Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had a meeting with the Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko
28 june 2008
Vladimir Putin also met the co-chairs of the Economic Cooperation Committee of the Russian-Ukrainian Intergovernmental Commission. After the Russian-Ukrainian talks Vladimir Putin and Yulia Tymoshenko gave a joint news conference.
Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:
Vladimir Putin: Esteened Ms Tymoshenko, I am very glad to see you in Moscow. As we agreed during our meeting in Minsk, today we will have a working meeting devoted to our economic links. Of course, we will be at your service on any other issues, considering the scale of our economic cooperation. I am sure we have things to discuss. Undoubtedly there are positive shifts. Trade is growing. There are issues that claim the attention of both sides. Most importantly, we have been discussing them and solving them in a timely manner.
We are very glad to see you, welcome.
Yulia Tymoshenko: Thank you very much.
Indeed, all our Government members have been working to achieve the priorities that we have identified. We very much hope that the priorities we have determined will be dynamically translated into life. To this end our ministries have been working together and today we have certain proposed plans of action to discuss.
It is a very timely meeting. We hope very much that it will be another sign of our cooperation. We seek harmonious, balanced and mutually beneficial relations and we will do all we can to achieve it.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you.
Meeting of the co-chairs of the Economic Cooperation Committee of the Russian-Ukrainian Intergovernmental Commission
Vladimir Putin: Esteemed Ms Tymoshenko, esteemed colleagues. Allow me to welcome you to Moscow once again.
Ms Tymoshenko and I have had a one-on-one meeting and discussed in some detail the current and most pressing issues of our cooperation. Exactly two months have passed since the third session of the Economic Cooperation Committee. We believe that the agreements reached by the Committee make it possible to develop Russian-Ukrainian cooperation effectively. We are satisfied to note the dynamic growth of mutual trade, which amounted to about $30 billion in 2007. It is important that the supplies of high-added-value products are growing faster than those of other products. There are many issues that need to be resolved in the sphere of energy, industrial and military-technical cooperation. We went over practically all these issues. I think we will have a more detailed discussion in an enlarged format. In any case we are very glad to see you. Once again, welcome.
Yulia Tymoshenko: Thank you very much, Mr Putin.
It is true that in recent months we have managed together to impart a totally new dynamics to our partnership. We worked out the main priorities of our cooperation at the last meeting of our Economic Committee. We identified eleven priorities, as the protocol states. They cover all the spheres of our cooperation.
In recent months our ministries have worked out tentative action plans for each of the priorities, for translating them into life. As of today we have draft actions plans for nine out of the eleven priorities. It includes the creation of a free trade zone in compliance with all the WTO rules.
It is particularly important for us that we have made such progress in creating a single interstate uranium enrichment centre. It is important for us because we have got the part of the chain that we need very much. We have practically agreed all out actions under joint space programmes. We have achieved a very high level of mutual understanding in aircraft building and we see good prospects there.
I hope that in this format we will be able to discuss what other problems we need to resolve in order to finalise the action plans on each priority, seal them by documents and act in accordance with the stipulated deadlines.
I would like to thank you for your hospitality and for the excellent and constructive conversation. I think that we are turning a new page in the history of our mutually beneficial cooperation.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you. I suggest that we now hear the executive secretaries of the Committee.
Joint news conference by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko:
Vladimir Putin: Esteemed Ms Tymoshenko, ladies and gentlemen.
The last regular meeting of the Economic Cooperation Committee of the Russian-Ukrainian Intergovernmental Commission was held only two months ago. But considering the character, scale and volume of our cooperation we have decided not to postpone today's meeting and to meet in Moscow.
Today we discussed practically the whole range of issues of our interaction. We reviewed the fulfillment of agreements reached earlier and determined the approach to further work.
Russian-Ukrainian economic partnership is on the whole developing progressively and successfully. Trade is growing steadily. A number of forward-looking joint projects are being implemented.
Today we have discussed energy, nuclear energy, aircraft building, cooperation in space and transport spheres.
The negotiations held so far have already shown that we are ready to discuss all the topics of concern to us in a friendly and open manner. We can resolve all the questions that arise to the benefit of both sides.
I am sure that Russian-Ukrainian relations have a big future. If we are responsible and far-sighted we are sure to achieve success.
Thank you for your attention.
