President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov: Mr Putin, allow me to welcome you to Tashkent and express my great respect for you and, through you, my deep respect for the people of Russia.
I would like to take advantage of this opportunity to say that we have drawn up a programme – everything is fine and spelled out down to the last detail, and I am amazed by the efficiency of the Russian team. Only five or six minutes ago, there was an empty space here, there was nothing, and then everything quickly materialised. So from this perspective, with this no-nonsense approach, I believe that no challenge is too great for us.
At our meeting today, we need to discuss, above all, issues related to tomorrow. Most importantly, the priorities, the bilateral priorities that are a source of concern to us and that we need to address as a matter of urgency in order to formulate common positions.
There is a reason I am mentioning this – it’s because with such a large team that will get together tomorrow, and with the core [issues] that we are going to present tomorrow, in order to avoid unpleasant surprises, I would very much like to know your opinion on the issues that are of obvious concern both to Russia and to Uzbekistan. I am sure that (and if someone thinks differently, he is wrong) there are priorities that are definitely of interest both to Russia and to Uzbekistan, where our interests are literally interconnected.
I should say it is common knowledge that you are often late. Today, you arrived, flew in almost on time. When I learned about this I said this is a sign that Mr Putin is set on achieving results at today’s meeting, as well as tomorrow’s meeting.
I would like to say in the presence of journalists that our meeting today had a small prelude: we saw a concert that we prepared in advance, including two numbers in Russian. I should confess, I kept an eye on you. You were sitting to my right and it was easy for me to look to the right – not left but right. I was simply looking at you to see whether you liked the first piece and then the second one. And you didn’t conceal behind your serious expression – in fact it was written on your face – that you were pleased to listen to what our performers had prepared. I think you enjoyed the performance overall. You said one thing: “I admire the level of preparation of the performers.” Well said. Just a few words, but you were absolutely right that they perform at a high level and prepared well for the concert.
I must say that we took seriously the job of preparing, organising and holding the SCO summit and I hope that tomorrow’s final, anniversary meeting will be at the same level as its preparation.
Thank you. Now I would like to listen to you.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Karimov,
Quite recently, only two months ago, I had the honour to receive you in Moscow but I am very glad to meet with you again. First of all, I would like to reaffirm that Uzbekistan’s preparation for the SCO summit deserves high marks.
Naturally, the de facto integration of such large countries as India and Pakistan into the SCO as permanent members is a major event in the history of our organisation at its anniversary, 15th summit. And history will record that this event occurred in Tashkent.
We maintain bilateral cooperation on a very large scale and will certainly use this opportunity to discuss bilateral issues as well.
So we are very glad to meet you again. Thank you very much for your hospitality.