30 october 2008

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin talked to Russian journalists after visiting Kazakhstan

Vladimir Putin

Meeting with journalists

"We must implement our projects at all costs, when they are ambitious enough and especially when they involve economic infrastructure. Again, we must stimulate domestic demand. We must help each other finance projects. Russia, China and Kazakhstan have many such opportunities."

Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon. 

Question: Good afternoon. Rossiiskaya Gazeta. Opinions differ on the goals of the Shanghai Organisation. Some view the SCO as an attempt to create another point of development under an American monopoly. Some say that Russia uses the SCO as a tool to achieve global leadership, while still others warn that Russia is turning into China's raw material appendage through the SCO. Please give us your thoughts on the SCO and its prospects. Do you think the SCO will survive the global crisis?

Vladimir Putin: There is no need to develop international partnerships for one-sided economic development. As you know, and as I have said many times, the SCO was formed as an organisation to negotiate border issues of the former Soviet Central Asian republics and as a tool for similar issues between Russia and China after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

This format has proved its worth. It was apparent the organisation could solve other problems by expanding its scope. It went further to cooperate on economic issues. That was natural, because today's world is the world of a global economy, and countries sharing a region can be effective through pooling their economic efforts. That's what we have now.

Naturally, Russia has long-established links with China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. We must do everything we can to guarantee the progress of these relationships, and that's what we are doing. Hegemony is out of the question. On the contrary, you may have noticed that we seek ways to guarantee the interests of all member countries in the organisation. In fact, each country shares its competitive advantages in international markets and on bilateral arrangements. In this sense, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is many times more relevant today as we are facing problems in international finance and the world economy. Countries that share a region should use their geographic and historically competitive benefits. That is what the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is doing with great success.

Question: The current financial atmosphere makes many countries in the SCO regard Russia and China as tentative creditors. Are you ready to offer anyone financial support? If you are, then whom and to what an extent?

Vladimir Putin: As you know, we have ambitious cooperation plans-bilateral and multi-lateral. China has announced intentions to finance joint projects on a fairly large scale. Russia takes part in many projects regionally, and does not intend to alter this approach.

We believe the plans we have drawn in the Russian economy and in cooperation with our partners must be implemented. More than that, we will work to implement them at all costs because they will support domestic demand in our countries. Today, as traditional markets are largely closing to our commodities and with the restrictions of credit financing by Western financial agencies, domestic demand can and must be a natural source of development. Activities in this direction will be more effective if we pool our efforts in integration processes.

Question: Mr Putin, you said today that cooperation was necessary to overcome the aftermath of the crisis and prevent its expansion. What do you think of cooperation within the SCO in this context?

Vladimir Putin: I just said it. I said that many financial sources were closing due to the international financial crisis, and that the markets for our traditional goods were shrinking to great extent. That is why we must implement our projects at all costs, when they are ambitious enough and especially when they involve economic infrastructure. Again, we must stimulate domestic demand. We must help each other finance projects. Russia, China and Kazakhstan have many such opportunities. The SCO countries that had economic problems before are not growing under current developments, to be sure. But they have made some progress. Cooperation with the countries I have mentioned gives them a better chance.

Question: Kommersant. Good afternoon, Mr Putin.

Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.

Question: Do you think current government measures are sufficient to overcome the aftermath of the global economic crisis? And another question: President Dmitry Medvedev revealed how much he had saved and where his savings were deposited. Now, you...

Vladimir Putin: I see you take an interest in others' possessions.

Question: Right. That's my habit. So I am asking you the same question: what currency are your savings in? Are you planning to make any urgent investments?

Vladimir Putin: Let us start with the second question. I have deposits in Sberbank and VTB, and they will stay there. I don't think I will make any changes. Our banking system is performing smoothly. We have said many times that the Central Bank is placing big money there.

There are certainly questions about banks, mainly concerning confidence in the interbank crediting market. This has no bearing on private persons' accounts-the question concerns cooperation between banks. You asked me in your first question what else should be done for Russia to get through global financial challenges unscathed. We must enhance confidence towards interbank crediting and, to an extent, free up financial bottlenecks for real money to get to manufacturing industries. We must support certain sectors of the Russian economy. We have mentioned them many times-construction, leasing, the agro-industrial complex, and agriculture. The necessary measures have been blueprinted.

At the same time, this does not necessarily mean that the measures we are implementing will suffice. One of the deputy prime ministers phoned me just now and asked me to contact him. I know what they are doing. Tomorrow, we will review a package of additional measures to support Russian manufacturing industries. We will see. We spent the whole day on it yesterday, so I left Moscow very late and came here at four in the morning. We will get on with the job tomorrow. I am sure we will modify the package as the need arises.

Question: So you will have no days off?

Vladimir Putin: We have never had any.

Question: Are your deposits in roubles?

Vladimir Putin: Yes, for the most part.

Question: Have you lost?

Vladimir Putin: I am not sure-too busy to calculate. But I don't think I have lost anything. On the contrary, I think that deposit transfers are a nuisance. I have said many times that we will do everything we can for the public not to feel those problems-especially the depositors in Russian financial institutions.

Journalist: Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Goodbye.