President Putin - a friend of India, my personal friend
Friends from the media
Russia is a very old friend of India.
I am very happy to be the guest of President Putin today and that too at Sochi
I am perhaps the first Prime of Minister of India who has got the opportunity to visit Sochi.
For a long time now, India and Russia have been unceasing friends.
We meet regularly for our bilateral meetings. But I am grateful to President Putin that he invited me for an informal meeting. In the series of a long program this meeting has added a new dimension to our long standing relationship.
I congratulate you and wish you the very best for becoming the President for the fourth time and that too with such a large mandate from the people of Russia. It is my good fortune that we spoke over phone then and it was my attempt to be able to meet you within a short time and today I take this opportunity to congratulate you in person.
You have not only, my best wishes but also the wishes of over a billion Indians because Russia is an age-old friend of India.
From the year 2000, when you assumed Presidency, you have had an unceasing relation with India. After becoming the President, when you came to India for the first time, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister of India. During that time your description of India –Russia relations as ‘India and Russia are old Civilizations and strong democracies-eternal democracies’ is still remembered by the people of India.
In my political career also, Russia and you have a special importance because in 2001 when I became the Chief Minister of Gujarat, within a month I got an opportunity to come to Russia, to Moscow with Prime Minister Vajpayee. And my first meeting with any leader of the world as a Chief Minister was with you and in this way my foray into international relations began with you and Moscow.
From then on till now, in 18 years we have had the opportunity to meet and think together regularly. We also had the good fortune to take both our countries forward together.
18 years ago when India was progressing under the leadership of Prime Minister Vajpayee, it was then that the seeds of strategic partnership were sown along with you.
Today, we both can proudly say that the seeds sown by you and Prime Minister Vajpayee have matured into a giant banyan tree. It evolved into a Special Privileged Strategic Partnership. This is a very big achievement in itself.
Today you have added the new dimension of Informal summit through your innovation to the tradition of the Annual bilateral summits that started 18 years ago. To my understanding, this in itself has opened up an opportunity to create a new level of trust.
In the last four years, I also have got the chance to walk with you, shoulder to shoulder.
We have discussed openly every bilateral relation and international relation issues. We have got the opportunity to move ahead together with confidence. I would like to express my happiness about this.
I would like to repeat the words of Prime Minister Vajpayee when you visited India for the first time in 2000. He said, “Due to our longstanding friendship with Russia, India wants to see Russia as a strong and confident state which has an important role in a multipolar world.”
This dream of Prime Minister Vajpayee, this foresightedness which is coming true today, and the opportunity to be part of this success is a matter of great happiness.
It is also a matter of joy to see that we are working together and moving ahead successfully in oganisations like SCO-where you played a major role in getting India its permanent membership, BRICS, INSTC or mechanisms like Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA).
As a true friend you have always remembered me. Last year you honored me by inviting me to St. Petersburg to attend the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. I thank you for this. The Forum is taking place again this week for which many great leaders are coming. I wish you the best for the success of this edition of the Forum as well.
The whole world and the country are waiting impatiently for the World Cup Football to begin and you are organizing this event with great enthusiasm. The attention of the world will be on you. For this event also I wish you the very best.
I thank you once again for inviting me for this informal summit.