President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen,
Delhi is hosting the World Diamond Conference today. This is the first of its kind, and this is definitely the first time I am attending such an event. Honestly, when I looked into the hall as I came here I was somewhat surprised to see that the only person who seems to have anything to do with diamond extraction and processing is our wonderful hostess. The others seem to be dressed too modestly for people who deal with diamonds. However, the industry is obviously very important for many countries, including India and Russia.
India has always been famous for its jewellers and skilled diamond cutters: their produce has always been highly valued all over the world. Some of the most famous diamonds in the history of Russia also have Indian connection. This is the Orlov diamond that decorates the sceptre of our Empress Catherine the Great, and the Shah diamond given to Emperor Nicholas I by the Persian ruler. These diamonds of Indian origin are the pride of the Russian Diamond Fund in the Kremlin.
Up to this day India retains the status of a major diamond-cutting nation. As we have heard, it accounts for over 65 percent of annual world diamond production.
Diamond extraction is also very important in Russia. We have the largest unique reserves of this mineral. They are now assessed at over a billion carat. We confidently rank first in the world here.
I would like to note that Russia has always maintained a responsible approach to regulating international business in this area and is advocating maximum openness in cooperation, including within the Kimberley process.
The Russian company ALROSA that accounts for 99 percent of diamond extraction in Russia supplies up to a quarter of world rough diamond exports. Other Russian companies are also getting involved in this business, including some completely private companies: they are making serious investment into their major projects.
Almost 50 percent of Russian-extracted diamonds goes to India or to companies controlled by Indian capital. Considering the serious volume of these diamond deals, it is worthwhile developing some more advanced cooperation arrangements and establishing closer cooperation between countries. Thus, we are inviting our colleagues to cut diamonds on the territory of the Russian Federation.
Together with Mr Modi we discussed all of this in great detail and gave instructions to corresponding agencies to enhance the efficiency of the diamond business for our countries as much as possible. We are sending the same message to business representatives. To make cooperation more effective, we need to create favourable conditions, establish special administrative and customs procedures, improve these procedures, create better opportunities and enhance the level of security. We are ready for joint productive work in this area.
The World Diamond Conference has attracted a lot of interest. I am certain that this representative forum will become a good tradition. Allow me to wish all its participants fruitful work and all the best.
Thank you for your attention.