Vladimir Putin: Your forum is being held at an auspicious period for both our countries. It is auspicious both in the political and economic sense. And I would like to congratulate Ukraine on the results of this year, the growth figures are already in – I think it’s about 9% — and that is an impressive result. We are very glad because, considering the level of cooperation, the mutual positive influence of the two economies benefits both Russia and Ukraine.
An active dialogue has been established between politicians and businessmen. New cooperation bonds are emerging in addition to the existing ones.
The border between our countries is becoming more transparent for the investment flows. The flows are going both ways, to Ukraine from Russia and vice versa. Trade in the first 9 months of this year increased to 112% on the same period of last year.
I think it is very important that technological links between our countries are more developed than among many European countries within the EU. That is a very good indicator. At the same time, I would like to underscore another indicator. I have just mentioned the growth of mutual trade, and I regret to have to note that Ukraine comes second after Germany as Russia’s trade partner. We are glad that our relations with Germany are developing so intensively, but it is bad that Ukraine has found itself in second place.
Our countries bear responsibility for the energy security of Europe. Russia as the producer of gas and oil and Ukraine with its developed transport infrastructure ensure deliveries of gas to practically the whole continent.
In a sense we already have our “common market”, the market of Ukraine and Russia. It is another question that political and administrative stereotypes and sometimes downright prejudice prevent us from taking advantage of this common market. And yet learning to use the advantages of interconnected economies is a great plus in seeking to break into the European and world markets both for Ukraine and for the Russian Federation.
I have already said and I am prepared to repeat it: Russia wants to see an affluent and prosperous Ukraine. Not only because we have a kind attitude to Ukraine as a truly fraternal country, but because it is good for Russia owing to the high level of cooperation with Russian enterprises and economy. We are interested in having an economically strong neighbour and partner.
So we must learn to come to terms with each other. And seek to do it. In October this year the Agreement on Further Measures to Ensure the Transit of Russian Natural Gas through the Territory of Ukraine put us on track towards the settlement of the biggest problem in our relations. The outlook for other energy sectors has become clear.
But economic cooperation between our countries is not confined only to these issues. It is much deeper and its scale is larger.
It is true that Russian gas and oil form the basis of our relations. But the defence sectors are just as interconnected as energy. For example, a whole group of sectors is developing as part of a single technological flow chart in Kharkov. Major projects are being implemented in aircraft building and the space industry, as the Ukrainian President has said.
In addition to the large economy there exists an equally important sector – the small and medium-size businesses which are particularly active in cross-border cooperation. And that of course is part of our common market.
We have just been discussing the plans for further integration, for bringing Kharkov and Belgorod still closer together, and I think that these initiatives have to be supported.
Border trade accounts for 20% of the total trade between our countries. The heads of border regions are present here and they know very well and are aware of the importance of this work. Apart from everything else, the common problems of employment are addressed in this way.
But so far the Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the funds in support of entrepreneurship and our intergovernmental structures, unfortunately, have not paid the due share of attention to small business or to border trade. I think that support of joint small and medium business projects is no less important than coordination of large-scale investment projects.
We have many common tasks. One of these is to negotiate the kind of terms of our accession to the WTO that meet the national interests of Russia and Ukraine. I am absolutely sure, especially after a thorough study of the negotiating process between Russia and the WTO, that the easiest and most productive way of preparing our economic systems for international integration processes is to do it together. There will be greater benefits and we will achieve more. And we will be able to bargain for more favourable terms of integration.
Leonid Danilovich and I have already agreed to give maximum support to the practical solution of these issues. We have recently put in place the necessary prerequisites for the restoration of effective cooperation.