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Russia and India intensify cooperation in regional matters — Indian Ambassador


									Russia and India intensify cooperation in regional matters — Indian Ambassador - News - The Voice of Russia: News, Breaking news, Politics, Economics, Business, Russia, International current events, Expe...

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                                         29 January, 10:02

                                         Russia and India intensify cooperation in
                                         regional matters — Indian Ambassador

                                         © Collage: Voice of Russia

                                         "We have politically very close relations, we had close
                                         consultations at various levels, nowadays it includes both bilateral
                                         and plurateral, multilateral in number of forums, we have a
                                         defense relationship that goes back at least for decades. You
                                         ensure that the progress in every one of this areas is at pace, that
                                         the governments of two countries are acting as the people of the
                                         two countries expect. We have a fairly intensive set of exchanges
                                         between the two countries," Ambassador P. S. Raghavan, Indian
                                         envoy to the Russian Federation, told The Voice of Russia.

                                         How would you define the prospects for bilateral cooperation between India and Russia?

                                         First of all, let me say what a great privilege and honor it is for me to be here in Moscow as the
                                         Ambassador of India to Russian Federation. It’s an honor because of the extremely close[5/13/2014 8:13:52 PM]
Russia and India intensify cooperation in regional matters — Indian Ambassador - News - The Voice of Russia: News, Breaking news, Politics, Economics, Business, Russia, International current events, Expe...

                                         relations that we have between the two countries. Without a doubt this is one of the most
                                         important diplomatic positions my country can give to an Ambassador. Moreover, it is a place
                                         where I started my diplomatic career many years ago, so it is a great privilege to come back to
                                         the place where I started my diplomatic career. I must also say that it is a very daunting
                                         position that the Ambassador has, because of the multifaceted bilateral relations that India has
                                         with Russia. You have to ensure that the progress in every one of these areas is at pace, that
                                         the governments of the two countries are acting as the people of the two countries expect. We
                                         have politically very close relations, we have a defense relationship that goes back at least four
                                         decades. We have economic cooperation in a number of areas, and I didn’t even begin talking
                                         about people exchanges, cultural exchanges. I think next year we are celebrating the 40th year
                                         of Russian-India collaboration in space. In October last year we entered into an agreement to
                                         further intensify the cooperation between research institutions, largely focused on a joint work
                                         on projects where the scientists and technologists can exchange research prospective. Also in
                                         some areas they would seek to commercialize technologies, to put them together and use
                                         them in specific circumstances. We would like to see this kind of area touched by modern

                                         What are the prospects for cooperation in regional politics? What could be done to prevent all
                                         kinds of complications after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan for instance?

                                         Indeed, Russia and India both have very crucial interests in seeing Afghanistan’s territorial
                                         integrity secured, to establish a system that the Afghan people want and obviously to rid itself
                                         of terrorism and extremism of all kinds and of course, I know that there is this concern about
                                         drug trafficking which may spill over beyond the borders of Afghanistan. And Russia and India
                                         are on either side of this country, so we are both equally concerned. We have been talking
                                         about this. Like Russia, India also has had a very long-standing relationship with Afghanistan
                                         and with the Afghan people, we have very close cultural links with the Afghan people spanning
                                         many centuries. So, both Russia and India have been in close touch with the government of
                                         Afghanistan, we have been in touch with each other in trying to see in what way we can
                                         facilitate, without interfering, the development of Afghanistan into a country with the political
                                         system that the people of Afghanistan want, economic development and progress that the
                                         people of Afghanistan deserve, after so many years of strife and conflict in that country. We
                                         would like to do everything that’s possible both bilateral with Afghanistan and with Russia to
                                         see that this happens. Most recently Russia hosted a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation
                                         Organization, of which India is an observer, so is Afghanistan, and we had a very good
                                         meeting, this was on 22 of January, where we discussed various aspects of developments in
                                         Afghanistan, where we have agreed that wherever regional cooperation is possible and is
                                         welcomed by Afghanistan, we will enter into such regional cooperation, in terms of assistance
                                         to Afghanistan post- 2014 after the international forces leave Afghanistan - assistance to the
                                         Afghan security forces, assistance to the Afghan government and economy, as well as
                                         protection against drug trafficking and other consequences of such unwelcome development,
                                         prevention of its spilling over to other countries, It is an important area of cooperation between
                                         India and Russia.

