22 may 2009

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin met with his Ukrainian counterpart Yulia Tymoshenko in Astana


Transcript of the start of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon,

Not long ago we met at intergovernmental consultations in Moscow, and agreed to continue our cooperation.

I am very happy to see you here in Astana. Today, we have spent a lot of time on discussing joint efforts to overcome the global financial and economic downturn. I agree with the remark that ambitions disappear together with money, and I think it refers not only to us but to all post-Soviet entities. We have started to listen more to each other, and to search for opportunities of cooperation wherever it can be effective.

Last year, we reached a record $40 billion in bilateral trade. It is a great pity that it went down considerably in the first quarter of this year. Russia and especially Ukraine have been severely affected by the negative processes in the world markets.

Many consequences are purely objective: if the metallurgical market has shut down, iron-and-steel produce is not going anywhere. As a result, its production has to be reduced, and workers have to be laid off. In this sense, Ukraine has been hit even harder than Russia, but we hope very much that our cooperation will help us overcome these crisis phenomena.

At the same time, Ukrainians can at least rejoice at their success in football. I want to congratulate you, all Ukrainian fans, and all soccer lovers with Shakhtar's brilliant victory in the UEFA Cup. We are glad that the cup is not moving far from our borders. Last year, it was won by Zenit, and now Ukraine has it. Hopefully, we can beat you at football next time. In any event, we congratulate you. Such a victory is always a good thing, and makes one feel good even during the crisis. It will probably even help to cope with its aftermath.

Yulia Tymoshenko: You are right. It is very good for morale.

Vladimir Putin: Allow me to repeat that I am happy to discuss our current affairs with you.

Yulia Tymoshenko: Thank you very much. First of all, thank you for congratulations on Shakhtar's victory. Ukraine is capable of winning even if we need a little extra time for that, as was the case in the last game. I think we are capable of winning anyway.

I am very happy that recently we have started developing genuinely constructive relations between our countries. Our latest meeting of the economic committee opened up more opportunities for cooperation.

I see how actively our ministerial teams are working to implement all of our strategic priorities. They have stepped up their work a great deal.

I think today we will also have a good opportunity to discuss gas supplies to Ukraine and gas transit through it. I am confident that we will reach agreement on how to pump gas into depots because this is important for the European Union (EU), Ukraine, and all those who use Russian gas. I think we could resolve this issue, which I consider very important.

In any event, our cooperation at bilateral and CIS levels is acquiring increasing economic importance. Today, our common discussion with CIS prime ministers has shown that these meetings are becoming more and more effective, and promoting our economic cooperation.

I believe such vigorous cooperation will help us cope better with the crisis phenomena.

I would like to note that Russia is playing a very important role for CIS countries in these difficult times. Today, most CIS prime ministers spoke about Russia's support in overcoming the downturn. Our cooperation in this direction is also positive. Therefore, allow me to thank you for this understanding and support.