Question: Mr. President, thanks for the opportunity to interview you. We are now at your residence on the Black Sea, in Sochi. Does it mean that you are not concerned by the situation in the world at this moment, you being now in Sochi and not in Moscow?
Vladimir Putin: No, of course, no. Technologically I can work here and am working in full, same as in the Kremlin. I must say, perhaps, on the contrary, there is here an opportunity to concentrate on the main themes in international and domestic politics, without being distracted by trifles, as I have to do in Moscow.
So I must tell you that I'm here in contact also with my colleagues from Europe, from the United States and, of course, with the entire leadership of the Russian Federation constantly, in full contact: with the Defence Minister, the Minister of Internal Affairs (today alone I talked with both several times), and with the director of the Federal Security Service, of the intelligence service, with the Chairman of the Government. Just the day before yesterday I talked with Mr. Chirac before his departure for Washington, with our Minister of Foreign Affairs I today spoke after his arrival in the United States capital, and so on.
Question: At this moment an increasing number of signs attest that the Americans will respond and not only respond, but also perhaps they will really deliver an armed strike at Afghanistan. If this occurs, what will be the reaction of Russia?
Vladimir Putin: We believe that, as I already said, evil without a doubt must be punished. Moreover the response to the aggression with which the United States has been confronted must be prompt. We, of course, believe that the generally recognized international rules will be observed and the United States will consult as it takes decisions with its allies as well: with the direct NATO allies, with Russia and with other leading powers of the world. That's why the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Mr. Ivanov, is in Washington today.
Question: How far are you willing to go in cooperation with the USA and with NATO if a military strike is delivered? Is it conceivable that Russia will give consent to the use of airfields on the CIS territory, for example, in Tajikistan?
Vladimir Putin: You said: CIS — this means the Commonwealth of Independent States. These states are independent in the true sense of the word. We, of course, have certain influence, just as they have some on us. We all come from one state — the Soviet Union — we have many ties, we economically are present there quite weightily, but political decisions of this kind these states make independently. That's the first point.
Second, as regards the possible involvement of Russia, we are ready to cooperate with the United States in the struggle against terrorism in the broadest terms. We haven't yet had any specific requests on this question, but security services have long since been cooperating. The question is, this cooperation should be taken to a new qualitative level. We are ready for this. And, of course (I cannot fail to say that), all of our actions must and will be in full conformity with Russian law and the international obligations assumed by Russia and the rules of international law.
Question: Is it conceivable that, for example, Russian forces will act in this case on the United States' and NATO's side, or do you rule out such a possibility?
Vladimir Putin: You know our position, it is a principled one. The use of the Armed Forces outside the Russian Federation, in the first place, calls in our country for a special legislative procedure and requires endorsement by the Federal Council, that is the upper house of the Russian parliament.
Besides that, use of the Armed Forces in third countries may occur only by a decision of the Security Council of the United Nations. We have up until now observed these rules and intend to do so. But this does not mean that we cannot discuss questions of this kind and together with our partners think over a possible response in connection with the terrorist acts.
I must say that members of the UN Security Council, in any case its permanent members, have wholly and entirely identified themselves with the United States and support the struggle against terrorism. Only yesterday, as I already said, I talked with the President of the People's Republic of China, who also stressed that his country did not accept terrorism in any of its manifestations and was willing to cooperate with the international community in the struggle against this evil, which is becoming ever more dangerous.
Question: You said the United Nations must deal with this question. But won't that become a brake, that is to say, it will be impossible to act so long as a protracted debate goes on there, weighing up some or other positions for a long time, while there is the perfectly clear interest of the USA in using military force as soon as possible?
Vladimir Putin: I have sufficiently clearly defined my position at the first reaction after the terrorists dealt their strike against the United States. I said that this was a strike against the whole of humanity, at least against the entire civilized world, of which Russia considers itself a part. Therefore we regard the strike against the United States in the broadest sense as a strike against the entire civilized world. In this sense we do not divide our interests with those of other countries, including with the interests of the United States.
I believe responses to the most malicious, most dangerous manifestations of terrorism ought to be sufficiently effective and quick. The involvement of Russia in such actions, I repeat, is limited to Russia's internal laws and our commitments to our partners. So far we have received no specific proposals. And, of course, we will make our decisions, bearing in mind the level and nature of our partnership with the United States and with the NATO countries.
