Portuguese minister justifies celebrations

| 11 February 1997 22:16 IST

Protests raised in some quarters over the fifth centenary celebration of Vasco da Gama, the discoverer of India, would not be a hurdle for the plans jointly chalked out by both the countries, claims Portugal's external affairs minister Jaime Gama.

Objections have been raised as Vasco da Gama's discovery had brought a worst ever colonial era to India. ''We are using it to strengthen the bilateral relations between the two countries and not to repeat the history'', says Gama in retaliation to this argument.

'The celebrations has a global purpose and the Government of India is committed to the modern relations based on objectivity and matured approach to the reality', he said when asked whether the controversy raised over it would stall the celebrations.

While a joint group of both the countries is being formed to chalk out a programme to celebrate the fifth centenary celebrations, Gama said, a bilateral cultural commission is also being formed to prepare a five-year programme for cultural co-operation between the two countries.

The Expo-98, an exhibition to be held in Lisbon next year, would also highlight the positive sides of the Portuguese regime in India, especially in Goa and its other colonies. India is also expected to set up a stall at the exhibition.

He also informed the media during his visit to Goa, which was a Portuguese colony for over 450 years till 1961, that a Portuguese cultural centre would be shortly set up here with active participation of the Fundacao Oriente.

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