Question: Russia will be one of the main protagonists during the G8 meeting in Genoa, just like last year. First of all we would like to know what proposals you are taking to Genoa?
Vladimir Putin: Well, all the proposals Russia intends to make will be reflected in the final document and will be agreed with experts. In general, we accede to the formulas proposed by our colleagues and we have been fairly active in shaping these proposals.
First of all, we agree that the fight against poverty is one of the main problems of our time. So we are ready to take the most active part in discussions on the topic. I have to say that Russia is making a substantial contribution to this cause, above all, to alleviating the financial burden of the world’s poorest countries.
We are in fourth place among the eight countries in terms of the amount of debt we have written off for the poorest countries and we are in first place in terms of the amount of debts written off as a percentage of our GDP. In other words, in terms of helping the poorest countries by writing off their debts, the load on our budget is larger than that on any of the other G8 countries. Nevertheless we believe that it is a very important issue and that unless it is solved no other problems, including in the political sphere, can be solved.
If we do not eradicate poverty we won’t solve the problems and tensions in the world, the problems of fundamentalism and so on. So we are ready to join certain initiatives of the European countries aimed at working out methods of combating poverty. It applies to the development of production and investment activities. It involves the opening of our own markets to the traditional exports of developing countries. The question is in what amounts and for what groups of goods. But I must say that Russia has already done a great deal in that area. We are already open to many traditional exports.
And of course, although at first glance we have ample energy resources, the issue of energy is very important for us, including alternative sources, non-traditional sources of energy. And of course we are planning to discuss the issues – though we don’t want to introduce an element of confrontation on any account – but we will be ready to discuss and comply with the Kyoto Protocols because the question of climate change on the planet is exceedingly important.
Russia is in compliance with the Kyoto Protocols. It has to be said that after the United States unilaterally announced that it would not comply with them, the Russian position is particularly important because Russia accounts for a significant amount of emissions and we have to determine on what terms we will finally ratify the Protocol. The Protocol will come into effect after a certain number of countries producing a certain amount of atmospheric emissions accede to it. In that sense, I repeat, the Russian position is of interest to others. We are aware of this and I think it is important to have a debate with my colleagues on the terms of ratification of that treaty.
Finally, genetic engineering, the human genome and the cloning of tissue is another important and relevant problem. I believe that while progress cannot and must not be stopped, the moral and ethical issues arising from this must be sorted out and certain common rules must be worked out.
Question: Mr. President, I would like to ask two short questions about the G8 Summit in Genoa. The first question: The Russian mass media have accused the Italians of not having done enough to provide security for the G8 Summit in Genoa. I would like to ask you if there is any news on that issue that you can give us? And the second question: Last year I was on Okinawa and I remember well that you were the main protagonist at that summit. You brought some very important news from North Korea. Other participants either had no news or, like Clinton, they had bad news. I would like to know if you will go to Genoa with good news in order to make a contribution equal to that you made with your proposals in Okinawa.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you for remembering that. I hope you are not dispatching me on another mission: either to Korea or to any other country. But it is true that I am pleased that after my visit to Pyongyang the process, if not of rapprochement, at least of work, with North Korea began.
I think that in any case isolation is far worse than dialogue. Since then Canada, the European Union as a whole, and many European countries, including Italy, have started working actively with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. And the United States has stepped up its work with North Korea. Today the threat from North Korea is not that acute as a justification for deploying a national missile defence system. That argument is still made, but not as vigorously.
I don’t think I have to bring any news. We are ready to coordinate our efforts with our European partners and with the United States, to coordinate our efforts in the UN and in the G8. No surprises are expected.
As for security issues, I haven’t dealt with these issues since 1990. We have special services that ensure security.
As you know, some time ago I spoke with Mr. Berlusconi over the phone and he too raised this topic. I told him: “You are the host, I have complete confidence in you, we are ready to follow all your directions.” I hope this will be the case.
As for being afraid of various destructive elements – terrorists and so on, I think we should make them feel afraid of us, rather than running away from them. Let them run away from us.
The only regret may be that our meeting will probably cause some inconvenience to the people of Genoa. But I think Italians are progressive-minded people. And they will forgive us, provided they know that we have not gathered in vain, not in order to upset the normal tempo of their lives, but to solve some important questions whose solution may have favourable consequences for the whole of Europe, including Italy. We will try.
Question: Vladimir Vladimirovich, what do you think about youth protests, whether violent or non-violent?
