenges only by working together.

In this increasingly uncertain world, effective multilateralism – with the UN at its core – is perhaps of greater importance than ever before.

Tagore spoke about the necessity to see the world as one. Globalisation offers great opportunities. It brings individuals and nations closer together. People trade and travel, they exchange ideas and information. But the challenges have also become more complex: climate change, pandemics, food insecurity, intolerance and violent extremism.

These changes are putting the UN system to the test. Sweden will continue to take an active part in the continuous process of reforming the UN, to ensure that it is fit for purpose. This includes the Security Council. For the Council to be more legitimate and effective, a more adequate representation from Africa, Asia and Latin America is required. It is inconceivable that an important global actor such as India would not be part of an enlarged Security Council.

Second, global peace needs equality.

We need to respond to one of the most critical and as yet unresolved problems of our time: the fact that women and girls are systematically denied the full enjoyment of their human rights. Violence against women is a global scourge. More than 700 million women are exposed to domestic abuse or sexual violence.

Gender equality is not simply a goal in itself, but also a precondition for achieving our wider foreign and security policy objectives.

No matter what you set out to achieve, change inevitably faces opposition. This also holds true for gender equality. Ghandi’s famous words on the stages of non-violent activism lend support and encouragement: First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

Third, global peace depends on our ability to instil hope and meet the aspirations of young generations.

Our success in building prosperous, sustainable societies and in preventing social unrest and youth radicalisation will depend on whether or not coming generations believe they have a future. A future in which they can study and find a job. Where their human rights are guaranteed and protected by their governments and leaders. And where they can realise their full potential as individuals.

Tagore knew this. He used his Nobel Prize money to found a university, Visva Bharati, in your home state (West Bengal), Mr President. And he wanted it to be a meeting place for the East and the West.

With these words, I have the great honour to leave the floor to you, Mr President, to share your reflections on the timeless and ever relevant subject of global peace.

Thank you.

Ministers on this page who have left the Government

Between 3 October 2014 and 10 September 2019 she was Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Ministers on this page who have left the Government

Between 3 October 2014 and 10 September 2019 she was Minister for Foreign Affairs.