Igor Morgulov’s remarks at the conference “Russia and India: Strategic vision of bilateral relations and the changing world order”, Moscow, October 12, 2017

Sunday, 15 October 2017 12:29
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Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

Thank you for the invitation to attend the conference dedicated to Russian-Indian relations and timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Russia and India that is being observed this year. I am pleased to meet my colleagues here, as well as experts on international relations who I know very well.

The special privileged partnership between Russia and India is based on a high degree of mutual trust, the coincidence of key geopolitical interests, shared approaches toward topical issues and the similarity of our economic and social development goals. And of course, the mutual sympathy and draw of our nations, which have a centuries-old history, to each other.

At present, international relations are going through a difficult and conflicting period of transformation. We see India, which is committed to democratic ideals, as a reliable ally in building a polycentric and fair world order based on the rule of law. New Delhi’s independent and responsible foreign policy is making a substantial contribution to building a more secure world and to adapting global multilateral structures to new realities. Through joint efforts, we are promoting a positive, unifying agenda in international affairs and working to meet the challenges and threats of the 21st century.

Our countries cooperate productively within the framework of the UN,

G-20, BRICS and RIC, as well as other formats. We welcome India’s status as a full member of the SCO and its active involvement in the organisation’s activity in its new capacity.

Russia and India coordinate their positions on challenging issues, such as the settlement process in Afghanistan, the Middle East and North Africa, including Syria, and building an inclusive and open security architecture in the Asia Pacific Region.

Political dialogue between our countries is characterised by both intensity and substance. Annual summits allow us to synchronise our positions on key issues on the bilateral and international agenda. The most recent summit took place in June in St Petersburg in the wake of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum. In-depth top-level talks took place on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Xiamen (September 4).

For Russia, India is not only a long-standing friend but also an attractive business partner, being one of the world’s largest economies with impressive growth rates and tremendous potential.

The current level of Russian-Indian trade and economic cooperation certainly does not measure up to the high level of our political contacts (in 2016, trade was $7.7 billion). Our main tasks include increasing the volume and improving the structure of bilateral trade (the target: $30 billion by 2025), primarily with supplies of high-tech goods and by stimulating reciprocal investment.

A special working group on priority investment projects was created within the framework of the Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technical and Cultural Cooperation with a view to increasing the mutual inflow of capital. These include the construction of a butyl rubber production plant by the Sibur company in the state of Gujarat and setting up lighting equipment production in the state of Karnataka by the Russian company Svetovye Tekhnologii. AFK Sistema is developing a smart city model in India.

Cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear power is a key component of our bilateral partnership. In 2013, the first power unit at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant was put into operation. It has now attained its maximum capacity. In October 2016, the second unit was handed over to India and construction began on the third and fourth units. Work on the third stage of the Kudankulam NPP (Units 5 and 6) got under way. There are plans to build at least 12 more reactors in various parts of India, which will help to a very large extent meet the [energy] needs of India’s steadily growing economy.

We are increasing our hydrocarbon exports to India. The total volume of oil deliveries in the first half of the year (1.1 million tonnes) increased almost eight-fold year on year. Incidentally, Rosneft’s acquisition of the Indian company Essar Oil Ltd has become the largest foreign capital investment in India’s economy on record – almost $13 billion.

There are large-scale projects in machine manufacturing, the chemical and mining industry, the pharmaceutical industry, health care, and nano- and bio-technology. Such well-known Russian economic operators as Silovye Mashiny, Gazprom, StroyTransGaz, UralmashZavod, Sibur, Mechel and others, have a presence on the Indian market.

We welcome the December 2016 decision to open talks on signing an agreement on creating a free trade area between the EAEU and India. Prospects for building effective infrastructure for the North-South international transit corridor are under consideration. All of this opens up additional opportunities for fostering cooperation on both the bilateral and regional track.

The Make in India national programme launched by Narendra Modi’s Government provides an extra incentive to establishing joint ventures on Indian territory in spheres that are traditional to us in both the civilian and military-industrial sectors.

Despite the serious competition on India’s arms market, Russia has retained its unique position in terms of direct supplies and co-production, with India, of arms and military equipment. Russia is sharing the most advanced military technology [with India], thus helping strengthen India’s defence industry.

Military cooperation is also growing stronger. Russian-Indian exercises with all branches and services of the armed forces are conducted every year. In October and November 2017, the first joint inter-branch exercise, INDRA 2017, will take place.

Our countries’ cultural traditions invariably generate mutual interest. The ongoing Indian culture festival, Namaste Russia, is a great success. Such festivals are held annually, by turns in Russia and in India.

Tourism exchanges are expanding. In 2016, 35 per cent more Russians visited India than in 2015. The number of Indian tourists to Russia was up by approximately 20 per cent in the same period.

In short, we have approached the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with something to show for ourselves. We are proud of what we have been able to achieve and have every reason to confidently look to a prosperous future.

In conclusion, I would like to say that contacts between our countries’ experts, like this meeting today, make a significant contribution to further strengthening the Russian-Indian strategic partnership, deepen mutual understanding and allow us to clarify our long-term goals.

From the bottom of my heart I wish all conference participants success in your work.

Thank you.