Question: I would like now to turn to the example of the struggle against terrorism, which exists in your own country, I mean Chechnya. You are operating there against armed terrorist groups and here, probably, no one will object to you now, especially in view of the events now occurring. And yet, despite this, I will ask you a question.
You have operated by military means, but these actions were directed also against the civilian population, among whom there were also many casualties. Two years on, this conflict still has not been resolved by military means. As it seems to us. You have still not managed to win the hearts of the peaceful population there. Does this method of action not mean that as a matter of fact, you are engendering new terrorism while you are combating the old one? I mean by acting with such means.
Vladimir Putin: The struggle against terrorism cannot, must not and is not limited to military methods, if we want to achieve positive results.
As to our plans, military plans in the Caucasus, they have been achieved. And I cannot agree with you that our military actions there have not led to the results which we had expected. Indeed, we didn't expect any other results. We've destroyed large bases of terrorists, have destroyed their organized structures, they don't exist. We set ourselves this task, and it has been achieved. But we never really thought that the very roots of this phenomenon could be fully eradicated there in a year and a half or two. That requires lots of intense, large and many-sided work. This work is associated with improving the social-economic standard of living for the population of the North Caucasus and Chechnya, in particular. This is associated with cultural work, it is associated with religious-ideological work, because we must offer the bulk of the population something other than the man-hating ideas being put forward by religious fanatics.
As for the peaceful population, I draw your attention to the fact that we used to be told eighteen months back we would never find a single Chechen who would cooperate with federal forces in the slightest way. Today a civil administration of Chechnya has been established, in each district the heads of administrations work, Chechens by nationality, and bandits keep striking at them. As you know, many people from among the Chechen population have already died at the hands of bandits, including noted religious workers. All this suggests that the population of Chechnya understands what is happening there and they are turning towards the federal center. We have no doubt on that score. Of course, this requires a certain time and, of course, it will require certain efforts.
The same thing, I think, we will all have to do together internationally, the same thing will have to be done against other centers of terrorism. That we are interconnected, I think, today does not need being proved. It is an obvious fact for all. Support comes from certain centers and we have to work together against those centers.
Of course, with just military operations this cannot end. It will not lead to positive results, but here the cohesion of the world community is needed and effective actions on a whole number of issues, the first of which is to deprive bandit groups and terrorist organizations of financial support, to exert a positive economic influence on the state entities and on the states in which terrorism takes place, and to cooperate with these states in the humanitarian regard. This a whole large range of work.
Question: Essentially, maybe this cannot be directly compared, but we encounter an analogous problem in Palestine. This means that we see from the example of Palestine, and you from the example of Chechnya, that matters should be led to a political solution. Did l understand you right?
Vladimir Putin: Yes, absolutely right.
Question: Before moving to the German section, two or three more questions concerning Russian relations with the USA. You said that after the terrorist acts in New York and Washington it is becoming obvious that the Americans' antimissile umbrella planned for deployment is either unnecessary or it won't save from such attacks. And may I put the question entirely differently, notably that that's what is needed right now, once terrorists have now obtained a possibility to use such technologies and with the use of missiles?
Vladimir Putin: Of course, no. For what was it that the terrorists used? Civilian aircraft. And a national missile defense system protects only against missiles and only against ballistic missiles. You understand the difference between a civilian aircraft and ballistic missiles? Even ”rogue countries“ in the next 50 years will not be able not only to have, but even to come nearer to such technologies. Of what are we speaking? There is simply not even a subject for talk. This, though, does not mean that we must not think of how to adapt the system of security in the world that has developed as of now to the possible dangers which may await us in some historical perspective. And we are ready for this dialogue.
Question: Is it conceivable in the present situation, marked by a global crisis conditioned by the fight against terrorism, that you will say: ”If you — Americans — slightly reduce the pace of realization of your plans to deploy an antimissile umbrella, we will show a still greater capacity, for example, in military terms, to render you more considerable support in the struggle against terrorism“ or you cannot imagine this kind of haggle?
Vladimir Putin: No, we do not want to and will not have any haggle here. To us the question of combining efforts in the struggle against terrorism is an independent topic of our cooperation. Of course, we are aware that if in this matter, in this field we reach mutual understanding, and on this ground, can effectively cooperate with each other, this will create a good climate for solving other problems too. But, I think, it would be wrong here to haggle with each other and to exploit the difficulties with which our partners are confronted to solve some other tasks. We've got no such aim and we will not be doing that.
