Viktor Medvedchuk: Mr President, I would like to share my impressions from yesterday’s visit to the European Parliament in continuing our conversation today. In particular, the peace plan I presented on the orders of our political authority, issues pertaining to peace settlement and cessation of hostilities, which is fully based on the Minsk agreements and repeats the Minsk agreements approved by the UN Security Council resolution.
This meeting was very interesting and I will talk about it later, but it is very important to note that it was attended by several representatives: the newly elected European deputies from Great Britain, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Bulgaria and Slovakia. At that meeting, where many questions were asked, I presented the approaches that can improve the situation today and finally implement the Minsk agreements in full.
I talked about our goal to return the people first, not the territories: through the language and their wish to return. We call it to return Donbass to Ukraine and return Ukraine to Donbass.
There were a lot of questions, questions related to the relations between Russia and Ukraine as regards peaceful settlement, but all this was accompanied by these people’s desire to help bring peace to Ukraine and a ceasefire to southeastern Ukraine. And let me say that this interest was not superficial. It was a sincere and productive discussion. It is also important – and the deputies noted this – that it was time that the monopoly of the “war party” that was in power, Mr Poroshenko’s party, on providing information on developments in Ukraine was over. This monopoly is over, because yesterday the European Parliament deputies heard a point of view from a different part of Ukraine, the “peace party’s” point of view on what needs to be done in order to really achieve peace.
I will expand on these issues later. But I must say that the reaction even inspired me because so many people in the European Parliament, in the newly elected European Parliament, are not just interested, are not just familiar with the situation and even the history of Ukraine, which really surprised me because when introducing me and the subject, I was going to talk about, they mentioned historical facts that are probably not familiar to most Ukrainians. But they built it on parallels – the representative of France and the representative of Great Britain. This is a very important point. I believe that this is a big and serious step along the path to peace in Ukraine.
Moreover, I want to say that, you know, our political coalition is establishing a dialogue, and one of the programme targets that our party faces today is the restoration of economic relations with the Russian Federation. You know that we met with the leadership of the Russian Government, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. There have already been two meetings with him – as the Prime Minister and the leader of the United Russia party. We met with leaders in the State Duma; we met with the directors of Gazprom where an agreement was reached and the Russian side proposed reducing prices by 25 percent for direct gas supplies. We supported this in public, that such an agreement exists. This is an approach that will improve the situation in the country today, the one that exists in terms of housing and utility rates for our citizens.
And we are move on despite the fact that, unfortunately, I think you have heard, I have repeatedly told you about it, criminal cases are being initiated both by the old government and the new one. Strong actions are being taken by radical forces of national radicals, national democrats who object to this. But our political party continues this work. We will restore this dialogue in order to restore economic ties and, in our opinion, this is very important.
Mr President, another thing that I would like to draw your attention to is what happened a few days ago. I think this is a very positive step: your telephone conversation, which took place at the initiative of President of Ukraine Vladimir Zelensky. It inspired and gave hope, I emphasise, gave hope to many people in Ukraine. And why? Because, according to opinion surveys, 70 percent of Ukrainian citizens believe that for peace, for the liberation of Ukrainian citizens in Russia, and, naturally, for the mutual liberation of Russian citizens who are in Ukraine, we need a direct dialogue, we need direct talks. Seventy percent want to see Mr Zelensky enter into talks with you, and 55 percent want Mr Zelensky to enter into talks with representatives from Donetsk and Lugansk. This is also an important attitude, because the general attitude today in the country is that about 80 percent of people want peace, they want the hostilities to stop.
This is the main thing I wanted to say and what I will talk to you about in detail later, including with regard to the European Parliament.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: First of all, thank you for finding it possible to come and talk about the outcome of your meetings in Strasbourg. I think that the involvement of European partners – and they have been involved in one way or another from the start, unfortunately even from the beginning of the conflict, which eventually became what we see now in Donbass – the involvement of European partners is a very positive thing. And we welcome it in every way.
And we also welcome the fact that your proposal is based on the Minsk agreements, and there is no doubt that we will support any political forces moving in that direction.
Comprehensive restoration of Russian-Ukrainian relations is extremely important for us too, and we will cooperate with any political force, including yours, to restore full-fledged relations between Russia and Ukraine. This also concerns resolving problems in Donbass and our bilateral relations in the economy.
Naturally, the Government reports to me about your meetings and topics that you discuss. I think that everything that you talked about with the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation and representatives of the economic and energy blocks can be implemented. You and I also talked about it on many occasions. So, we will work on it.
Viktor Medvedchuk: Thank you.
Vladimir Putin: The only thing that I wanted to point out is what you just said, in particular, that a comprehensive settlement in the south-east, in Donbass, is only possible through direct contact between the authorities in Kiev and representatives of those republics, and that not a single conflict in the world in recent history has been resolved …
Viktor Medvedchuk: Without sitting down at the negotiating table.
Vladimir Putin: Yes, without direct talks between the conflicting parties.
We will also do our utmost so that the process moves along smoothly at the right pace.
I want to also thank you for your efforts over the recent years, the efforts regarding the release of persons detained on both sides. I think that such humanitarian work will always be welcomed by everybody because this activity brings about favourable outcomes in peoples’ lives. There is nothing more important in terms of any political force’s work then when its activity produces favourable results in the lives of particular people and families. I think that people will always sincerely thank you for this.
Viktor Medvedchuk: Thank you.