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Transcript of Media Briefing by Secretary (East) on visit of Vice President to Armenia and Poland from April 24-28, 2017

April 21, 2017

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: Namashkar. Aap sab ka bahut bahut swaagat hai. Good afternoon and welcome to all of you. We have today with us the Secretary (East), Smt. Preeti Saran. She is here to brief you about the forthcoming visit of Vice President to Armenia and Poland and therefore we also have with us Jt. Secretary (Central Europe) Shri Subrata Bhattacharjee and Jt. Secretary (ERS), Shri GV Srinivas and OSD to Vice President, Mr. Anshuman Gaur.

Today’s proceedings will be in two parts. First I would request Secretary (East) to brief you and after her statement we can take few questions and thereafter we will have a brief break and later I will continue with the regular weekly media briefing.

Secretary (East), Mrs. Preeti Saran: Thank you. Namashkar and good afternoon. Thank you all so much for joining us for this briefing. The first part as you heard JS (XP) mentioned is about the Hon’ble Vice President’s visit to Armenia and Poland.

Hon’ble Vice President of India will be visiting Armenia and Poland in the next week. He will spend two days i.e. April 25 and 26 in Yerevan where he will have meetings with the President of Armenia, the Prime Minister as well as the Foreign Minister. In addition the Hon’ble Vice President will also meet with Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians.

He will address students and faculty and the Yerevan University. The President of Armenia will host a lunch banquet in the honor of our Hon’ble Vice President and the Prime Minister will host a banquet dinner.

In the second lap of Hon’ble Vice President’s journey, he will be in Poland. He will reach there on the evening of 26 April and spend the next two days there where he will meet the President, the Prime Minister of Poland who will also host a banquet in his honor. He will also meet the Speaker of the Senate i.e. the Upper House.

The Vice President will inaugurate a business seminar. He will deliver a lecture at the University of Warsaw and will inaugurate the Indian Embassy Chancery cum Residential Complex. This is befitting that the Embassy is being inaugurated by Vice President on its 60th anniversary of establishment of our embassy in Warsaw.

The Ambassador of India will host a reception in the honor of the Vice President of India where he expected to meet the Indian community and friends of India in Poland.

Hon’ble Vice President will be accompanied by Smt. Salma Ansari. He is also being accompanied by a multi-party delegation comprising of Minister of State for MSME as well as four Members of Parliament from both houses of the Parliament.

This is Hon’ble Vice President’s first visit to both Armenia and Poland. His visit to Armenia takes place at a time when we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations with Armenia and therefore it’s a landmark visit and it is second such visit at the level of the Vice President of India to Armenia. We have had the visit of President of Armenia in 1995 and 2005 and the President of the Armenian National Assembly visited India in 2013.

India and Armenia, as perhaps you all know, share historical and civilizational ties, a common culture, traditions and language, values and even similar mindset. Armenian Churches in India are a regular reminder of our historical links with that country. Historians have recorded the contributions by Armenians to our trade and commerce as well as to cultural activities.

India’s relations with Armenia are excellent and we have a long history of supporting each other in international forums. India has assisted Armenia in IT related projects and we have shared our experience in agriculture, in defence, health, science & technology. We hold regular Foreign Office Consultations as well as inter-governmental meetings in different sectors primarily in agriculture, science & technology and commerce and trade.

Indian films and television programs are extremely popular in Armenia. Although our trade is below potential there is scope for further cooperation in several sectors such as IT, Pharmaceuticals, Chemicals, Automobiles, Garments & Textiles. The Indian group Kalptaru Power Transmission Ltd. is currently executing a transmission tower project in Armenia. India has also assisted Armenia in setting up a Center of Excellence with the Param Super Computer and a tele-medicine project.

Armenians have welcomed India’s ITEC scholarship programs which are very popular. There is also a Hindi Chair at the Yerevan State Linguistic University. Incidentally Vice President will also be addressing, if I have not mentioned earlier, students and faculty at the Yerevan University. We expect that Hon’ble Vice President’s visit to Armenia will further strengthen our relations with this country.

Hon’ble Vice President will then visit Warsaw from 26th to 28th April, as I mentioned to you earlier. Our relations with Poland can be traced back several centuries during the Second World War, the then Jaamsaaheb of Nawanagar had extended hospitality to over 6000 Polish Children which is still fondly remembered in Poland. In present times India has close ties with Poland from our independence days. Since the 1990s our country has built a strong economic content to this relationship. We have a substantial trade with Poland as well as important investment relationship. Nearly 3 billion USD Indian investments in Poland and about 600 million USD Polish investments in India. There are regular exchanges of bilateral visit between our two countries. Our President had visited Poland in 2009 and the Polish Prime Minister had visited India in 2010. Our Vice President’s visit at this stage therefore provides continuity to our high level exchanges with Poland.

