President Vladimir Putin: Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our latest meeting with our European Union colleagues, the fifteenth such meeting, has just ended. The main outcome of this summit was the approval of the “roadmaps” for the four common spaces of cooperation between Russia and the EU. The areas covered by these common spaces are already well-known now: economic cooperation, and also cooperation in the areas of science, education and culture. They also cover work together on security issues, including external security, and the issue of ensuring freedom and justice.
I want to emphasise that this result was achieved through hard work together and an ability to reach mutually beneficial compromises.
This work was not easy. Our European partners displayed their best qualities as negotiators and as people who had their sights firmly set on getting results.
I would especially like to thank Mr Juncker, the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, for the constructive contribution his country made, as the country currently holding the EU presidency, to completing work on the “roadmaps”.
Implementation of these “roadmaps” will enable us to make considerable progress towards a united Europe without dividing lines and create the conditions for free communication between people. It will substantially expand our opportunities for humanitarian and trade and economic cooperation and become an effective means for defending human rights, including the rights of national minorities.
Furthermore, forming a common and indivisible security area will enable us to fight terrorism more effectively and combat all manifestations of xenophobia and racial prejudice.
This summit’s results show that, with the necessary political will, Russia and the European Union are able to find mutually acceptable solutions to even the most complicated problems. I think that our European colleagues will agree with this view. It is important now not to stop here, not to delay our action, but to continue our work, including on effective implementation and quality monitoring of the issues and objectives we have defined and set. This work will be carried out through the cooperation mechanisms that are already in place, including the Russia-EU Partnership Permanent Council.
What’s more, we plan to launch an active dialogue between our specialists on the “2007 problem”. In 2007, the EU constitution is set to come into force – and we think this will happen – and at the same time the 10-year agreement on cooperation and partnership concluded between Russia and the EU will expire. Also in 2007, the EU will take in new members. We are all fully aware that the prospects for building a genuinely strategic partnership between Russia and the European Union depend on the success and practical implementation of today’s decisions.
Together with our colleagues from the European Union we also examined the implementation of the Joint Statement on European Union Expansion and Relations between Russia and the EU approved in Luxemburg in April. Special attention was paid to a number of economic and humanitarian issues, the question of Kaliningrad Oblast and ensuring transit to and from Kaliningrad Oblast.
Naturally, international issues were also a part of our discussions at the summit. In particular, we were unanimous in saying that the difficulties of post-war normalisation in Iraq, the situation in the Middle East and a number of other events dictate the need for cooperation between Russia and the European Union in these areas. We discussed all these issues in detail. For my part, I informed my EU colleagues of the results of my recent visit to the Middle East.
In conclusion, I would like to stress once more that both Russia and our EU partners share a common interest in strengthening the international community’s role in resolving the problems the modern world faces today. We share the view that the United Nations should continue to be the key instrument for coordinating these efforts.
Thank you very much for your attention.
Jean-Claude Juncker: Ladies and gentlemen,
We were very pleased to come to Moscow, this time with more feeling than usual. Yesterday we celebrated the 60th anniversary of victory in the Second World War together. And we did this in Moscow, because everyone who came here from other parts of Europe, from the American continent, wanted to show how much they value, how much they keep a living memory of the important of this victory which the Red Army contributed to, and the role of the Red Army in liberating Europe.
I am from Luxembourg – from a very small country which was occupied twice by German troops in the 20th century. Since the Second World War, we know how much we are indebted to the Red Army, to its energy and decisiveness. Just as we are to other elements of bravery of the Red Army. We, Luxembourg, like other European countries, could not have gained freedom and democracy if the Russian people had not done what they did for us. And it is quite normal that we returned to Moscow to pay tribute to their bravery.
I was born in December 1954, almost in 1955 you could say, ten years after the Second World War. And I grew up in the atmosphere of the cold war. My father was pro-Russian, so I personally was not brought up in the atmosphere of the cold war, but I saw every day that we were free, in a democratic world, that we had a future, and that the enemy was on the other side. And this was far from being a good period in European history, because it paralysed everything that the European nation means in the best sense. And we never would never want to be restricted again. What we are seeing today, what we saw yesterday – this was in a completely different atmosphere.
