Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets with UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres
15 june 2011
Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:
Vladimir Putin: High Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, I am glad to meet with you again.
This is an important day for you: I think it was on this day six years ago that you were appointed to his high post. My congratulations. Besides, it is 60 years since the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was established, also a very important event. The organisation is truly global in scale, it operates in 125 countries and has, I as far as I know, 400 offices covering, one way or another, 36 million people. These are impressive figures. Still more importantly, you work not in Geneva but in the most difficult, dangerous parts of the world, including Iraq and Afghanistan. Your representatives work wherever people are in trouble and need your assistance; this is very difficult, important and responsible work. Russia has always supported you and will continue to do so.
Antonio Guterres (via interpreter): Thank you, Mr Prime Minister. I would also like to thank you for meeting with us. I think this is an important moment not only in terms of the operation of our organisation but also in terms of its relations with Russia.
In the past, we maintained an operational presence in Russia, but now that the people who had been moved from the North Caucasus have returned en masse and with reference to solving the problem of stateless persons, we believe that our role in Russia is no longer to resolve problems, as in the past; it more closely resembles the role we play in countries such as Germany, the United States, Canada or Australia.
We are now working to maintain dialogue with the government in order to resolve the problems of people who seek asylum here. Our work also involves the collection of funds. We believe that these changes in our relations are very important: the fundamental essence of our relations is changing, and this is due to changes in the Russian Federation and to progress it has made.
We are wholly committed to working with the Russian Federation on international, global issues that are also of interest to your country. The issue of stateless persons is one of the key aspects of our operation in the context of our 60th anniversary.