Question: If the Americans, despite your objections, unfold the antimissile umbrella, despite the fact that Russia and not just Russia alone are against this. What can Russia undertake in this case?
Vladimir Putin: I, strictly speaking, already spoke of this. This is a decision which America can take independently. It has a right to do so, because in the Treaty itself on Antiballistic Missile Defense of 1972 there is an appropriate provision which envisages a procedure for dissolving this Treaty unilaterally. Either side which intends to take such a decision must notify the partners six months in advance. Therefore if our American partners take such a decision, half a year before withdrawal from the Treaty they must inform us, and we in this case will not stage any hysteria. But we do think that this would be an erroneous step. And here's why. Today's system of international security is largely based on the ABM Treaty of 1972. The START-1 Treaty is connected with it, and so is the START-2 Treaty, which we have ratified. Our US partners so far haven't, unfortunately. Associated with it is a whole series of other international legal obligations in this sphere, in the sphere of international security, approximately 30 treaties and agreements. This will be destroyed overnight. We are not proposing anything in return. We consider this is incorrect. We hold this to be a mistake. There will be no great harm to our own national interests from the Americans' withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, because Russia in the next 30 years will certainly be able to ensure its security. We know this, our US partners know this. The position of Russia protects rather not its own security, but the position of Russia proceeds from the need to take care of the international structure, of the international security architecture which has developed as of now.
Question: And the last question before we pass on to German topics because to our great satisfaction you will visit our country. You and Russia are criticized in the world for supplying, for example, nuclear technologies to such states as Iraq or North Korea, the so-called states of concern as they are now called by Americans, previously they called them rogue states. And such states of concern are getting Russian nuclear technologies and weapons. It means that the weapons are already there. Will you stop these supplies?
Vladimir Putin: You know, there is a saying, it may not sound very nice, but I think it would be appropriate: we believe that meat and flies should be kept separate. Let us separate flies from meat.
As for nuclear cooperation with Iran, we are talking about cooperation in the field of atomic energy, the building of atomic power plants and so on. Our American and some other Western partners are planning to do exactly the same in North Korea which is also called a rogue state. Why should everybody else be allowed to work there while Russia shouldn't be allowed to work with the same technologies with Iran? We see this as a political justification of unfair competition. That's one thing.
Secondly, as regards cooperation in the military-technical field. Yes, we do sell weapons to other countries. You know in what place we are in terms of sales? I think we are in fourth or fifth place. We are well behind the United States, Great Britain and some other countries. We are in fourth place. The arms market is fairly limited. If our Western partners can offer to compensate us for the possible losses if we stopped our activities in the sphere of military-technical cooperation, we can think about it. But we must comply with our obligations under the treaties we have concluded.
And the last thing. In this cooperation we never go beyond the framework of the international commitments we have assumed and we will never transfer any technologies connected with the spread of mass destruction weapons, including nuclear military technologies. Russia has signed a corresponding agreement on non-proliferation of mass destruction weapons and it strictly abides by these accords.
Question: So, it means that even nuclear technologies are delivered only for peaceful uses.
Vladimir Putin: Absolutely. Let me draw your attention to the fact that Germany has provided Iran with a loan of 2 billion marks guaranteed by Hermes. Why are European countries working in Iran actively and Russia has no right to do the same?
And I would like to end my answer to the question where I started it: flies should be kept separate from meat and we should know exactly which is where.
Question: Now let us pass on to Germany. You are planning to visit Germany. Can you see a situation arising that will prevent you from going to Germany if, for example, the international crisis takes another turn for the worse directly on the eve of your visit?
Vladimir Putin: Everything will depend on what will happen in the world. But I think that in the current situation, on the contrary, I must go to Germany, unless, of course, the leadership of the Federal Republic finds that the time of the visit does not correspond to the events happening in the world. Germany is one of our leading partners both in the economic and in the foreign policy sphere. We have twice spoken with the Chancellor by phone about the recent events in the United States. He put forward very important initiatives, in my view, very timely initiatives in terms of activating the G-8. I support him and I think that, on the contrary, it would be right to meet with the leaders of Germany, to discuss the emerging situation and talk about coordinating our efforts.
Question: Against the background of the crisis situation in the world, can German-Russian relations play a special role? Can you see, for example, Germany and Russia coming forward with a joint initiative on resolving this crisis? Will you discuss such issues with the Chancellor?
