Vladimir Putin: We assess highly the results of our talks with the delegation of Uzbekistan led by the President of Uzbekistan which arrived in Moscow at our invitation and is here on a state visit.
We have discussed a whole range of issues of mutual interest and concentrated on the development of economic ties. We also discussed security in the region. As you know, a whole number of bilateral documents in the sphere of economic and military-technical cooperation has been signed. We decided to create additional working bodies to promote our relations in the above areas and we paid a due share of attention to developing cultural and humanitarian ties. On the whole, the dialogue saw a sincere and frank discussion of all the topics raised. I am absolutely sure that the visit of the President of Uzbekistan to Russia will give a very good impetus to bilateral relations in all spheres. I would like to offer heartfelt thanks to the President of Uzbekistan and his colleagues for the fruitful joint work. Thank you.
Question: What, in your opinion, forms the basis of cooperation between Russia and Uzbekistan?
Vladimir Putin: Technical cooperation is an important sphere of bilateral relations, but it is not the only or the determining sphere. Our contacts and our interaction are based above all on cooperation in the economic sphere in the broadest sense of the word. The President of Uzbekistan spoke about it clearly during our one-on-one meeting and when we discussed these issues in the broader format. He spoke about the need to diversify our trade and economic ties, the need for the Russian investment activities and for exchanges in this sphere.
Of course, the military-technical sphere is very important considering the situation taking shape in the region. The Russian Federation is already doing a great deal and intends to continue its efforts to ensure the interests of Uzbekistan in the sphere of military-technical cooperation, in providing the Uzbek Army with the necessary special equipment, ammunition and military hardware. And it will be done through two channels: as part of cooperation between the Defence Ministry of the Russian Federation and the Defence Ministry of Uzbekistan, and as part of commercial partnership between the organisations that supply the Uzbek Army and the Russian organisations which export special technology and armaments. We have agreed with the President of Uzbekistan that the issue will be put on a permanent professional basis and will be supervised by the Security Councils of both states.
Question: During the talks you have raised security issues. It is no secret that regional security cannot be guaranteed without global security. In this connection, what do you think about the US President’s statement on anti-missile defence?
Vladimir Putin: As regards George Bush’s statement on international security, the official Russian position was recently spelled out by Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. For my own part, I would like to add the following. It is hard not to agree with the US President that the world is changing fast and new threats may emerge. I agree that we must give thought to it and I agree that we should counter it by credible actions. At the same time I believe that while seeking to improve the international security situation we should follow the well-known principle “do no harm”. While improving and modernising the system of international security we should be careful not to allow it to deteriorate.
That can be achieved proceeding from at least two principles: first, one should not destroy the existing system of international security; second, we should act together. What is notable about the statement of the US President is that our American partners intend to consult with the international community on these key problems, and they intend to consult with Russia. We very much hope that this dialogue will be constructive. We also note the President’s remark that the US, the Administration and the President personally do not see Russia as an adversary or an enemy. That, in my opinion, creates a good basis for a positive dialogue. And time will tell what the results of the dialogue will be.
Question: Vladimir Vladimirovich, you have said that you are not fully satisfied with the rate of growth of economic cooperation between Russia and Uzbekistan. What concrete steps will be taken to accelerate the development of this cooperation?
Vladimir Putin: You know that there are corresponding agreements on entire areas of activity between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of Uzbekistan. The intergovernmental commission has decided to set up a working group within a month to invest these agreements with concrete substance on the issue of mutual trade. This is the first concrete measure aimed at intensifying our economic cooperation, but it is by no means sufficient.
For cooperation to be full and forward-looking the idea expressed during the negotiations today by the President of Uzbekistan must be implemented. He believes that the way to develop our relations is through increased investment activities on the part of the Russian participants. I think the intensification greatly depends on the Russian side as well: there are problems in the sphere of legislation. First of all, Russian laws need to be liberalised to enable the Russian participants in the market to be more active in investing abroad. That applies not only to the nearabroad, to the CIS countries, but to Russian investments anywhere. Of course, these activities should be under strict government control, they should meet modern ideas about what the government must control and to what degree. The international community regulates this sphere quite well through a series of legislative acts and international agreements. Clearly, Russia must proceed in the same way, but much faster, more effectively and with a greater sense of purpose than it has done until now. Russia is interested in being more active in the markets of third countries, above all in the markets of the former USSR countries.
Question: The joint statement says very little about the results of the negotiations on cooperation in the field of aviation and high technologies. What is the outlook there?
Vladimir Putin: Our enterprises will work under corresponding treaties. And these relations must be planned for an economically valid period of time. And as part of their joint work members of the project will determine the extent of their cooperation – I am referring to exchange of blocks of shares and so on – depending on the conditions that will take shape as a result of the joint work. I think this is the most natural approach and it has to be prompted by mutual interests and to be acceptable for the contracting parties. But this is not the only sphere in the area you have mentioned. There is also helicopter technology. The President of Uzbekistan has made some practical proposals in this area and corresponding instructions have been given to our agencies. I believe that there are great possibilities for promoting Russian goods of that category in that region, there is work to be done. It is a promising area. We will get the results in two or three months and you will know about the practical outcome of the agreements reached today.