Speech at Official Lunch hosted by President of the Republic of India Abdul Kalam
PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: Mr President, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to first of all thank you sincerely for the hospitality you have shown. We are very happy indeed to be here in your wonderful country.
This summit coincides with India’s state holiday, Republic Day. It gives me particular pleasure to note that this year marks the sixtieth anniversary of India’s independence.
This event marked a turning point in world history and dealt a powerful blow to the colonial system in the world. I would like to take this opportunity to offer my sincere congratulations to the Indian people on this glorious historic date.
India has taken giant strides forward over the last decades, becoming not just a country that is a treasure trove of ancient culture, but also a leader in advanced technology and a strong and influential power in the world.
We are genuinely glad to see your achievements. We value the trusting nature of our bilateral cooperation, and it is symbolic that this year also marks the sixtieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Russia.
Over these decades we have followed the historic road from our first intergovernmental contacts to building a modern strategic partnership. These years have been a time of solid friendship for our peoples, sincere involvement in each other’s affairs and cooperation in a spirit of mutual interest.
During the course of this visit we have seen once again that this friendship lasts the tests of time and distance and that to this day it serves as the foundation for developing our cooperation in the broadest sense.
I repeat that what cements our solid ties is the deep and mutual sympathy between our peoples. I am sure that these feelings will be clearly reflected in the upcoming events that will take place within the Year of Russia in India and the Year of India in Russia. I am sure that these events will help our peoples communicate more freely and open up new opportunities for cooperation between our countries. And especially importantly, I am sure that they will help us continue the fine traditions in our relations.
Address at Ceremony awarding Russian State Decorations to Indian Public and Political Figures
PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN:
Throughout the epochs the peoples of Russia and India have shown a great ability to understand each other and to absorb the spiritual values of the unique and distinctive cultures of East and West.
Our intellectual communities, our scientists, artists and outstanding figures in both countries, have always maintained particularly close ties and have proposed many joint programmes and initiatives and have used their authority and influence to create many new opportunities for carrying out cultural and education programmes together.
As you know, next year, 2008, has been declared the Year of Russia in India, and in 2009, we will hold the Year of India in Russia. I am sure that these large-scale events will enrich our cultural and public life with bright new colours and give our peoples the chance to get to know each other even better.
This year has been declared the Year of the Russian Language, and it will be marked by a large number of different events in which Russian-language specialists from around the world will take part. I hope that our Indian friends will also take part in these events.
Today, on Republic Day, it gives me special pleasure to present these Russian decorations to prominent figures from India, and it gives me particular pleasure to distinguish those who have put their heart and soul into serving the noble cause of bringing our peoples closer together.
We greatly value the energetic efforts Mrs Nirmala Deshpande has made to establish the India-Russia Friendship Society. This public organisation has enriched our cooperation with new ideas and projects.
We value the friendly feelings that Mr Sankar Basu has for our country. He is a well known expert in Russian studies and a brilliant teacher, and he has done a great deal to maintain our academic contacts and popularise the Russian language and the spiritual heritage of Russia and India.
The cooperation between the Russian Centre for National Glory and Jawaharlal Nehru University and the activities of the Dialogue of Civilisations Foundation are also a fine example of active dialogue between our social and academic circles. This organisation has made a big contribution to developing productive ties between our countries and building on the invaluable experience of tolerant relations between different ethnic groups, faiths and religions. Today, one of the heads of this organisation will award the foundation’s co-chairman, D. Kapoor, the International Prize of St. Andrei the First-Called.
An ancient Indian saying has it that “merits are the pleasing flowers of growing glory, collected with the help of good deeds”. Once again, I want to congratulate our dear Indian friends on their well-earned awards, and I have no doubt that they will perform many more good works for the benefit of our peoples.
I wish you prosperity, health, and, of course, success in your work to strengthen the friendship between Russia and India. Congratulations on the occasion of this national holiday.
Thank you for your attention.
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VLADIMIR PUTIN (Concluding remarks):
In conclusion to this official ceremony, allow me once again to congratulate everyone who received an award, including Russian state decorations, today.
I would like to thank all of our Indian friends who are contributing to developing the relations between our two countries.
There is no need, I think, to go right back into the depths of time, but I would just like to say here today that some scholars think that the relations between the peoples who lived in what is today’s Russia and today’s India go very far back indeed, right back to the times of Zarathustra. In modern history too, our peoples have always felt a pull towards each other and have always supported each other.
Today we watch what is happening in India with particular attention and friendly feeling. India has become a fast-growing country with excellent prospects. We are genuinely glad to see the Indian people’s achievements and we wish you success.
Thank you very much.
Beginning of the Meeting with Head of the Indian National Congress Party Sonia Gandhi
PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: Madam Gandhi, I am very glad to meet with you again.
I must say that when we met in 2005 we discussed holding the Year of India in Russia and that of Russia in India – and it was for the first time we discussed this idea.. And now these are planned interstate and intergovernmental events.
These can be successful events that can become more than simply cultural events. I am confident that they will facilitate direct contacts between our countries’ citizens.
We have had good experiences in carrying out such large-scale events with other countries. I am confident that these events with India will be successful ones. Today Mr Prime Minister and I planned a whole package of joint projects and we are confident – and hope – that the Indian National Congress will support all our endeavours.
HEAD OF INDIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS PARTY SONIA GANDHI (Back translation): There is no doubt about that.
I am glad to welcome you. It is especially pleasant that you are staying to participate in our national holiday – this acts as proof of the special relations and special ties that exist between our countries.
Mr President, of course you are an outstanding world leader and we also consider you to be a very good India’s friend. I want to say that our countries’ relations have been constantly developing for the past few decades and this is especially important in view of the significant geopolitical changes that have occurred during this time.
Our cooperation has developed during this time and taken on a special value. Therefore, it is especially pleasant for me that talks between Mr President and our Prime Minister were a success. My party will support you as much as possible.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Thanks very much.