Vladimir Putin: Yes, of course, I don't see how we can avoid this topic. Of course, we will discuss our interaction, of course, we will think how to support our American partners together morally, politically and at the level of special services. Germany is a locomotive of a united Europe and in that sense the position of Germany on very many issues is important for us.
As for the fight against terrorism, I can tell you that it is an area in which we should proceed, in spite of all the acuteness, and perhaps being mindful of the acuteness, in an extremely cautious manner. This is an area where sometimes it pays to say less and do more. And in any case we should not provoke criminal elements to some negative actions by rash remarks, let alone rash and ill-considered actions.
Question: What are the features of German-Russian relations in this connection? Is it an element that distinguishes these relations, say, from the relations Russia has with Italy and France? Are we closer to each other in that sense — Germany and Russia — in order to work out such an initiative?
Vladimir Putin: In general we would like to establish a closer dialogue with Europe on security issues. The military and defence topics are being actively discussed in Europe today. We watch these processes attentively. I have said and I would like to repeat that it does not give us any cause for concern. Only, we would like the actions in this direction to be as transparent as possible. As you know, we are building our relations with NATO within the PJC. I see no reason why we shouldn't cooperate with the Europeans in the same way and perhaps even more closely. As I have said, one of the key elements in the uniting Europe is, of course, the position of Germany and we regard it as being of fundamental significance. We watch especially closely what Berlin says and how.
Question: You will come to Berlin and the current plan is that you will meet with the Chancellor who together with the majority of the German population, at least as I see it from here, very quickly took the American side. The Chancellor did not rule out that even the Bundeswehr will take part in possible retaliatory actions or at least could take part. The Bundestag fully backed that position. Does that worry you at all? Aren't you going to try to influence the Chancellor to renounce it? Will you, perhaps, tell him: Be careful, or are you quite relaxed about it and you will tell him, That's the right thing to do?
Vladimir Putin: Let us face it, the positions of Germany and Russia differ if only because Germany is an active member of NATO, which Russia is not. The Alliance has decided to invoke Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty and all the NATO members are in full solidarity with the position of the United States. We are not members of NATO, they don't want to admit us. So, of course, our positions will differ.
As for the possible participation or non-participation of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Germany, the decision rests with the German government, the German people, the parliament and the Chancellor. I am the President of the Russian Federation and not of the Federal Republic of Germany.
At the same time I think that if you ask me whether the participation of German Armed Forces in a military action outside the territory of Federal Germany will cause any concern in the Russian Federation, my answer would be no. I see nothing worrisome about it. The Federal Republic has the right and the possibility to comply with its obligations within NATO. If such a decision is taken, so it will be. The decision is up to the German people.
Question: You are not going to comment on it. In general, it's a free state and that's that.
Vladimir Putin: I've said everything.
Question: Yes, yes, that's true.
Let us now turn to the economy. It is an important topic for both countries. To listen to what is said in the German business community, at enterprises and in the midst of managers, they say that there has already been some positive change under President Putin. But they also say, mainly out of sight of TV cameras, that old problems still remain. They are a lack of legal protection or insufficient legal protection. Let me quote one manager who says that ”adventurous customs practices, the tax system, although somewhat improved, the mechanisms of its implementation still remain very complicated, at least from the German point of view, and there is red tape.“ So, obviously, something has changed, but not enough. Why can't it be changed?
Vladimir Putin: We have just been discussing global problems, the problems of world politics and even possible deployment of military operations in some regions of the world. But, you know, we have a saying, probably a very sound one, that war or no war, lunch must be served on time.
So, in this area, too, I attend to economic issues practically every day and communicate with ministers, vice premiers and the chairman of the Russian government. We discuss the budget which the State Duma has now begun to debate and we discuss our immediate tasks that we have to accomplish by the end of the year in order to improve the economic mechanism in the country.
Unfortunately, in the previous ten years because of a measure of political instability, normal economic life has not been put on track. Now that we see a degree of consolidation, political consolidation in society, a great deal has been accomplished in the economic sphere. No such economic results have been achieved in the last 30 years in the Soviet Union or in the Russian Federation. In general, it is not a bad platform to build on. We have done a great deal in terms of creating a sound legal basis. But, of course, it was impossible to accomplish everything within a year and a half. As you know, we have passed some very serious laws in the field of taxation. Just today I discussed with the vice premier who is in charge of economics and finance the priorities for the next half year. They include the land reform and adoption of the Labor Code. You have mentioned the legal system. Improvement of the activities of the law courts and what we call the reform of the justice system is on the agenda. And you are absolutely right to draw attention to it. There is something to discuss here, and there are many shortcomings. You have mentioned the problem of the customs. It exists and we see it and are aware of it. Intensive work is underway on a new edition of the Tax Code. The main meaning of the proposed changes will be to minimize the decision-making powers of the bureaucrats and to make the provisions of the law self-implementing so that customs regulation should not be governed by internal departmental instructions but directly by the provisions of the law.
