President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Ladies and gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to thank the President of India, Mrs Patil, and the Prime Minister, Doctor Manmohan Singh, for the warm and friendly reception our delegation has been given. This is my first visit to India as President of Russia, and we hope that it will play a significant part in developing our bilateral relations and open an important new chapter in our bilateral contacts.
For my part, I want to say that I think it extremely important to ensure the continuation of the fine traditions of friendship, mutual understanding and cooperation between Russia and India. These relations of trust have developed over the course of centuries and today are helping us to build and strengthen our strategic partnership, and this is especially important in times of trial. Such a trial, for example, was the terrorist attack on Mumbai. Once again, on behalf of my delegation, I express my condolences to all of the victims’ families and reaffirm our solidarity in the fight against terrorism. We are ready to work with our Indian colleagues in this area, in all possible ways, and we are ready to provide support in every area we can.
We had a very productive dialogue with the Prime Minister of India today. The main outcome of our talks is a desire for all-round development of our political relations and our business and cultural cooperation. This is reflected in the joint declaration that we have just signed.
As is usually the case at such summits, one of the main subjects on our agenda was the prospects for our trade and economic cooperation. Our bilateral trade has been showing good growth, increasing by a third on average since 2005. Last year it exceeded $5 billion. This year we hope to bring it up to the $7-billion mark. And we have every reason to believe that we can increase it to $10 billion by 2010.
What are our main areas of cooperation? One of our clear priorities is cooperation in the energy sector. The Prime Minister spoke about this just now. One of the important practical results of our meeting today was the signing of an agreement for cooperation on building two new units at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant, and the construction of new Russian-designed nuclear power plants in India.
Furthermore, Russian companies plan to work together with Indian partners to carry out exploration and production of minerals.
We also have plans to intensify our cooperation in the metals sector, machine-building, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, information technology, space exploration, and developing tourism. All of these agreements have also just been signed. Incidentally, our Russian-Indian intergovernmental commission made a significant contribution to preparing these documents, and I would like to thank the heads of the commission and everyone who took part in its work. I would also like to thank the Council of Company Directors and the Trade and Investment Forum.
Our military technical partnership remains an integral part of our cooperation. Our primary task in this area is to move away from the traditional purchase and sale of equipment to its joint development and production. We already have projects of this kind and we will definitely work on them. I am referring above all to the work we have already begun in the rocket-building and aviation sectors. We hope that our cooperation programme will be extended for the next 10-year period.
Expanding our cultural ties is also important for our countries’ development. The holding of the Year of Russia in India was a large-scale and very significant event. There were more than 150 concerts, exhibitions and artistic shows, and they gave Indian audiences the chance to see practically the whole range of Russian arts. I am sure that just as great a success awaits India’s artists during the Year of India in Russia, which will begin at the start of next year.
Our countries carry out a multi-vector and initiative-taking foreign policy, and so we devoted considerable attention to discussing global and regional issues during our talks today. We have similar or identical approaches to these problems and their resolution, and this creates many opportunities for us to cooperate on the international stage. It is certainly in our common interests to maintain peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and other regions. One of the means for achieving this is through the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, in which not only the member states but also the observer countries play a very productive part. Their position is always highly valued and is taken into consideration when making final decisions. This is how we view India’s participation in the SCO.
We are ready to and will develop the trilateral cooperation between Russia, India and China in a broad range of promising areas, including agriculture, healthcare and disaster prevention. I think this is of vital importance for our countries.
There are also good prospects for our cooperation in the BRIC [Brazil, Russia, India, China] group. The economic crisis we currently face creates new incentives for this kind of cooperation. Given these countries’ importance and influence in the world economy, the decisions that we come up with together through this forum will undoubtedly have a real impact.
We discussed other subjects too. I invited the President and the Prime Minister of India to make official visits to Russia next year. This is a normal and traditional practice that gives us the opportunity each year to meet and discuss various subjects and go over the whole spectrum of our relations. Once again, I would like to thank the Prime Minister of India for this friendly and constructive dialogue. The strategic partnership between Russia and India truly is in full keeping with our countries’ development interests and is based on the deep mutual sympathy that binds our peoples together.
Question: Could you please comment on cooperation in the nuclear energy sector?
President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: I just said that cooperation in the energy sector is one of our clear priorities, and in this context we consider cooperation in the nuclear energy sector to be of great interest and exclusively productive. We are involved in building units at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant, and we are working in full cooperation with our Indian friends. The results we have already achieved are positive and form the basis for signing the special agreement on cooperation in building new units at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant and possibly building new nuclear power plants in India.
I think that at this time when all different sorts of energy sources are being developed alongside the traditional fossil fuels it would be hard to overestimate the cooperation between our countries, because this is cooperation for the future. It creates new growth opportunities for the Indian economy. Any growing economy – and the Indian economy is growing very fast – often encounters energy shortages, and it is precisely to help deal with this problem that we hope to expand our cooperation in the nuclear energy sector.
We are very optimistic and think that through our work together, through our cooperation, we can establish a base for the Indian economy’s overall development and for supplying it with electricity using the production possibilities nuclear power plants offer. I think that this is one of the first steps in this direction, and I hope that our cooperation in this area will continue and grow stronger.
I say again, I think it is mutually beneficial and exclusively positive cooperation.
Question: What is your assessment of military technical cooperation between Russia and India?
Dmitry Medvedev: I spoke with the Prime Minister about this subject too. Military technical cooperation is one of the most important areas of our cooperation and an important part of our business ties. We therefore devoted considerable time during our talks to issues in this area.
Our cooperation in this area is longstanding and has already developed a systemic and stable nature. Like all cooperation, it has its problems and also its bright prospects. As far as the prospects go, I said a few words on this subject in my opening statement, and the Prime Minister spoke about it too. There are some problems, but I think these problems are of working order and nothing so out of the ordinary at all.
I can only confirm that during our talks today with the Prime Minister we discussed in specific detail issues relating to technology, the T-90 tank, and the construction of nuclear-powered submarines that India will purchase or lease. We outlined solutions to the outstanding problems in all of these areas. There are not many problems, in my view, but we nevertheless do need to make some adjustments. We agreed to keep these issues under our joint control and will cooperate fully with each other of course. I think our discussions in this area were extremely useful.