President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Prime Minister, my dear friend, ladies and gentlemen,
We are always delighted to welcome to Russia a big friend of our country, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi. His official visit has been timed to coincide with the Eastern Economic Forum, where Mr Modi and I will address a plenary meeting tomorrow.
I would like to point out that India is a key partner of Russia. Relations between our countries can be described as truly strategic and privileged and have been developing on the basis of friendship and mutual benefit.
Mr Modi and I maintain close official and personal ties and hold regular meetings, which have become a good tradition. We met only recently on the sidelines of the SCO Heads of State Council meeting in Bishkek and the G20 summit in Osaka. It should be said that our talks are invariably conducted in a friendly atmosphere and are always meaningful and constructive.
This has also been the case with the talks we have held today. First, we met one-on-one and then our delegations joined us to exchange opinions on the key issues of bilateral cooperation, discuss the implementation of the decisions taken at the New Delhi summit last year and map out practical goals, which we included in the joint statement we have issued today.
The large number of interdepartmental and corporate agreements we have signed today covers a variety of spheres and will certainly help promote multifaceted Russian-Indian ties.
Naturally, we gave priority to issues of trade and investment cooperation. Last year our trade grew by almost 17 percent to reach $11 billion. We believe there is every prerequisite for its further growth.
The large-scale strategy of cooperation between relevant Russian and Indian agencies, approved today, is aimed at stepping up economic cooperation. The document provides for removing barriers to investment, promoting major mutually beneficial projects in priority areas and enhancing scientific, technological and innovative cooperation.
I am convinced that the establishment of a free trade area between India and the Eurasian Economic Union will create additional opportunities for diversifying trade. This is our common goal and we will soon hold the first round of talks to draft a relevant agreement.
We consider the introduction of the practice of using national currencies in our settlements to be an important component of our joint work with our Indian partners. Failsafe interbank transactions could be facilitated if India joined the Bank of Russia financial message transfer system.
Of course, Mr Prime Minister and I discussed in detail our energy cooperation, which is a strategic area. Russia is a reliable supplier of energy resources to the Indian market. Last year about 2.3 million tonnes of oil, almost 550,000 tonnes of petroleum products and 4.5 million tonnes of coal were delivered to India. A substantial part of Russian hydrocarbon exports is sent to India from Russia’s Far East.
Indian partners own 20 percent in the Sakhalin-1 project. Indian energy concerns are invited to join other promising projects, such as Far Eastern LNG and Arctic LNG-2.
We consider Rosatom’s cooperation with its Indian partners, including the construction of the modern Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant, a flagship joint project. Its first two units are already operational. The third and fourth units are under construction. According to the existing agreements, at least 12 Russian-designed power units will be built within the next 20 years.
Russia and India are closely interacting in the sphere of defence. The bilateral defence cooperation programme up to 2020 is being successfully implemented; its revised edition for the next 10 years is being developed. Notably, for more than half a century now our country has been assisting India in equipping and modernising its armed forces, including, of course, the Navy. The Indian Navy includes many Russian-made ships, including the Vikramaditya aircraft carrier.
Today, the Prime Minister and I visited the Zvezda shipyard in the town of Bolshoi Kamen, where the atomic submarine Chakra adopted by the Indian Navy was upgraded at some point. Indian submariners trained there as well.
Russia does more than supply weapons to India. The production of the latest military products has been launched in conjunction with our Indian partners, and joint projects to produce Kalashnikov small arms, Ka-226T helicopters and missile strike systems in India are underway. We value the current level of bilateral defence cooperation and look forward to expanding it.
Of course, during the talks we discussed in detail bilateral cultural ties. The first events will be held in Vladivostok shortly as part of a festival of Indian culture in our country. Instrumental and vocal groups, dancers and martial artists from India will tour many Russian cities.
I would also like to mention the deep interest that the people of our countries have displayed for centuries in each other’s culture, history and moral values. Let me recall that Russian traveller Afanasy Nikitin was one of the first Europeans to reach India. Over 500 years ago, he described in detail Indian customs and traditions. Russian artist and thinker Nicholas Roerich lived and worked in India for a long time. His work is still venerated in India.
In turn, here in Russia we deeply respect the memory and legacy of outstanding Indian politician, scholar and philosopher Mahatma Gandhi. A commemorative stamp has been issued in Russia on the occasion of his 150th birth anniversary, which is marked this year.
Russia and India reaffirmed their close positions on key global and regional issues during the discussion of international affairs. Our states are coordinating their foreign policy positions at such major international forums as the UN, the G20, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and BRICS.
Russia and India are working together to ensure security and stability in Asia, and the Pacific and Indian oceans. We are also cooperating in the RIC (Russia, India, and China) format: a regular trilateral meeting took place on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka on June 28.
Of course, we also discussed other international issues, including Afghanistan.
In conclusion, I would like to thank Mr Prime Minister and all our Indian colleagues for productive and meaningful talks. I am convinced that the agreements reached today will further promote the comprehensive development of the Russian-Indian strategic partnership and the consolidation of friendship between our people.