Vladimir Putin: I think in any democratic society people have the right to protest. In general there is nothing wrong about people being able to declare their position. It makes the other side provide eloquent and convincing arguments to the public to support its own position.
But any position and any protest must abide by the law of the host country. Violation of the law must meet with an adequate response on the part of the state because it is its duty to protect all its citizens, and not only those who want to protest. Of course, vandalism and extreme manifestations of protest are inadmissible. And in such cases the authorities are protecting not only the participants in an international event, but above all the interests of the citizens of the host country.
Question: Mr. President, at the meeting with your opposite number, President Bush, which we think was a success, you were very cordial with each other. But the fact remains that the United States still wants to build a national missile defence system, and it also wants to discuss it at the Genoa meeting. I would like to ask you what Russia’s response will be if the United States unilaterally creates a national missile defence system? And the second question: what can be done to jointly amend the ABM Treaty to accommodate the developments the United States is trying to carry out when it speaks about its own version of a national missile defence?
Vladimir Putin: First, I agree with your assessment on the character of the Ljubljana meeting. For me personally it was important to meet the President, to hear his arguments and simply to get to know him.
You see, when the leaders of two countries, which have such a huge nuclear arsenal, develop a relationship of trust, it is important to have a feel of the person, it is important even to feel the tone of his voice in a critical situation.
Of course we discussed every problem, including global security. We did not try to solve all the problems and come to an agreed decision in a two-hour talk. We believe, as I have said already, that there are no grounds for creating a national missile defence system because nobody threatens the territory of the United States. And the “rogue states” that are referred to won’t be able to create corresponding missile systems in the next 25, 30 or 40 years, if ever, because there are limits to increasing the range of the missiles that they have, and these limits have already been reached. These are the old Soviet-made Scud missiles, which in turn are modifications of German V-1 and V-2 rockets.
To create modern missile systems one not only requires new materials, new fuel, new electronics and new tests. A different kind of economy is needed. Whether these countries will ever have modern economies is debatable. Even if they do, will they pose the same kind of threat to us as they are posing in their present condition? A modern economy cannot be created under a certain political system. It is impossible. But we must give it thought. I think the Americans are right when they say that we should look to the future in spite of everything. It is important for us.
You are asking what Russia’s response might be in the event of a unilateral US withdrawal? In terms of Russia’s security a unilateral withdrawal of the United States from the ABM Treaty does not worry us in the least because of the tests so far conducted, only one has been successful, and in fact according to our information there have been no successful tests. Even if there are successful tests, both our and American experts say that they could knock down one, two, five, OK, twenty, OK, a hundred missiles, but when we are talking about thousands, it is simply unrealistic. Let me remind you that missiles fly towards each other at the speed of 15 kilometres a second. It’s like a bullet.
So, I repeat, we are not scared of a unilateral withdrawal. We are prepared to reduce nuclear arsenals to 1500 warheads by 2008, but the cuts must be verified. Because if we simply say that we have made the cuts and nobody can verify that, it makes no sense. It breeds nothing but suspicion. So, the verification and confidence measures contained in the START-1 Treaty must be preserved in the event of reductions. But in the event of a unilateral withdrawal you can consider START-1 and START-2 to have been scrapped.
If that happens, the limitations imposed by START-1 will no longer be in force. And the main limitation under that treaty is that land-based ballistic missiles can carry only one nuclear warhead each. But if the Treaty ceases to exist as a result of the American withdrawal from the 1972 ABM Treaty, then Russia will gain a legitimate right to install not one, but three, four, five or more warheads. But as a matter of fact we won’t need to do that at the first stage. No need. The NMD is capable of intercepting, I repeat, 10–15 missiles or at most 100.
But what, in our view, is the danger, not for us but for humankind? Basically, the next step is to install multiple warheads. And of course that increases the chances of breaking through the missile defence system many times over.
But not only we, but also other nuclear powers could do it. It would cause irreparable damage to all the non-proliferation agreements.
All the countries that today are bound by the regime of non-proliferation that has been created in the world will immediately declare themselves to be nuclear powers. They will devise other methods of delivering weapons of mass destruction to the territory of a potential enemy because of the national missile defence system; any missile defence system counters only ballistic missiles, and there are other means of delivering nuclear weapons. So nuclear powers will think of other ways. And the arms race may simply get out of control.
We have stockpiled a lot of weapons as it is, so no major additional financial inputs will be required. But it gives rise to a sense of anxiety because we are a nuclear power. We bear a huge responsibility for the destiny of humankind. There is a feeling of worry as to what will happen next.