And there are other provisions and plans, including improved administration, that are sure to improve the situation in this area. So, we are aware of all this, we see this, but it is a fact that movement, fairly positive movement, has begun.
Question: Mr. President, a major event in European economy will take place at the end of the year. The euro will become legal tender. Aren't you worried that Russia will be isolated from Europe because it will introduce the euro whereas the Russian economy and, in fact, partially your daily life, are geared above all to the dollar? How are you going to proceed in this situation? How will you counter the possible threat of isolation?
Vladimir Putin: As for the dollar, I think it's pretty simple. It's you and not us who made it the main reserve currency of the world. You are introducing the euro now and I think you are doing the right thing. All this strengthens the European space as a center of world politics, as one of the leading centers of world politics. The issues may be simply technical. First, I must draw your attention to the fact that today we should discuss this topic very cautiously. We know that the terrorists have struck not only at the prestige of the United States, but also at the world economy. The basic foundation of the American economy is very strong as the recent trading in the stock market has shown. All this should reinforce our conviction that the terrorists have not achieved and will never achieve the goals they set before themselves. But we should act and speak circumspectly, including on the issue of the dollar because it is, properly speaking, to a large extent the basis of the world economy. Whether it is right or wrong, this is so. And we should be considerate of this.
This is not to say that we are not following the processes in Europe attentively. On the contrary, Europe already accounts for 35 percent of our trade and after the admission of possible new members in the European community the figure will rise to 40–45 percent. Naturally, we cannot and do not want to be in isolation. The Central Bank of the Russian Federation is today actively studying possible ways of introducing the euro in the settlements between our partners in Europe and Russian legal entities. We very much count on effective support in this matter from the Central European Bank. And, frankly speaking, I see no problems there.
There is one technical detail which we must draw your attention to. But this is not something we can resolve ourselves, we can only resolve it together with the Europeans. Our main currency revenues come from the sale of our traditional commodities in the foreign market. These commodities are normally traded in exchanges and the settlements in exchanges are in dollars. It is not our invention, it's yours. So, we should think about this problem together. I repeat, the Central Bank of the Russian Federation and its colleagues are working actively on what we will do after January 1, 2002 and how.
Question: There are three more concerns in Germany in connection with Russia. Perhaps, they are not only German concerns, but they certainly worry my country and with your permission I would like to touch upon them. You are criticized, not only you, but also you specifically, for your policy. The question is that your critics claim that your strategy is not aimed at creating an open democracy which we in Germany call the civil society, but at creating an authoritarian state that will be geared not so much to democracy as to the power of the army and the special services. How can you respond to this criticism?
Vladimir Putin: You know that if we look at Western Europe itself, it's not a large entity territorially, even there democracies differ markedly from one another. You can take the example of France or the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy or some other European country. Democracies are different everywhere. The forms of democracy and the practice of democracy differ everywhere. This is due to history, tradition and so on.
There are, of course, basic things that everybody shares and of course Russia will try to see to it that these basic things totally and fully integrate Russia into the European humanitarian and political democratic space. And there is no question, in this context, that the security service or the army will acquire a special and independent political power or political significance. All these structures, all these power structures, as we call them, should be under the control of the state and society.
Question: There is yet another concern and I confess that I share it. The Russian Union of Journalists has spoken about it and it can present proof that the work of journalists, especially in the provinces, is not only taxing, but that many journalists are at the mercy of state power, the power of governors and administrations and that under the pressure of that power they can work very little or poorly, if at all. Do you share that concern? And if so, what can you do about it?
Vladimir Putin: In any normal democratic society the mass media and the press are, as a rule, in opposition to the establishment. This is a natural position. At the end of the day that is how it should be, otherwise it makes no sense. And from that point of view we will, of course, support press freedom. But the problem with us is that at present the main thing required for press freedom is lacking, no economic basis for freedom has been created. At present our media market and the advertising market that make it possible for the mass media to function as a commercial enterprise is practically non-existent. Normal effective information media as a commercial enterprise can hardly exist without the assistance of some outside sponsors. And once it is so they have to cater to economic interest groups. This is where the problem lies. And I see my task in creating such an economic base for press freedom. I won't challenge the fact that the press faces some difficulties in the regions. And I don't think everything is perfect in that way in the center either. And of course, there is a lot to be done. It is a complex and multi-farious work that calls for constant attention, above all, in the sphere of the economy and in strengthening the legal framework for press independence. We will certainly move forward on that.
