The timing is very apposite for this initiative, Dr Charles Tannock, MEP and one of the two co-presidents of the cross-party group, declared at the launch ceremony. Peace and reconciliation are in the air, with a hand of friendship being extended by India to Pakistan, with no preconditions of bringing cross border terrorism to a complete halt before talks can commence, Dr Tannock went on. He is one of the 36 Conservatives who are part of the 87 MEPs elected from the UK.
Many of us have large Indian communities in our constituencies, who will welcome links with their country of origin, Dr Tannock noted in his opening remarks, adding We plan future cultural and political events, and in particular more contacts and visits between our two Parliaments, to further mutual understanding and friendship. The group hopes that Indian MPs will respond by setting up a Friends of the European Union group. Jo Leinen, one of the 35 German Social Democrat MEPs who sit in the European Parliament, is the groups second co-President. Its vice-presidents include Baronness Nicholson of Winterbourne, a Liberal member of the European Parliament; John Hume, a Socialist MEP, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and the Gandhi Peace Prize; Olivier Dupuis, a staunch defender of human rights, who represents an Italian constituency, and Jose Ribeiro Castro, a Portuguese MEP.