The presidents discussed border region cooperation issues and the opportunities for setting up joint ventures in a variety of industries. Also on the agenda were preparations for the upcoming meeting on interregional cooperation in Gelendzhik and the top-level interstate consultations in Moscow.
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President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Mr President, here we are back in Russia now, in Zavidovo which is a good place for talking, for discussing the wide range of issues on our agenda, and for a little relaxation too.
This was a long Russian-Ukrainian day, full of interesting events in both countries, and I hope that it was enjoyable not just for the two of us, but also for the thousands of people who watched the motor rally and showed their genuine enthusiasm. The feelings they expressed were an eloquent statement of one thing: Russia and Ukraine must be friends and have as close a strategic relationship as possible, therefore you and I gave a whole series of instructions on border region cooperation.
I hope that we will now continue discussing interregional cooperation, all the more as we have the meeting in Gelendzhik coming up, where we will further address these matters, looking at the goals and tasks before the regions today, and the ways that we can activate our trade cooperation and resolve various social and cultural issues. Ultimately, our talks in Gelendzhik and the Forum of Interregional Cooperation will make an excellent prelude to the interstate consultations to follow in Moscow. We have agreed to settle the date and format. I think we can concentrate on these issues.
But before giving you the floor, I want to thank you sincerely once more for your involvement with organising the events in Glukhov and for taking part in these events. Everything really did go very well there.
President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych: Thank you, Mr President.
We could say that today is more of a Russian day, given that this motor rally was born 100 years ago in St Petersburg, and you proposed continuing this century-old tradition back when we had our first meeting this year, in early spring.
We started off in Russia today, I flew to Russia first, and then we travelled to Ukraine. You could see people’s desires written on their faces. As we travelled across Russia, although it was a business day and people were busy with their work, I nonetheless saw that many people came out to watch the column of cars pass, headed by you on the Russian side. They greeted us with Russian and Ukrainian flags, given that the column was a joint Russian-Ukrainian team consisting of car lovers, people devoted to cars and very knowledgeable about their history, their construction, and their specific characteristics. So, this occasion was really a special event for them, but I think that we both also enjoyed ourselves immensely too.
Dmitry Medvedev: That’s for sure.
Viktor Yanukovych: People came to Glukhov from the nearby towns and counties. We saw what feelings they displayed and heard the questions they asked.
These questions seem at first glance very simple. But in reality, the bureaucracy that we have on both sides is stopping them from living normal lives and having normal contact with each other. It is a shame, but neighbours on both sides of the border do not have the real conditions they need for contact with each other. This of course affects the regions’ economies and the economic situation of the many families living in these border regions.
If we look at this border between Ukraine and Russia we have more than 300 km of land border, and I think these problems exist everywhere along it.
Vehicle crossing points are just one of the issue as we also need to establish about a hundred of pedestrian crossing points. Of course there are formal national procedures that we should follow, but we must move forward. This will be one of the issues on the agenda at the Forum of Interregional Cooperation that will take place in Gelendzhik on October 4, as we agreed. The interregional cooperation issues that we must address are really numerous.
As a former governor I can say to you that if we look back at the situation 10 years ago and at what we have now, little has changed.
Dmitry Medvedev: Unfortunately this is true.
Viktor Yanukovych: Little has changed. We heard the reports from our border guards and customs officials, regional governors. There are issues to address, and they depend entirely on our political will. We need to rap our fists and get this work moving. This is what the governors are hoping to see from us. I know many if not all of them personally, the Russian governors, and from a long way back.
So I place big hopes on getting our interregional cooperation moving forward and seeing more active and concrete work begin. We had a good discussion of the focus points in Glukhov today, and now we must put in much effort over the two weeks remaining before the forum.
The [Russian-Ukrainian] Interstate Commission’s meeting is also important of course. It is Russia’s turn to host it now. I was told today that the date has already been settled.
Dmitry MEDVEDEV: Yes.
Viktor YANUKOVYCH: It will take place at the end of November. We should prepare for it, too. There is a very broad range of issues on the agenda of course, given that our economies mutually complement each other. Our bilateral trade has risen by more than 70 percent over the first half of this year. This is a two directional export and import. Totally, it is about $20 billion, $19.8 billion, I think. I’m not sure what the figure you have is…
Dmitry Medvedev: There always are varying estimates. It is also one of the tasks for our customs and tax services to work on.
Viktor Yanukovych: I want to thank you for the fact that over these last few months we have removed very many of the trade barriers between our countries. Goods went both ways, producers felt that major political decisions have been approved, and the officials understand that it is time to open the floodgates and that playing with this [trade] instrument which both sides once practiced, is absolutely in the past. I will not go into this matter in depth, but the time [for such playing] is gone, while the time has come to open the floodgates and get down to practical work.
I have been reported recently by our co-Chairmen of Government commissions in various sectors that they have drafted a large number of proposals including setting up joint ventures. It is time for making important decisions concerning a number of industries. We are ready to do this.
I also hope that we will take a close look at the organisation of the Euro-2012 soccer championship in Ukraine and all the related activity, and the Sochi 2014 Olympics in Russia. This involves many infrastructure projects that we would be interested in carrying out together as part of the preparations for events of this global scale.
Besides, Mr President, I would like you to share your experience in preparing for the Sochi 2014 Olympics. I am sure you know, that Ukraine has proposed holding the 2022 Winter Olympics in the Carpathians. This is a decision at the level of the International Olympic Committee, and I hope for your support. After all, this is a decision with a political and global dimension.