What can be offered in exchange? Admittedly, our starting premise is similar to that of our American partners. We believe that we should give thought to the future, to future threats, and, without destroying anything that has been achieved so far, assess (and that brings me to the second part of your question) where the real threats come from and what they are. Let me explain.
We have to determine who has missiles, what missiles, of what range, and where they could fly; then the system of defence should be put up in the direction of the threat. These could be our S-300 missiles, or American missiles or anyone else’s. That is not the point. This is what we have invited Europe to look at. This is what we propose to discuss with our American partners.
Furthermore, we should move forward on reducing nuclear arsenals and create conditions under which no one could put weapons of mass destruction or their components in outer space, we must rule out the militarization of outer space.
I understand that if a country has earmarked $7 billion for these tests, that money has to be spent. But to date, tests have been carried out without violating the 1972 ABM Treaty. The mechanism of modernization is built into the Treaty, and such modernization has taken place. But, naturally, neither I nor any other Russian leader will ever make a decision that runs counter to the national security interests of our country.
We will keep a close eye on what is happening. We will negotiate patiently and I very much hope that the very favourable atmosphere that has been established in our relations with President Bush will help the experts to agree, to understand each other and find acceptable solutions.
But I don’t think we should monopolize the discussion on the issue. All the nuclear powers have the right to take part in it. And non-nuclear powers too, because the destiny of the whole of humanity is at stake.
Question: Mr. President, I would like to ask you about the character of the new treaty you are going to sign with China. Do you see a Russian-Chinese partnership emerging in the context of the ABM Treaty?
Vladimir Putin: As is well known, China supports the Russian position on the issue. The Chinese nuclear potential is not to be compared with that of Russia. I have already said that the US withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, if it does come about, will not have much of an impact on us. China’s nuclear potential is much smaller than ours and they determine their nuclear policy independently.
At the political level, we have very similar views on building global security in the world and we are coordinating our actions.
At the same time, the Treaty on Friendship and Cooperation we are planning to sign with China is not a basis for creating a military alliance. We do not seek any military alliances. And it cannot be seen as a response to a possible US withdrawal from the 1972 ABM Treaty.
In fact, we have a Treaty on Friendship and Cooperation with Italy (signed in 1994), but not with China. And yet nobody considers the 1994 Treaty between Italy and Russia to be a response to the possible withdrawal of the United States from the ABM Treaty. Meanwhile, we have thousands of kilometres of common border with China. It is our closest and biggest neighbour. The Treaty will provide the basis for the development of economic relations, relations in the sphere of culture, education and cooperation in other areas.
Question: Mr. President, how do you assess Pope John Paul II? Do you believe that after his trip to Ukraine his dream of visiting Russia has become more realistic?
Vladimir Putin: I believe that the Pope is doing a great deal to develop the Roman Catholic Church. Moreover, he is making a very big contribution to international peace. I think his trips to East-European countries, including Ukraine, are potentially positive.
I can talk with the Pope only in his capacity as a head of state. As a Christian I have to talk with the Patriarch Alexy of Moscow and All-Russia, because I am an Orthodox believer. I would very much like the relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Holy See to develop positively. I have discussed it with the Pope and I have repeatedly discussed it with the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.
V. Strada: Do you believe it would be reasonable and correct to bury Lenin’s body? And when can this be realistically done?
Vladimir Putin: I think this is not a problem that we have created. It belongs of course to the emotional domain, even if some people want to treat it as a political problem. It lies in the emotional domain because people of the older generation associate their lives with a certain social system and with the name of Lenin.
I think the solution of any problem, including this one, should happen in such a way as not to destroy a certain consensus in society, not to explode society from within, and, as you feel, consensus has been established in Russia, and I cherish it. It helps us to implement measures, including at my level as head of state, at the level of the parliament, that modernize the country and that will gradually change the mentality of the main social strata in Russia. When I see that the overwhelming majority of the population wants it, then it can be discussed. So far I do not see it, and the issue is not under discussion.
V.Strada: Thank you for your full answer.
Mr. President, you have opposed a lifting of the moratorium on the death penalty and the death penalty in general. That is fine, but Metropolitan Kirill and Alexander Isayevich Solzhenitsyn think that Russia needs the death penalty today. What do you think about this difference of opinions, and in general, what do you think about the political and public views of Alexander Solzhenitsyn?