                                         That brings us to another issue and that is Iran. What is India’s stance on how the international
                                         community should develop its cooperation with Iran.

                                         Again, Iran is a country with which India has had traditionally very close relations. Indian
                                         people and Iranian people have close links, which go back many centuries. Our position on
                                         Iran has been very clear, in fact, as indeed, the Russian position on Iran has been: we, of
                                         course, agree with the international community that nuclear weapons are not an option for Iran.
                                         But then, the Iranian government very clearly says that they are not developing nuclear
                                         weapons. We accept that within the parameters that have been spelled out by the international
                                         community we should enter into a dialogue, and we should enter into a constructive dialogue
                                         with Iran; not a prescriptive dialogue. We would like to see the situation being resolved through
                                         dialogue in a mutually beneficial manner.

                                         Now, turning to BRICS. Skeptics are saying that BRICS is rather unlikely to succeed, as it[5/13/2014 8:13:52 PM]
Russia and India intensify cooperation in regional matters — Indian Ambassador - News - The Voice of Russia: News, Breaking news, Politics, Economics, Business, Russia, International current events, Expe...

                                         brings together countries that are so different. Many are pointing to the differences between
                                         India and China, saying these differences are insurmountable…

                                         To come back to the end of the Cold War - I think what the end of Cold War succeeded in
                                         doing was to enable countries to cooperate with each other on certain platforms and not
                                         necessarily cooperating with each other on other platforms. However, if you look at India and
                                         China, China and India have much, much more which joins them than which divides them. To
                                         talk about insurmountable differences, this is the kind of construct that looks at black and white
                                         and tries to put things into black and white boxes. For example, we have a number of subjects
                                         in the international arena where India and China have nearly identical interests and they work
                                         together - the environment, climate change is one obvious example. We see absolutely no
                                         reason why we should put India and China in two separate boxes and as I said once again,
                                         BRICS, there is one area for example where BRICS is proceeding very purposefully, which is
                                         BRICS Development Bank. That is the subject that furthers the interests of each of the five
                                         BRICS countries. This is the example where with totally different economies you have a
                                         common interest which you can then move forward as part of the multilateral grouping.

                                         What kind of challenges, what kind of security risks do you see for India in the coming years?

                                         India lives in a region which has seen a lot of turbulence in the recent past and unfortunately
                                         will be seeing a lot of turbulence in the near future. We cannot fully insulate ourselves but have
                                         to protect ourselves from the impact of that turbulence around us, and at the same time try to
                                         contribute to resolving issues in such a manner that our region, our sub-region and then our
                                         larger region is able to become an area of peaceful economic progress because it is in that that
                                         India’s own stability and future success lies. You talked about Afghanistan, Afghanistan is very
                                         much in our close neighborhood which is the reason why I said that it will be very much in our
                                         own interest that Afghanistan doesn’t become a hotbed of either religious extremism or
                                         terrorism or the drug trade because all of that can have a very negative impact on India’s own
                                         security and eventually on India’s speed of economic progress.

                                         How about Asia Pacific?

                                         The Asia Pacific is not in a similar situation. The Asia Pacific is a region where India has a
                                         mutually beneficial economic and social connection. The countries of South-East Asia are in
                                         many ways culturally very close to India and we’ve had cultural and economic interaction with
                                         them over centuries. It is the area that we feel is important for a mutually beneficial economic
                                         relationship that can benefit Indian economy as much as the economies of these countries.

                                         Do you feel tensions mounting in that region?

                                         Certainly not with India. We see that there are tensions obviously. We can all see that there
                                         are tensions in parts of the Asia Pacific region. We would like differences to be resolved
                                         obviously through dialogue and through mutual accommodation. We have been urging all
                                         parties to pursue the path of dialogue and mutual accommodation.

                                         Do you think there is a high chance of diplomacy succeeding?

                                         Diplomacy has to succeed because in today’s world, with the technology of warfare and the
                                         high technology you talked about, which is as much applied to weaponry as to civilian pursuits,
                                         conflict, wars are not the answer.Diplomacy has to succeed, it is a matter of trying to make
                                         diplomacy succeed in the short term rather than having a festering wound over a period of time
                                         before we try to heal it.

