Question: Vladimir Vladimirovich, what can you say about the results of today’s G8 meeting?
Vladimir Putin: The first part of the summit was marked by a very businesslike working atmosphere. Practically everyone took part in the discussion of the issues on the agenda. Above all it was about the development of the world economy. Practically everyone present gave a review of the situation in his own country, of the development of the world economy, which is what I have done too. I have spoken about the situation in Russia, our priorities, about what has been done and what we are planning to do in the near future. We have looked at how these plans fit in with one another. I think it has been a very positive discussion. We did not only hear things, but were able to draw conclusions about development priorities, including for the Russian economy.
I got the impression that our partners showed considerable interest in information concerning our plans in the energy sphere, above all on the European continent. But not only that. We spoke about major projects with our other partners, including America.
Of course, we discussed the future, the problems connected with the development of the poorest countries of the world and the plans to hold an international meeting in Johannesburg.
On that issue, also, I noted some of our priorities, and I renewed the invitation to the G8 representatives to take part in the international conference on climate change in Moscow next year.
Finally, it has been decided to hold the 2006 G8 Summit in Russia. I think this is a very good sign signifying that Russia’s role is growing and, most importantly, that the quality of our relations with the leading industrialized countries is changing. We appreciated that decision and, of course, we will prepare and conduct the summit very confidently and in a worthy manner.
Question: Before flying to Kananaskis you talked to the governors of the southern regions of Russia. How do you evaluate the performance of the federal and local governments in bringing relief to the victims of the natural disaster?
Vladimir Putin: Unfortunately, there are many victims and it was a very large-scale disaster. As always the least well-off people suffer most. Those who suffered most were the people who do not enjoy a high living standard even in normal conditions. The poorest homes have been hardest hit. As for evaluating the way the situation was handled, I think some of the damage could have been prevented because the information about potential destruction was available in advance. And I think the local authorities could have acted more efficiently in a preventive way.
The necessary measures are being taken now and all the services have been engaged. The main thing now is to help the people on the ground to restore their houses, to bring them material assistance, to help provide them with drinking water and medicines and to prevent epidemics. At present vigorous measures are being taken, but we can only assess the overall effort after the main work is completed.
We have agreed with the governors and presidents of the republics within Russia to whom I have talked to keep the communication lines open. A government commission, which was formed recently, as you know, is working. Experts from various ministries and agencies are not working from Moscow, they have all gone to the area. Upon returning from here, from Canada, we will certainly hold a meeting with the regional heads on the issue. We will review the developments and adjust our actions.
Question: How do you assess the overall atmosphere at the summit?
Vladimir Putin: Very friendly. In general I must say that the G8 heads of state and government are not only competent people, but people who are pleasant in every respect. A comradely atmosphere has prevailed, a very friendly atmosphere aimed at finding solutions to the problems under discussion. Even if views differ on certain problems, there are more joint decisions that are constructive in character. In my opinion that is a very good prerequisite for achieving positive results.