15 june 2011

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets with Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, director-general of the United Nations Office at Geneva


Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev: Mr Putin, I'm so glad to welcome you on behalf of the United Nations.

We were just saying that you are the first Russian head of government to attend an International Labour Organisation meeting or visit the Palace of Nations in Geneva. Your visit is receiving broad media coverage, and you are widely welcomed here, as you might have seen.

So, on behalf of the United Nations, welcome!

Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much. To begin with, I would like to congratulate you on your appointment as deputy secretary-general...

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev: Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: ...and head of the United Nations Office at Geneva. This is a key supranational organisation for supporting security measures. It has a unique mandate, and its role cannot be overestimated.

The European headquarters is an important structural unit of the UN. I am certain that its role and importance will continue to grow. Highly important international issues are being discussed here. I wish you success.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev: Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: You are a prominent diplomat and politician. I have no doubt that you will lend forward momentum to the work of the European headquarters. I can assure you that Russia will support your work as steadfastly as it supports the organisation as a whole. Russia is one of the founding members of the UN. You can absolutely rely on us for our support. Also, I must convey the warmest greetings of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his best wishes.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev: Thank you very much, Mr Putin, for your encouragement and the assurance of Russia's support for our work here. I can sense this support from the Russian mission.

I must say that the Russian mission is contributing extensively to the cultural programme of the Geneva Office. They have organised 30 cultural events over the last decade.

We have recently organised a major event dedicated to the 50th anniversary of Yury Gagarin's first manned space flight. Another interesting event, Russian Language Day, was held on June 6 – the anniversary of Alexander Pushkin's birth. There were other events, too, over the month and a half that I have been here. It is very interesting work and "challenging" [Eng.], too, as they say here. That is, there are obstacles. The Conference on Disarmament has been convened. As you have said, there is a lot of work to do. At this stage, we have not yet seen much progress due to the complexity of the issues being discussed.

As the secretary general's personal representative at this conference, I insist that this work be continued despite these challenges. Some say it has reached a deadlock, but I would rather not dramatise the situation. We need to be patient. The issues being discussed, including the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (IMCT), should be addressed here and not extended to any other forum. In this respect, Russia's position is in absolute agreement with how we view the conference's work.

There are other issues as well. There's the Strategic Heritage Plan to overhaul this building. It is a historical building, over 75 years old. It is quite old. But it is also a symbol of civilisation: it is the building that once hosted the League of Nations. It is home to a fantastic library, which includes a wealth of archived documents. There are problems here, too, but, on the whole, we are making progress.

Vladimir Putin: We will support this project, too.