President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Ladies and gentlemen, colleagues,
As representative of the host country, allow me to welcome you all to Sochi. I hope you have already had a chance to take a look at Russia’s Olympic preparations.
Some of you have been here before and some of you are here for the first time. We are meeting today to discuss issues concerning our organisation’s development and its activities in the parts of the world that are of interest to us.
It is my pleasure now to give the floor to the current chairman of the CSTO, the President of Kyrgyzstan. Mr Atambayev, you have the floor.
Vladimir Putin: I also want to thank your colleagues, and you, Mr Atambayev, for your work as chairman of the CSTO Collective Security Council. You personally and all of our Kyrgyzstani friends have made a lot of effort to ensure that our work has progressed steadily and has not tailed off, but on the contrary, has continued to receive the attention of our governments and public.
This is the case because the CSTO plays a big part in maintaining regional security and stability. It is for the sake of these goals that we are continuing to improve operational and combat preparation of the military and special units that make up our collective security system.
We are holding a very intensive programme of joint exercises in this area. In September-October this year, we will hold three big exercises: Grom-2013 in Kyrgyzstan on September 20, Interaction-2013 in Belarus on September 19–25, and Unbreakable Brotherhood-2013 in Russia on October 7–11.
By raising our countries’ defence capabilities and our collective forces’ combat readiness and effectiveness, we can create a reliable barrier to terrorist and extremist threats. This is especially important with the foreign military contingent in Afghanistan preparing to withdraw in 2014. No matter what turn developments take in Afghanistan, we must not let ourselves be caught unprepared. I hope that today we will discuss in this context reinforcing and protecting the Tajikistani-Afghan border.
The CSTO cannot ignore as serious an issue as the Syrian conflict. The armed groups operating in Syria did not come out of nowhere and will not disappear into nowhere. The issue of terrorism ‘spilling over’ from one country into another is very real and can affect the interests of any of our countries.
As far as this ‘spill over’ effect goes, we have just witnessed the terrible tragedy that is unfolding in Kenya. The gunmen seem to have come from another country by all accounts, and are carrying out terrible, bloody crimes there. On behalf of all of us, let me express our solidarity with Kenya, its people and government, and express our condolences to the victims’ families and to everyone affected by this bloody massacre. I hope the criminals will be punished.
It is in our common interests to settle crises through diplomatic means that open the way for political settlement and stabilisation of the situation in a country, including in Syria, which I mentioned just now. We will need to work on finding common approaches to this problem, which will be reflected in a statement of the CSTO member countries on Syria.
We have a broad-ranging agenda today. During the meetings in narrow and expanded format we will adopt or approve more than a dozen documents on various aspects of the CSTO’s activities. I am sure that this work together will be very productive and useful.
I just mentioned Syria and the terrible, bloody events in Kenya, but we somehow overlook other no less terrible events. Just yesterday, I think, there was a terrible terrorist attack in Iraq. Dozens, even hundreds of people, are dying there every day, and the situation in other parts of the world raises great concern as well.
In short, we have plenty to talk about today, and a lot of thinking to do on how to prevent and counter all of these threats that are unfolding in the world and that concern us directly too.
Let’s begin our work.