Vladimir Putin: Dear ladies and gentlemen, Dear Mr. President,
First of all I want to thank the leadership of France for the possibility to pay a state visit to your country. This, I think, coincided with a number of events which are occurring in the world, and of course this is important. But no less important is that which we discussed on a bilateral plane. I think that Mr. President will concur with me — our entire meeting with Mr. Chirac has once again confirmed that Russian-French relations and their history and the logic of the present day are directed only towards a further deepening of cooperation, only towards the development and strengthening of our bilateral collaboration.
Our states indeed have centuries-old ties, and they more than once — at turning points in history — endured serious tests. Today, when the world is building new relations, we speak of the formation of a new security architecture and, of course, Russia-France cooperation is very important both for the two countries and the world as a whole. It is traceable historically, I repeat once more — and this mutual historical attraction helps us today. Helps to build relations of a constructive partnership in the interest of both our two countries and with regard to Europe and the world as a whole.
The conversation with the President of France passed in the spirit of mutual understanding and trust — I would like to stress the atmosphere of trust, which had been created thanks to my French counterpart — and was very substantive, embracing practically all aspects of our cooperation with France. And, of course, we dwelt on the most sensitive issues on the international agenda. Among them: the situation in Iraq and the situation on the Korean Peninsula.
I want, first of all, to note the identity of Russia's and France's stands on the Iraq issue. Both countries insist on the need for a politico-diplomatic solution of this crisis. We hold that solutions of force can lead to an unpredictable escalation of tensions.
I want to note that we are closely studying the data presented in the recent report of our US partners at the UN Security Council, and feel that the international inspectors should verify them carefully. And the decisions on any further action should be taken by the Security Council of the United Nations. On the basis of their qualified and competent reports will the Security Council make its further moves. On the basis of the inspectors' qualified and competent reports will the Security Council determine its position for the future.
The similarity of the two countries' stands again showed itself on other issues as well. We are partners in the antiterrorist coalition. We are jointly working to strengthen nonproliferation regimes. We have pooled our efforts to combat the drugs threat, as well as other kinds of organized crime.
The striving to act together is directly reflected in the bilateral documents adopted. First of all, the Statement on Strategic Issues. In addition, within the framework of the visit there were signed the Agreement on Cooperation in the Area of the Fight Against Crime and of Ensuring Internal Security, the Convention on the Transfer of Convicts, and the Memorandum between Russia's Financial Monitoring Committee and the appropriate structure of France on cooperation in the struggle against criminal money laundering.
Together we intend to work also on strengthening the economic infrastructure of the European continent. To this, in particular, is oriented the Joint Statement on Cooperation in the Field of Energy. On this Mr. Chirac and I dwelt especially. I consider it only natural that much attention was devoted to European cooperation themes, both in the conversation one on one and in an extended composition. Above all, discussions centered, of course, on Russia-EU cooperation and Russia-NATO cooperation. Over the past year we have substantially advanced in such areas as security and defense, economy and trade, science and technology, culture and education. And people in Russia highly appreciate the constructive contribution of France to solving these tasks.
In closing I would like to stress — we have already achieved a great deal in bilateral political relations. Even more will have yet to be done in the economic sphere. The position achieved at this stage neither does nor can suit us. This concerns both the structure of bilateral trade and the volume of French investment in the Russian economy. In a word, Mr. Chirac and I intend to continue to move forward along the road of strengthening Russian-French relation in all areas; I want to stress this.
And, of course, today, taking this opportunity, I want to express the most sincere feelings of liking and respect for the great French people.
Thank you very much indeed for you attention and once again thanks for the invitation.