Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at the Vivekananda International Foundation New Delhi, December 11, 2017

Dear Mr. Arvind Gupta,

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have the honor to launch this project of the Vivekananda International Foundation dedicated to the prominent Russian diplomat Alexander Kadakin. My sincere gratitude goes to our Indian friends for the high appreciation accorded to the achievements of our late colleague, for the efforts taken to immortalize his name including in the form of Kadakin memorial lecture. Alexander Mikhailovich – or Sasha, as his friends called him – had a bright and remarkable personality. He was a true professional. He loved India which, in his own words, became his karma. He invested literally all his energy and talent in the shaping and strengthening of the Russia – India special and privileged strategic partnership.

Diplomatic relations between our two States were established 70 years ago. The past seven decades have brought remarkable results. We have every right to be proud of them. Our nations and peoples are bound by strong ties of friendship, mutual sympathy, trust, respect for each other’s culture, traditions and interests. Political dialogue develops in a dynamic manner – annual summits enable us to take stock of what was achieved in key areas of cooperation and outline future perspectives. A solid treaty base has been formed and is being developed further. Large-scale projects have been launched in various spheres, from energy to pharmaceutics. The Inter‑Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation and the Inter-Governmental Commission on Military-Technical Cooperation meet regularly producing effective results.

At the same time, we should not rest on our laurels, especially given the current rapid changes in the world. Building on the experience and broadening our interaction in a creative way, we should move forward and pursue new promising avenues for cooperation. First of all, in order to achieve a breakthrough in trade and investments. Obviously, the current volume cannot be found satisfactory for our two countries. We aim to increase it to USD 30 billion by 2025. This goal can be achieved through combining our natural competitive advantages and promoting spectacular joint endeavours, such as in aerospace industry or shipbuilding.

The Russian-Indian Working Group on Priority Investment Projects – which functions within the bilateral Economic Commission – have selected twelve most promising projects to be launched – in particular, in the States of Gujarat, Karnataka and others where Russian companies will invest in construction of a butyl rubber plant, production of lighting equipment, development of a "smart city" prototype for India. These plans, which correspond to the Make in India concept announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, make it even more urgent to ensure the early conclusion of an inter‑governmental agreement on reciprocal investments protection that would reflect a balance of interests of both sides.

Moscow shares with New Delhi innovative know-how in peaceful uses of nuclear energy, thus contributing to the energy security of your country. Implementation of the flagship project – construction of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu – is in full swing. The first unit is already fully operational; the second one has been delivered to the Indian side. Work continues on units 3 through 6. Let me recall that the Strategic Vision for Strengthening Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy between the Republic of India and the Russian Federation signed in December 2014 sets an even more ambitious goal – to build at least 12 power units by 2020.

Our military and technical cooperation with India is characterized by unique level of trust – be it direct supplies or joint production of weapons and various military equipment. The experts know only too well that Russian offers on most of the military technical cooperation remains the best options for India. These will become more competitive even further with the steps being taken to improve after-sales maintenance. The joint enterprize producing the world’s best supersonic cruise missile "BrahMos", is our common special pride. Plans are being discussed for joint development of other weapons, including for their promotion in third countries. This will involve further transfer of the Russian military know-how.

Contacts between regions and business communities of the two countries enrich our bilateral links. Last June at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum Prime Minister Narendra Modi after having held full-fledged negotiations with President Vladimir Putin, also had a very fruitful meeting with the governors of several constituent entities of the Russian Federation. We welcome the participation of the Indian delegation led by Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj in the third Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok last September and a very fruitful Russian-Indian business dialogue which took place there.

Russia has something to offer in the field of education and personnel training. More than one generation of Indian engineers, medical and other specialists have received education in our country. We should build upon this experience and develop it further – inter alia, in the context of implementing the Skilling India Programme initiated by the Indian Government. Efficiency of our common efforts in this areas and their practical relevance to our citizens will be greatly enhanced when an ongoing work is finalized on the draft inter‑governmental agreement on mutual recognition of education and academic degrees in general and medical fields.

