Potential that has not been usedA solid foundation for Ukrainian-Indian relations
As of late the East has been the main trendsetter in the development of the world. This kind of talk has also reached Ukraine. Even after Ukraine established cooperation with China, the world’s biggest power after the US, another big country, India, was left beyond Kyiv’s attention out of various reasons. All forecasts say that in 10-20 years India will leave China behind in terms of the population size and GDP amounts.
Yet, as it seems, our government has managed to make a breakthrough in the Indian direction owing to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s visit to India, the first one in a 10-year period. On Sunday he came on a three-day visit to the world’s largest democracy.
Many Ukrainian high-ranking officials and experts cherish hopes that after a 10-year-long break the Ukrainian president’s visit to India will become an impetus for developing bilateral relations. In particular, on the eve of the visit Ukraine’s Ambassador to India Oleksandr SHEVCHENKO stated that the president’s visit is always a serious and powerful signal both in terms of politics and business.
However, in an interview to The Day India’s ex-ambassador to Ukraine Vidya Bhushan SONI called the period between the visit of the Ukrainian president to India in 2002 and this year’s visit the decade of lost opportunities for development of bilateral relations. In his opinion, on the one hand, the opportunities in many spheres, from military-technical branch to metallurgy and agriculture are based on Ukraine’s potential. The main reason is that India needs to modernize its military equipment, which was designed and developed in Ukraine in the Soviet time. Besides, India needs to modernize its metallurgy plants, which were also designed by Ukrainian engineers, and Indians are ready to invest in the upgrading.
Some progress started to take shape in the military-technical sphere. In spite of such a hindrance as the Pakistani Tank Contract and continuing supplies of military equipment to Pakistan, Kyiv managed to sign a massive contract with Delhi. The Ukrainian president mentioned about it in a press release. In particular, it includes the modernization of 105 AN-3 aircraft, 40 of which will be revamped on the base of Ukrainian defense enterprises, and the rest 65 – on the base of Indian defense plants.
Apparently, the reason is the quality of Ukrainian aircraft. For it is no accident that Indians consider Ukraine a great European country, a powerful technological state. In particular, a very influential military expert and journalist Vishal Thapar told The Day about this. He was also highlighting the visit and like many other Indians considers it a very important event. Thapar mentioned that there are many opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries. India takes interest in Ukraine’s experience and expertise in the defense and nuclear spheres. On the other hand, the expert underlined that India is ready to share its expertise in the sphere of IT and biotechnologies. Therefore in his opinion the president’s participation in the work of Ukrainian-Indian business forum in the state of Karnataka scheduled for Wednesday and Ukrainian president’s visit to the companies Infosys and Biocon are a very positive signal.
India is ready to invest in Ukraine’s pharmaceutical branch, but according to Vidya Soni, Ukraine has to create favorable conditions for the investments of Indian business. In his words, the Ukrainian government under the pressure of Western companies is shutting down Indian companies in Ukraine, which is taking place in the period when Ukrainians need cheap and quality medicines, offered by Indian pharmaceutics.
Soni also mentioned that many opportunities are lost because of the existing visa regime between the two countries. In particular, this regime is limiting business contacts, therefore Indian businessmen prefer to go to other countries.
The ex-ambassador considers that uniting of our countries’ efforts in the IT sphere may be a very promising direction of cooperation. In particular, Ukrainians are famous for hardware projects and Indians – for software and their ability to promote it on the market. Besides, the ex-ambassador mentioned that Indians can share their experience of teaching IT in primary schools. Mr. Soni considers that there is a big opportunity for cooperation in the sphere of agriculture. In his words, Ukraine can and should become a breadbasket in the period of time when the world is suffering from the food crisis. In their turn, Indians are ready to make investments in modernization of the plants, producing mineral fertilizers, and rent Ukrainian land to grow agricultural produce.
Soni opines that Ukraine has more opportunities in India than Russia. But for this aim Ukrainians have to do more, to be more active and more open for cooperation.
India takes interest in developing its own aircraft industry, getting technologies for mass production of aircraft at home enterprises. Therefore it is no accident that general director of the ANTK “Antonov” Dmytro Kiva is taking part in the business forum. India also takes interest in the cooperation in space sphere. With the help of Ukrainian scientists Indians want to create a cryogen engine, the Ukrainian ambassador told a press conference. That is why the head of the National Space Agency Yurii Alekseiev is taking place in the forum as well.
The president outlined all this in a press release after he signed five important agreements on bilateral cooperation. In particular, he calls the abovementioned opportunities a “potential that has not been used” in the agreements on cooperation in the defense sphere and scientific-technological cooperation.
Incidentally, at the Ukrainian-Indian business forum, which took place after the negotiations led by rather strong Ukrainian delegation, which included the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Defense, Minister of Agriculture, Yanukovych stated that Ukraine views the cooperation with India as one of its strategic directions. India’s ex-ambassador to Ukraine Soni noted that he perceived quite positively the speech of the Ukrainian president, his body language, in particular. This kind of message is encouraging for businessmen and such an approach helps in developing bilateral relations, Soni said.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said: “I have no doubt that President Yanukovych’s visit will create a solid foundation for Indian-Ukrainian relations.”
It is left to hope that this time Ukraine won’t give any grounds for anyone to speak about another decade of lost opportunities.
Ukraine’s Ambassador to India Oleksandr Shevchenko noted that Ukraine is developing cooperation with India, based on our country’s potential, known to India since the time of the Soviet Union.
But as time is flying, we cannot count only on this, but we should also look for new methods of cooperation. We need to be more flexible and fast, not to count on the monopoly situation which has played a trick on Russia, expecting that Indians would silently put up with boosting prices for military production and regular delays in supplies, like it happens all the time with the Gorshkov aircraft carriers. So, other countries have started to win the bids in India, offering a better production and timely supplies.