President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Bibilov, ladies and gentlemen, friends and colleagues,
We are happy to welcome President of the Republic of South Ossetia Anatoly Bibilov and his delegation. We have just had talks where we discussed various aspects of bilateral cooperation and exchanged views on current regional problems.
South Ossetia is an important partner and ally of Russia. The cooperation between our counties is based on the strong foundation of friendship and neighbourliness.
Russia supports South Ossetia in becoming a sovereign democratic state, as it supports its security. We also try to promote the socio-economic development of the country in every way we can. Our talks today were mostly dedicated to trade and investment issues as well as cooperation in the social sector.
Russia is South Ossetia’s main foreign trade partner. Bilateral trade has grown significantly this year. In January-September it grew by almost 50 percent compared with the same period last year, with exports to Russia growing by more than a quarter. Mr Bibilov and I have given instructions to the Intergovernmental Commission to take additional measures to stimulate bilateral exports and imports.
The implementation of the investment programme for 2015–2017 was also discussed in detail. Let me remind you that Russia allocated 7.6 billion rubles for its implementation. These funds were directed to dozens of vital projects for the republic, including the reconstruction and modernisation of transport and social infrastructure and the improvement of the social protection of people.
In this context, I would like to note the agreement just signed, under which Russian citizens residing in South Ossetia will be able to use the Russian system of general medical insurance.
Funds from the investment programme are used for the improvement of the capital of the republic, Tskhinval. This concerns housing construction and schools. Recently, a modern children's hospital was opened.
I would like to emphasise that Russia will continue to allocate funds for the development of the republic. A new investment programme for 2018–2019 has already been developed, to be approved shortly. In addition, we have developed a special package of concessional lending for the population and enterprises of South Ossetia totalling over 1 billion rubles. Funds are allocated primarily to improve the agro-industrial sector and support small businesses.
Russia provides assistance in training personnel for the republic, including in departmental educational institutions. At the moment, over 600 citizens of South Ossetia study at Russian universities, with 400 of them studying free of charge, that is, at the expense of the federal budget of the Russian Federation.
Russian regions play a significant role in the economic development of South Ossetia. Eleven regions of the Russian Federation entered into cooperation agreements with the republic, and together with South Ossetian partners, projects are implemented in such areas as industry and agriculture.
Of course, we exchanged views on current regional issues, as I have already said. We agreed to coordinate more closely steps to confront challenges and threats to security in the South Caucasus, and to continue the most robust cooperation possible in the fight against terrorism and organised crime.
In conclusion, I would like to thank the President of South Ossetia, all our South Ossetian colleagues and friends for a meaningful and good conversation. I am confident that the agreements reached today will contribute to bolstering relations between Russia and South Ossetia and will serve to develop and strengthen the republic.
President of South Ossetia Anatoly Bibilov: Thank you very much.
Colleagues, I think that President Putin has spoken in sufficient detail about the content of our talks; I have nothing to add in general.
The only thing I can add is that, during this period, we have signed about 100 additional agreements between the Russian Federation and the Republic of South Ossetia. Currently there are several other major agreements in our ministries, which will also be signed. They regard simplifying the procedure of obtaining Russian citizenship and South Ossetian citizens residing in Russia without time limits. There are many agreements that will promote the socio-economic development of the Republic of South Ossetia.
For my part, I would like to say that South Ossetia is taking serious steps to grow its revenues. A large role, of course, is played by the investment programme for socio-economic development, which is now being implemented in South Ossetia. Facilities are already operating that will soon generate revenue for the state budget. Considering all this, we cannot help but be pleased with the progressive development of the Republic of South Ossetia and our bilateral relations.
Thank you very much, Mr Putin.