Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon,
First of all, let me say that this visit has been marked by an exceedingly warm and friendly atmosphere, for which I would like to extend cordial thanks to my colleague, President Chan Dyk Lyong, and all the Vietnamese friends.
We have just completed the negotiations with the Vietnamese leadership, with the President. I am sure the agreements reached will contribute in a most active way to promoting our cooperation in the areas that both countries regard as priorities.
A whole series of documents, very important for Vietnam and the Russian Federation, have been signed. But I would single out the Russian-Vietnamese Declaration on Strategic Partnership. It identifies the close positions and common interests and sets benchmarks for the 21st century.
One of the key topics of our negotiations is trade and economic relations between our two countries. There is still a huge untapped potential in this area. Unfortunately, trade between our countries practically has not increased in 2000. And yet, Russia, as you know, has improved its economic performance, with a growth of about 8%, and Vietnam’s economic growth has been significant, on which we congratulate the Vietnamese leadership and the Vietnamese people.
So, at our meeting today we have agreed to give a fresh impetus to the work of the inter-governmental commission and issued corresponding instructions to the relevant ministries and agencies of the two countries. You know that in the past we had many joint undertakings and common achievements. The Soviet Union and Russia took an active part in building more than 300 major industrial facilities in Vietnam. The transport and communications infrastructure has been built. Many of the earlier built enterprises are still in operation. One example is Vietsovpetro. President Chan Dyk Lyong and I have agreed to step up our interaction in the oil and gas sector. We will assist new programmes in this sphere. Among the promising areas in bilateral economic ties are the power sector, agriculture, industry, ship-building, machine-building and transport. Vietnam can become an attractive destination for Russian tourists. And of course we should jointly intensify support for our business, both Russian and Vietnamese.
We attach great significance to cooperation between Russian regions and corresponding provinces in Vietnam, the support for small and medium-sized enterprises. During the talks the President of Vietnam stressed the need to maintain the high level of cooperation in the sphere of education, personnel training and science. We absolutely agree with that. Many Vietnamese have been educated in Russia. They hold our diplomas and have a brilliant command of Russian. That is a splendid potential we have no right to forget and must develop and maintain.
We have paid considerable attention to coordinating our activities in the international arena and have agreed on joint work in the areas where our positions are similar or identical. We will strengthen and support the leading role of the UN in world affairs. Our countries will contribute to global and regional strategic stability. In particular, we attach great significance to building confidence in the Asia-Pacific region. And I would like to note that our country is ready to work to diminish the conflict-generating potential in the region.
Vietnam’s progress in many sectors of the economy is evident. We welcome it and we are ready to support Vietnam. Once again I congratulate the Vietnamese people on this result.
We are aware that Vietnam still faces many difficulties. There are many problems. But we know that the Vietnamese are a talented and industrious people. And I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all happiness and prosperity. On behalf of all the Russians, all Russian citizens I would like to convey the best wishes and friendly feelings to the people of Vietnam.
Question: What is your assessment of the current state and prospects of cooperation between our countries in the oil and gas sector?
Vladimir Putin: Russian participation is highly effective. We assess it as highly effective. Last year the Russian budget revenues from the activities of Vietsovpetro amounted to about half a billion dollars. We are satisfied with the results of the work and are ready to take part in expanding the enterprise’s activity. But, in accordance with established international practice, we expect that the expansion and the investments made by the Russian participant will be used by the Russian companies, in other words, that orders will be placed in the Russian Federation. This is the subject of negotiations and expert analysis. We agreed upon it today with President Chan Dyk Lyong. In any case, the technologies must be state-of-the-art because the enterprise in which money is invested is 50% owned by the Russian Federation and 50% by Vietnam. We want the enterprise to be effective and to be equipped with modern technology.
Question: Russia and Vietnam have long-standing traditional relations. Mr Putin, what do you think about how these traditional relations should be developed in the 21st century?
Vladimir Putin: I would answer your question in the following way. You know the level of relations that existed between the Soviet Union and Vietnam. I assure you that it was not prompted only by ideological considerations. When such large-scale developments take place they usually reflect the long-term and profound interests of the two countries. It would be an unpardonable stupidity to forfeit the high level of inter-state relations that had been achieved over the years.
It is our duty to maintain that level of relations and develop them further. Develop them, of course, in the new conditions in the region today, conditions in which Russia lives and operates and Vietnam operates and pursues its policy. We should develop them in accordance with new international realities. The benefits that accrue from this for Vietnam and for Russia are obvious. We have touched only upon one aspect, cooperation in the energy sphere. But the benefits are absolutely clear for every citizen in our country.
There are also other areas. They are areas of high technology, the development of technology, cooperation in the sphere of energy, education and science. All these are of particular interest to us. As to how we are going to do it, you can find it in the documents signed today, including the Declaration on Strategic Partnership.
Question: What are the prospects for government support for business in Russia?
Vladimir Putin: Supporting economic plans of market participants in any country is generally recognised international practice. The degree, the level and effectiveness of such support depend on the economic potential of the state. We know well the practice widely used by industrialised countries, the practice connected with credits. That depends on the country’s economic potential. That is always highly effective and useful for the domestic economy. Because Russia’s economic potential has significantly increased in the last year or a year and a half and economic performance has significantly improved, we now have such an opportunity.
We are committed to supporting the projects Russia is promoting with its partners, both economically and politically, to provide diplomatic and administrative support.
Question: How do you see the future of cooperation between our countries in the defence sphere?
Vladimir Putin: Cooperation will develop to the extent that our Vietnamese partners want it to develop. Under Russia’s international obligations, we intend to comply with all the regimes of non-proliferation and all our international commitments. The high standard and quality of Russian military equipment are well known. Vietnam needs not only to modernise and maintain the military hardware previously supplied by the Soviet Union, but it needs the latest types of military hardware. And we are ready to cooperate with Vietnam on that.
Vietnam wants and has the opportunity to receive the latest military equipment that is at least as good as that of all the other countries which have trade links in this sphere and interact in this sphere quite legally. In its cooperation with Russia Vietnam can count on receiving the latest types of weapons.