Our privileged strategic partnership implies close and long-term coordination on international arena. We value our interaction on the world issues. The independent and responsible foreign policy of India has always been an important factor contributing to global and regional security and stability. We hope this legacy will be protected and strengthened.

In the UN and other multilateral fora India and Russia have been consistently advocating compliance with the UN Charter and other norms and principles of international law, including territorial integrity, independence and sovereign equality of States, respect for cultural and civilizational pluralism of the world, as well as for the right of peoples to choose freely their own political and socio-economic development models. Together with many like-minded friends India and Russia seek to make international life more just and democratic, increase the role of developing countries in multilateral institutions, such as the UN, IMF and WB. Consolidation of efforts to promote necessary reforms continues on in various formats. Just today we held the 15th meeting of Foreign Ministers of RIC – the group launched in late 1990s which gave birth to BRICS. In its turn, BRICS became a very influential player in G-20, especially since several other participants of the group coordinate with our five countries on issues related to the reform of international monetary and financial system.

Accession by New Delhi to the SCO as a full member has significantly enhanced the political profile and potential of that Organization as well – not least as regards its capacity to help stabilize the situation in central and South Asia and resolve the crisis in and around Afghanistan.

Strengthening Indian-Russian cooperation can help find fair and durable solutions to numerous challenges in the Asia-Pacific region. We believe that sustainable security architecture in the Asia-Pacific region cannot be achieved through closed block arrangements and is only possible on an open-ended collective basis building upon the principles of indivisible security, rule of international law, peaceful settlement of disputes, non-use of force or threat of force. We are glad that India not only shares our approach but is also an active partner in the discussions of regional architecture which have been launched in the framework of the East Asia Summits, the place of regular dialogue mechanism was established in Jakarta at the headquarters of ASEAN on the strategic development issues of the region.

The unprecedented outburst of international terrorism poses the most serious threat for all nations. This evil can only be efficiently dealt with if we all join our efforts and act together as truly universal anti‑terrorist coalition acting without double standards and hidden agendas. The tasks of defeating ISIL and “NUSRA” – in all its incarnations, countering the transborder movements of foreign terrorist fighters and curbing the spread of terrorist ideology, are priorities of today. At the EAS Summit in Manila on November 14, a declaration proposed by Russia was adopted on combatting ideological challenges of terrorism, terrorist ideas and propaganda. We count on continued cooperation with our Indian partners on this track.

It is obvious that well-being of all people living across the vast Eurasian mainland can hardly be ensured without robust and indivisible economic development. It must be really and genuinely inclusive, not based on subjectively conceived closed trade blocks contradicting the principles of the global trading system under the WTO. Last June President Vladimir Putin suggested to think of a fundamentally new economic initiative in Eurasia, whereby existing subregional integration arrangements will gradually move towards liberalizing trade and investments regimes between their members. What we have in mind is to build upon the interest shown by many countries and groups to seek free trade agreements with Eurasian Economic Union. India is among those who begins relevant negotiations next month already.

At the next stages it is envisaged to expand the process to involve member countries of the EAEU, SCO, ASEAN and – why not – EU (if they opt for promoting their basic economic interests) to build what we can call a Grand Eurasian Partnership. I believe that regional cooperation schemes existing in South Asia could also benefit from joining.

Ladies and gentlemen,

There are all prerequisites in place for fuller engagement of the truly inexhaustible potential of the Indian-Russian strategic partnership. We have experience accumulated to date, we have political will, coinciding priorities. The two governments have agreed how to move forward in the best interests of ours two countries. However, whatever we do at the official level must be strongly supported by the people, including scholars and expert communities. I have no doubt that political scientists of both countries have bold and realistic ideas on future steps to take forward our special and privileged strategic partnership.

In October this year in Moscow there was a conference – to which Mr.Gupta just referred - jointly organized by the Russian Foreign Relations Council and the Vivekananda International Foundation. The agenda was about strategic vision of Russian-Indian Relations and of the changing world order. I believe that a dialogue on these issues should become regular. The answers to the multitude of extremely complex and complicated issues confronting the modern world require collective thinking.

I would conclude by thanking your Foundation for making a great contribution to these efforts, including through establishing initiating “Kadakin Lectures”.

To be continued...

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