Vladimir Putin: Dear Leonid Danilovich,
A year ago when we opened Ukraine Year in Russia we did not expect that there would be such a follow-up. So we are very grateful to the Ukrainian President for his initiative. Today my colleagues and I, all those who have come to Kiev, and the people of the Russian Federation are glad to see that the initiative has not only been supported, but is having such a wonderful sequel.
Today Ukraine Year in Russia is actually handing over the baton to Russia Year in Ukraine.
The good relations between our citizens and close partnership between the two states will undoubtedly increase and multiply at all times.
However, where kinship has always been alive, this is the only way to approach the relations between our peoples marked by the unity of spirit and in which “arithmetical” additions do not tell the whole story. A different kind of laws are at work here, more solid links of our intertwining histories are at work and the strength of national characters and human feelings manifests itself.
In December of last year we together summed up the results of Ukraine Year in Russia. They have shown that the initiative has met a real need of both peoples.
It has enriched bilateral cooperation with new fresh ideas and projects. It has demonstrated our great potentials and effective ways of joint work in the new conditions on a fundamentally new political and economic basis. And there I subscribe to what the Ukrainian President has just said.
One obvious priority is further development of cultural and human contacts. It means exchange of information on each other’s life. It means mutually beneficial cooperation in education, science and culture.
Nothing can do more to bring countries and peoples closer together than the simple and natural wish of people to be together and to have a friend by their side. I don’t think I need to remind you that Ukrainian songs, Ukrainian music and the rich Ukrainian culture remain as close and understandable to every Russian as ever.
The Ukrainian land abounds in talent and it has produced many famous musicians, poets and artists. Their creative achievements are undoubtedly the common cultural heritage of our peoples.
May our artists and writers have more opportunities to communicate with each other. May new joint creative ideas and projects appear and gain momentum.
The business initiative of our regions and their commitment to upgrade interaction are an important element of our cooperation, and these links have grown noticeably. Our delegation includes the Mayor of Moscow. I am aware that Kiev and Moscow are forging very good friendly relations. As we drove from the airport I was told that the Christmas tree in Kiev was 1.5 m higher than in Moscow. We will ask Yuri Mikhailovich [Luzhkov] how it came about.
As regards the border territories of the two countries they are more interested in direct links and cooperation at the level of local industries than anyone else. So we should make full use of interregional and cross-border cooperation. At present it is one of the most effective and promising resources for strengthening Russian-Ukrainian partnership.
We should also think together about creating a civilised market of manpower, attracting investments, and the two governments must provide all the necessary political, information and administrative support for that.
We have seen further proof that together we can cope with any tasks. I am convinced that all the necessary prerequisites are in place for a bright future for our peoples and for effective integration of Russia and Ukraine in the world community.
We have the authority and the influence, and there are powerful political and economic resources. Most importantly, we have the political will and the wish of our peoples to be together.
In conclusion I congratulate you and all the citizens of Russia and all the Ukrainians not only on the launching of Russia Year, but on the new discoveries that are sure to be made during the course of this joint work.
I am sure that it will strengthen our old friendship. Old but strong friendship. Friendship for centuries to come.