Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.
Allow me to share the results of our work with you. The first thing I would like to do is to express my gratitude to the host of the summit, Mr Chirac, the President of France, for his hospitality and for everything he has done to ensure our work went smoothly. The meeting in Evian showed once more that the members of the G8 are united by long-term strategic interests, and this has allowed us to discuss all kinds of issues, including disputed issues, and to find mutually acceptable solutions. A new and very productive decision at the summit was the discussion on expanding membership. For many of our partners this is their first contact with the G8, and we welcome the beginning of such a broad dialogue.
Among the concrete results of the summit, I would like to highlight the following: the meeting in Evian will make it possible to strengthen the international anti-terrorist coalition. We are aware that the success of the war on terror directly depends on our unity and on the effectiveness of our combined efforts. An important tool for this is the Group of Eight on anti-terrorist activities, which has been created by decision of the summit. The work of this group will be closely linked with the Anti-Terror Committee of the UN Security Council, the main coordinator of the efforts of the international community in this sphere. Russia intends to take an active part in the work of this new body, and it would be quite logical for us to concentrate on the CIS area, the area covered by the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.
The G8 also passed an important decision on the system of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. This is especially relevant in connection with attempts by terrorist organisations to gain access to weapons of mass destruction. We must also bear in mind that the system of non-proliferation plays a key role in supporting regional stability. The main efforts should be directed towards strengthening legal systems and methods for administering them. We have also analysed and examined how the global partnership initiative is being realised on non-proliferation of weapons and materials of mass destruction. Russia makes a significant contribution to this programme. In the next 10 years, we plan to allocate and spend not less than $2 billion on these goals. In our country we have created a special mechanism for coordinating the work on global partnership under the direction of the Prime Minister, and the necessary international legal base has been formulated: the Agreement on Multi-Lateral Nuclear Environmental Programme in the Russian Federation, and also a number of bilateral agreements.
We welcome the announcement of our partners on the possibility of allocating funds to projects outlined by the agreements in Kananaskis. We believe that these statements should be supported by practical actions, above all by agreeing on priority projects in global partnership, liquidating chemical weapons, and utilising old and out-of-use nuclear submarines. For the first time Russia has participated in preparing the entire package of financial and economic documents for the meeting, and in this I see yet another confirmation of Russia’s organic integration into international structures and the international economy.
The plan of action for developing scientific and technical cooperation was a pioneering document. We believe that this combination of investment, leading technology and management will make it possible to achieve a real breakthrough in the interests of all of civilisation. The desire of our countries to reach a decision on the most serious problems of the third world is also very important. Above all, this involves fighting famine, epidemics and regional environmental threats.
We also discussed practical possibilities of cooperation in the war on dangerous and new diseases. On this matter Russia proposed an initiative to create a global system of monitoring. I would like to note that Russia is not just the recipient of various programmes, it is also more and more frequently becoming a sponsor and a source of financing for solving a very wide range of problems faced by all of civilisation. I would like to remind you that, as I have already said, over the past six years Russia has written off $35 million in debts from the world’s least developed countries. Once more, I would like to express my high opinion of this summit, and thank our partners for their constructive work and our French friends for their hearty welcome, hospitality and simply brilliant organisation of our meeting.
Thank you very much.
Question (Itar-Tass): How would you assess the results of the summit, what can be singled out, what has been achieved?
Vladimir Putin: I can now repeat what I said to a very small group of colleagues. When we parted, we also essentially summed up the results of the meeting among ourselves. Indeed, the summit took place in difficult conditions. The international situation is quite difficult today, and it was even more difficult before the summit. I am firmly convinced that after the summit the situation has improved. And this is the main result. It is no secret that we understand what this means. After the events in Iraq a certain tension arose between the leading countries of the world. And I think that it is thanks to President Chirac, thanks to his ability to conduct discussions, thanks to his ability to organise such events, thanks to his experience, we were able to smooth out many problems, to get closer together, bring our positions closer together, and we were able to do this during an open and fundamental discussion, which is very important.