                                         Hopefully, everyone recognizes the truth of that. But getting back to security issues, what is
                                         India’s vision of what’s been going on in Bangladesh and Pakistan?

                                         Both Bangladesh and Pakistan are pursuing the path of democracy right now. And it is very
                                         much in our interest, in the interest of India as well as in the interest of the world, to see
                                         democracies in both of these countries succeeding, and we would certainly not do anything[5/13/2014 8:13:52 PM]
Russia and India intensify cooperation in regional matters — Indian Ambassador - News - The Voice of Russia: News, Breaking news, Politics, Economics, Business, Russia, International current events, Expe...

                                         that would be seen as jeopardizing the success of democracy in neither of these two

                                         But what kind of solutions do you see for the situation in Pakistan for instance?

                                         It is for the people of Pakistan to decide how they want to be governed and how they want the
                                         polity of that country to develop. From our perspective what is of greatest concern to us is
                                         obviously the acts of terrorism that are perpetrated within our country and which have
                                         inspiration from across the border in Pakistan, about the financing and about the training of
                                         terrorists, who eventually perpetrate acts of terrorism in India. Of course, we have been in
                                         dialogue with Pakistan. We have heard that there are groups which are not sponsored by the
                                         government of Pakistan but which are sponsored from the territory of Pakistan. This is an
                                         ongoing dialogue. We would like to have a dialogue with Pakistan about all issues between us
                                         provided only we do not continuously have the threat of terrorism from across the borders. But
                                         we certainly do not want to interfere or interrupt the process of democratic development of
                                         Pakistan and we certainly wish Pakistan. It is self-evident that if India has to grow, we need
                                         peace and we need progress and peaceful economic development of the region around us,
                                         and that includes Pakistan as much as anyone else. So, it is in our core interest that Pakistan
                                         develops peacefully in a manner that the people of Pakistan want, and such that both our
                                         countries can focus on economic growth and development rather than issues between the two
                                         of us.

                                         What is the Indian policy in energy security, ecologic issues? I know that India is investing
                                         heavily into R&D in that field…

                                         Energy security is of course a crucial strategic priority for us and our national energy policy is
                                         very much geared to achieving energy security at the earliest and this energy security
                                         obviously has to be compatible with the ecological objectives that not only the world has, but
                                         we have. It actually explains the mix of energy that India has been doing in recent years. We
                                         place a lot of emphasis on wind energy, we place a lot of emphasis on solar energy and we
                                         place a lot of emphasis on nuclear energy as one of the best ecological forms of creating
                                         energy. So, these are areas that we are focusing on, and that actually brings us to an area of
                                         very close cooperation between India and Russia, which is nuclear energy. So, on climate
                                         change that I mentioned to you, this is one of the areas where India and China have very
                                         similar views. We are a responsible country as far as ecology is concerned but we cannot be
                                         penalized for the ecological profligacy of the developed world today, by being asked to accept
                                         unreasonable caps on our emission at precisely the time when we need to grow fast. What
                                         India has committed to do is to work very carefully to ensure that our incremental emission for
                                         each percent of growth is minimal. We have also said that we will always keep our per capita
                                         emission well below that of any developed country. Beyond that, to tell India to have a cap on
                                         emissions is punishing India for the size of its population or punishing India for its
                                         underdevelopment. And that is something where we feel equity should prevail. So, we have
                                         most responsible policies towards emission but at the same time we need consideration to be
                                         able to achieve the level of development for our people that the developed world enjoys.

                                         As far as I understand, India is not the only country to reject the idea of capped emissions
                                         because the US has been rejecting it for a long time. And - how is the relationship between
                                         India and the US developing?

                                         India and the US have developed again multifaceted relationship particularly over the last
                                         couple of decades. Our relations had been somewhat stunted during the period of the cold war
                                         for a variety of reasons but again as I said the freedom, which countries got to create their own
                                         network of international relations after the cold war, also resulted in India and the US
                                         developing relations in a number of complementary areas, and our economic relationship has
                                         grown considerably, our relations in the area of energy including nuclear energy have also
                                         grown. The problems that we used to have about access to technology have decreased in
                                         recent years, though these problems have not gone away altogether… There are a number of
                                         other areas where India and US have entered in a mutually beneficial and very harmonious[5/13/2014 8:13:52 PM]
Russia and India intensify cooperation in regional matters — Indian Ambassador - News - The Voice of Russia: News, Breaking news, Politics, Economics, Business, Russia, International current events, Expe...

