President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Madam President, dear Indian colleagues,
First of all I would like to welcome the Indian delegation and to say that we are very glad to have you in Russia, and to welcome you to the Kremlin. Your state visit shows how the special strategic partnership between Russia and India is continuing to develop.
You just have said, Ms President, that our relations are not affected by short-term considerations and do not depend on the way the political winds are blowing or on other changes that occur in everyday political life. Here I fully agree with you, and I think this is something that has built up over decades and that we need to develop in a variety of ways.
Recently we have had many contacts with our Indian friends. These consisted of bilateral activities and multilateral regional activities, in particular in Yekaterinburg, where the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit was held, followed by the meeting of the BRIC countries. I think that this kind of dialogue is very helpful.
In this context I would like to single out your state visit, which marks one of the high points of what is now taking place in our country, the Year of India in Russia. This is a splendid and auspicious continuation of something that began in India, I mean the Year of Russia, and now we are celebrating the Year of India in Russia. This is why we are putting on various events that are of genuine interest for our people. I am sure that today we will be able to write another page in the schedule of contacts and the calendar of events.
This year our economic ties have continued to develop. Despite the global financial crisis, trade and economic relations between our two countries have not suffered. On the contrary, instead of a decline there has in fact been continued annual growth in trade, which maintains the trend set last year and the year before. The volume of trade is growing despite the fact that the world economy is slowing. This is also a very important indicator that shows how our relations have developed. The work of various intergovernmental commissions is ongoing and there have been investment forums, all of which suggests that this is a very good atmosphere in which to celebrate the Year of India in Russia.
For these reasons I hope that the discussion of economic matters, regional problems and cultural issues that you and I have initiated and that will continue in expanded format will constitute our contribution to the annals of Russian-Indian cooperation.
I would like to once again welcome you to Russia and to turn the floor over to you.
President of India Pratibha Patil (as translated into Russian): Your Excellency, President Dmitry Medvedev, ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to reiterate my gratitude for the warm reception that you have given me and my delegation.
India places great value on its strategic partnership with Russia, and I think that my visit to Russia is an important milestone in our unique bilateral relations, one that will enable our relations to move forward.
Our relations are based on the mutual interests of our two countries, but our partnership also reflects the unique nature of mutual trust that has existed for generations between the leaders of both our nations. And although some say that there can be no such thing as an enduring friendship in the current world order but only enduring mutual interests, India and Russia have managed to give the lie to that view by keeping their friendship unchanging in a changing world.
Since our independence, the people of India have always felt a strong emotional attachment to Russia. The key role and support of your country in our first efforts to seek self-sufficiency, sustainable economic growth and development has not been forgotten.
Strengthening links with Russia is a goal that has the support of entire India, and this policy has been carried out in many different areas. The development and strengthening of these ties has always been a priority for our foreign policy.
Your Excellency, at our meeting in restricted format we talked in detail about cooperation in key sectors of our relations. I would like to take this opportunity at our meeting in expanded format to discuss some key aspects of our bilateral relations that have not yet fully realised their potential.
For several years, governments of both countries have recognized that bilateral trade and investment ties between India and Russia do not reflect the close political cooperation that has always existed between our two countries.
India and Russia decided to set and achieve the goal of 10 billion dollars by 2010. I'm talking about trade. As far as I know, despite the global financial and economic crisis, we will most likely achieve that goal. We should be very proud of this achievement.
But we must also think about why our economies, generating GDP of more than 1 or 2 trillion US dollars a year each, must be satisfied with a trade volume of 10 billion dollars.
Russia's economy is rich in natural resources, including energy resources, and in workforce which can produce advanced technology in various fields such as the high-tech and defence industries.
On the other hand, India’s economy has more than a billion consumers, as well as huge numbers of young people in its labour force. Our economy is undergoing rapid transformation and requires huge investment in virtually every sector.
The complementary characteristics of our economies are obvious, and today in the era of globalisation the business communities in our countries must play a leading role in ensuring the necessary investment in India. For too long business circles of both countries have paid exclusive attention to Western consumers, as well as taking into account only the interests of Western investors and Western markets, thus effectively ignoring the huge potential that has always existed in our cooperation. And I am very pleased that both governments have taken an initiative to address this problem in the near future, namely to establish an intergovernmental council whose co-chairman was appointed during your state visit in December 2008, as well as the India-Russia Forum on Trade and Investment, which is headed by our Minister of Foreign Affairs. The third meeting of this Forum will be held later this month.