President Vladimir Putin: Dear friends and colleagues,
Allow me to wish you a warm welcome to Moscow. It is pleasing for me to see all the people who have come here, and I do not have the moral right to single anyone out in particular, but Mr Evans and I have established informal relations, and it is particularly pleasing to see him in Moscow.
I believe that business ties have been formed between the ministries of our countries. And business is a complex area where many competitive issues always arise. At the same time, I think that in this area, our ministries always manage to observe perhaps not the rules of the game, but to think about each others’ interests and find solutions. This is very important.
Mr Evans, I believe, was in St. Petersburg yesterday. I followed your movements yesterday. I know that you walked around the Church on Spilled Blood. I make no secret of the fact that at that time, I rang your Russian colleague, Mr. Rumyantsev, and he told me that he was showing you St. Petersburg.
The sphere in which you work, and work together with us, and in my opinion very cooperatively, has primary importance not just for our countries. It is a topic of primary importance for the entire world.
It is important both economically and politically, it is important for maintaining stability and security. It always includes very sensitive issues of international significance. And in this sphere, the component of trust is extremely important. I very much hope that you will establish this kind of relations with your Russian colleagues.
I believe there is every foundation for this.
In this sphere, it is not only administrators who work for us and for you; there are also specialists of the highest international standard. I think that with your help we will be able to solve issues which attract special attention of our countries and the international community. I mean problems of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. I must say that the problem of non-proliferation, in my opinion, is one of the most important for humankind in the 21st century.
A great deal has changed in relations between our countries. At some stage, we became partners, and as President Bush said, we will never be enemies. But we have not just become partners; we are becoming strategic partners and allies. And one of these spheres is non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
I would like to say a few words about the summit that you have come to attend. I should say that I, your humble servant, and President Bush, supported the energy summit with great enthusiasms, because in general our trade turnover is increasing, but the energy sphere is extremely important for both Russia and the U.S.A. The possibilities are enormous, but the level of cooperation is so far insignificant. Russia accounts for 1.3% of the energy resources imported by the U.S.A. This was the figure for 2002. Now, I believe, this has increased by three times. The growth rate is high, and the figure is already just over 4%, but this is still very low.
I know that business circles in the U.S. are not only interested in oil and oil products, but also to possibilities of modern processing of coal, gas and atomic energy.
We are fully aware of the opinion of some experts and business people in the United States who quite correctly say that the U.S. should diversify its sources of energy used. From Russia’s point of view this is correct, but from the point of view of our partners it is also quite appropriate and understandable, bearing in mind not only our resources, but also the sufficiently stable development of the economy in Russia.
As you know for the first half-year Russia’s GDP rose by 7.2%, and the growth of industrial production was 5.8%. People’s real wages are steadily increasing. The growth is modest, but it is still there, and this creates a good base for social stability.
At any rate, we, and I personally, will watch with interest what happens during the summit in Petersburg, and we will listen attentively to the speeches, reports and conclusions by your colleagues who will gather in Petersburg tomorrow. This topic, without any doubt, will be discussed during my proposed meeting with U.S. President George Bush.
I should say that I am certain that when you begin to discuss various options tomorrow, there will be many suggestions and interesting ideas raised.
Natural gas is a very interesting and promising topic. I know the evaluations of American experts, and there are various options of possible construction of facilities to produce liquefied natural gas, going as far as the construction of such a facility on the Barents Sea. True, this will be slightly more expensive, but it is also a possible option. But I think that it is too early to talk about this yet.