President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen,
First of all, I am pleased to once again welcome Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi to Russia on his official visit, and to thank him for accepting our invitation.
Annual Russian-Indian meetings at the highest level have been held for many years now and have become a good and useful tradition.
Our talks are always held in a warm and friendly atmosphere, and are always substantive and productive. This time was no exception.
I will note one important distinction of Mr Modi’s current visit. This year, India is a partner country of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, so tomorrow the Prime Minister of India will address the forum’s plenary session as the main guest of honour.
I would also like to point out that 2017 is a special year for Russia-India relations. Diplomatic relations between our states were established 70 years ago. Bilateral cooperation has been developing steadily across all areas in the decades since, on a friendly and mutually beneficial basis. And now the Russian-Indian partnership has a genuinely strategic and especially privileged nature.
Today, the Prime Minister and I considered in detail the implementation of the decisions taken during the previous summit in Goa, and outlined new joint plans for the future. Our agreements made it into the St Petersburg Declaration adopted by us. It outlines steps to further deepen our bilateral cooperation in the political, economic and cultural spheres.
Encouraging the growth of trade, improving its structure, and expanding industrial cooperation constitute our key priority. As we are aware, bilateral trade was declining in recent years. We are pleased to note that this trend reversed this year, and bilateral trade is on the rise. It is gratifying to note that it was up 29 percent already in the first quarter of 2017.
Bilateral investment is also demonstrating positive dynamics. Russia’s cumulative investment in the Indian economy has exceeded $4 billion, and the relevant figure for Indian investment in Russia is $8 billion.
All these facts show that Russian-Indian economic cooperation is returning to a growth trajectory, and we both have a stake in consolidating this positive trend.
Effective work of the Intergovernmental Commission is playing a special role in this respect. We see the importance of assistance to businesses to promote major mutually advantageous joint projects.
As of today the sides have agreed a list of 19 projects aimed at establishing joint ventures for transport infrastructure, new technology, including pharmaceuticals, aircraft and automobile manufacturing, the diamond industry, and agriculture.
We just met with representatives of the business community and saw their interest in developing full-scale cooperation.
I would like to draw attention to our successful cooperation in the civilian nuclear industry, which was noted in my conversation with the Prime Minister. The first unit of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant was put into operation. The most reliable, latest Russian technology was used in its construction. The plant’s second unit has also started to generate electricity. At a joint teleconference in October 2016 with Narendra Modi we launched the construction of the plant’s third and fourth units. And we reaffirmed our intention to build in India at least 12 Russian-designed energy units, which will make a large contribution to the development of India’s nuclear industry.
We also agreed with our Indian partners to deepen cooperation in the military-technical field on the basis of a bilateral programme through 2020.
Notably, our cooperation is not limited to direct supplies of the latest Russian military equipment to our Indian partners. The assembly of high-tech military products has been set up in India with Russia’s participation. We agreed with the Prime Minister to continue to jointly develop and manufacture modern weapons systems.
Of course, the cultural sphere is another important component of the Russian-Indian partnership. The 2017–2019 Cultural Exchanges Programme is designed to further expand such exchanges. I reiterate that the peoples of our countries have always felt a profound affinity for each other and taken a genuine interest in each other's culture, history and spiritual values. The Festival of Indian Culture is currently being held in Russia, which was received with great interest by the Russian public. The Festival of Russian Culture held in India last year received many positive reviews.
Of course, Mr Modi and I focused in particular on international affairs. We agreed to continue to cooperate in the UN and other multilateral formats, such as BRICS, including, incidentally, the Russia-India-China trilateral format and the G20, and to work together to promote security and stability in Asia, and the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean regions. In this regard, Russia welcomes India joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation as a full-fledged official member. Its full accession will be formalised at the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in Astana on June 8–9, that is, one week from now.
Of course, we discussed other areas of our interaction. We will have another opportunity to talk in private today. We agreed to meet later in the day and to talk about the situation in Syria, Afghanistan, and other hot spots. I believe such confidential one-on-one exchanges have become customary, and I really appreciate this format.
In closing, I would like to thank the Prime Minister, and all our Indian friends, for a constructive and productive dialogue. I am confident that our agreements will help promote Russian-Indian strategic partnership across all areas and will contribute to strengthening friendship between the peoples of our countries.
Thank you for your attention.
Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi (retranslated):Your Excellency President Putin, distinguished members of the Russian and Indian delegations,
I am greatly honoured to be here in St Petersburg, President Putin’s hometown. A historical event is connected with this city, with my political career. In 2001, as the Chief Minister of Gujarat, I accompanied the Indian Prime Minister to St Petersburg. I remember President Putin and our Prime Minister standing while I was seated, signing a treaty.