I would also like to thank Mr Modi for accepting our invitation to attend the celebrations of the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War in Moscow on May 9, 2020. Mr Prime Minister, we are looking forward to seeing you in Moscow.
Thank you for your attention.
Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi (retranslated): Your Excellency Mr President, friends,
Good evening. I am very happy to be here in Vladivostok.
The sun rises earlier in Vladivostok than it does in other regions of the world. This is a triumph of nature, and, indeed, it is a source of inspiration for the entire world.
When scenarios of humankind’s development in the 21st century are written, they say that Vladivostok is marked by the commitment of its people to work, and it is an honour for me to be in this city. It became possible thanks to an invitation from my close friend, President Putin. This invitation also allowed me to become the first Prime Minister of India to visit Vladivostok. I am very grateful to President Putin, my friend, for this opportunity. And this is a historical coincidence that President Putin and I have just completed the 20th annual Russian-Indian summit.
In 2001, when Russia hosted the first such summit, my friend, President Putin, was also President of Russia. At that time, I accompanied our Prime Minister [Atal Bihari Vajpayee]: I was a member of the Indian delegation and served as Chief Minister of Gujarat. Over the course of our political careers, we have also expanded our friendship and partnership between our countries, and we did it at a very rapid pace.
At that time, our special privileged strategic partnership not only met the strategic interests of our countries, but was also linked with the development of our nations and benefited them. President Putin and I elevated our relations to a new level of cooperation on the basis of trust and partnership. Not only did we see a quantitative leap, but we also witnessed a qualitative leap in our relations.
First of all, we elevated our cooperation from purely bilateral interaction between our governments: we established contacts between our people and between private companies. Today, we have witnessed the signing of a multitude of business agreements.
In the strategic area of defence, we have signed an agreement to create joint ventures and to manufacture spare parts in India. It will give a major boost to our industry. The joint venture to make AK-203 assault rifles will take our cooperation in defence beyond narrow relations and will also create a dependable backup operation in the form of joint manufacturing.
Increasing the level of local production with regard to the nuclear power plant that is being built in India with Russia’s support will also allow us to expand our cooperation.
In addition, we will take our relations beyond our respective capitals and establish communication between various Indian states and Russian regions. This is not surprising, because on the one hand, I was the chief minister in Gujarat for 13 years, and President Putin is also very familiar with the potential and capabilities of the Russian regions. Therefore, it is quite natural that he created the Eastern Economic Forum and realised the importance of establishing close ties between a country such as India, which is full of diversity, and this initiative. And we will always be grateful for such an initiative.
After we received the invitation, we began serious preparations for this forum. Key ministers from four Indian states and over 150 businesspeople have come to Vladivostok. We saw the positive results of various meetings with the Presidential Envoy in the Far East and other representatives of the Far East authorities. This made it possible for us to create a blueprint for promoting friendship between our regions and opened up a variety of opportunities in the coal industry, the diamond industry, the lumber industry, as well as agriculture and tourism. Now, in order to improve the interconnectedness of our regions, a sea link between Chennai and Vladivostok was proposed as a project.
In addition, we have diversified our bilateral cooperation, given it new potential and opened up new dimensions in this cooperation. Today, we are mostly talking not about oil and gas deals between Russia and India, but an unprecedented level of investment by both countries in hydrocarbons. We have also agreed on a five-year roadmap for cooperation in this area as well as hydrocarbon and LNG production in the Russian Far East and the Arctic region.
Our long-term cooperation in space has also reached new heights. Gaganyaan is India’s manned flight project with the participation of Indian cosmonauts who will be trained in Russia.
To fully use our joint investment potential, we agreed to sign an agreement on protecting capital investment in the future.
Russia and the Mumbai Office of the Russian Far East Investment and Export Agency may help us promote cooperation in the future. This will help us write new chapters in the history of our strategic partnership.
The Indra-2018 exercises are also a sign of friendship and cooperation between our countries.
When there was a need, Russia and India helped each other even in the Antarctic and Arctic. Both countries understand that we need a multipolar world to achieve peace and stability. Our cooperation on this issue and coordination will be essential in reaching this goal. This is why we must develop our cooperation in BRICS, the SCO and other organisations and venues.
As always, today we held open and meaningful talks on major international and regional issues. India wants to see Afghanistan independent, safe, united, peaceful and democratic. Both our countries are against external interference in the affairs of any state. In addition, we held a useful discussion on India’s concept of an open and inclusive Indo-Pacific Region.
As for cybersecurity, combatting terrorism, and environmental protection, we will continue enhancing bilateral cooperation in these areas.
Next year Russia and India will meet to organise a high-level forum on preserving the tiger population.
And I would like to sincerely thank my friend Vladimir Putin once again for this invitation and a very warm welcome. I look forward to taking part with him and my other friends in the events of the Eastern Economic Forum tomorrow. I expect to see President Putin at the annual summit in India next year.
In 2020, Russia will chair both the SCO and BRICS. I am convinced that under the skillful leadership of President Putin, these organisations will see new achievements. For my part, I will give every support to President Putin.
Thank you very much.