President Vladimir Putin: Mrs Gandhi, Ladies and Gentlemen, friends.
IIt is a great honour for me to speak at the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Foundation.
This year marks 115 years since the birth of this outstanding son and citizen of India. The name of Nehru is inseparably linked with the struggle for liberation of India, and for its coming into being as a sovereign nation.
Nehru was a true patriot. This thinker and outstanding humanist tried to achieve national freedom without abandoning the principles of democracy and social progress.
He was undoubtedly ahead of his time, and in his ideas he looked to the future. His life credo was based on imperishable common human values, which remain the guideline for building a safer and fairer world order. A world order that frees mankind from dangerous conflicts of ideology, national and religious intolerance.
He talked about the deep community between all countries and peoples of the world. This is why Nehru’s legacy does not just belong to his own country, but to all of mankind.
Peace for Nehru was not just abstaining from war, but an active and positive approach to international relations. “We may seriously disagree, but we must refrain from wrathful attacks and condemnations,” he said.
And it is no coincidence that Nehru was one of the initiators of Panchsheel – the five principles of peaceful co-existence – into the international community. And the theory of the politics of non-alignment, which he put into practice, is still relevant and has become an important factor of international life. And the potential of non-alignment movement is far from exhausted.
The world has changed a great deal since Nehru’s times. The new century is often called the era of globalisation. It brings, of course, unprecedented potential possibilities for economic and scientific progress, mutual enrichment of world cultures, and for the creation of decent living standards.
At the same time, it is extremely dangerous to attempt to rebuild modern civilisation, which God has created to be diverse and multi-faceted, according to the barracks principles of a unipolar world. And the more insistent the authors and followers of these ideas are, the more frequently humanity will encounter dangerous disproportions in economic and social development. The more will it encounter global threats of international terrorism, organised crime and drug trafficking. Thehigher will become the dangers of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, along with the danger of these weapons falling into the hands of terrorists.
Numerous regional conflicts will come to the surface. All these threats will increase, because ultimately, political and economic injustice lies at their base, and no dictatorship, especially in international affairs, will solve, or has ever solved, such problems, even if this dictatorship is packaged in a pretty wrapping of pseudo-democratic phraseology. In this case, it will not even be able to solve problems of a systematic nature, and on the contrary it will only worsenthe situation. Only a balanced system of international law and the ability of the international community to ensure that these norms are adhered to by all nations of the world without exception can put us on the path towards solving the difficult tasks that humanity faces.
Naturally, it is not difficult to fight for just norms and principles. It is far more difficult to learn them ourselves, to live by these principles ourselves. Of course, we, both Russia and India, just like our partners in international affairs, shall never forget about this.
Russia and India are proactive and constructive participants in these processes. And we act here as partners with similar views who are making a contribution to the development of a just world order.
Obviously, the central co-ordinating role in drafting a collective response to contemporary threats should belong to the UN. It is a unique organisation embracing the entire world and has experience on acting at the global level. And we expect a great deal from the UN secretary-general’s High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Reforms.
It is difficult to agree with the claim that the UN’s institutions have become irrelevant and cannot effectively react to modern challenges. The validity of the UN mechanism is not at issue. At issue is the willingness of the organisation’s member states to wage a joint, resolute fight for common goals.
Russia is open to sensible models to reform the UN, in particular the expansion of the Security Council. However, any possible reforms of such an important system-forming institution must be conducted on the basis of broad consensus.
I shall repeat here once again: Russia’s principled position is to support the candidacy of India as a future permanent member of the Security Council. I believe that this right is evident in your country’s rapidly developing international influence and economic potential. Its independent foreign policy based on the principles of the UN Charter confirms this.
In our view, regional international structures have an important role to play in developing a safer and more just world order. We welcome the establishment of regional co-ordination and co-operation centres in Europe, Asia and on other continents.
Russia plays a proactive role in implementing integration projects as part of the CIS, Eurasec, and the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation. We closely co-operate with the European Union in the interests of developing a united Europe, without borders or new Berlin walls.
Russia is expanding its dialogue with ASEAN, with which it signed a political declaration on partnership in the cause of peace and development in 2003. We play a proactive role in the ASEAN regional security forum and preparations are being made for an agreement on economic co-operation. Russia is an interested participant in the regional Asia-Pacific economic co-operation forum.
We also believe that non-bloc interaction between Russia, India and China can make a crucial contribution to global stability and progress. Our business co-operation is capable of becoming an important factor in the socio-economic development of each of our countries.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Four years ago, while speaking in the Indian parliament, I, on behalf of Russia, supported an Indian proposal to establish a collective front to combat terrorism.
We highly value our co-operation with India in the fight against terrorism. We see it as our joint contribution to bolstering the global anti-terrorism coalition. Our two countries – which have had serious encounters with terrorists’ crimes and experienced the pain of losses – have a common understanding of the essence and principles of anti-terrorism efforts.
There can be no double standards in relation to terror. Moreover, terrorism cannot and must not be used as an instrument in some “geo-political games” or interests.
In this sense, UN Security Council Resolution 1566, which was adopted on Russia’s initiative, is extremely important. It obliges every state to bring terrorists, their accomplices and sponsors to justice without fail.
We also take a principled view that terrorism cannot be identified with any particular religion or ethnic group.
Such attempts are a dangerous mistake. The terrorists and their backers would gain from unleashing a conflict between civilisations and religions, and setting nations against each other.
We shall care for unity and inter-ethnic accord and, if necessary, defend it. And those people who think that our states and societies, which include many diverse religious and ethnic groups, can be weakened and split by setting off various parts against each other must know this.
Russia and India have a particular role to play in solving the biggest problems facing the Islamic world today because of their huge number of Muslim communities, long involvement in Islamic history and culture, and neighbouring leading Islamic states. The most important issues are the peace processes in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East.