India sees Poland as an important emerging economy not just in Europe but also globally. Today Poland is India’s largest economic partner in Central Europe. Our bilateral trade has seen a growth of over 25 percent just in one year alone. As Polish business looks for market and opportunities beyond Europe, India is a natural partner.

We find several Polish technologies of great relevance and of interest to us in our National Development Programs particularly in the areas of food processing, coal mining, green & renewable energy as well as in education. We see mutually beneficial opportunities in these sectors thus an important focus of Hon’ble Vice President’s visit to Poland will be to deepen our economic engagement.

On the political side Poland has been very supportive of India’s concerns and aspirations and Hon’ble Vice President is expected to discuss strengthening cooperation in international fora including at the United Nations and other multilateral agencies.

So I’ll stop here, it’s a very comprehensive brief and I will be happy to take any questions.

Question: Will India’s membership of NSG will be discussed during the Poland visit of the Vice President?

Question: What is the larger geo-political context to these two visits because it is not often that our leaders go to these countries and what agreements can we expect to be signed during visit to Armenia and Poland?

Secretary (East), Mrs. Preeti Saran: Thank you for those questions. As far as NSG is concerned, Poland has been very supportive of our membership of the NSG and we have been very appreciative and thankful to them. So certainly when it comes up, it will definitely provide Hon’ble Vice President to thank the Government of Poland for the support that they have provided to India, not only in seeking membership of NSG but also in other international forums.

Coming to other question of what geo-political strategy does it serve, well these are two important countries with whom we have excellent relations. I think any relationship no matter how strong or deep the economic, cultural, political, scientific and other areas of cooperation might be can only be sustained through high level visits and therefore Hon’ble Vice President’s visit comes at a time to maintain that high level contact.

In the case of Armenia, it also happens to be the 25th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations. So that is the big landmark in our relationship so therefore Hon’ble Vice President’s visit is very appropriate.

As far as Poland is concerned, I have already mentioned to you that there is a strong economic content to the relationship which we hope to enhance with the fact that he would be there at such a high level, the fact that he will be inaugurating a business seminar. So it serves all our purposes to pursue our national development goals.

As far as the agreements are concerned, these are still under discussions. We will be happy to share additional details as the visit goes along but we do hope that some agreements will be finalized during the visit. In the case of Armenia we are certainly looking at enhancing greater cultural cooperation and a greater cooperation amongst the youth of our countries. So that is an area which is under discussion.

With Poland, they have been very keen to sell apples to us so I think agriculture is an important area. We also sell a lot of agricultural products to Poland and look forward to also importing from Poland, so agriculture cooperation and along with that agro-processing is an important area. In addition there are other areas under discussion and we will share the details as the visit proceeds. Thank you.

Question: A lot of Polish companies want to come here to supply to IKEA, so can you talk about that and what about the defence component in the Polish visit?

Secretary (East), Mrs. Preeti Saran: Specifically on IKEA, I might not have details but may be separately I can tell you, but yes Polish companies are most welcome. As I mentioned to you, we have about 3 billion USD worth of Indian investments in Poland that provide employment to more than 25000 workers. So that is a very good example of Indian investments that creates jobs locally in the country where it is investing as well as helps to develop the economy of that country.

In turn India has recently gone up in the index of ease of doing business in our country. We have liberalized several sectors including the defence sector. We would welcome Polish investments coming into India. In terms of ease of doing business India is becoming a more and more popular destination with our growth of 7 percent and big market. Certainly that has already attracted about 600 million dollar worth of Polish investments and we would welcome more including in the defence sector.

Question: Can you share the details of MPs accompanying the Vice President?

Secretary (East), Mrs. Preeti Saran: Yes, sure I’d be happy to mention. As I already told you the composition of the delegation includes the Hon’ble Minster of MSME, Shri Giriraj Singh. In addition Hon’ble Vice President will be accompanied by four members of parliament and they are Shri Sitaram Yechury from CPI(M), Rajya Sabha, Shri D P Tripathi from NCP, Rajya Sabha, Shri Vivek Tankha from Indian National Congress, Rajya Sabha and Shri Thumstan Chevant from BJP, Lok Sabha. Thank you.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: Thank you very much Ma’am and with that we come to the end of the first part of today’s briefing. Also thanks to my colleague Jt. Secretaries and also to Shri Anshuman.

(Concluded)

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