Perhaps I am already too old to truly value this, but those who are born today are perhaps too young to realise the changes that Europe went through. We have become, for certain reasons, the creators of a new life. And the knowledge of the enormous changes which took place has helped us.
Two years ago I was in St. Petersburg, when this European city celebrated its anniversary. And in the European Union, we set ourselves the task for Europe, for Russia, to create a common economic space. Then we started talks. We realised that there were other spaces. Now we have four spaces, I will not list them here. Today we reached an agreement on these four spaces.
They contain the most complex elements. And it is far from easy to hold talks with Vladimir Putin. He has his own idea of the necessity of protecting the interests of his country. We have approximately the same idea on our side. All this requires attention. But in the atmosphere of cooperation we reached an agreement, including on the most complex issues.
I would like to publicly congratulate Mr Putin, the Foreign Ministry, and also Mr Javier Solana, and representatives of the commission who prepared and carried out serious preparatory work so that we could reach an agreement. The economic space is very important, as this concerns giving both Russian investors and investors from the European Union a completely predictable legal space, legal foundations so that they can carry out investment which is required in complete security.
It is quite normal that the European Union will have such positive experience with Russia, and this will prepare Russia’s entry into the WTO.
We also have agreement on other important aspects – on freedom, security and justice. Organised crime knows no bounds, it does not stop on the border of the Russian Federation and the European Union. Together we can fight with organised crime and terrorism. We have common tasks: a common conception of simplifying the visa system, and a conception of regulating issues concering readmission. As for foreign defence, these are more complex tasks. But nevertheless we reached an agreement. Sometimes in Russia, sometimes in the European Union, we do not quite understand what the principles are, and how to divide the spheres that surround us.
People are free, and they are free to chose methods of regional cooperation – those that more adequately match their interests and ambitions. Here we also came to an agreement.
As for science and education, this is the fourth space: nothing can be more important than ties that exist between people. And the founding fathers of Europe said that if Europe has to be rebuilt then this should be done on a cultural basis. And when this concerns organising a “marriage” between Europeans and Russians, we will not be able to create this without serious foundations in culture and education. This is very important, this is a combination of foundations. This space is also important for other spaces.
I am happy with the results achieved, and I would like to thank the President of the Russian Federation, with whom we do not agree on all aspects. It would not be quite right if we did agree on everything. We have differences of opinion, but we overcome them in an atmosphere of trust and friendship. Mr Barroso, Mr Solana and I are leaving in Moscow in the belief that in the Russian President we have a friend of the European Union. Perhaps we do not agree on everything, but we know that we are working on the basis of common conviction, and that from now on there is firm trust between the peoples of the European Union and Russia. And today we once more imbue this trust with optimism for our common region.
Jose Barroso: As Mr Juncker said, today we celebrated common peace for all on the European continent and thought about the future. So a good conclusion for our talks was the confirmation of the four common spaces. Our interdependency is growing. The European Union is a very important trading partner for Russia. 50% of Russia’s export goes to the European Union. And Russia is our fourth largest trading partner. That is to say, our interests coincide. It is very important to realise these coinciding interests in with absolutely coinciding values. So now the time has come to work with great trust. In order to work for the future.
We agreed on an ambitious plan which will allow Russia and the European Union to cooperate strategically in the name of the future. We will try to remove barriers in the path of trade and investment, and movement of people. Here, of course, we are conducting talks on behalf of European institutions and governments. But we are doing this thinking about citizens, the citizens of Russia and the European Union. We are working in the regulating “frozen” conflicts, in fighting terrorism, and in other areas, and also in increasing our mutual understanding. We are also carrying out a very important project. In 2006 we will found the European Institute in Moscow (it will be called a college). So that people in Russia know the European Union better.
We also agreed to work on signing parallel agreements on readmission and assistance in simplifying the visa system. All this fits into the context of contacts between people. Our goal is to create a common European peace in the interests and for the good of our countries.
