President Vladimir Putin: Good day, esteemed colleagues, it gives me great pleasure to see you here in Moscow. I know that your work is progressing intensively and that your task is neither easy nor straightforward. This is understandable, because it is always more difficult to create than to destroy. But no matter how difficult your work, it is a noble and much needed undertaking and it represents a constructive process that will, without any doubt, benefit our countries and our peoples.
The commission has already held five meetings now, and we are all well aware that many discussions are taking place and that there are a large number of purely professional questions being addressed, questions that are not easy to settle and resolve. Agreeing and coordinating our positions on administrative and political issues has proved a difficult task, and so any progress that you make is very positive and send a good signal for the development of our countries’ economies. Our respective countries all seek without exception to become a natural part of the global economic space, and we all want to become integrated into the world economy.
It is only natural that we want this integration to take place not simply under terms we find acceptable, but under conditions that will see our economies benefit. In this respect, the work that is going on in our countries to develop cooperation with the World Trade Organisation and to build up our relations with our main partner, the European Union, is of immense importance.
As you know, Russia does not simply declare a desire to create a common economic area with this organisation, but is taking concrete steps together with our partners in Europe towards making this a reality. And of course we very much hope that this work will also enable us to coordinate our efforts on joining the WTO and on entering the European market.
A summit of the CIS leaders is scheduled to take place this September in Yalta, and, as is to be expected, our colleagues throughout the former Soviet region will be following the outcome of this meeting very closely. The integration and development of the economies not just of the countries you represent, but also of all the CIS countries, depends on how successful you are in your work. This is because — and there’s no secret or surprise here — our countries’ economies that were already so closely interlinked in the Soviet period, are to a large extent interdependent. The individual success of each of our countries in some way or another has a positive impact on our neighbours. But likewise, any of our failures, ill-considered actions or unsuccessful steps creates problems for all our countries. On February 23, the leaders of our four countries declared their desire and intention to create a common economic area, primarily encompassing our four countries, given that we are closer to each other in terms of economic development levels and the processes going on within our economies. But the discussions showed that we nonetheless do have differences in our respective approaches.
I want to underline that no matter how great these differences may seem, and no matter how difficult the road towards creating this common economic area, life itself and the objective processes at work in the world economy linked to globalisation will lead us to take this road regardless. This is simply inevitable. The only question is to what extent we make the right reactions to these objective economic development processes, and to what extent we manage to overcome the various ambitions and remnants of the past that are obstructing our development.
I would like to call on you to let yourself be guided above all by a professional and pragmatic approach in your work on resolving the issues you face. This will open the way to resolving other problems. And we will find solutions, even to problems that at first glance seem insurmountable. I have in mind here issues of a political nature.