President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Yanukovych, colleagues,
I have just had a very detailed discussion of practically all areas of our cooperation with President Yanukovych. Russia and Ukraine are strategic partners not on paper but in actual practice. We share a centuries-old friendship and the bond of having spent a long time living together in a single country.
We went over all the different areas of our cooperation, especially economic cooperation of course, but we discussed humanitarian ties and other areas too.
We have a big agenda today. We will hear proposals from the heads of ministries and agencies on the key areas of our bilateral ties.
I remind you that Russia is still Ukraine’s main economic partner and accounts for up to 30 percent of Ukraine’s total foreign trade.
True, there are problems too, and we discussed them today. We are concerned about the drop in trade we have seen over the last two years. In 2012, our trade turnover dropped to $45 billion, down by 11 percent, and it fell by a further 15 percent over the first nine months of this year.
I think that we have come together at just the right moment to take a look at what we can do to reverse this negative trend and not just recover the lost ground but put in place the conditions for moving ahead. This is precisely the aim of the action plan for settling trade relations, which today’s meeting is set to approve.
We must implement in full the roadmap for investment, financial and sector-based cooperation that was approved in Kaluga in October. The roadmap was the result of a lot of hard work and was coordinated at the level of prime ministers.
It sets out a series of large-scale measures to stabilise economic cooperation and make it less sensitive to fluctuations in the global economy, diversify industrial ties and preserve cooperation between manufacturers. Direct contacts between business, which we will do everything we can to support, will play a key part in this work.
The money transfers that Ukrainian citizens working in Russia send home also play a big part in supporting Ukraine’s economy. Official statistics estimate at around 1.5 million the number of Ukrainians working in Russia. Unofficial estimates put the figure at closer to 5 million. Money transfers and remittances to Ukraine come to $2.3 billion a year.
Ukraine also gets a large share of Russian investment. Accumulated Russian investment in the Ukrainian economy comes to $1.5 billion.
Russian companies are investing in Ukraine’s basic sectors, in particular the fuel and energy sector, chemicals industry, metals sector, and machine-building.
We have a number of big projects lined up, including in nuclear energy, aircraft and engine manufacturing, and transport infrastructure.
Last year, we launched a four-year programme for peaceful exploration of outer space.
We are making progress in the agriculture sector, including in the grain trade. We are in the process of setting up the Black Sea Grain Committee, with Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Russia taking part. This will help to coordinate policy between these three leading global grain producers.
Russia and Ukraine can work together more closely on the international stage and expand policy coordination on current global issues, above all regional security, in which Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, which is based at Sevastopol, plays a key part.
We need to renew all-round cooperation in military and military-technical affairs. I discussed this in depth with President Yanukovych. As our countries build closer economic and political links, we are ready to look at the possibility of drawing on the Ukrainian economy’s capability for the needs of Russia’s armed forces, including in areas such as carrying out repairs and so on. The Russian and Ukrainian defence ministries have already drafted specific proposals in this area.
Humanitarian ties play a special part in our bilateral relations. The main aim here is to expand contacts between our countries and peoples. In this respect we must pay greater attention to the cultural events that both countries are organising.
Mr Yanukovych mentioned the celebrations next year of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Taras Shevchenko. I want to mention that we will also celebrate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Sevastopol from the Nazis next year.
I know that everyone taking part in today’s meeting has already been working together for quite a long time now. I would like to give the floor to Mr Yanukovych now, and then we will hear from our colleagues. I know that the documents have already been prepared, and we will be able to then proceed to the signing.