Vladimir Putin: You know, Alexander Solzhenitsyn is a very original man. He has a profound knowledge of Russian history and he has a fine feel of what is happening in the country. I was amazed by his assessments when I met him. I thought that not being involved in current politics in a practical way he could not be expected to be so sensitive to and perceptive of some of the things that are happening in society and the state.
I don’t think he is proceeding from public opinion in this case. It is his personal position. He is used to being outspoken about his position. One could argue for a long time on this issue, including with him. I think he proceeds from certain Russian traditions, including the traditions of meting out punishment. But I believe that some traditions should be changed in accordance with the changing times in which we live.
V. Strada: Very well.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you.
F.Dragosei: Because I am a permanent correspondent here I will ask you a question that is not very pleasant: Chechnya and Russia’s relations with the world and press freedom in Russia. Russia is still wrestling with the Chechen issue. Basically, Russia has the support of all the Western countries in solving that problem, they are trying to do all they can to help Russia respect human rights.
And secondly, can the present Russian leadership get rid of the group of oligarchs who were previously so influential in Russia without clamping down on the media?
Vladimir Putin: The first question. You have said that Russia is still wrestling with the Chechen problem. And are you not wrestling with the Balkan problem? It is mainly NATO that is trying to solve it, and it does so by bombing. You think that force can be used there, but not here. And if so, you believe that force can be used in some places. But if it can be used why can’t it be used in Chechnya?
Let me tell you this. Russia tried to solve the problem by force when it was about the national independence of Chechnya. Russia could not solve it and Russia acceded to the demands of the Chechen people. But the Chechen people themselves fell victim to Muslim fundamentalism. That is why what we are doing in Chechnya enjoys fairly broad support in Russian society because, confronted with the aggression of Islamic fundamentalism from the territory of Chechnya, we had to protect our territorial integrity.
What is happening in the Balkans today reminds me of appeasement of the aggressor in the late 1930s. We are trying to use persuasion, in terms of contemporary morality, with regard to people who are determined to solve their political problems by force of arms, and we will never succeed. Believe me. Russia, unfortunately, has to respond to impudence and force with force. But I would like to stress that our use of force there has been prompted by the aggressive actions of fundamentalists.
Unfortunately, violations occur in the course of this work. That is natural because in the context of the fight against terrorism, in the context of terrorist attacks, explosions and assaults, the authorities have to respond adequately and civilians may suffer.
If it is a conscious violation of the law we bring our servicemen to account, and we do not mind reporting it in our national media outlets. But this passes largely unnoticed by your colleagues in Europe and they totally ignore the fact that the fundamentalists continue and broaden their fight against their own people by constantly perpetrating terrorist acts against the people of Chechnya, against prominent Muslims who adhere to traditional forms of Islam, against the elders, against the heads of administrative bodies who are ethnic Chechens. Assassinations take place all the time, but nobody pays any attention.
Ignoring these facts is an element of connivance with terrorism. Why do the Americans, rightly, demand the extradition of bin Laden? Because he has masterminded large-scale crimes. And we are dealing not only with the organizers but also with the perpetrators of equally large-scale crimes committed on our land. Who has the moral right to demand from us not to fight these people? In what way are they better than bin Laden? They are in contact with each other, he provides supplies to them, and they receive his financial and material support. They are trained in his camps in Afghanistan. They are one and the same lot.
Now, about the mass media. You know, a society which does not have a free media has no future. That is indisputable. Can one get rid of groups of oligarchs without attacking the mass media? Of course one can. But one should be able to identify an oligarch who has pocketed more than a billion dollars and does not want to share the money with anyone but is trying to use the media under his control to blackmail the state and who wants to project his commercial relations onto the relations between the state and the creative team or onto politics. But the most important thing, that we still lack and that we must have if we are to ensure press independence, is economic conditions in which the media could function as a self-sufficient business.
Actually, we do not have such economic conditions today. And herein lies the main problem. To date we do not have a tax regime and we do not have rules regarding the lease of premises. The customs service creates many problems for the printed media and so on and so forth. If we create favourable business conditions then we can expect an independent press to function normally.
Question: Mr. President, I would like to ask you my final question. It is connected with the topic that we have touched upon with Mr. Gromov, and the Italian newspapers will discuss it in the near future.
Those who know your country and have lived there for any length of time know that not all those who served at the KGB were people in long overcoats and wide-brimmed hats. They know that the KGB employed the elite of society. But you personally are portrayed by some media as a good president of a good country, Russia, and by others as a bad former KGB officer.
