Moscow, Russia: Terrorism emanating from the neighbourhood of Russia and India is a major security threat to the two countries and a strong commitment by the international community is needed to combat the menace, President Pranab Mukherjee said on Friday.
“Russia has been a pillar of strength at difficult moments in India’s history and Moscow is, and will remain New Delhi’s most important defence partner,” the President said after an honorary doctorate degree was conferred on him by the Russian Diplomatic Academy in Moscow.
“Terrorism and extremism emanating from our shared neighbourhood remains a security threat for India and Russia,” he said and underlined that dealing with this challenge requires not only a strong commitment by the two countries but also cooperation among the international community.
President Mukherjee appreciated Russia’s support for India’s permanent membership of the UN Security Council and membership of multilateral export control regimes.
He also praised Russia’s efforts to bring about a political settlement in Syria and its contribution towards a peaceful resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue.
“Across Indian society and the spectrum of its political structures, there is unanimity that friendship with Russia is an important pillar of India’s foreign policy,” he said.
The President had said at the last India-Russia Annual Summit on December 11, 2014, that “both the countries agreed on a strategic vision to further strengthen and diversify cooperation in the years ahead.”
“India values her close and extensive cooperation with Russia in defence, nuclear energy and security. Russia is and will remain our most important defence partner.
“It is also a key partner for our energy security, building on its leading role in the development of nuclear power generation in India. There are evident complementaries that underlie our cooperation in hydrocarbons,” he said.
Mr Mukherjee said Russia is one of the world’s largest oil and gas producers while India is one of the largest consumers.
India’s largest investment in Russia is in the oil and gas sector, which can increase significantly and emerge as the driver of a resurgent economic partnership.
Both countries are committed to do so, he said.
Mr Mukherjee is on a five-day visit to Russia to attend the celebration of Victory Day on Saturday to commemorate Russia’s victory in World War-II against Germany.
The President said during President Vladimir Putin’s visit to India in December 2014, both the countries jointly agreed to the need to move the bilateral trade and economic ties to a higher level.
“We must build on synergies in areas such as engineering, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, fertilisers, coal, diamonds, metallurgy, civil aircraft, automobiles, and information and communication technology.
“Concerted and joint efforts will be needed to overcome structural and other impediments to India-Russia trade and economic collaboration. Indian businesses need to reach out to Russia’s regions and be more responsive to business opportunities in Russia,” he said.
Mr Mukherjee said Russian companies need to do the same and there is a need to comprehend each other’s achievements and capabilities, and recognise the huge opportunities for investment and technological tie-ups in their dynamic markets.
The President also called Vladimir Putin as a “great friend of India”, saying the dynamic development of the strategic partnership owes a great deal to the vision and leadership of his personal commitment which led bilateral relations reach new heights.
“We recognise President Putin as a great friend of India. I look forward to renewing my association with him on this visit,” he said ahead of his meeting with the President.
Mr Mukherjee said cultural and people-to-people contacts bind both the countries closely.
“We appreciate the warmth and openness with which Indian culture, philosophy and cinema are received in Russia. The exchanges between our universities, institutes of higher learning, scholars, artists and intellectuals are of the highest significance and must be encouraged.
“A Festival of Russian Culture was celebrated in India last year. The Year of Indian Culture ‘Namaste Russia’ is being celebrated in Russia this year. Tourism between India and Russia has grown significantly in recent years and can develop further,” he said.