Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, distinguished colleagues!
I greet you once again in the Russian capital, and thank you for accepting our invitation.
The Uzbek President and I have discussed bilateral relations and the regional situation in sufficient detail with special attention to the situation in Central Asia, taking due account of problems shared by Russia and Uzbekistan. That is the danger of terrorism gaining momentum in the region. There is no need to whip up excitement. What we need is precise analysis, a clear realisation of what is going on there, and a readiness to face whatever turn events might take. That is what we proceed from.
We are glad to see the progress of bilateral economic contacts. As we pointed out at the start of our talks, the Russian-Uzbek trade turnover exceeds a billion US dollars, while Uzbek exports to Russia are roughly 40% greater than vice versa. Despite this, Russia does not intend to limit Uzbek exports.
On the contrary, we shall seek opportunities to promote Russian commodities in the Uzbek market ever more dynamically so as to balance out bilateral trade. These opportunities lie mainly in the sphere of cooperation and the establishment of joint ventures. I agree with the Uzbek President on this point. We have great opportunities not merely to support production in both countries but also to step up partnership in new fields.
As I have said, Russian-Uzbek economic contacts are developing well, on the whole. The increase for 2000 was 17%—a satisfactory figure. There are many problems, however—suffice it to mention the trade imbalance. It makes us think how much we still have to do to streamline bilateral trade.
We have paid major attention to humanitarian issues, in particular, stepping up cultural contacts. I think the matter is up to experts, who will tackle it in the intergovernmental commission. I find their latest endeavours very fruitful as they gave impetus to making our links closer in every field of bilateral cooperation. These and certain other problems must dominate the agenda of our negotiations.