Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen,
We have only just concluded our talks with President Ion Iliescu and his colleagues. We managed to discuss the current state of relations between the two states openly and constructively.
We succeeded in outlining ways to solve many problems that have accumulated over recent years more effectively and to the advantage of both countries. Now, following the signing of the Treaty on Friendly Relations and Cooperation between the Russian Federation and Romania, we have a good base for establishing predictable and stable development and interaction.
Work on this document began in 1992. And the fact that we signed it today shows that relations between the two states have changed. They have become closer and more predictable. And the signed document provides a good legal base for their further development.
We thoroughly discussed issues of trade-economic cooperation. Russia is now in fourth place in terms of Romania’s foreign trade turnover. We spoke and thought about expanding the diversification of our cooperation in this sphere. There are trends that please us: in comparison to the same period last year, trade turnover surged 90% in the first quarter this year.
However, there are problems that we need to think about and work on together. Traditional Romanian goods should return to the Russian market. Accordingly, we spoke about expanding interregional ties. The reserves of direct contacts between Russian Federation constituent members and Romanian districts are not being used.
Therefore, I believe the planned opening of a Romanian Consulate General in St. Petersburg to be entirely propitious, timely and useful.
The talks also focused on enhancing contacts in the humanitarian sphere. We are aiming to create all the conditions for developing a full-fledged dialog between our nations in the cultural, scientific, sport and education spheres, as well as young people’s exchanges.
On the whole, many treaties and agreements have been signed. And I think it is time to move from cooperation on paper to cooperation in practice.
Naturally, we discussed many global problems and cooperation between our foreign ministries and international organizations. We talked in details about the problems of relations between Russia and Romania in the context of European integration.
On the whole, I would like to express my satisfaction with both the detailed and friendly, trusting atmosphere in which our talks were held.
I would also like to stress our mutual desire to expand and augment our interaction. I am certain that this will be the case.
Vladimir Vladimirovich, exactly two weeks ago you made your first statement on Romania. Today you signed a foundation treaty between Romania and the Russian Federation. You said then that there had been different periods in the development of bilateral relations. There were various issues, with regard to which solutions could not always be found. Some of these are reflected in the joint declaration signed by the Russian and Romanian foreign ministers. Today marks a new stage in the development of bilateral relations. How do you intend to develop the new partnership between Romania and the Russian Federation – by forgetting about the outstanding issues or trying to find acceptable solutions to these issues?
The worst thing we could do is forget about the past. There was everything in the past – both good and bad. We should remember about it, know about it and draw conclusions from it. But these conclusions that help us to develop relations today, will help us tomorrow.
The past should not seize us by the hand and prevent us from moving forward. The president of Romania has just quite correctly pointed out that we had much that united us as neighbors, as traditional partners.
We should, when analyzing the past, avoid those mistakes that we allowed in the past and use everything that is positive to develop bilateral ties. I am certain that if we work in exactly this way, we shall make our contribution towards building new democratic relations both in the world and, obviously, towards a stable and prosperous Europe.
Question: You spoke about your desire to create a privileged partnership. Could you clarify in what way this privileged partnership will materialize and will there be some kind of economic basis for this partnership? Are there any specific projects?
Vladimir Putin (adding to Ion Iliescu): There are the traditional spheres of cooperation. These are the energy, energy machine building, metallurgy, light industry, foodstuffs and infrastructure spheres. Above all, transport infrastructure.
Russia is represented very solidly and very well in a few branches of the Romanian economy. Both the Russian Federation and Romania gain from this presence.
We must preserve these positive elements within the process that are occurring in the European and global economies. And we must act so that consumers, above all, ordinary consumers, our citizens, get traditional goods of an acceptable quality and at low prices. For this, we need to create certain conditions. These conditions will be privileged. If we attain this result, one can say that we shall have created conditions for market players.
We made the first steps in this direction today.
Over the last two-three years there has been a trend towards heightened activity between Russia and Eastern and Central European countries. Do you think that this trend will be maintained when these states join the European Union?
Your colleague spoke about privileged relations and asked what this meant. We have privileged relations with Eastern Europe in the energy sphere, meaning the volumes of our energy resources on Eastern European markets and with account for the fact that certain restrictions are in force in the European Union.
Europe is currently re-thinking the processes that are happening. I mean the growth rates of the European economy, demand for energy resources and the possibilities of potential importers.
We think and are counting on the fact that Russia’s possibilities, above all, in the energy sphere will be in demand in Europe. And both we and our partners have such an understanding now.
When new members join the EU, the volumes of trade-economic cooperation between Russia and these countries will grow, surge by more than 50%. The rates of our interaction and the rates of economic growth in both European countries and Russia show that this cooperation will grow and increase. This is absolutely, one can say, an indisputable fact.
The question remains as to how this will be seen in the regional context. Unfortunately, in recent years the level of our cooperation with our traditional partners has gradually fallen, while the extent of cooperation with Western European countries has increased quite noticeably.
Our current task, the task of our traditional partners, including Romania, is to change this trend for the better. We have to restore our relations, create conditions for development, above all, in the economic sphere.
So relations will develop and the volumes of our trade-economic ties, including with Central and Eastern European countries, will grow. The question is at what rate. What will increase – the level of our relations with Western European countries or will we restore the growth rates of our relations with our traditional partners in Eastern and Central Europe?
If the situation develops as it has with Romania in the first quarter of this year – with 90% growth – then the task will have been solved.