Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov: Last week saw two meetings of defence ministers in Moscow – a meeting of CIS defence ministers and a meeting of Collective Security Treaty Organisation [CSTO] defence ministers. I would just like to bring the following to your attention.
The CIS defence ministers have adopted a programme and plan for developing cooperation between the CIS countries’ defence ministries through to 2010. One of the most effective forms of cooperation we have is the joint CIS air-defence system. In this respect, the ministers voted unanimously to hold training exercises in 2005 that would involve the CIS countries’ air defence systems and fighter aircraft. We will test in practice how the system’s different components work together.
Also, the CSTO and the CIS ministers have agreed on cooperation in assessing radiation, chemical and bacteriological threats. This is partly connected to the fact that practically all the CIS states have dangerous chemical production sites. From a civil defence point of view this is an important measure and we will see it through.
At the CSTO meeting we went over the training exercises that took place in August in Kyrgyzstan, during which we built up our rapid-reaction coalition forces. These exercises were given a positive assessment and were recognised as being maximally close to practical action and situations. On the initiative of our Central Asian partners and CSTO allies, we will hold similar exercises in Tajikistan in April 2005, using our aviation group in Kant and our base in Tajikistan itself.
Everyone noted their satisfaction that the agreement on supplying military equipment to the CSTO countries at domestic Russian prices has finally gone into effect, and from 2005, we shall begin training servicemen from CSTO countries not simply through preferential programmes as earlier, when Russia paid for their training but the servicemen’s home countries still paid for their upkeep, but under a new programme in which Russia will pay entirely for their training and their upkeep. Budget funds have been allocated for this programme. Everyone was pleased with this news and expressed their thanks.
I also have the following to report. Earlier, I informed you on the development and modernisation of Russia’s missile defences in my personal reports. In this connection I want to report that today, at 11 a.m. at the testing ground of Sary-Shagan in Kazakhstan, we successfully tested our modernised missile. Everything went well and the target was destroyed. We will continue to modernise our missile defence system in accordance with our plans and timetable, and will take it to the most advanced level.
President Vladimir Putin: Good, my congratulations to you.
German Oskarovich [Gref], what is happening with the tendencies that we discussed and that were causing a certain amount of concern? What is happening now in the economy?
Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref: We have industrial output growth of 0.7 percent. According to our preliminary estimates, GDP has risen by 0.6 percent.
Looking at results by sector, all the main sectors showed an increase except for primary oil refining, which fell by half a percent because of the high cost of crude oil. Domestic consumption has also fallen in connection with the prices. This is an explainable situation. Agricultural work is also over now. There was a drop of seven percent in pipe production. This is quite a sizeable decrease but it is also an explainable situation as it is the end of the year and demand has fallen.
Vladimir Putin: So I understand that the negative tendency we spoke about has generally been overcome, but we still have to work out exactly why it arose, and under no circumstances can we let what is happening now lose its momentum. Thank you everybody.