I think that it is good that the summit was held in France, as others might not have been able to get these results. Because President Chirac conducted all of our work and organised everything with a typical French flair and style. I have already talked about the documents we signed. You know about them. In my opinion, this is very important. And it is even more important that these documents – and they were agreed on as a result of complex and intensive work of our assistants – give very clear signals to the international community about what the heads of the leading countries in the world think, even if the documents are not legally binding. Accordingly, this sets out a system of international relations de facto. In my opinion, this is very important; and remembering the high quality of the agreements, we can say that the summit in Evian has ended successfully.
Question (Itogi): A week-long marathon has ended. Can you, after meeting with dozens of heads of state, say what is happening in relations with Russia?
Vladimir Putin: I think that this is quite obvious. The relations to Russia in the world have long changed according to how Russia itself changes. A lot depends on us. Just today, the head of the summit, President Chirac talked about this. He said it in passing, but it was a very important statement – for several years now Russia has not only announced that it has rejected the policies of the Soviet Union, the policies of putting pressure on its partners, and any pressure at all, or forcibly promoting ideas which seem correct to us. The country has completely changed its policies. Russia itself has changed, and this changes the relations of our partners to us. This is the main thing. The main problem is in ourselves. As the country is democratised, as our economy is strengthened and social problems are solved, we become more and more integrated into the international community, and become full members of international society. And this is inevitably reflected in relations with our partners. And major international meetings have strengthened these tendencies.
Question (Kommersant): It seems that now, after the SCO summit, a series of major international meetings in St Petersburg and Evian, a new world hierarchy is being formed, and Russia has a privileged position in it. But on the other hand, there is the United States, which stands apart and acts alone. What can you say about this?
Vladimir Putin: I wouldn’t say that anyone, including such a powerful country as the United States, can stand apart. And knowing President Bush, I am certain that he doesn’t want his country to be in this position. Furthermore, no matter who may want this to happen, it won’t. I mean at least the power of the United States and above all its economic power. For us, the US is one of our leading partners in the economic and political sphere, and in several areas the role and significance of the United States for Russia is absolutely unique. I mean above all our cooperation in the sphere of international security and strategic stability.
Let us not forget that the United States and Russia are the largest nuclear powers, and a great deal in the world depends on our actions and mutual relations. I won’t talk about the economic component of our partnership. Taking into account all these circumstances and also several areas that are sensitive for us, such as the war on terror, the US is a consistent and reliable partner. This also creates a certain atmosphere around the United States. So I don’t agree with the formulation of the question that America stands apart. It was in the past, when the Soviet Union headed one camp and the US headed another, that camp behaviour was possible. Today the situation in the world is completely different. Today, if we want for the world to be balanced, it should develop along democratic lines. I assure you, everyone understands this. If you mean the difficulties that have arisen in connection with the events in Iraq, then there are a lot of explanations here. One of them, but not the only one, is of course the threat that the United States feels, its wounded pride after the terrorist acts of September 11, and the need to assert itself. I don’t think that this was done in the best way, but it is one of the motives for their actions.
Of course, this needs to be understood, but you know our position, it was not only consistent on the events in Iraq, it was also quite harsh. And the US President could have behaved differently. He could have taken offence and not come to St Petersburg. He could have done a lot more to aggravate Russian-American relations. But President Bush chose different tactics, a different path. He behaved like a serious politician, like a person who wants to develop relations with Russia, with the entire world. And he came to St Petersburg. We agreed on many documents and many important issues. It would be stupid on our part not to see these signs and reject the hand that was extended to us. It would be an unforgivable error to show disdain, to turn away, to create certain coalitions and divide the international community. We will continue to take this fundamental position in future on these issues, on which we have our own opinion. We will continue to pursue the realisation of these foreign policy tasks, above all the idea of our national policies and our national interests. We will promote the consolidation of the international community.
Question (France-Presse): What can you say about the situation concerning the Iranian nuclear programme?
Vladimir Putin: I think that the problem of non-proliferation is one of the main problems of the 21st century, one of the most difficult, which all civilised countries should unite to solve. As for Iran, we cooperate with that country. It is our neighbour, and we will continue to cooperate with it in future. We are categorically against problems being dragged out which could be used for unfair competition, including on the Iranian market. But at the same time, we think that a decisive role in non-proliferation should also be played by the IAEA. We will insist that all Iranian programmes in the nuclear sphere be put under the control of this organisation. And we will form our cooperation with all these countries based on how open they are and to what extent they are capable of putting their programmes under the control of the IAEA.