President Medvedev noted the importance of cooperation in high-tech sectors and invited Spanish companies to take part in the Skolkovo Innovation Centre project.
Before the meeting began, Mr Medvedev and HM Juan Carlos I witnessed the signing of a memorandum on developing technical and economic cooperation between joint stock company Alliance Group and Tecnicas Reunidas SA, and an agreement between OAO Russian Railways and Patentes Talgo SL on concluding contracts for supplies and technical servicing of passenger wagons manufactured by Patentes Talgo SL.
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President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Your Majesty, ladies and gentlemen,
I am happy to see representatives of the Spanish and Russian business communities here in St Petersburg. I think these kinds of meetings are very useful. They are useful for our politicians, but even more importantly, they help our businesspeople to find a common language, assess the situation, and develop trade and economic ties. This meeting is all the more important as this year is a particularly significant year in our relations. This year, we are launching the start of our big cultural projects: the Year of Spain in Russia and the Year of Russia in Spain. This is our joint initiative. I hope it will bolster our humanitarian ties and also reinforce our business ties too, which are no less important.
Our relations continue to develop even despite the difficulties that the crisis produced. Our trade in 2010 increased compared to 2009, reaching a figure of around $7 billion, but we hope that this is only the beginning. I believe that we will return to the pre-crisis level and even surpass it. Our bilateral trade peaked at around $10 billion in 2008, but this is not such a big figure for two economies such as ours.
Russia wants to become a country with an advanced economy that is attractive for investors. We have set a policy of making the transition from a raw-materials based to a high-tech economy. During the meeting with His Majesty just before, we talked about cooperation in high technology and infrastructure projects. Spain has good experience in this area, and we hope to develop this direction in our relations. This is all the more so as last year we signed a special joint memorandum and declaration on partnership for modernisation. I hope that this year, this memorandum will start to bear fruit.
It is very important to develop the big projects that serve as flagship undertakings in our bilateral business dialogue. We have our traditional cooperation sectors such as the oil and gas industries and the energy sector. But we are very keen to expand our relations in other sectors too, in transport, for example (on which an agreement was signed today), infrastructure construction, the electronics industry, shipbuilding, light industry, and the tourism sector too, of course.
We have some examples of very successful cooperation. I cited one example to His Majesty during our talks in narrow format. In Madrid, during my visit to Spain in 2009, we signed an agreement on renovating the Khabarovsk Oil Refinery, and this project is now developing very effectively. Moreover, this deal was recognised as one of the best in the oil refining sector in 2010.
The different Russian regions have established good ties with Spain. St Petersburg, Sverdlovsk, Rostov, and Penza Regions all have good contacts with Spain. We have much to learn and borrow from each other.
We spoke about developing the tourism sector just before. Spain places great importance on tourism, and it is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations and has great experience in this area. We want to work together with you in this area. We think it would be useful to hold consultations on this matter, all the more so as Russia is set to host a number of major sports events in the near future. We hope to see Spanish businesspeople and Spanish tourists too at these events. I am referring to the 2014 Olympics, and of course the 2018 football world cup.
We launch large scale facilities to attract investments into high technology. One of them is Skolkovo, our big science city, Russia’s equivalent of Silicon Valley. We hope that Spanish companies will take part in this project too. We hope to also work together within the big international forums to advance our countries’ business and economic interests. One of these forums is the G20, where we have been cooperating productively. We are always in the process of coordinating our positions, during my talks with the President of the Spanish Government, and during the other consultations that our ministers hold.
I therefore wish a warm welcome once again to the Spanish and Russian businesspeople here, and I hope that this will be a mutually useful meeting that will ultimately produce some good business results.
King Juan Carlos I of Spain (retranslated): Mr President,
Thank you very much for your warm and sincere welcome, and for the hospitality you have shown me during this visit to your great country at the moment when we are launching the Year of Spain in Russia and Russia in Spain.
We are truly happy to be here in beautiful St Petersburg. We can once again declare our desire to build friendly ties, and we agree that we should make every effort to ensure that our bilateral political understanding, traditional mutual sympathy, and cultural exchanges are reflected ever more strongly in our economic and trade ties in this century.
In this respect, we think it very important to organise and hold this kind of meeting with our countries’ prominent businesspeople, together with our government ministers. The work of the businesspeople here is the best guarantee that we will continue moving forward with every passing day, enriching the already very rich relations between our two countries. We look forward to your participation in this meeting and the joint undertakings that will follow.
Your country has undergone big change. Technological progress has given rise to new factors in the world. The economy is becoming more open and global. New scenarios enable Russia and Spain to overcome challenges together and use the new opportunities opening up, drawing on our historical ties, which go beyond Europe and extend across the Mediterranean, Asia, and Latin America. Modernisation is one of the challenges that we face, and the business community in Russia and the European Union can come up with responses here. We can put our economies in the vanguard of these efforts and work together to build an area of prosperity and wellbeing for future generations.
Our businesspeople have a big part to play in modernising our countries and developing our relations. Spain’s experience in this respect speaks for itself. Spain is a country of many technological achievements, a country with modern technology that has built modern transport and tourism industries and is developing renewable energy sources. As for other areas, we have probably the longest network of high-speed rail links in Europe, and the second biggest in the world. Madrid and Barcelona have become the gates between Europe and Latin America. We have the biggest ports in the Mediterranean. Major transnational companies operate in Spain, and our country is home to one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world. The same goes for companies in the renewable energy sector.
Our companies hold a big place in infrastructure construction, and we are contributing to infrastructure development in many other countries. Of course, the crisis affected everyone, and Spain is still feeling its effects now. But our government has made some significant decisions, including a reform package that has the support of our trade unions and the business community. The aim is to make our economy more competitive and sustainable. This is a difficult task that will require big efforts, but I am sure that with your help we can succeed, get people back into work, rebuild investment, and achieve new growth based on diversification and innovation.
Spain has also undergone change over the last decade. Moscow will host an exhibition at the end of March in which our businesspeople will take part. We will use this opportunity to carry out our Made in Spain project in Russia. This project has already been a success in the USA. It will help you to learn more about our latest technology and our companies operating on the big Russian market.
Many Spanish companies are making efforts to modernise and many representatives of these companies are here today. These are decisive people who can achieve a lot and who have friendly ties with Russia. They are involved in energy, infrastructure, air and rail travel, and other industrial sectors. There are prominent people working in our business schools, and they could get involved too. The president and representatives of the association of Spanish companies are here today, as are representatives of the Supreme Council of Chambers of Commerce. Our businesspeople are ready to work in Russia, deepen our mutual knowledge and develop joint projects with Russian partners, generate investment, and expand exports, which are still limited for now. In 2009, our trade grew by more than 30 percent. I am sure that with your support and involvement we can intensify the dialogue between our companies this year and come up with new projects and initiatives.
I am most pleased to note that at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, at which the President of the Spanish Government will be a guest of honour this year, we will have the chance to discuss new opportunities for bolstering our respective economic presence in each other’s countries. We still have four months to go until this event and we can use these months to work more actively toward this aim.
Our businesspeople believe in your country and its future, and they can be important allies in the modernisation effort, so that our peoples and our nations will transform the friendship that we feel in our hearts. Thank you very much.