The personality of Jawaharlal Nehru and his activity as a political worker and statesman during the period between the two World Wars, the Second World War and the years following it, were already known to me when I first met him at the end of 1954. Therefore, my first personal contact with him seemed to me like a meeting with a man to whom I had been linked with bonds of long-standing personal acquaintance. There is no doubt about the fact that I also got to know him and his activity through his written works which greatly contributed to such a feeling. I have always considered him, side by side with Gandhi, the most important person in the struggle for India’s independence and her significant and beneficial performance in international life. I highly esteem particularly his great role in the struggle for peace. My opinion was fully confirmed by the impressions I gained during my two visits to his great country and in the course of our other meetings.
Since our first meeting in New Delhi in December 1954, I have had the opportunity to meet Nehru several times on different occasions in India and Yugoslavia and to exchange with him views both directly and through correspondence on a number of current problems relating to international policy and the relations between our two countries. I became convinced, through these contacts and exchanges of views, that he is a great man sincerely devoted to the welfare of his nation and the cause of peace, international understanding and cooperation. It was very easy for us to find a common language during our talks, since the aspirations and the policies of our peoples were in conformity. So were our views on international issues and this found its full expression in more than one document, out of which I would particularly point out the New Delhi declaration issued on December 22, 1954 and our joint statement with President Nasser signed at Brioni on July 19, 1956.
The greatness of a man and a political leader is reflected, above all, in his ability to symbolise the positive strivings of his people for freedom, prosperity and peace-the fundamental values of contemporary society. In my opinion, precisely in this lies the greatness of Nehru, who made a tremendous contribution to the struggle of the people of India for their independence and for the achievement of the unity of the Indian nation. He also, initiated and became the directing soul of India’s economic and social development, under her specific conditions, towards progress and socialism, and the champion of a consistent policy of peace and co-existence in the international field. It is because of this that I especially esteem Nehru as a person who has succeeded in rallying around himself the majority of the great Indian nation on the policy of internal progress, and as a fighter for peace and peaceful international policy.
Whenever I met Nehru, I was strongly impressed by the strength of his character, the vivacity of his spirit, his great energy, his insight into approaching problems, his attractive manner and directness in personal contacts. I saw in him a brave man who boldly faces the realities of life and is not daunted by difficulties, a man who does not indulge in illusions or has a dogmatic approach to problems, but is ready, boldly and realistically, to tackle and overcome difficulties. I was also greatly impressed by his love of nature, his humanism and his devotion to his family.
I had also an opportunity to see Nehru engaged in political action in his own country, at the annual conference of the Congress at Avadi, in January 1955, when he heralded the new programme of India’s development after a socialist pattern of society. I know this to be the result of Nehru’s long years of effort and he could rightly be satisfied with it. On that occasion I was convinced that among the great mass of delegates and people who were assembled, he enjoyed unchallenged authority and deep loyalty, which makes it possible for him to play, under the difficult and complex conditions of the struggle for the development of his country and for the safeguarding of peace, such an important role which transcends far beyond the frontiers of his great country.
India can be proud of having such an outstanding leader, who, through his efforts and farsightedness, is paving the way towards a better future for India, and who, through his untiring activity in the struggle for peace, devotion to the policy of co-existence and the strengthening of peaceful international co-operation, has become one of the most outstanding statesmen of the contemporary world.
Today, I wish him many more years of happy life and fruitful activity in the service of his people-and, thus, in the service of peace and international co-operation.