I would like to ask you a question that you may feel to be too personal. You are the President of Russia, and what do you think of your previous experience with the KGB? How do you assess it, as positive or negative? Is it help or hindrance in your work?
Vladimir Putin: It is a positive experience. I have mainly worked with intelligence. I finished a counterintelligence school and immediately was sent to work with the foreign intelligence service. I finished an intelligence school and then worked abroad. Intelligence work is above all information work. And of course it broadens your horizon. It gives you good skills of working with people.
And besides, I have to tell you that in general there had always been a special atmosphere in the Foreign Intelligence Service in the Soviet Union. These people spent practically their whole lives abroad. They saw what was happening in the Soviet Union and what ideological clichés existed there and how they affected the economy and the social sphere. They saw the realities of the Western world. It was a very peculiar kind of community.
But, as I have had occasion to say before, I think that the fostering of patriotism, of love for the Motherland was a positive aspect. It was one of the main components of the ideological work with the personnel, with the intelligence agents. So I think, in fact I am sure that this experience was positive and it is more help than hindrance.
But it would be wrong to forget that from the early 1990s I had a different sort of experience. I had worked for 16 years with the Foreign Intelligence Service and for 11 years with the municipal administration and the central governing bodies of Russia. During this time I worked as an assistant university rector. I worked at the Leningrad City Council, the parliament of St. Petersburg, as it were. Then I worked at St. Petersburg Mayor’s Office, an executive body. I spent more than five years, about six years, in that position. I was first deputy city mayor. I was in charge of economic issues, foreign ties and work with the media, among other things.
I had worked here at the Presidential Executive Office before I became the head of the Federal Security Service. I worked as Secretary of the Russian Security Council. That was a purely political job. I worked as Prime Minister for some time.
I understand that all this is pretty boring and less thrilling than serving with the intelligence services. If you think that it was about hiding in manholes with a gun in hand, I must disappoint you. I did not do that. But it was interesting work, I repeat, I gained a lot in terms of broadening my horizons, the ability to handle information, to pick out the most important information and focus on it and see how to use that information to solve practical political problems.
Question: At least one question about Berlusconi, otherwise Berlusconi may feel offended (Laughter). A quick last question. How do you assess the new political situation in Italy after the recent electoral victory of the centre right led by Berlusconi? And in general how do you see Russian-Italian relations and in what direction are they likely to develop in future?
Vladimir Putin: We assess the level of Russian-Italian relations as very high. In the economy, our trade reached the 9 billion dollar mark last year, and in foreign policy our foreign ministries are in constant contact and have frequently coordinated their positions on many issues, and the same high level marks our cultural cooperation.
I very much hope that we will not only preserve that level but move our relations forward in all these areas. As regards my assessment of the internal political situation in Italy, please don’t press me on that issue. It is not my business. It is the business of the Italian people. The Italian people have made their choice and, unlike other countries, there were no doubts and no arguments, everything was clear and definitive.
I must say that the ideas that are thought of as center-right, especially in the economic sphere, are also shared by the present Russian Government. Moreover, we are implementing many of these ideas. And that is a good basis for building a relationship with the new Prime Minister of the Italian Republic.
Question: Mr. President, I would like to thank you for giving us this interview, which they are expecting in Italy and other countries.
And one last personal request. I would like to touch upon economics. Could we leave two questions about economics with your colleagues so that if you have time you could answer them before we publish this interview? Then we will have the full picture.
Vladimir Putin: Ask these questions now.
Question: Two questions, Mr. President.
The first economic question is about foreign investment and the measures Russia is taking against corruption, against money laundering.
Vladimir Putin: Measures against corruption. The main measures are of an economic character. I think we should create a very clear and transparent economy with a minimum of bureaucracy, a liberal economy. One in which decisions on specific issues are less dependent on the bureaucrat. At present we are putting into practice the measures that we have planned.
Right now the Duma is in the process of the second reading of the package of bills to reduce unreasonable state interference in the economy. They would abolish various certificates, licenses and so on. But whatever decisions we take, they must be followed through.
In that sense the strengthening of the judicial system, including courts of arbitration, is very important. So we have prepared and we are seeking parliamentary approval of a whole package of laws to strengthen the court system (it has practically been adopted), which, on the one hand, enhances the role of the judges and increases their salaries, and on the other hand, increases their responsibility for the decisions they make. An addition, pending before parliament is the law on combating money laundering. These are the main areas of effort, but there are others.
