President Vladimir Putin : In conclusion, I would like to thank everyone for their participation. Gathered here today are regional leaders from Russia and China who have worked together for many years, maintain contact and often visit their neighbours. It is not by chance that the discussion today was so much to the point and concrete. You discussed trade, energy, transport, telecommunications, agriculture – practically every area in which we work together.
I would like to respond just briefly to a couple of remarks made by my Russian and Chinese colleagues.
One of the Chinese regional leaders mentioned the difficulty in organising railway transport to Russia through Kazakhstan. I will be meeting with the President of Kazakhstan, Mr Nazarbayev, on Monday, and we will definitely discuss this question. What I can say now, though, is that Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan are now in the process of creating what we named the Single Economic Space, which aims precisely at removing the barriers to free circulation of goods, services and capital. Among other things, we aim to establish harmonised standards for rail transport and other communications systems and to introduce a common tariff.
Another important question that definitely requires attention at national level is the need to develop our customs infrastructure, as was rightly pointed out by our colleague, Governor Sergei Darkin.
Regarding another problem raised here – the need to expand the possibilities offered by rail transport in connection with plans to supply hydrocarbon resources, above all oil, to China — indeed, this problem does exist. I want to inform you that the rail transport company, Russian Railways, has provided for expanding oil transport capacity in its investment programme for 2005. The Russian Government still has to approve this investment programme and I hope that our Chinese colleagues in the Chinese Government will also become involved, if need be, in resolving this task, because we both stand to benefit from a solution.
As for the question of illegal migration, this problem does exist. I am sure that it is in the interests of both Russia and China to find a civilised solution to this problem.
At the same time, Russia is also responsible to a large extent for this problem. The Russian regional leaders here today should and must put their own regions in order first and not lay all the blame on their Chinese colleagues.
I am convinced that it is in everyone’s interests to settle this kind of problem in a civilised fashion, in accordance with the law, and in the interests of the people living on both sides of the state border.
The leaders of the neighbouring Russian and Chinese regions, as I said, meet with each other and discuss various issues, but this is the first such meeting in this format, and I hope it will not be the last.
Regarding bureaucracy, a problem raised by our colleague, Governor Geniatulin, among others, I can say that I hope the top officials in both our governments have taken the hint. Unfortunately, however, bureaucracy flourishes not only at national level but also in the regions and I think that both Russia and China have work to do in this respect.
Finally, of course, it is a pity that so much time and energy must be spent on getting projects approved. President Hu and I aim to take our cooperation to a level where no approvals would be required. I hope that this time will come.