SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA, SMT. PRATIBHA DEVISINGH PATIL AT THE BANQUET IN HONOUR OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION, H.E. MR. DMITRY MEDVEDEV
New Delhi, 5th December 2008
Excellency, President Dmitry A. Medvedev,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Excellency, I have the privilege to welcome you on your first visit to India. A guest from Russia, our longstanding and unique friend, is very special to us.
Your visit highlights to the people of India and Russia, and to the world, the special nature of our ties, and the importance that we both attach to our Strategic Partnership. Your visit is also part of the valuable tradition between our two countries of having annual Summits. In the last eight years, since the beginning of this tradition, much has been achieved that testifies to the importance of our relations based on trust, friendship, and continuity. We remain confident that under your leadership, this partnership between our two countries and peoples will blossom further, and progress with greater dynamism.
A rising India and a resurgent Russia have made impressive economic gains. This, while giving us our rightful place in the international arena, also provides us greater scope for expanding our cooperation.
A series of measures have been undertaken in recent times to increase our bilateral trade and investment. The Joint Study Group report is being implemented to achieve the target of 10 billion US dollar bilateral trade by 2010 and to work towards a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement. A CEOs Council has been set up to facilitate greater interaction between our respective private business sectors. We are glad to note that trade between our two countries over the past 8 months of 2008 has risen by over 40 per cent compared to the same period last year.
Our bilateral socio-economic cooperation is not only limited to trade in goods but also covers the services sector, high technology, tourism, culture, education and infrastructure-building.
Our cooperation in the defence sector is an important aspect of our Strategic Partnership. At the last session of our Commission on Military Technical Cooperation, the Defence Ministers of India and Russia agreed to carry forward our cooperation in defence for another 10 years beyond 2010. Many hi-tech projects are being implemented, and we welcome this new phase in our defence cooperation.
A significant untapped potential in our relationship is in the energy sector. Energy security is an increasingly important component of bilateral relations between India and Russia. We should expand this cooperation through joint efforts. The Agreement signed today for Russia's construction of four additional reactors in Kudankulam, will enable Russia to play an even greater role in India's civilian nuclear energy programme. We thank Your Excellency for the pro-active role that Russia played in enabling the NSG exemption for India.
In the sphere of Science and Technology, under our Integrated Long Term Programme we have had more than 20 years of bilateral cooperation. Eight Joint Centres of Excellence on themes as varied as Ayurvedic research to bio-technology and advanced computing have been created. Since there is potential to tap the economic benefit from our joint scientific accomplishments, an Indo-Russian Technology Centre is being set up in Russia and India.
Our countries hold identical or similar views on many international issues. We deeply appreciate Russia's support for India's candidature to a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.
The recent attacks in Mumbai have brought to the fore the dangers posed by terrorism. Russia, too, has suffered from this scourge. India and Russia both understand the importance of enhanced cooperation to combat this global menace, and believe that the international community must work jointly to defeat terrorism. This is essential for the peace and development of the world.
We have witnessed today a spectacular evening to mark the Closing Ceremony of the 'Year of Russia' in India. The festivities associated with it have provided the opportunity to my fellow countrymen to see the enormity of Russia of today, in all aspects of life. We are confident that the 'Year of India' in Russia in 2009 will present contemporary India to the people of Russia and thus promote understanding, especially between youth in both the countries.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, may I now invite you to join me in a toast to:-
- the success, good health and prosperity of His Excellency President Medvedev;
- the further strengthening of our friendship and the Strategic Partnership between India and Russia; and
- the peace, progress and well-being of the peoples of India and Russia.