PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Mr Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen,
India is Russia’s privileged partner. Next April we will celebrate 65 years since we established diplomatic ties, ties that have been very friendly, diverse, and productive throughout this time.
The Russian-Indian summit that has just taken place and the agreements signed to expand our bilateral cooperation are further evidence that our countries’ relations are based on complete trust and continue to develop.
The Prime Minister and I reviewed all of the events and developments of the last year and went over all of the main areas of our bilateral cooperation. We noted the dynamic development in our ties. It is enough to say that our bilateral trade increased to a figure of $7 billion over the first nine months of 2011 and looks like setting a new record for recent years. We will keep building up our trade and increase investment at the same time, for these are two sides of the same coin. We will revive growth in our trade by employing such mechanisms as intergovernmental consultations, the Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation, and the Russian-Indian trade and investment forum. I also hope that Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organisation, which is taking place today, will also promote the said process.
We discussed at our talks a wide range of issues concerning energy sector cooperation, industrial ties, and building up our cooperation in science and technology. We are carrying out a joint programme for the period through to 2020 in this area.
I believe too, that the agreement that came into force on January 1 this year on simplified visa procedures will also help to develop the contacts between our countries’ business communities. We are due to meet later with Russian and Indian business community representatives, who work together actively in the Business Council.
Of course we will discuss the various areas in which we cooperate, including metals, machine-building, information technology, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, and biomedical services. We will discuss the defence industry too, all the more so as our military technical cooperation with India has now reached a record level. We want our Indian partners to be involved in big projects such as designing a new multipurpose transport plane and a fifth-generation fighter plane, and of course we are interested in working together on civil aviation projects too.
Our cooperation has already produced major results in energy sector projects. We pursue mutually advantageous cooperation in the Sakhalin-1 project and there are also good opportunities for our Indian friends to take part in projects to build petrochemicals plants.
Russia’s nuclear power specialists are currently preparing to launch the first power unit at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant.
But our ties would be incomplete and even impoverished without the bright palette of our humanitarian contacts and cooperation.
Russia hosted an Indian culture festival this year and celebrations to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore. Next year will see a Russian culture festival take place in India. We will increase and continue educational exchanges and develop tourism and the ties between our different cities and regions. We see humanitarian cooperation as one of the main pillars of our bilateral relations.
We devoted much attention to international and regional issues today. We looked at how to strengthen global stability and security through groups such as the BRICS forum, the G20, the East-Asian summits and other forums, including the UN of course.
We see good partnership opportunities in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, which has a lot of potential on the Eurasian continent. Russia supports India’s becoming a full-fledged member of this organisation. We are also in favour of improving the security architecture in the Asia-Pacific region.
We work together in the UN Security Council in which Russia is a permanent member and India currently a non-permanent member. We consider India a strong candidate for a permanent member’s seat should the decision be made to expand the United Nations Security Council.
These are all good mechanisms for our productive cooperation in international affairs.
Of course, I also discussed with the Prime Minister the situation in North Africa and in the Middle East, in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We must facilitate the positive developments taking place in these countries right now and help them in their development. At the same time, we must also make the necessary efforts to fight drug trafficking and terrorism and to create the conditions for stable global economic growth. We hope to continue working together with our Indian partners in all of these areas.
QUESTION: Indian-Russian cooperation is growing in science, technology, space and the defence industry. You both said that trade and business will be the driving force of friendship between the two countries in the future. Can you comment on how you see this developing?
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: We mean just what we said, namely, that trade, business cooperation, and investment are the foundation for continued economic cooperation between our countries.
I said in my opening remarks that cooperation cannot be in one area alone. Growing trade – diversified trade too – and growing investment are two sides of the same coin. This is why we will meet with business community representatives today, because we are interested in more than just taking the trade figures higher. Our trade figures are already decent and will soon increase even further. Indeed, we have set the goal of taking our bilateral trade to $20 billion by 2015.
But it is important to enrich our relations with new projects too, big and not so big. It is important to have all sectors involved in cooperation between our business communities and economic cooperation in general. I hope that these ties will grow stronger every year. Everything is in our hands. We should work harder and open up new areas of cooperation. I think this is especially important with the global economy going through such difficulties today. The effort we put into developing bilateral relations and active business ties between our countries, both of which are big global economic actors, ultimately has a direct impact on the social wellbeing of our peoples, and so we will continue to build up our business cooperation.
QUESTION: How do you view the role the BRICS group plays on the international stage today and how do you view this group’s future?
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: I discussed this matter at some length with Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh today. We noted that the BRICS group’s role on the international stage is growing. I recall how I sat down with my then BRIC colleagues a few years ago and we discussed the common issues of economic development, countering terrorism, and others.
Our cooperation has now taken on a very practical dimension. The BRICS group holds regular meetings now and the next one will take place in India. Most important of all is that the forum has become a consultation mechanism now. This is very valuable because the world is changing fast, the economy is in a difficult situation, and the financial crisis continues. Even just before the recent G20 summit in Cannes, in France, the BRICS group leaders got together for a brief but very productive discussion. This shows that the group is becoming a very influential player and useful forum enabling its participants to coordinate their positions and thus be able to stand together to defend these positions at other international forums.
You know yourself just what the BRICS group represents. It brings together almost half of the world’s population and large share of global GDP growth. The BRICS countries account for almost half of global GDP growth this year. This represents a real force. We therefore hope to see the degree of trust, mutual understanding, and solidarity on the various issues we discuss increase as time goes on.
QUESTION: India is not a permanent member of the UN Security Council. India and Russia have long since been good friends. Will Russia support India’s bid to become a permanent member?
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: It is a pity you did not listen to me making my opening remarks. I commented absolutely clearly on this matter then, but will repeat my words now. India is indeed Russia’s privileged strategic partner, and we see it as a very real and strong candidate for permanent member’s seat on the Security Council, but for this to happen, the other members of the Security Council have to reach an agreement first, as do all of the United Nations member countries, and reform the Security Council as agreed. You can count on the Russian Federation’s support on this matter.