                                         cooperation. So, today it is definitely one of our more important bilateral relationships.

                                         With the US pivot to Asia, what kind of role is India playing in this project?

                                         India will not play a role as part of any such project…

                                         But how is India readjusting its policies to the new change?

                                         I think I mentioned before, India belongs to the Asia Pacific region in many ways and has a
                                         close relationship of most countries in the Asia Pacific region, and certainly we will continue to
                                         develop these relations not as part of a US pivot to Asia or anything of that sort, but on the
                                         merits of our network of relationships.

                                         But India is a key player of that region and as far as I understand India can’t just be isolated
                                         from this change, which is going on there.

                                         Most certainly we will not be isolated. We cannot be isolated because as I said in many ways
                                         we are part of the region. We are part of the region, we have relations in the region, we have
                                         relations that go back many years with many countries of that region. So, it is not as if we are
                                         going to be isolated from what is going on there because we have a network of relations which
                                         is independent. This is the point I am trying to make. We are not part of anybody’s pivot to
                                         Asia. We have a network of relations, as independent as anybody else’s relations in that, and
                                         not directed against. This is something we keep saying – that our relations with countries in the
                                         region are not directed towards or against the policies of other countries.

                                         I know that India is famous for its independent thinking and for its peaceful cooperation
                                         principles, and that is what makes India rather special in the international arena. But the
                                         objective reality is that perhaps the architecture of the region is changing.

                                         The architecture is changing. What we need to do is not join up with the purposes of other
                                         countries but to evolve this architecture in a certain way that it is a network of harmonious and
                                         non-conflicting and non-contradictory relationships. Peaceful interests are the ones that have
                                         been worked for, and not hostile interests. And that is why the issues should not be resolved
                                         by the use of force because that would be self-defeating. They can only be resolved by the
                                         dialogue. We have to work towards that.

                                         It is a great challenge - the tensions around the whole world are mounting. Look what is going
                                         on in Africa for instance. Who could have expected that in a matter of a couple of years the
                                         instability would move from North Africa all the way to Central Africa and down…

                                         You can say that, but I worked a lot in Africa in recent years because India has a very major
                                         development assistance program in various parts of Africa. What you are just describing tends
                                         to look as a glass half empty rather than half full. If you look at Africa over the last couple of
                                         decades, look at the enormous advances that Africa has made. Look at the enormous
                                         economic, social and political advances that the African continent has made. Look at the
                                         spread of democracy in Africa, which is quite surprising if you look what happened over the last
                                         two decades. When you are talking about the conflicts, these are specific conflicts, and I know
                                         which ones you are talking about. But these are now looking as an exception in Africa rather
                                         than the rule. I would really look at Africa as the continent of very good progress over the last
                                         couple of decades.

                                         Do I get you right that you are saying that perhaps it is an illness of transitory period in Africa

                                         If you look at some of the conflicts that have risen in Africa particularly in the North and in
                                         Central Africa, you can trace the origins of the conflicts elsewhere. I don’t want to get into
                                         further details. But, therefore, there is specific local context of those conflicts. The larger picture
                                         in Africa, I would argue is a far more optimistic one.

                                         I know you spent quite some time in South Sudan.[5/13/2014 8:13:52 PM]
Russia and India intensify cooperation in regional matters — Indian Ambassador - News - The Voice of Russia: News, Breaking news, Politics, Economics, Business, Russia, International current events, Expe...

                                         I was the envoy of the government of India to Sudan and Saud Sudan for a period of about 8
                                         months before I came here. But I don’t mean only that. We actually have economic
                                         development projects that India is implementing all over Africa, not just in North Africa or
                                         Central Africa, or West Africa, or East Africa. But this is the point I am making. Over a period
                                         of time Africa has really developed very fast. And its social indicators have also improved
                                         greatly. Look at what happened with HIV and AIDs, how remarkably Africa has done to solve
                                         this problem and to get out of this problem, to minimize the extent of this problem.

                                         In that case, how do you see the role of the international community? Is it a blessing or does it
                                         create more difficulties for the African people?