Sixteen years later, I am back in St Petersburg, and I have the opportunity, as the Prime Minister of India, to be on the same stage with President Putin. I express our gratitude to you for the warm welcome given to our delegation. It is a symbol of the friendly and warm relations that exist between our countries.
As you know, this year India and Russia are marking 70 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations. In our relations, we speak the same language in both culture and defence. Despite the rapidly changing global situation, over these 70 years the Indian-Russian relationship has remained viable and strong. Our relationship is based on mutual appreciation, confidence and trust in each other. This is a sound foundation. It is the basis of our relationship, and we are thus developing our cooperation in various areas.
As you know, President Putin and I have had in-depth talks on all aspects of our cooperation. It is very important to accelerate our cooperation to ensure a brighter future for us. Today, we made some very important decisions; we adopted the St Petersburg Declaration. This declaration should pave the way for economic and political strength. This declaration will also serve as a foundation of international stability. Today, we all know that the world is interconnected and we all depend on each other. I think that increasing economic cooperation is an important incentive for us. We should consider ways of accelerating growth and developing our economic ties. This is the goal that President Putin and I have set.
Within the framework of the St Petersburg Forum, you have invited India to attend as a guest and you invited me to speak at a plenary session, which symbolises our close economic ties. I am sure that our relations will become even closer and stronger as a result of this activity. This will foster bilateral ties and by 2025, we will be able to achieve an investment level of $30 billion. This is the target that we have set.
One of the most important goals is to consolidate economic cooperation (energy, oil and gas, the nuclear sphere, Units 5 and 6 of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant). We reviewed our progress and reached an agreement on these units, and as a result of these agreements, we will move to a new stage of cooperation in nuclear power.
India and Russia will not only derive mutual benefit but we will also continue our cooperation with other countries. Even our trade and commercial ties in the private sector greatly contribute to our relations. I invite representatives of the private sector in both countries to become involved and play an active role in these relations because we need both material cooperation and cooperation at the institutional level. This includes cooperation as part of the North-South international transport corridor. This is an area where we can maintain cooperation and give a new impetus to our relations.
We are in talks on a free trade agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union. Technological and industrial cooperation is also an important component of our economic cooperation. It will make a significant contribution to our society and to our economy.
We have joint science and technology programmes that we are working on. We will also do our utmost to support our young entrepreneurs. This will enable our younger generation to take advantage of the innovation economy. I hope that as a result, people who are currently looking for employment will be given new jobs. This year our countries are holding the first meeting of the bilateral science and technology commission. I am sure that this will take our scientific and technological cooperation to a qualitatively new level.
Military cooperation between India and Russia is strong. Whatever the format of global relations, India and Russia have always maintained cooperation in the sphere of security. We have always respected each other’s interests. We have held a military industry conference in India, which will play a major role in ensuring global security.
We have launched the joint manufacturing of the Ka-226 helicopter in India. We also work together to produce frigates. Overall, our military cooperation is moving to a new level and has been given a boost. We are also conducting the joint military exercise, Indra-2017.
Friends, relations between our peoples are a major part of the friendly relationship between our countries. Russian culture has always been popular in India, while Indian culture, including yoga and Ayurveda, enjoy great interest in Russia. We are proud of this, and I am convinced that International Yoga Day, which is marked on June 21, will be marked on a grand scale in Russia this year, just as every year before.
Friends, we had a good opportunity to discuss international issues with President Putin. We have reached agreement on terrorism and the protection of our strategic interests, as well as on other challenges. India and Russia will always support each other.
India is grateful for Russia’s support in the fight against terrorism. India and Russia share views on Afghanistan and the Asia-Pacific region. We express the same positions within the G20 and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. Our countries will work to find a new format for international cooperation.
Friends, President Putin has always supported India, and I am grateful to him for this support and guidance. Our relations are a fruit tree that has received nourishment from great people, such as Ambassador Alexander Kadakin. With his death, we have lost a friend of India. To honour his memory, we have decided to name a street in New Delhi after him.
Your Excellency, our relations have been tested by time, and they have benefited the world as a whole. India and Russia have always supported each other, and our relations have always been a pillar of strength. I hope that our cooperation in the future will bring stability and balance to the world.
We had very fruitful talks today, and we have adopted decisions that will light our path into the future. I would like to once again express my gratitude to you and to the people of St Petersburg.
Thank you very much.