Yulia Tymoshenko: Esteemed Mr Putin, ladies and gentlemen,
We had a thorough and very constructive dialogue today. We welcome the fact that as part of our joint work on economic cooperation we see not only an active exchange of opinions on the topical items on the agenda, but very concrete decisions being taken. The algorithm of further actions that is being agreed fully meets the interests of both countries.
Today we could see that our ministries and agencies have established an intensive dialogue that has yielded certain results. We feel that our cooperation is recovering and our interaction is becoming more dynamic.
We have always said that we should start by creating favourable conditions for stable economic cooperation. The atmosphere of confidence and mutual understanding is not the least of such conditions. I can safely say that such an atmosphere has prevailed between us. Attaining the level of real strategic partnership based on the long-term interests of each side and investing it with practical content - this is what engages us today. This is the priority in the work of the Economic Cooperation Committee.
In this connection we pin particular hopes on the agreements reached at the meeting today. Two months ago we identified eleven priorities. Today we already have a clear action plan on nine of these items, which gives us a new sense of the new strength of our cooperation.
I am convinced that the development of mutually beneficial economic relations will be key to the strengthening of our partnership in all spheres. Mutual commitment to a constructive approach demonstrated during the meeting today will yield positive results. I am sure that such cooperation will send an important signal to the international community.
The Ukrainian-Russian dialogue is developing. We are doing well, we are making forecasts, we are reliable partners and we are open to further cooperation with the world. Thank you for your attention. And thank you, Mr Putin, for the very constructive work today.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you, too.
Question: Mr Putin, what was the outcome of your discussion on the gas issues? What can you say about the signing of a long-term agreement as well as the price of gas and transit tariffs? Thank you.
Vladimir Putin: The gas sphere has been unduly politicised recently. In fact it is above all an economic issue.
I would like to note, and I am happy to say that the present Ukrainian Government is creating conditions for constructive work in this area. For the first time in many years there are no current payments arrears between the Russian suppliers and Ukrainian recipients of energy resources. There are still the debts from the former years, and we discussed this issue today. Suggestions have been made on how to solve the problem. But the Ukrainian side has no arrears on its current payments to Russia and Russian partners. This is the result of the Government's purposeful work. It creates a good environment for moving forward in solving all the other problems.
We would very much like to phase in European prices for Ukraine gradually. At the same time you know the position of our Central Asian partners, who would like to introduce these prices from January 1. We are in the process of negotiations. It is premature to speak about the results of these negotiations. As regards prices and transit tariffs, it is the question that the economic agents have to decide between themselves. The Government will give every support and seek to make these agreements acceptable.
Yulia Tymoshenko: For my part I would like to thank Mr Putin for the fact that we have found a constructive approach to working out strategic agreements on natural gas supplies. I am sure that we will live through this year successfully and find all the solutions.
Vladimir Putin: I have mentioned our talks with partners in Central Asia for reasons that I'm sure you understand: it is Central Asian gas that is delivered to Ukraine.
Question: I have a question for Yulia Tymoshenko. You were one of the signatories of the appeal to NATO on early accession of Ukraine to the North Atlantic Alliance. When you signed the appeal did you take into account the fact that more than 60% of the population of Ukraine are strongly opposed to that move whereas only 20% of the Ukrainian population support it? And also, did you take into account the high degree of cooperation between Russia and Ukraine in the defence industry? And the second question. Mr Putin, how will cooperation between Russia and Ukraine develop in such sensitive areas as the defence industry if Ukraine joins NATO?
Yulia Tymoshenko: First, I would like to stress that in the present-day world cooperation is both horizontal and vertical, i.e. between countries and associations. It is obvious that both Ukraine and Russia are today cooperating with NATO in a way that benefits them. We are talking about cooperation.
As regards Ukraine's accession to NATO, I can firmly say that the opinion of the Ukrainian people is the determining factor for us. So any steps that Ukraine will take in that direction will only take place after a nationwide referendum in which the people of Ukraine will have their say. The Ukrainian government and I as a leader of a political movement will heed above all the opinion of the people.
Vladimir Putin: I have no comment on what has just been said. I can only say that in my opinion, it is the only correct way to approach the problem. It is up to the people of each country to choose how to ensure its security. There is no question about that.