                                         I would like to argue that there is no such thing as an international community. I would say that
                                         there have been a number of forces and countries and groupings that have been of great help
                                         to Africa. I would say that the African groupings themselves have done a lot for Africa. If you
                                         look at the promotion of democracy in Africa, who were the prime movers? The African Union.

                                         And that is an African organization.

                                         Yes, that is what I am saying. What I am saying is that the African Union itself has worked for
                                         the uplifting of Africa, whether it is in the political, social or economic sphere. And, therefore,
                                         let’s not look at the international community outside Africa. Africa itself has done a lot within
                                         Africa. That is what I mean. So, if you look at the international community, there is no such
                                         thing as a monolithic international community. People try to justify their position on certain
                                         areas saying this is for international community, but there are groups of countries and groups
                                         of countries have different ideas, different interests, different currents in international relations.

                                         Are you saying that Africa has enough of its own resources to get on the track of a successful

                                         No, what I am saying is that Africa has done a lot for itself. Of course, Africa like other
                                         developing countries of the world does require assistance from outside.

                                         What kind of assistance?

                                         This is the point – the assistance should be development assistance, the assistance should
                                         accord with the development priorities of those countries, the assistance should be assistance,
                                         not prescription. It should be non-prescriptive in nature. It should be without strings attached.
                                         What I am spelling out actually are the principles of what we call South-South cooperation,
                                         when countries of the south help other countries of the south, these are the principles that they
                                         follow, they follow the principle of answering the development priorities of the recipient country
                                         rather than the development prescriptions of the donor country. We do not want to provide an
                                         India prescribed development assistance to other countries, we do not ask them to change the
                                         way they govern themselves, the way they organize themselves. So, it is non-prescriptive.
                                         These are the principles that need to govern the development assistance in any country and
                                         that is what I mean when I say that any country requires development assistance, I mean it
                                         requires development assistance in a manner that accords with its development priorities and
                                         which its leadership feels would best meet the interests of that country.

                                         How would you describe the basic principles of Indian foreign policy?

                                         The objective of the foreign policy of any country is to further the domestic, economic, social
                                         and political objectives of that country. So, India’s foreign policy is geared to our task of
                                         developing India, of ensuring the economic growth of India, the economic development of
                                         India, growth with equity and to create for India the space to enable this to happen. And that is
                                         where what we talked about, - the independence of Indian foreign policy, comes in. You need
                                         to create the space so that you have the independence to enable your country to grow in a
                                         manner, in which the people of the country want it to grow, to enable it to develop politically,
                                         socially, economically in a manner in which the people of our country want it to develop. If you[5/13/2014 8:13:52 PM]
Russia and India intensify cooperation in regional matters — Indian Ambassador - News - The Voice of Russia: News, Breaking news, Politics, Economics, Business, Russia, International current events, Expe...

                                         need to do that, you need to have an independence of action in the external sphere.

                                         How do you ensure it?

                                         If you go back into history, that is what’s just happened. There were a number of elements of
                                         our domestic and foreign policy for which we have faced criticism for many decades. Non-
                                         alignment was one of them, the principle of non-alignment, which we followed during the entire
                                         duration of the cold war. It was a philosophy, which was geared to ensuring that we along with
                                         other similar developing countries develop the strength to withstand pressures for moving our
                                         policy in one direction or another. That was one of the principles of our foreign policy. Now we
                                         had a couple of others, for example. India invested a lot in education in our country, in training
                                         our people in various technical and educational skills, in what we call self-reliance, which
                                         people used to laugh at, of trying to build our industrial and manufacturing base. A lot of
                                         people said that this meant that we didn’t grow as fast as we could have grown. But if you look
                                         at it today, if India has this large pool of technically skilled man power, it comes from what we
                                         did than, what we were criticized for then. We now have an industrial base, which is being
                                         used by other countries to manufacture in India. We have a scientific and technological base,
                                         we have scientists and engineers who are now working all over the world. All of this flowed
                                         from a certain concept that we had of how we wanted to develop, of trying to maintain
                                         independence vis-a-vis the external world to enable us to develop the way we did. So,
                                         independence is not an aim in itself. It is what you need in order to be able to develop the way
                                         you want to develop.

                                              Ekaterina Kudashkina

                                              Russia, India, Iranian nuclear issue, Russian-Indian relations, BRICS, South Sudan


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