1. I felt deeply grieved and sad after getting the news of the demise of Gerry Arsenis. I did not have the privilege of working with him, but our paths crossed at several critical junctures. I felt a sense of great intellectual and personal affinity with him. Our interests converged in many areas and we shared a common view on the state of the world economy and international economic relationship and a common vision of where it should be heading. In my capacity as the spokesman of my country and the Group of 77 on international economic issues, I drew heavily on his pioneering work, particularly on financial and trade needs of developing countries.
2. I was India’s representative in the Second Committee of the UN General Assembly when Gerry was working with Sydney Dell in the New York Office of UNCTAD, along with Dr. Manmohan Singh who later adorned the office of the Prime Minister of India for a decade. During a part of his tenure in UNCTAD, as the Head of its Money and Finance Division, I was India’s representative to the U.N. Organizations in Geneva, including UNCTAD. We both had the privilege of working with Sydney Dell at two different points of time, he in UNCTAD and myself in UNDP.
3. Gerry was principally responsible for highlighting through his studies in UNCTAD the inter-relationship between Money, Finance and Trade. This was articulated in UNCTAD’s flagship Trade & Development Report. I recall the excitement of my participation in the debate on this Report, which was principally Gerry’s handiwork, in the Trade and Development Board of UNCTAD in the early 1980s. The last serious and substantive debate on the subject took place at UNCTAD-VI in Belgrade in1983. Gerry participated in this debate as the Head of the Greek delegation and I as a spokesman of the Group of 77.
4. Gerry Arsenis was a real well-wisher and friend of India. I visited Athens in 1993 as the then Indian Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to seek Greece’s support for India’s candidature for the membership of the Security Council. Because of the very short notice given by me, Gerry could not meet me as he was engaged in a series of meetings that afternoon in his capacity as the Defence Minister of his country. But we had more than half an hour’s telephonic conversation in which he not only affirmed the support of the Government of Greece but also promised to do his best to obtain the support of the European Community as a whole. Greece delivered Gerry’s commitment by voting for India.
5. In his death, Greece has lost a politician of great courage and sagacity, and an ideologue who stood firm by his conviction; the developing countries have lost a sincere protagonist and a pioneer of ideas conducive to promoting their cause world-wide; and the world has lost a visionary statesman firmly rooted in the values of justice, equality and fair play.
6. I send you my deep sympathy and sincerest condolences and offer my prayer for the peace of the departed soul. Greece will no doubt miss his wise counsel and reassuring presence; but it has at the same time reasons to rejoice in his great achievements as an intellectual and a leader.
With best regards,