“India And Russia Are Long-Standing And Time-Tested Partners”— Sergey L Kotov
“There is privileged strategic partnership between our countries and no political changes either in India or in Russia will affect the stable and deep-rooted relations,” said Sergey L Kotov, Consul General of the Russian Federation in Southern India, based at Chennai during his brief conversation with S A Hemantha Kumar, Special Correspondent. The chat took place at the function to mark the National Day of the Russian Federation on June 12 at Chennai. Excerpts of the interview:
In what sectors does the Russian Federation would like to work with the Karnataka government?
The Russian Federation and the Republic of India are long-standing and time-tested partners and cooperation between our two countries covers politics, security, trade and economy, defence, energy, science, technology and culture. South India including the State of Karnataka plays an important role in developing and promoting the Indo-Russian strategic partnership. Russia is interested in developing partnership in the field of aviation, space research, defence cooperation, hi-tech, IT, pharmaceuticals etc.
The aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, acquired by India from Russia, came into the Indian Navy Area of Operation in January 2014 and since then is based in Karwar, Karnataka. A group of Russian specialists from OAO PO Sevmash (Severodvinsk) is based in Karwarm, which provides the aircraft’s post-warranty maintenance including assistance in plan inspections of the aircraft.
In February 2013 nearly 40 Russian companies took part in the 9th International Exhibition on Aerospace, Defence & Civil Aviation AERO INDIA 2013 in Bengaluru. Karnataka and Russia have a solid basis in cultural cooperation. An outstanding Russian painter Svyatoslav Roerich and his wife Indian actress Devika Rani lived in Karnataka. Nowadays the Roerich’s residence in Tataguni near Bengaluru is taken care of by the authorities of Karnataka with Russian support.
The Roerich family’s cultural heritage connects Russian and Indian nations, and cements our bonds of friendship and cooperation.
Any bilateral treaty needs to be mutually beneficial. What is it that Russia has got to offer to Karnataka and in turn what does Russia expect from Karnataka?
Both countries are interested in developing contacts on the level of state and regional administration. Economic and trade, technological and cultural cooperation are the most attractive fields for our countries to develop their ties.
On December 4, 2002, the Protocol between the Samara Region Administration of the Russian Federation and the Government of the State of Karnataka of the Republic of India on trade, economic, scientific, technological and cultural cooperation was signed. The two regions are keen to promote cooperation and intensify direct partnership.
In November 2003, Chief Minister of Karnataka SM Krishna visited Samara with a delegation. In December 2003 Governor of Samara Region visited Bengaluru. In 2008 the delegation from Irkutsk Region and in 2009 President of the Tatarstan Republic, the Russian Federation, also visited Bengaluru.
Promotion of ties at the level of SMEs is of great potential to developing trade and commercial ties between Karnataka and various regions of the Russian Federation. We expect that the cooperation at the regional level will strengthen and reach new heights.
Does the change of the government at the Centre (Union government) will in any way affect the relationship between India and Russia?
There is privileged strategic partnership between our two countries and no political changes either in India or in Russia will affect the stable and deep-rooted relations. We cooperated fruitfully with BJP government before under the leadership of A B Vajpayee. As a matter of fact, the Declaration on the Strategic Partnership between Russia and India was signed in October 2000 by President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
What steps can the Russian Federation take to propagate Russian language in Bengaluru in particular and other parts of Karnataka in general?
There is Russian language class functioning in Bengaluru with the assistance of the Institute of Russian Language at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture in Chennai. There is also a possibility of launching long-distance education programmes and language courses through Internet, video conference and other facilities. All in all, there are various prospects of expanding the scope of partnership between Karnataka and Russia in terms of language and education.
Is there any proposal for tie-up between various universities in Karnataka and Russia Educational Exchange Programme etc?
Now we are developing ties with various universities in South India. At the moment the partnership ties between some universities in South India (mainly Tamil Nadu) and Russia have been developing. Russian universities and colleges are very much interested in establishing cooperation and exchange programmes with Karnataka universities. Initiatives and proposals from universities and other educational institutions in Karnataka are welcomed from our side. They would help us define the field of mutual interest and the scope of possible partnership.
In specific terms, what are trade and commerce areas in which Russia and Karnataka can operate?
There are some very perspective areas to develop bilateral trade ties such as energy industry, IT and scientific field, space research, electrical supplies, biomedicine products and some others. In June 2014, there was a meeting of Indo-Russian Inter-Governmental Commission on trade, economic, technological and cultural cooperation under the chairmanship of Vice Prime-Minister Dmitry Rogozin and Minister of External Affairs S Svaraj. The parties confirmed their willingness to increase the trade turnover between Russia and India. Hopefully, the share of South India in it will also grow. Strengthening of ties at the level of SMEs, promoting interbank cooperation are vital to facilitate commercial and trade collaboration between Russia and Karnataka.