President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, ladies and gentlemen,
I am very happy to be receiving the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt on his official visit to our country.
The traditional friendship between our two countries dates back to the times of World War II. In the 50s and 60s of the 20th century, thousands of Soviet experts helped Egypt to build plants and factories, to build the Aswan Dam and to create an entire range of other facilities and even a whole branch of industry, such as metallurgy.
Many of those who now form the political, academic and cultural elite of Egypt used to study at our universities. This is a good foundation for the development of comprehensive ties at the current stage.
Today our talks were quite intense. We reviewed in great detail the current state of our relations and prospects for their development. We also covered the regional and international agenda.
Great attention was given to trade and economic cooperation. We were happy to note the high rates at which our cooperation developed in this area. In the first six months of this year, our mutual trade turnover almost doubled compared to the same period last year. This is a tendency we need to strengthen, of course.
The intergovernmental commission is also working successfully; an important agreement was reached to establish cooperation between Egypt and the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. We are now considering the possibility of setting up free trade zones.
Our countries are actively cooperating in agriculture. Egypt is a major consumer of Russian wheat. Our partners wanted to know our export capabilities for this year: for Egypt, this will be at least 5–5.5 million tons. We cover about 40 percent of Egypt’s overall grain consumption. Agricultural produce accounts for 90 percent of our import from Egypt. The country has already increased its supplies of these products to us by 30 percent, and is ready to go up by another 30 percent in the near term.
Today we have been discussing the possibility of setting up an Egyptian logistics centre on the Black Sea coast and agreed on simplified procedures for the export of Egyptian goods to our market. Corresponding instructions will be issued to the Federal Service of Agricultural Supervision and to the bodies of phytosanitary control. Representatives of these agencies will be travelling to Egypt shortly to confirm on the spot the high quality of Egyptian goods.
Russia and Egypt are also major players on the gas market. Mr President and I have already stated that there are serious opportunities for further enhancing our energy cooperation in various directions. Some Russian companies, like LUKOIL, are already operating on the Egyptian market. Other companies are also interested in cooperation. The same is true of hydropower and cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
We also touched upon further cooperation in space exploration. In April, a Russian booster rocket took an Egyptian remote Earth probe to orbit.
We are also actively developing military technical cooperation. In March, we signed a corresponding protocol. We are supplying arms to Egypt and have agreed to expand this cooperation.
We also have good prospects in the automobile industry – both in terms of passenger cars and cargo vehicles.
We gave special attention to contacts between our citizens in such an important area as tourism. Egypt is one of the favourite holiday resorts among Russian tourists. Last year, despite certain limitations, almost two million tourists from Russia visited the resorts of the Red Sea coast. This year the number will be much greater.
We only touched upon certain international issues, such as the Gaza Strip, settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the situation in Syria and Iraq, but we will deal with these later on in our talks.
We fully share Egypt’s active stance in combatting international terrorism, especially in conditions of an unprecedented growth of a terrorist threat in the Middle East.
Finally, I would like to thank President of Egypt, Mr el-Sisi for very constructive and friendly negotiations. We confirmed our mutual desire to enhance the multifaceted Russian-Egyptian cooperation.