7 june 2011

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin holds talks with Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov at an extended meeting during the eighth session of the Committee for Economic Cooperation

“We should not stop at increasing bilateral trade. Our strategic goal is to reach a qualitatively new level of business cooperation – I mean the development of industrial cooperation, partnership in high-tech industries, and the promotion of long-term mutual investment,” said Mr Putin.

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: Mr Azarov, colleagues, I am pleased to welcome you to Moscow.

Mr Azarov and I have just exchanged views and spoken in great detail about nearly all areas of Russian-Ukrainian relations. We will continue this discussion during an extended session at the eighth meeting of the Committee for Economic Cooperation.

The agenda includes the entire range of issues in Russian-Ukrainian relations, including cooperation in energy and industry, transport and agriculture, and the space and aviation industry. In preparation for today's meeting, industry-specific agencies carried out a great deal of work – almost all industry-specific sub-commissions held meetings. Today, we are going to hear our colleagues' reports.

First, I would like to note that trade and economic relations between Russia and Ukraine show steady, positive momentum. Bilateral trade is growing rapidly. It was up 62% in 2010, at $37 billion. In 2011, we expect to exceed the pre-crisis indicators; the trade numbers grew by 70% in the first quarter alone. If we keep this pace, then we will exceed the pre-crisis trade turnover volume by late 2011, and given the potential of our two countries, I believe that this is not the limit.

It is important not to limit the issue to expanding mutual trade. Our strategic goal is to achieve a whole new level of cooperation between our countries. I am talking about the development of production cooperation, partnership in high-tech industries and promoting mutual long-term investment. Incidentally, our investments have grown over the past year too: Russia invested over $1 billion in the Ukrainian economy, and Ukraine invested over $200 million in Russia

We need joint projects that make use of the natural competitive advantages of Russia and Ukraine and join together their industrial, technological and labour resources. Needless to say, such projects must adhere to a course of development and improvement in our national economies.

We have already accumulated successful experiences in cooperation. Russian and Ukrainian companies are carrying out joint high-tech projects in the nuclear power industry, aviation, shipbuilding, and space technology. Obviously, the implementation of such ambitious projects requires different systemic conditions. I’m convinced that Ukraine’s more active involvement in multilateral integration projects, primarily the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space, would create new opportunities for our business communities, although we fully realise that the ball is in the Ukrainian court. It’s up to them. Ukraine should consider the full economic consequences of such an action, and, if they choose to join us, we will welcome their decision. I’d just like to emphasise that we are ready to see Ukraine’s more active involvement in these processes.

We must also further expand direct cooperation between our regions and business communities. Such contacts substantially enrich bilateral economic partnership and open new vistas for promising projects and business ideas.

I’d like to say a few words about mutual investment. I think that its growth is a major indicator of the effectiveness of our work. Therefore, our common goal is to remove barriers to the movement of capital and support long-term investment that is associated with new production lines and new high-tech and well-paid jobs.

I’d like to express my conviction that the committee’s current meeting will be held in its traditional businesslike and friendly spirit and that the decisions made will facilitate the dynamic expansion of our partnership. Many thanks for your attention. I’m happy to give the floor to my colleague, the prime minister of Ukraine.

Mykola Azarov: Thank you, Mr Putin. Colleagues, we are happy to meet with you again. Thank you for the constructive spirit of our discussions.

The Ukrainian delegation intends to work effectively and to achieve results that would make it possible to considerably advance our cooperation. As Mr Putin pointed out, our economic cooperation is developing dynamically, and our trade has increased by 50% during this period. Naturally, this was made possible by a dramatic improvement in the atmosphere of our countries’ intergovernmental relations. I’m very pleased to note that today all issues are being addressed in a spirit of mutual understanding and trust – just as it should be between strategic partners. Our colleagues’ regular meetings with you, Mr Putin, and the coordinated work of the ministries, government agencies and regional authorities have helped bring about a qualitatively new level of economic cooperation between Ukraine and the Russian Federation.

I am convinced that we made the right decision in focusing on joint large-scale industrial and infrastructural projects, and deeper integration and cooperation in aircraft building, the rocket and space industry, nuclear energy, ship building and other high-tech, scientifically-driven industries. This will enable us to make our products globally competitive more quickly, start the production of the most cutting-edge machinery and equipment, ensure energy security and facilitate more efficient operation in other countries’ markets.

Joint development of international transport corridors and an increased volume of transit flow through Ukraine and Russia also offer a significant opportunity to deepen our cooperation. We have made substantial progress in various important projects, such as the implementation of more relaxed customs control. For example, Mr Putin, the Capital Express train between Moscow and Kiev has switched to a simplified customs control scheme, thanks to the Minister of Transport and Ukrainian transport authorities. Other projects include the construction of a transport crossing across the Strait of Kerch and an increase in rail and ferry transport between the Crimea and the Caucasus. Our cooperation in agriculture is also developing successfully, allowing both countries to meet the challenges related to food security. I’m looking forward to discussing these and other pressing issues today, and making the necessary decisions.

Naturally, some attention will be given to energy issues, above all the supply of natural gas to Ukraine. Our country is the largest buyer and transporter of natural gas to Europe. As we all know, we have no problems with our accounts, and we pay on time. Yet we are deeply convinced that the current agreement does not reflect today's realities, and is quite burdensome on the Ukrainian economy. We hope that we will be able to find a mutually beneficial solution for this and other issues.

In conclusion, I would like to assure everyone present that the Ukrainian delegation is ready for an open dialogue on all issues on the committee’s agenda.