We consider any expansion of the North Atlantic Alliance to be counterproductive in terms of international security, because no new threats can be eliminated or prevented by such expansion; on the contrary, it creates new dividing lines. But, I repeat, the choice in any case rests with the countries that declare their accession to this or that military-political bloc, accession which undoubtedly limits the sovereignty of the acceding state. But that is a conscious choice of a country that does it. As for the military-industrial complex, there are no secrets there. The defence industry of any NATO country is geared to the production of armaments according to NATO standards. I am sure that many Ukrainian defence plants will be unable to work according to these standards regardless of our relations with Ukraine over the process of accession to the alliance. Some will be able to adapt but it would call for massive capital investments. As for our cooperation, Russia manufactures some weapons to NATO standards. Our companies are breaking into the world markets with these weapons and special equipment. In that sense we will probably be able to continue some cooperation. But as regards sensitive technologies, and these are above all hi-tech production, rockets and certain types of modern weapons, we will, in such an event, transfer such production facilities to Russian territory whatever the cost.
Question: I have a question for Mr Putin. You have experience working both as President and as Prime Minister. In which job did you feel more effective and more comfortable? And what would your advise Ms Tymoshenko? Because she has a very high approval rating: she has a good chance to become the President of Ukraine in 2010. What would you advise her?
Vladimir Putin: Ms Tymoshenko is a self-sufficient, very effective and popular politician in her country. She does not need advice from anyone.
As regards my own experience. Yes, in 1999 I held the job of Prime Minister and I am now back in that job. I am familiar with the job. It is hard daily work full of practical economic and social issues. But let me repeat that these are precisely the issues that engage the minds of Russian citizens. And I would like to thank the deputies of the State Duma and the President for entrusting me with this job.
Question: I am sure you have touched upon the stationing of the Black Sea Fleet in Ukraine. Russia and Ukraine have opposite views on the issue. I would like to address my question to both Prime Ministers: What way out of the situation do you see?
And the second question. You mentioned nuclear power cooperation between Ukraine and Russia. Ukraine is known to have signed a contract with an American company for the supply of nuclear fuel. It was done without a tender. This despite the fact that the price is higher and the quality of that fuel is such that the Czechs are now removing it from their reactors. Ms Tymoshenko, I would like to know what guided the Ukrainian side in making that decision?
Mr Putin, how do you assess the situation and how does it square with the statements that cooperation with Ukraine in the field of nuclear energy is a priority? Thank you.
Yulia Tymoshenko: You know, today we heard the report of the two heads of the nuclear energy agencies. Listening to their report on their joint work I did not hear about a single issue that is in dispute or on which they failed to come to an agreement and find a solution. We, Russia and Ukraine, are traditional partners in the nuclear energy field. It will continue because we are bound together by technology and future joint projects. I am sure that the decisions we made today on joint activities on the basis of an international uranium enrichment centre show that it will be our common project. Ukraine is involved in this project. It means that we are deepening cooperation in that area, strengthening it and elevating it to the strategic level.
As regards fuel elements, we have been using the product produced on Russian territory. However, each country has the right and the opportunity, and indeed the duty to diversify supplies. But that does not mean that there are conflicting interests. We will have common strategic projects in nuclear energy and we remain highly reliable partners.
As for the Black Sea Fleet, we have an agreement until 2017. Ukraine will honour that agreement as it honours all its international treaties, scrupulously and without deviations. I wouldn't like it to become an unduly emotive issue at this point in time considering that 2017 is still a long way off and we do not want the issue to prompt any confrontational statements. I think that we can cover that period in a very calm and civilised manner.
Vladimir Putin: The Black Sea Fleet has recently marked its 225th anniversary. All these years it has been based in Sevastopol. The Black Sea Fleet, of course, belongs to Russia, but it also contributes to the security and sovereignty of Ukraine itself. Otherwise Ukraine would not have signed the treaty. That is how we see the stationing of the Black Sea Fleet on Ukrainian territory. We believe that to some degree the Black Sea Fleet is a common legacy that we have inherited from the past. Our position is that there is an agreement ratified by our parliaments and that it will be complied with. I am pleased to note that Ms Tymoshenko has confirmed it. We consider unilateral actions on the issue to be destructive and detrimental to Russian-Ukrainian relations.
Yulia Tymoshenko: I think that Russia, Ukraine, the whole region and the whole world want to see our countries looking for common ground and not for causes for confrontation. I, and the Government that I represent, will build our relations in this way.