SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA, SMT. PRATIBHA DEVISINGH PATIL, AT THE STATE LUNCHEON BANQUET HOSTED BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION, H.E. MR. DMITRY MEDVEDEV
Moscow, Russia, 3rd September 2009
Excellency President of the Russian Federation,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for your warm and affectionate words of welcome. I appreciate your kind words on India and India-Russia bilateral relations. Let me also convey my gratitude at the generous hospitality that has been extended by our Russian friends to me and my delegation. I have been immensely impressed by whatever I have seen and observed so far. It is, indeed, admirable how Russia has been able to harmonize modernity with tradition, prosperity with connectedness to the roots of its culture and advanced technology with respect for traditional values. Like Russia, India is a pluralistic democracy possessing ethnic, cultural, religious, regional and linguistic diversity. Like Russia, India too is embracing change while not losing sight of her ethos, civilizational principles and values. The unique resonance in our relations has been sustained over time by the cementing force of our common interests, shared vision and interaction as two vibrant civilizations.
India and Russia have a firm sense of conviction and belief in each other's strength and stability. As two large and influential democracies, India and Russia have the onerous responsibility of playing a significant global role in promoting democratic values, building a unified, just and democratic world order. We should also work together for a comprehensive system of collective security based on respect for rule of law and international norms, reciprocal trust, mutual benefit, equality and cooperation as well as for a future international order based on multi-polarity. Both countries are faced with similar challenges from the divisive forces of extremism and international terrorism. It is satisfying to note that while our challenges are similar, we also share common views and similar approaches.
This is my first visit to Russia. However, no Indian, especially an Indian of my generation, is a stranger to Russia. We have long been familiar with the slogan "Hindi-Rusi bhai bhai", made popular by Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and First Secretary Nikita Khruschev. And indeed, our friendship has stood the test of time, as our two countries have come to each other's aid in times of difficulty.
The tradition of trust and friendship has been taken to new levels in recent years. Our Strategic Partnership has seen unprecedented levels of cooperation in space, defence, nuclear technology and other hi-tech areas. Recent years have also seen what are called multi-vector foreign policies being pursued by many countries, including India and Russia. However, I can assure our Russian partners that, even as we improve our relations with other countries it will not be to the detriment of our tried and tested friendship.
Your successful visit to India in December last year provided the opportunity to review all aspects of bilateral cooperation between our countries. Decisions taken and agreements reached during your visit are being satisfactorily implemented. Joint work is being carried out on the large number of documents signed during your visit. Our traditionally strong bilateral relations have rested on foundations of political, defence and economic exchanges which are of a substantial nature. Besides strategic areas such as energy, space and defence, mutual investments in industries, high-technology, cooperation in Information Technology, banking, finance, management and other service sectors, are some areas that offer plenty of scope. Culture and tourism promote economic cooperation, goodwill and people-to-people contacts between nations. In this context, contributions of the 'Year of Russia' in India and the 'Year of India' in Russia are significant.
Mr. President and Dear Friends,
Let us hope that our cooperation will become a landmark in the history of our bilateral relations. I am confident that we will continue to work together and take our traditional friendship to new heights.
Ladies and Gentlemen, may I request you to join me in raising a toast to:
- the health and well being of His Excellency the President of the Russian Federation;
- the long-standing traditions of close and continuing friendship and cooperation between India and Russia; and
- the prosperity, success and happiness of the friendly people of Russia.