22 september 2011

Vladimir Putin meets with President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson at the International Arctic Forum in Arkhangelsk

The parties discussed cooperation in the Arctic as well as bilateral trade and economic relations. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin noted that bilateral trade and economic cooperation increased by over 80% in the first six month of this year.

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: Mr President, allow me to welcome you once again. Thank you very much for finding the time to visit Russia. I understand that you even had to adjust your schedule to make this trip. 

I want to stress once again that we pay very close attention to the cooperation between our two countries in the Arctic. And we appreciate the fact that you also devote so much attention to our cooperation.

I would like to use this opportunity to discuss our bilateral relations. The volume of trade and economic activity between our countries is rather modest in absolute terms, but in the first six months of the year it has increased by more than 80% to 82%. The number of Russian tourists visiting your country has also been increasing. The business cooperation council has been working quite efficiently. Last year, it convened in Reykjavik and this October, is scheduled to hold a meeting in Moscow.   

During our last meeting, we discussed potential cooperation in the energy sector, including geothermal energy. Our energy minister, along with Russian experts, has visited Iceland to study this issue and is ready to share his thoughts with you today.

Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson (via interpreter): Thank you very much for your invitation to visit Russia. As you rightly noted, I was in New York and had to make a long trip to Russia. But upon my arrival, I was struck by the beauty of your country’s landscapes and forests. It is very refreshing for the spirit and soul.  

I believe the cooperation between Iceland and Russia in the Arctic is not only extremely important for our bilateral relations but also for the overall spirit of constructive partnership in the region. Together we can achieve greater success, and I am happy to be here at this conference and at this university, which is home to Arctic research. It will serve as a foundation for Arctic exploration, and I hope that my visit will provide an impetus for instructors and students to join efforts in this field. I also look forward to a constructive dialogue on the Northern Sea Route.

Our location in the Northern Atlantic provides us with unique opportunities, which we would like to use for a constructive dialogue with Russia.

Following our meeting last year, we came to the conclusion that it was time to implement many other interesting projects not only in Russia and Iceland, but also worldwide. Your energy minister visited Iceland and we discussed the potential for using geothermal energy projects in Russia. Similar projects can also be implemented elsewhere in the world.  

Ten years ago we could not even imagine that Iceland might need assistance in developing Arctic natural resources. But today we realise that we need both economic and environmental assistance and support in this area.

Iceland could never create companies that would be able to do this on its own, and therefore, we are looking for assistance from other companies working in this area.   

I think the current bilateral trade figures do not reflect the full potential of our future relations. If we implement energy projects in other countries, it will not be reflected in bilateral trade numbers and our relations. As I mentioned during our meeting last year, we are interested in cooperation in aviation in the Arctic, and we are interested in seeing an increased presence of Russian companies there, especially in extreme weather conditions.