President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Madam Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen, colleagues,
We have just completed substantial and constructive talks, during which we discussed key aspects of Russian-Bangladeshi cooperation and urgent international issues.
During our previous meeting in November 2010 in St Petersburg, Madam Prime Minister and I agreed to take additional steps to bring our bilateral relations to a new level.
Ministries and state agencies of our two countries worked closely during this time and developed a solid set of documents, which cover all the main areas of bilateral cooperation, ranging from energy, financial services and agriculture to healthcare, culture, science and education.
Thus, the Russian and Bangladeshi sides stressed their commitment to develop mutually beneficial and comprehensive cooperation, focusing on the long term, diversification of bilateral trade, increasing investment and establishing joint high-tech companies.
Our economic relations are developing at a satisfactory pace. Last year, trade grew significantly, by over 20%, and amounted to more than $700 million. This is far from our full potential, as we noted today. We have set ourselves an achievable target: to increase trade to $1 billion in the short term.
Our countries are implementing various major joint projects, including in the energy sector. Rosatom is getting ready to build the Ruppur nuclear power station, the first NPP in Bangladesh. In fact, Russia will not only supply the latest technology, which is natural, just as we do in our own country and in other countries, but we will also provide financial support at the initial stage of construction. It will be a loan for $500 million, and you have just witnessed the signing of the relevant agreement.
We will establish an information centre for nuclear energy in Dhaka. Russian universities are training Bangladeshi nuclear energy professionals for the future.
Russia and Bangladesh are successfully cooperating in other energy sectors. In this regard, I would like to note that 20% of all electricity generation capacity in Bangladesh was built with the assistance of Russian experts. At present, Russian companies are involved in the modernisation of the Ghorashal thermal power station. A number of Russian companies, including INTER RAO UES and RusHydro, have shown interest in participating in Bangladeshi power generation projects.
We are expanding ties in the oil and gas sector. Gazprom has signed a contract with the Petrobangla Corporation for drilling ten gas wells. This project will increase gas production in Bangladesh to 56 million cubic metres of gas per day.
Space is another promising area of cooperation. During the talks, we discussed the possibility of providing assistance to our Bangladeshi partners in launching telecommunications satellites.
Our countries intend to expand defence cooperation. Russia (and you have seen the signing of this agreement) will extend a $1 billion loan to Bangladesh to buy Russian weapons and military equipment.
Our contacts in the humanitarian sphere are also expanding. Russia is helping to train qualified personnel for our partners. In the current academic year, 47 students from Bangladesh received scholarships from the Education and Science Ministry and enrolled at the best Russian universities. In total (the Education Minister has just confirmed this) about 100 Bangladeshi students are being trained at Russian universities.
We have agreed to hold the Days of Culture of Russia and Bangladesh in 2014–2015.
Our countries are united in their efforts on tiger conservation (Russia has 450 tigers and Bangladesh has 300–500). Let me remind you that Madam Prime Minister took an active part in the preparation and holding of the St Petersburg International Forum on Tiger Conservation in 2010.
We exchanged views on international and regional issues, noting that the positions of our countries coincide or are very close on many important current issues. Both Russia and Bangladesh support strengthening the central and coordinating role of the United Nations and the rule of the norms and principles of international law.
We are interested in close cooperation at the regional level in the fight against terrorism, organised crime and drug trafficking.
In conclusion, I want to thank Madam Prime Minister and all our Bangladeshi colleagues for the constructive dialogue. I am confident that the bilateral relations and mutually beneficial cooperation between our two countries will continue to grow.
Thank you for your attention.
Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina: Thank you, Mr President,
On behalf of my delegation and myself, I thank you, President Putin, for your kind invitation to visit your great country. I want to express our deep appreciation to you and to the friendly people of the Russian Federation for receiving us so warmly in Moscow.
My visit is the second one by a Bangladesh Prime Minister to the Russian Federation. My father, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was the first one to come here in the month of March 1972 at the invitation of the then President Leonid Brezhnev. He was here to express his deep gratitude for the historic role of the former Soviet Union in the freedom struggle of our people and in the independence of Bangladesh in 1971.
During the first four years of independent Bangladesh, the relations between our two countries and peoples progressed significantly. The Soviet Union supported our reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts and the development of the economy. Some even died while clearing mines in Chittagong port. We have not forgotten those precious supporters’ sacrifices.
In recognition last year in Dhaka we bestowed Bangladesh Liberation War honour and Friends of Liberation War honour to many of those who were involved.
In those years the interaction of our peoples also grew with larger number of our students coming here for higher studies.
The Russian culture centre in Dhaka also intensified the people-to-people contact. Our present government, all assuming office in January 2009, was determined to deepen our engagement for mutual benefits and gains. For the last four years we made good progress in certain key areas, including cooperation in nuclear and conventional energy.
Our discussions this morning had now paved the way for deeper collaboration in the areas of culture, agriculture, arrogation, energy, counter-terrorism, law and justice. The 2,000 MW nuclear power plant in Bangladesh with Russian technical and financial assistance is a shiny example of our deeper engagement. In this regard I thank President Putin for his support in offering Bangladesh a friendly arrangement for collaboration.
We have also decided to collaborate in the complex area of tourism.
Cooperation in defence was another area for collaboration.
Following our official talks, we have signed ten MoUs and agreements for cooperation in various areas. I believe they would place our relationship on a firm footing and help in taking practical initiatives in the future.
The financial agreement for preparatory works for nuclear power plant would now allow us to make the critical preparations for the establishment of the plant.
I talked to President Putin in an atmosphere of great warmth. Our discussion was between two friends. I assured him of Bangladesh’ friendship and cooperation in mutually beneficial areas. We realise that the result-oriented economy cooperation should be on the basis of our engagement with Russia in the WTO. We requested for duty-free quota-free access for Bangladeshi exports to the Russian Federation and in the Customs Union. It would open up doors for our private sector to explore new potentials for collaboration. We also highlighted the need for our sharing common views on various contemporary issues. The joint declaration will provide you with the details.
I have also invited President Putin to visit Bangladesh at an early convenient opportunity and possibly during this year. Because this year is almost our last year – 2014 there will be election, so I requested President Putin to visit Bangladesh during our tenure.
So I thank you very much. And about the tiger you mentioned. When you, Mr President, invited me, I joined the Tiger Summit because in Bangladesh we have a very big mangrove area with the famous Royal Bengal tiger. So we always give importance because without this Royal Bengal tiger we cannot keep this our forest. So I thank you very much for taking this initiative and we will work together to save the tigers.
And also, the friendship between our two countries, it is historical, and your visit, Mr President, will give us more cooperation between the two countries. It will enhance our cooperation. So it is very, very important. So, again I mention that if you please come this year, it will be very, very good and helpful. Thank you very much for your cooperation. It is a good visit. Thank you.