Press statements following Russian-Czech talks 2017-11-21 16:40:00 Sochi Vladimir Putin and Milos Zeman made press statements following Russian-Czech talks. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, The talks with the President of the Czech Republic were held in a friendly and constructive atmosphere. We discussed in detail the entire range of bilateral matters and we outlined certain plans for the future. We exchanged views on current international and regional topics as well. This is my second meeting with Mr Zeman this year which is indicative of the great importance that we attach to the promotion of bilateral cooperation. A month and a half from now, in January 2018, we will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our countries. Priority during the talks was given to economic ties. This year, by jointly pooling our efforts, we managed to overcome the decline in mutual trade, which had taken place over the past several years. Mr President pays special attention to this at all our meetings. Bilateral trade grew by 42.9 percent during January-September. The Intergovernmental Commission does its part to promote our trade and economic relations. A representative delegation of Czech entrepreneurs has come to Russia with Mr Zeman, and will take part in two business forums in Moscow and in Yekaterinburg. I am confident that these forums will reinvigorate our business ties. We discussed cooperation in the oil and gas sector, which is big. The Czech Republic is not only a major market for Russian goods, but also an important transit link for the Russian fuel supplied to consumers in Western Europe. This year, more than 19 billion cubic metres of gas has been pumped through the territory of the Czech Republic. Cooperation is actively developing in the nuclear power industry. We supply nuclear fuel to power plants in the Czech Republic and provide service maintenance. We reviewed industrial cooperation, including in the sphere of the car industry. As is known, Skoda assembles vehicles at Russian plants in Kaluga and Nizhny Novgorod. Other Czech companies produce auto parts: the BRISK company makes spark plugs in Togliatti, and Jihostroj makes hydraulic pumps in Tatarstan. There are promising joint projects in high-tech and knowledge-intensive areas. Businesses from the Czech Republic are widely represented in the Russian market, especially in metallurgy, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, chemicals, and textile manufacturing. Interregional cooperation is also growing: over 20 Russian regions have signed cooperation agreements with Czech regions. Humanitarian ties are developing. The day after tomorrow President Zeman will open the exhibition, Treasures of Prague Castle, in Moscow’s State Historical Museum. Leading Russian ensembles perform or plan to perform in the Czech Republic. I have expressed gratitude to the President and all citizens of the Czech Republic for their concern for our military memorials on Czech territory, where more than 50,000 Russian soldiers, who died in battles for the freedom of Czechoslovakia, in the fight against Nazism, are buried. Relationships are growing between universities of the two countries: 70 bilateral agreements have been signed. There is also a mutual interest in language study – Russian and Czech, respectively. Mr Zeman has initiated the establishment of a Russian-Czech discussion club, which is intended to be an additional platform for informal communication between representatives of civil society in Russia and the Czech Republic. Of course, we will back this initiative. We have touched upon the most pressing issues of the European and global agenda. We believe that normalisation of relations between the European Union and Russia would benefit everyone. I have informed the President of our views on the prospects for resolving the Ukrainian crisis and the results of yesterday's meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as well as our antiterrorist plans in Syria and tomorrow’s trilateral meeting with the presidents of Iran and Turkey. In conclusion, I would like to thank the President and all our Czech colleagues and friends for the open and informative conversation. The President and his team have an even bigger programme in Russia. I am confident that this work will benefit the development of bilateral relations. And I want to thank the President for the attention he pays to the development of Russian-Czech relations. Thank you. President of the Czech Republic Milos Zeman (retranslated): Ladies and gentlemen, Mr President, I will pick up where President Putin left off and provide some facts for you. I brought about 140 Czech entrepreneurs with me, and since the corresponding division of the Czech Army, which provides government services, operates only two Airbus aircraft, we had to lease a third plane. When I was in France, I was accompanied by 14 entrepreneurs, whereas on this trip to Russia I am accompanied by 140 entrepreneurs, so you can conclude that Russia is ten times more important for us than France. With regard to specific agreements and properly documented agreements, ten of them will be signed in Moscow and three in Yekaterinburg. The total value of the signed agreements will be $20 billion. It is gratifying to know that 6,000 students from Russia are currently studying at Czech higher education institutions. It is also comforting to be aware of the fact that not only exports and imports are growing, but the number of Russian tourists coming to the Czech Republic is also on the rise. This confirms that, despite all the sanctions, economic cooperation continues. However, this does not mean that I have reconciled myself to the sanctions. You are well aware that I have opposed them for a long time now, and this concerns not only the sanctions that the EU has imposed on Russia, but also the sanctions that Russia has imposed on the EU. One fine day, Mr President, we need to put an end to it in the food department. After all, if you do not, you will not be able to enjoy our excellent cheeses and yoghurts. Vladimir Putin: We will get some beer, and then sort out the yogurt. (Laughter) Milos Zeman: I am not sure if the sanctions include beer. I believe not. However, Mr President, you were too modest in any case, because the idea of establishing a Russian-Czech discussion forum came to both of us at the same time in China. I will be pleased if, primarily, historians will take part in this forum, if they get access to the archives and uncover new documents which will help shed light on certain chapters of our common history. In closing, I would like to add that I consider it an enjoyable part of my job to present state decorations to WWII veterans who took part in the heroic liberation of Czechoslovakia. Indeed, there are people who condemn and rewrite history. I think it is just pathetic. In a recent interview with TASS, I gave an example of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yatsenyuk, who, speaking before the reporters of the German ARD channel, said the following (I quote): ”In 1943, the Soviet Union attacked Germany, and occupied Ukraine on its way there.“ Again, this was the prime minister. He is no longer in office, but I am afraid that this interview was not the reason for his dismissal or resignation. So, those who do not remember their past are doomed to repeat it. Thank you.