President Vladimir Putin: Dear Viktor Andreevich, dear colleagues, allow me to wish you a warm welcome to Moscow.
We are very glad that the period of quite complex internal political processes has come to an end in Ukraine. We are glad that the situation is stabilising, and that a new government has appeared. And we expect that we will gradually develop relations with Ukraine, as has been the case up until now. We said many times that we would work with any leader voted for by the Ukrainian people. I would like to confirm that.
Viktor Andreevich, this is not the first time we have met. We have known each other for a long time, and met when you were the Prime Minister of Ukraine.
As you know, Russia never works behind the scenes in the post-Soviet area, even with the opposition we do not work in contravention of the existing leadership of a country. This fully applies to Ukraine. Recently, we have done exactly what the existing Ukrainian leadership asked of us. You know this for a fact, there is no secret here – we only hope that we will develop such trusting relations with you.
We are very glad to see you and welcome you to Russia. We have a very large volume of cooperation in the trade and economic and humanitarian spheres. We have had very good growth rates in recent years. Of course, with the coming of a new leadership, many things in internal policy probably look different, and in foreign policy as well, but we very much hope that the choice that was made by the Ukrainian and Russian peoples to come closer together and to develop relations will remain unchanged, and in this sense we count on a continuity of policy.
President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko: Thank you.
Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich, dear friends and colleagues,
I think Ukraine has gone through a very difficult time, especially over the last six months. We have just witnessed the most complicated elections in our history, elections that demanded a great amount of strength and effort from all sides, including from my own.
The legitimate handover of power was concluded yesterday. You know that my colleagues and myself, and not only my colleagues from the opposition but also from the authorities, of course, all welcome this peaceful handover of power and the fact that it has taken place in legitimate fashion. I think this is vivid proof that Ukraine now has a stable, established system for electing its authorities and for the handover of power. I will not hide that this campaign was not easy for me and we paid a high price. But we had just one desire, and that was for the Ukrainian people to choose their president. That this did take place, that it did happen, is a great compliment to the country, to its people and to the different political forces who, I am certain, will ultimately reach a compromise on building an independent Ukraine, no matter whose side they supported during the election campaign.
Vladimir Vladimirovich, I would like to thank you for this opportunity to visit Russia. I wish to stress the fact that this is my first visit outside Ukraine and it is a sign of the great respect we have for our relations.
I also wish to say that we have always held and will always hold firm to the view that Russia is our permanent strategic partner.
Anyone who has Ukraine’s interests at heart must not just repeat these words as a formula, but must understand that this really is so. I therefore wish to dispel the various myths and rumours concocted in the political kitchens regarding what direction prospects for developing our relations will take. Our country wants to build our relations on a rational basis. I am sure that you share this desire, for the doors to the future are not opened by rhetoric, but by success, by concrete action that brings results so that 10 or 12 months down the line we can show these results to our peoples and show them that we are successful and wise politicians and are building rational and developing relations.
When we left for Moscow, I said to my colleagues that the aim of my visit was to improve our relations and to examine the issues that we are in a position to deal with today, the issues for 2005, so that we can set clear and, most importantly, realistic, objectives. If we can fulfil the concrete objectives we set for this year, this will give us strength and we will then be able shift our focus to a more significant and long-term strategy.
So, Vladimir Vladimirovich, I would like to thank you once again for your invitation that I have made use of, and I thank you for your congratulations, which meant a great deal to my team and I.
And, really, I would like to extend a hand in the interests of our future relations.
Vladimir Putin: We were very happy about your decision to make your first foreign visit to Russia. We see in this a sign, a very good sign. What you just said, describing our relations as strategic partnership, designed for the future – this is a very pleasing, a very good sign. I must note that in previous years, when we still worked together, and you were the Prime Minister of Ukraine, trade turnover was $5.6 billion. Now it is three times higher. Last year it passed the $16 million mark.
Viktor Yushchenko: If we include transit, it comes to $20 billion.
Vladimir Putin: According to our information, according to our statistics, Russia accounts for about 60% of Ukraine’s foreign trade turnover. There is a very high and profound level of integration of individual industries and companies.
Viktor Yushchenko: Yes.
Vladimir Putin: We have made very serious steps towards regulating political issues. I mean above all the regulation of border issues. We have done this intentionally in recent years, made these agreements and have been through all the domestic procedures to emphasise the state sovereignty of Ukraine. All these steps were directed towards solving this task above all.
Our position is that on this basis it is possible to build new relations in the post-Soviet area in the area of integration, above all in the economic sphere. And here, of course, issues of the economy and the interests of individuals come to the fore, because be both know what it means to have free movement of capitals, free movement of people, technology and so on.
Everything that we have planned in the framework of the Common economic space essentially comes down to this series of issues. And the agreements that we plan to sign soon concern free movement of people across the state body, which we have agreed upon, and free movement of currency and improvement in the sphere of economic interaction, in order to make our economies more competitive on world markets.
We have good prospects not just in the energy sphere, which is extremely important, but in other industries as well. So I think that we will be able to discuss this in detail today. But I also expect that soon, after the formation of the Government and all instruments of power and administration, we will continue this discussion at expert level.
Viktor Yushchenko: Vladimir Vladimirovich, our position is that the possibilities before us are great indeed.