Caption: Prince Khalifa with Ambassador Smirnov - BNA Image Credit:

Manama: Bahrain’s Prime Minister Prince Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa has urged Russia to move closer to its allies in the region.

“My advice to Russia is to be closer to its allies in the region,” Prince Khalifa said. “It is a superpower and we are keen on closer relations and cooperation with it in all fields. We appreciate President Vladimir Putin’s successful and sober policies that have strengthened the power of Russia and cemented its position in the international community. We look to Russia respectfully for its principled stances in support of its friends and allies,” the Prime Minister said as he received outgoing Russian ambassador to Bahrain Victor Smirnov.

Bahrain looks forward to more cooperation with Russia in various areas in line with the relations between the two countries, Prince Khalifa said, Bahrain News Agency (BNA) reported.

“Interactions among officials in both countries should continue in order to consolidate relations and cooperation,” he said.

Ambassador Smirnov said the Bahraini government was “strong in the face of challenges and able to fight terrorism and those who stand behind,” BNA reported.

Bahrain’s diplomatic and economic relations with Russia have received an impressive impetus following the visits by King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa in 2008 and 2014 and the visit by Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa to Moscow in April 2014.

“Since His Majesty the King’s landmark visit in 2008, we have seen a rise in trade between Russia and the Kingdom of Bahrain,” Kamal Bin Ahmad, Minister of Transportation said last year. “In fact, between 2008 and 2011, non-oil goods exports from Bahrain to Russia grew tenfold. The opportunity for Russian investors in Bahrain is significant, as the Kingdom is well-placed for investors interested in the whole region due to its excellent connectivity to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) market.”

Addressing the Bahrain-Russia Business Forum in Moscow, the minister said that Bahrain saw “a great opportunity to strengthen its economic and trade ties with Russia,” and that “businesses in Bahrain have a lot to offer Russia in exchange.”

“The economies of the Gulf Cooperation Council– a market which is now worth over $ 1.5 trillion dollars - are continuing to diversify, with Bahrain at the forefront, offering exciting new opportunities for foreign investors and new products for export to foreign markets. We are committed to building stronger ties with Russia and working together so that both our countries benefit from fast growth in Russia and the GCC.”

Diplomatic relations between Manama and Moscow were established in 1990 and in December 1991, Bahrain recognised the Russian Federation as the successor state of the Soviet Union.

Smirnov was appointed ambassador to Bahrain in 2008.