Ladies and Gentlemen,
I warmly welcome all the participants of the 8th session of the Armenian-Indian Intergovernmental Commission.
Comprehensive deepening and development of the relations with India is one of the foreign policy priorities of Armenia. In this regard, it is gratifying to see that India with its vital democracy and dynamic economy is making significant achievements in many fields today, which contributes to the promotion of India’s reputation in the world arena. Armenia also highly appreciates the stabilising activities of India in these tumultuous global times.
I must commend that traditional warm relations and mutual support between our peoples, which derive from the depths of the centuries, continuously strengthen, and the interstate ties - expand and deepen. This year is also symbolic for the relations between our two countries; we are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Armenia and India.
It should be noted that although the last session of the Armenian-Indian Intergovernmental Commission was held a long time ago, however, especially recently we have implemented a lot of work for the development of our bilateral relations and cooperation. High-level mutual visits have been held, and there is active cooperation within the framework of international structures, also business forums and meetings have been organized in both countries.
Our meeting with Foreign Minister Subramanyam Jaishankar last year in Dushanbe gave a new impetus to our cooperation. Then, in the fall of last year, Foreign Minister Jaishankar made a very important visit to Armenia, and during that visit, an ambitious roadmap for cooperation was elaborated, which we are purposefully implementing. Finally, in April of this year, the Armenian delegation participated in the "Raisina Dialogue'' conference, within the framework of which I also held meetings with the leadership of India. Those meetings provided a good opportunity to continue our dialogue. We highlighted the fact that during our visit in April, we went to India with a rather serious economic agenda, organising business forums in New Delhi and Mumbai and thus significantly promoting business to business contacts between our countries.
I must commend that the volumes of Armenia-India trade turnover have increased dramatically in recent years: thus, in 2021 it was 181 million US dollars compared to about 21 million US dollars in 2016. Indeed, these figures do not reflect the full potential of our bilateral trade and economic cooperation yet, and we expect a drastic increase in trade turnover volumes in the coming years.
I think our Indian partners will agree that we have work to do towards the development of our cooperation in the fields of information technology and communication, pharmaceuticals, science, education. I would also like to mention that defence and military-technical fields, agriculture, transport, civil aviation, tourism and healthcare have great potential and are extremely promising for our two countries.
The ongoing discussions in these directions will turn into practical agreements and into new opportunities for our governments and businessmen.
I would also like to highlight the assistance of the Indian Government for the implementation of development programs in Armenia. Among them, I would like to specifically emphasize the technical assistance provided by India in the field of high and information technologies, particularly, the creation of the education of young professionals and schoolchildren. This support surely contributes to the education of young professionals and schoolchildren in Armenia.
We also cooperate effectively in the field of territorial development. In this regard, we welcome the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Republic of Armenia and the Government of the Republic of India regarding Indian Grant Assistance for Implementation of High Impact Community Development Projects, which will take place at the end of our session.
I would also like to emphasise the humanitarian dimension. It includes both educational and cultural programs. About 2,200 Indian students study in Armenia, mostly in medical professions, and here, we have already discussed opportunities to improve and expand student exchange programs as well.
Cultural cooperation is also of great importance for the strengthening of ties between the two friendly peoples. We have a rich cultural heritage in India under state care, for which we are grateful to the Government of India. We are also working on the implementation of Armenian-Indian cultural exchange programs, on presentation of magnificent examples of Indian culture, particularly, replicas of the frescoes of Ajanta caves in Armenia, as well as implementation of joint projects in the field of cinema.
I am sure that during this session we will have the opportunity to discuss a wide range of issues on Armenian-Indian cooperation and to outline new directions for the development of our cooperation.
To conclude, I once again welcome all of you and wish us fruitful work.