President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Ladies and gentlemen,
We have just had very substantial talks with Prime Minister of the United Kingdom David Cameron. In both narrow and extended format meetings we discussed the opportunities for developing our bilateral relations. We also gave particular attention to current international issues and agreed to coordinate our work within the G20 and the G8, in which Russia and Britain currently hold the presidencies. What’s more, Russia will take over the presidency of the G8 from Britain in 2014.
Our trade, economic and investment cooperation is growing. Our bilateral trade increased by 10 percent in 2012, and it was up by almost 30 percent in the first two months of 2013. British investment in the Russian economy is also on the rise and now comes to almost $27 billion.
The energy sector is one of the most promising fields of cooperation. We agreed to establish a special group to work on promising projects and facilities. As you know, one of Britain’s biggest companies, British Petroleum, has acquired an almost 20-percent stake in Rosneft, one of Russia’s biggest oil and gas companies.
In 2014, we plan to hold reciprocal culture years. The events will include art exhibitions in Moscow and London, a Russian language and education week in the UK, a university rectors’ conference, and a theatre festival.
I also want to note our Olympics cooperation. Britain’s experience has been of great use to us in this area. More than 60 British companies are taking part in the preparations for the Sochi Olympics and are working with great success. We want to thank our British partners for that.
Of course, we also had a thorough discussion of international issues, especially the situation in Syria. We both want to see a swift end to the violence and the start of a peace process, and we both want to preserve Syria’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. At the UK Prime Minister’s initiative, we discussed the possible scenarios that could bring about positive development of this process, and examined the possible joint steps we could take.
In conclusion, I want to thank once more our British colleagues and Mr Cameron for this substantial and very frank discussion.
Prime Minister of The United Kingdom David Cameron: Thank you very much, Mr President, and thank you for the warm welcome that you’ve given to me and my team here today. I’m very pleased to be here with you in Sochi, and we have had, as you said, very substantive, very purposeful, very useful talks today. We last met at the London Olympics, and it’s fitting that we’re here in the next host city. And I’m looking forward to seeing the Olympic sites with you this afternoon.
Britain and Russia share many interests: security at home and abroad, leadership in the G8, the G20 and the United Nations, and also, building our businesses and our investment banks so that we both thrive in the global race. Of course, it’s no secret that there are issues where we differ. We don’t duck these; we’ve had very frank discussions, as we have today. But a more effective relationship will help make people in both our countries safer and better off. And that is what we’ve been focusing on today.
On the Winter Olympics, on my last visit to Russia, I brought a plane of British business leaders keen to seize the opportunities posed by these games, and they have, as you said, done just that, with over fifty companies involved, from Populous to help design the main stadium, to Aggreko, who will be providing some of the power. We’ve also discussed how we both want the Sochi Games to be safe and secure Games. So today, I’ve agreed with President Putin that there should be limited cooperation between our security services for the Sochi Olympics.
We’ve discussed the G8 and G20, and I was pleased to get President Putin’s support for using the Lough Erne Summit to grasp the key challenges of making the world economy work for everyone, supporting global trade, tackling aggressive tax avoidance and tax evasion, and encouraging greater transparency. We’ve also agreed to use the G8 and G20 to build momentum for a WTO deal to cut bureaucracy at borders. This could add up to 70 billion dollars a year to global GDP.
Finally, we discussed the appalling and deteriorating situation in Syria. 80,000 lives lost, millions more fleeing their homes. The history of Syria is being written in the blood of her people. It’s no secret that we have had differing views on how best to handle the situation. But we share fundamental aims: to end the conflict, to stop Syria fragmenting, to let the Syrian people choose who governs them and to prevent the growth of violent extremism. So I strongly support the conference that Mr Lavrov and Mr Kerry agreed this week to deliver a political solution – a solution which has a transitional government based on the consent of the Syrian people as a whole. The President and I have agreed that as permanent members of the UN, we must help to drive this process, working with partners in the region and beyond, not just bringing the regime and opposition together at one negotiating table, but Britain, Russia, America and other countries helping shape a transitional government that all Syrians can trust to protect them.
We urgently have to do more for the sake of people in Syria to break the vicious cycle that threatens to destroy Syria and that threatens to export violence and extremism around the world. As the President said, these have been good talks, purposeful talks. I believe we’ve made some real progress. And thank you again for the welcome you’ve given me today.