Question: I have two questions and a favor to ask you.
Let me begin with two brief questions. Your visit to Germany will almost coincide with the first anniversary of the sinking of the Kursk. Perhaps, the submarine will be lifted, with luck, while you are in Germany. Can you tell us today what caused the sinking of the Kursk, because it is a question that worries many people in Germany?
Vladimir Putin: You know, to get at the causes of the disaster a lot has yet to be done. First, we hope that the sunken submarine will be successfully lifted and towed to dock and the first to board the submarine will be the investigators of the Prosecutor General's Office. You are the first to learn it. So far, neither military specialists, not the navy men know about it. It is a firm decision. The first to go on board the submarine, if everything goes well (and I expect it will), will be the investigators of the Prosecutor General's Office and the technical specialists who will work under their control.
We very much hope that the information obtained will bring us closer to solving the riddle that confronts us today, to solving the question of the causes of the disaster. I don't think I need explain to you why we have decided to go ahead with this complex and costly enterprise of lifting the submarine. Above all, we need to meet our moral obligation to the relatives of the dead, and also to solve the ecological issues, the ecological problems that may arise if the submarine is not raised. As we know, there is a nuclear reactor and a large number of missiles. If they can be removed and put into their places of storage, it must be done. We have analyzed this situation together with West European specialists and both our and West European specialists, I repeat, came to the conclusion that the Kursk can be lifted. And this work can be done absolutely safely. There is constant monitoring there, including radiation monitoring. No alarm signals have yet come.
Question: And the last question is of a personal nature.
You spent your vacation in Karelia. I saw many pictures covering your vacation, including pictures on Russian television. You were often seen in churches. You received blessings and you took part in church ritual. Doesn't it indicate that in the year and a half that you have been the President of Russia you have drawn closer to the Church than before? Haven't you, perhaps, established a more intimate relationship with the Church? Have you become a believer?
Vladimir Putin: As for faith, I prefer never to discuss it publicly. That's one thing.
And secondly, my visits to such places have come to attract attention only now because all my movements inside the country and even more so abroad have attracted such attention. There was no such public attention before and I could afford to do what I wanted. All I want to say is that it doesn't mean that I haven't visited such places previously.
Thirdly, it was pleasant for me to spend the short week-long vacation that I took in my native places, and that is the Northwest of the country. You know that my birthplace is Petersburg, it's a very beautiful place. So, I just wanted to be in my native region.
As for Church, I can tell you honestly that there was a certain additional agenda to this trip. You see, after the collapse of the communist ideology we have been left without any ideology. The Church is separated from the state, it has been in a humiliated position over decades, but man cannot live without a moral basis. And so, attention to the Church is just a manifestation of attention to moral human values. I think it is very important for Russia today.
And besides, I got added proof that the material basis of the Church is in a sorry state. Churches in Moscow, say, and cathedrals in Petersburg have a shiny, festive look. But as soon as you are out of the regular tourist beats you see the real position of the Russian Orthodox Church. It is deplorable. And I think it would be right for Russian society to pay attention to it.
Question: I have no more questions left, but in conclusion I would like to ask you for a favor which you may do us if you are kind enough. Could you tell our TV viewers a couple of words in German in connection with your forthcoming visit and in connection with the crisis situation in the world and the fear that exists, including in Germany, that things may come to a large-scale war? You can answer it in German if you feel like it.
Vladimir Putin: (in Russian) As for the fears that humanity may be on the brink of large-scale military actions, a big war, I think these fears are without grounds. I don't think anything like that will happen. The leading countries will not allow that to happen. There needn't be such fears. There is nothing to presage a large-scale military conflict. At any rate because all the leading countries of the world, all the permanent members of the UN Security Council are determined to combat terrorism together, and terrorism and religious extremism of the most diverse stripe are always the main causes of unrest.
As for the German language, I will have an opportunity to speak German in Germany.
Question: I thank you cordially for this interview. I thank you also for the open way in which you answered my questions. Thank you very much.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you.