Question: And the very last question.
Vladimir Putin: One more thing, I am sorry. We expect that this will create good conditions for attracting foreign investment. All that coupled with the country’s tax policy. I must say that we have the lowest personal income tax in Europe – 13%, and we are going to have the lowest rate of profit tax in Europe, 24%. The law has already passed three readings in parliament.
Question: We still have time. A very important question connected with the lifting of the Kursk submarine. I would like to ask you if you think any mistakes had been made a year ago in August during the course of the operations connected with that tragic event.
And the question many people are asking: why did you wait several days before coming to Moscow?
Vladimir Putin: The answer is simple. I understand that you have asked me whether everything had been done to try to rescue the crew?
Vladimir Putin: The rescue people did everything that could be done. Moreover, analysis shows that if they had acted differently, even if they had appealed for help to foreign partners on that same day, the surviving members of the crew could not have been saved. It could have been done only if the designers of the submarines in the 1980s had envisaged such specific contingency and provided rescue facilities for this particular situation. In that case, if these means had been used promptly, people could probably have been rescued.
But the point is that the means envisaged for contingency were all there and in good repair, they were simply not sufficient in that particular situation. All of them were used as per military instructions, and the military, as you know, proceed according to their instructions. I repeat, even if foreign help had been asked for on that same day it would have come too late anyway. The chronology of events proves it. So, I have no grounds for reproaching the rescue team.
As regards my return to Moscow it would have made sense only in terms of PR. Being in Sochi I had the same communications with the Navy and with the rescuers as I would have had in Moscow. Besides, I had a number of meetings scheduled there, including with members of Russian Academy of Sciences. But it does not at all mean that I was not attending to the issue. I was at it every day. The degree of my immersion in the matter did not depend on my geographical location. But those who wanted to present it as a problem have been successful. I admit that.
I must say that I had not expected it to be used in such a way. And I must admit that it was a miscalculation in that sense, in terms of PR. But I am not too sorry about it because I wasn’t thinking about that side of the matter. I was thinking about what was happening to the people and the crew. I believe that in that situation PR was not the main thing. On the contrary, if my presence anywhere – in Moscow, in the Barents Sea or wherever – could have helped to rescue the crew I would have been there in no time. I would have gone there immediately.
Moreover, after I learned about what had happened, my first question to the Defence Minister, the Commander of the Armed Forces was: how can I help, what help do you need from me? What has to be done? Just tell me, I am ready to do anything. I repeat, if I had to be present somewhere at the time I would have been there. More questions?
F.Venturini: The last question.
Vladimir Putin: The very last.
F.Venturini: You know that all journalists are liars. So, this is the very last question.
Vladimir Putin: I wouldn’t make such generalizations.
F.Venturini: Basically, we know your position regarding NATO eastward expansion very well. I would just like to ask you the following.
Considering your stated position, would a compromise be possible if NATO, for example, expanded in such a way as only a few countries became new members? Would you agree with that option? Or will your position on NATO enlargement remain the same under any circumstances?
Vladimir Putin: You know my position. I will present it in a different context, the way I have never set it out in public.
What is our goal? We all say, and I often hear it from my colleagues, and the Western media say it almost all the time, everybody says: we don’t want to see Europe divided, we don’t want new invisible borders and barriers, new “Berlin walls” splitting the continent of Europe. That is the right approach. That is what we seek. But when NATO expands, the border does not disappear. It simply advances towards our frontiers.
We hear that NATO is more of a political organisation. But although it is becoming more of a political organisation, that does not prevent it from using force, including in Europe, in spite of UN Security Council resolutions. So, the military aspect of NATO does not go away.
What is needed now that the world has changed? What goal should we seek? We must achieve the maximum of mutual confidence on the European continent if real life is to change. This cannot be done if varying-level security systems are created in Europe.
What needs to be done to create a single-level security system? Either NATO has to be disbanded just like the Warsaw Treaty, but this is not on the agenda, or Russia has to be admitted there to be a fully-fledged participant in working out decisions rather than looking at it from the outside, or else some other mechanism has to be created to unite Europe and create a common security and confidence space. That was the purpose for which the OSCE was conceived in its time.
But those who don’t want a situation of confidence on the continent are trying to channel the activities of the OSCE in a different direction – to the Caucasus and Central Asia – and have it deal with secondary, even though important matters. But until we achieve a common security space it will be difficult for us to tackle other issues. And how to achieve it? Let us think about it together.
Thank you (Applause.)