We are extremely concerned about the continually increasing violence in Iraq. And we are convinced that only the development of intra-Iraqi dialogue aimed at achieving nationwide accord can stabilise the situation. Accord with regard to the main parameters of Iraq’s future state set-up. We support the UN’s efforts to normalise the situation in this country, and we supported Resolution 1556 that determines the timeframes for the political process in Iraq. In adopting this resolution, we all worked from the premise that conditions for elections would be created and secured within this timeframe. However, we anxiously watch the continuing military clashes and increasing casualties. All this could put honest and democratic elections in Iraq scheduled for early next year under a serious question mark.
Russia is sincerely interested in the development of Afghanistan as a democratic, united, independent and prosperous state free from terrorism and drugs and with a well-deserved place in the international community.
At the same time, we are aware of the difficult conditions during the elections in Afghanistan. We proceed from the fact that for objective reasons they failed to establish a balanced account of the interests of key political forces. We hope the foundations of broad support for the elected president will be laid during the formation of state power and government bodies.
The 2005 spring parliamentary elections will contribute to the formation of a civil society in Afghanistan.
As regards the situation in South Asia, we believe that the long period of tension between India and Pakistan has hampered the solution of their problems and joint counter-terrorism efforts.
Therefore, today we welcome the development of a comprehensive Indian-Pakistani dialogue. We consider it extremely important to bolster and promote new positive trends in Indian-Pakistani relations, trade and economic, sporting and cultural links and trust between the countries.
The prime minister and I discussed major infrastructure projects in the energy sphere, which can be implemented on a multilateral basis.
Broadening understanding between the two countries and advancing new initiatives to solve old problems, including the Kashmir issue, would correspond to the interests of South Asia, as well as world peace and security.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Nehru’s visit to the Soviet Union almost 50 years ago, in 1955, was a new “discovery of India.” We laid the foundation of our friendship, co-operation and strategic partnership.
Broad public support is a powerful source of strength for the Russian-Indian partnership. I am convinced that Russia and India have a kind of a national consensus to this effect that allows us to strengthen every aspect of our partnership.
We have not remained on the same level that existed in our relations with the former government. On the contrary, in the last few months we have taken some serious steps and created preconditions for a breakthrough in a number of important areas of co-operation.
Evident positive steps have been made in Russo-Indian trade. Certainly, its current indices do not exhaust our potential. Neither Russia, nor India can be satisfied with the fact that bilateral trade accounts for only 1.5% of each partner’s foreign trade turnover. Raw materials dominate bilateral trade on both sides.
However, the situation is starting to change for the better. We have already launched a number of major long-term initiatives, for instance, the Sakhalin-1 oil production project in Russia and the construction of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in India. I believe that the future of Russo-Indian economic ties lies in the spheres of investment co-operation and the implementation of major strategic projects.
Russian companies are ready to participate in Indian programs to survey, produce and transport oil and gas, as well as to construct and modernise power plants, ensure the security of railways and many more projects.
Russia, India and Iran are implementing the genuinely strategic North-South international transport corridor project. It will have a significant impact on transportation between Europe, South Asia and the Persian Gulf. This route may become a landmark in the economic and integration architecture of the vast Eurasian region.
Russia is ready to participate in other major regional infrastructure projects, such as the construction of pipelines, highways and railways. I am convinced that the implementation of these projects will promote our economic rapprochement, political understanding and co-operation in many other fields.
During the talks with the Indian leadership, we set another joint goal, to expand trade in hi-tech products, to improve forms and methods of co-operation in the investment sphere, and to bolster scientific-technical partnership in such priority areas as space exploration, information technologies and communications. The Russo-Indian agreements signed during this visit are designed to achieve this goal.
High technologies – computers, the Internet, satellite communications and fibre optics – are the driving force of globalisation. The more available they are to mankind, the smaller the gap will be between the developed and developing countries. Accordingly, they will have fewer contradictions.
I am convinced that the multi-polar world of high technologies will help to balance the evolution of human civilisation.
Russia and India both have an enormous potential to develop together advanced technologies, including alternative technologies. I think that the future of our relations is in the development of the full-scale scientific and technical partnership.
Russo-Indian co-operation in the military-technical and military spheres has acquired a new quality during the last ten years. Russia is not simply supplying India with armaments, military equipment and new technologies. We are becoming involved more and more in the joint development of new armaments. In the future, we might consider the co-ordinated entry of Russia and India onto the global weapons market.
The armed forces of both countries are acquiring new experience of joint exercises. Last year’s joint naval exercises in the Indian Ocean are a good example.
I would like to emphasise that Russia’s assistance to the Indian Armed Forces is not aimed against third countries. It is important that this assistance serves the goal of strengthening the security not only of India, but also of other countries.
Strategic shipping lanes from the Persian Gulf to East Asia, China and Japan pass along the shores of India. The protection of energy supply lines in this large region and the countering of the terrorist threat and piracy at sea are all part of the common security strategy adopted by various world powers and Asian countries in particular. All the plans to ensure security on shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean will be limited and ineffective without India’s proactive participation.
In concluding my speech, I would like to pay tribute to Nehru’s memory once again. Few foreign politicians and statesmen have enjoyed such nationwide fame and sincere respect in our country. My compatriots will always remember him as an open, friendly, brave and wise leader of your great and ancient country.
His ideological legacy is consonant with the sentiments of our contemporaries striving for a more humane, democratic and secure world. His beloved India is achieving high levels of economic, scientific and cultural development and is facing the future with confidence.
I sincerely wish peace, prosperity and new successes to the people of India, which has always been and, I am sure, will be a true friend and reliable partner of Russia.