Vladimir Putin: Thank you for accepting the invitation to come to Sochi for an informal meeting. I think this meeting will provide good preparation for the 10th jubilee which we have decided to mark in the autumn in Moscow.
You know that work on the relevant documents is already underway, and our experts are working quite hard.
I think it is important that from the start we choose the right direction for our work, and I suggest that we compare our views of the current state of affairs and outlook for the CIS to provide benchmarks for the people who are working on these documents, that is, for our experts.
One issue that we should discuss is the role of regional associations in the overall context of the CIS. I would like to stress that the Union State of Russia and Belarus, the Eurasian Economic Community, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, GUUAM, and the Central-Asian Economic Community may well augment cooperation in the general format and may even provide a testing ground for certain variants of interaction that may later be introduced throughout the CIS.
The main and fundamentally important thing is that the regional associations should contribute to the strengthening of the Commonwealth as a whole and to solving the tasks facing our countries with a view to achieving the main goal: improving the welfare of our peoples and ensuring the security of all our countries. These are, I think, and I know you share my opinion, the main criteria for assessing our joint work.
Of course, prospects for economic cooperation demand their share of attention. We started discussing them at our bilateral meetings yesterday. We are all of the opinion that economic cooperation and the economy is the only possible basis for the development of cooperation in all the other areas.
The topic proposed by Islam Karimov is also important. I am referring to the narcotic menace that looms over our countries. We must step up our joint work to fight that evil. A serious discussion of the issue is long overdue, and I think we are all interested in it. Clearly the topic cannot be discussed without looking at the issues of international terrorism and extremism, and without looking at the problem of Afghanistan.
Those of us who work within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, are prepared to share the results of our discussion in Shanghai. These are similar topics that are relevant to the whole Commonwealth.
I also suggest that we exchange opinions on the problems of strategic stability, the situation in the Balkans and other topical international issues.
For my part, I will be prepared to talk to you about the discussions held in Genoa on easing the debts of developing countries, the poorest countries, and on combating the most serious and worrisome diseases such as AIDS and tuberculosis. Combating these diseases is a challenge for our countries too. And of course I will tell you about bilateral meetings, including contacts with our American counterpart.
This is the range of issues I propose for discussion, but of course it is an open-ended list. We have agreed in advance that we would have an open-ended agenda. Any issues and problems you deem necessary to raise will be actively discussed today and tomorrow – with those of you who stay.