Mukherjee will visit Belgium from Oct 2-5 on the invitation of King Philippe of the western European country. It would be the first visit by an Indian president to Belgium. He will visit Turkey from Oct 5-7, at the invitation of the President of Turkey Abdullah Gul.
Mukherjee will be accompanied by a delegation comprising union Shipping Minister G.K. Vasan and five MPs from different political parties, including Priya Dutt and Deepender Singh Hooda of the Congress, said P.S. Raghavan, special secretary for Development Partnership Administration (DPA) in external affairs ministy.
In Brussels, Mukherjee and King Philippe will jointly inaugurate Europalia-India 2013-14, a festival of 300 events showcasing Indian art and antiquities, music and dance, cinema, theatre, literature and cuisine, which will be hosted by 200 partner venues in one of the biggest such Indian cultural shows in Europe. There will also be a major exhibition of Indian art probing the significance of the human body at the famous Bozar Galleries. The festival is to run from Oct 4 to Jan 26.
The president would also be meeting members of the Indian diaspora, who number 18,000, a lot of them in the diamond trading business in Antwerp.
With academic exchanges being an important part of the agenda of the trip, the president will be accompanied by four vice chancellors or academic heads - of Delhi University, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Hyderabad University and Jamia Millia University as well as the chairperson of the University Grants Commission, said another official.
In Turkey, the president will visit Istanbul, Ankara and Cappadocia. The visit is the third by an Indian president, after the visits by former president Shankar Dayal Sharma and K.R. Narayanan -- in 1993 and 1998. In Istanbul University, the president will be awarded an honorary doctorate. In Ankara, Mukherjee will visit the mausoleum of the founder and the first president of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
India and Turkey are bound by ages old cultural and historic ties with lots of cultural overlapping. There are 9,500 common words in Hindustani and Turkish language, said Raghavan.
Both countries have had high level exchanges with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Gul visiting India. External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid visited Turkey in July this year.
"India recognises the geographical and geopolitical importance of Turkey," said Raghavan. Turkey is a contiguous transcontinental country, located mostly in Western Asia and a little bit in Southeastern Europe. Turkey is bordered by eight countries.
Several major Indian companies, including GMR, Tata Motors, Wipro, Mahindra and Mahindra and Dabur, have set up shop in Turkey. GMR is involved in building the Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport, he said.
Venu Rajamony, the president's press secretary, said the president continuously stresses on the importance of education in his speeches and the vice chancellors accompanying him would interact with education officials of the two countries and it may result in some inter-university agreements.
--IANS (Posted on 01-10-2013)