23 september 2010

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets with President of Iceland Olafur Ragnar Grimsson on the sidelines of the International Arctic Forum in Moscow to discuss international cooperation in that region


Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: Mr President. We‘ve met before in Moscow, and you mentioned that meeting in your speech at the forum just now. I'm very pleased to see you again in Moscow. Let me thank you once again for attending the conference.

Relations between our two countries have been developing without any interruptions. Ours are northern countries, and we have many overlapping interests. Unfortunately, the global economic downturn has brought down our bilateral trade, which was modest to begin with. I hope, however, that it will soon return to pre-crisis levels.

It's really nice to see you! Welcome!

Olafur Ragnar Grimmson (as translated): Thank you kindly. For me, it's a big honour to take part in this forum. And I'm especially pleased that the issues we discussed during my previous visit to Moscow - issues related to the North - are high on the agenda this time.

International cooperation in the Arctic is now a priority in Iceland's foreign policy. In this regard, our friendship with Russia, which has evolved over the decades, and the close trade ties we've enjoyed since the end of WWII, create a good foundation for further cooperation and development.

As you know, Iceland is a small nation, and our bilateral trade will probably never reach the levels Russia maintains with bigger economies. But we could contribute to large-scale reforms within your country, notably in the following two areas. One is the use of geothermal sources for electricity, in Kamchatka, for instance, or in some other Russian region. Icelandic companies are eager to get involved in a geothermal power plant project in Kamchatka. Electricity [generated from geothermal sources] could be used for various industrial purposes, such as aluminium production, as well as to further develop the region's infrastructure.

As I told you eight years ago, Iceland has come a long way in its efforts to transition away from fossil fuels, such as oil and coal, to renewable sources of energy, which our country intends to use for almost 100% of its energy needs. We would be willing to share that technological expertise with Russia and to help with the construction of Russian infrastructure, using foreign investment as well as domestic sources of financing.

The other area is cooperation in developing air travel across Siberia and in other northern regions of Russia.