The meeting was held on the sidelines of the informal Commonwealth of Independent States summit.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Yanukovych, colleagues,
I am very happy for the opportunity to speak with you – within the framework of this informal meeting of CIS heads of state – about our bilateral relations, relations that have never been interrupted. These relations were never disrupted on a personal level, and certainly not on an interstate level.
At the same time, I want to note that recently, we have done a lot to develop bilateral ties. It is enough to say that in the last year, the growth rates for turnover between Russia and Ukraine have been much higher than the growth rate for economic ties between Russia and other nations. The turnover grew by more than 40 per cent and we achieved good results in absolute terms: trade turnover amounted to over $50 billion. Two years ago, Ukraine ranked fifth in terms of turnover with Russia, but last year’s data puts it in fourth place. Only China, Germany and the Netherlands have higher figures. This is a very good indicator. I hope that we will do everything so that these positive trends are maintained in the future.
“We have done a great deal of work on the integration track and agreed on a free trade zone. I think we now need to move toward ratification.”
President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych: I absolutely agree with you. We have discussed this topic many times in 2010 and 2011. We understand quite well how all of this worked and where this result comes from.
Now, I would like to say a few words (we came with our small team) – first of all, to wish you success, not just in our bilateral relations, but also express our hope that you will once again strengthen Russia, literally and figuratively, and that you achieve everything. We congratulate you on taking office, the event that took place several days ago.
And naturally, we have great hope that our further work and our joint efforts in Eastern Europe and in Asia will be of interest to Ukraine and, since you are the hosting party today, that you will offer your vision of how we can become stronger together. This is very important.
We are very optimistic, and we want to support your positive disposition as well. We can see that recently, you have not hesitated to hit the ground running. This is good. We also feel that our peoples deserve to receive the amount of attention they need; we strive to improve the lives of the people of Ukraine and Russia, who are very close to one another in their mind-sets and culture. This is probably a realistic and achievable goal. We are with you.
Vladimir Putin: We have done a great deal of work on the integration track and agreed on a free trade zone. I think we now need to move toward ratification. I know we feel the same on this issue. I hope this will be true for all participating nations.
As for other areas, in order to become stronger (you know my position), we need to achieve a greater degree of integration, and this, of course, is the sovereign decision of each of our partners. I hope that today, we will also be able to discuss this in more detail.