Of course, this is the heart of our relations. We all want for Russia to be a democratically flourishing country that is attractive for foreign investors, with transparent, stable rules, and to be a strong partner of the European Union. We express our support for Russia swiftly joining the WTO. We are holding intensive talks to solve this last problem.
The European Union is prepared to help socio-economic recovery in the North Caucasus in addition to providing humanitarian aid. We devoted a considerable amount of time to discussing international security.
As President Juncker said, we do not agree on all issues, but we understand each other’s position well, and we can discuss issues openly and specifically.
Now the most important thing is to realise these words and intentions in actions, so that the European Union and Russia become closer. And the European Union is devoted to this.
Javier Solana: Thank you for giving me the floor. I would like to say that it is very difficult to imagine a better meeting that the one we have had today. Excellent conditions have been created. We were able to discuss all four spaces, and reached an agreement that everything that has been agreed upon needs to be realised.
I would like to stress that we agreed on many issues, but now we need to fulfill them all, and fulfill them quickly. Time is tight, and the quicker we implement these agreements the better.
These four spaces are extremely important for deepening relations between the European Union and the Russian Federation.
I would like to repeat: this meeting was very good, and the events held yesterday and today will serve to deepen relations between our sides, both today and tomorrow.
Thank you very much.
Mr Juncker: I would like to add that you should know the following. The main European integration was the signing of a European agreement on coal and steel. Since then European countries have celebrated 9 May as a holiday for all our countries. On 9 May we were in Moscow, we could not have been in Paris, Brussels or Luxembourg.
Mr Barroso and I would like to say that we brought the feelings that we feel on our holiday on 9 May here, to Moscow.
And this is of course a holiday for Europe. And now 9 May is a joint holiday for Europe and Russia. Perhaps it is not a honeymoon, but it is a day of great love.
Question: Mr President, we have just celebrated the 60th anniversary of victory. All the heads of state who were present here talked about how this was a genuinely great victory and how important it was that we vanquished Nazism. But in some countries, not only are there marches by Nazis, but the organisers of the Holocaust, condemned decades ago by the entire world, are behaving as if they were heroes. Did your negotiating partners raise this issue at all, perhaps on their own initiative, or did you raise this question?
My second question is for the European Union representatives. Not in any European country where many languages are spoken can we see the likes of what is happening in the Baltic states. For us this is an important issue and also a painful one. You have approved the four “roadmaps” and that is very good. Will you also tackle the question of linguistic and ethnic discrimination in the Baltic countries? Can you resolve this problem like you resolved the question of the four “roadmaps”?
Vladimir Putin: Concerning your first question, Russia’s position on this issue is very clear. We think that glorifying Nazism in any way or form is harmful and dangerous. Our partners in the European Union share this view completely. I would like the Russian public to have no doubts on this point. Of course, we do agree with our colleagues that some of our close neighbours’ actions are dominated by problems from past years. We do not close our eyes to this. Only, I would not want these issues to become a factor that could worsen the situation in Europe and worsen Russia’s relations with European countries. But of course we have no intention of closing our eyes to this question.
Regarding attitudes to May 9, to Victory Day, at the beginning of our meeting I was told of what Mr Juncker, the current President of the European Union, said on May 8 at a ceremony at the Eternal Flame in Luxembourg. He said, “We should also express our special gratitude to the Russian people, to the Russian soldiers, without whom we would have neither freedom nor the sun above our heads”. As I have not done so yet, I would like to publicly thank him now for these words. I take them as expressing the position of our European partners. Regarding the negative tendencies you mentioned, we will fight such manifestations calmly and I hope that we will soon no longer see them taking place.
Mr Juncker: As for your first question, I would like to say that neither Russia nor the member countries of the European Union will ever idealise fascism or xenophobia. We do not think that these problems can be solved for once and for all. Personally, I think that they will continue to exist, and there is nothing more difficult than developing peace between peoples. It is good to fight evil if it can be identified, but if it cannot be identified, then it is very difficult to join all forces to conquer evil, but evil will always exist.
Agreement between peoples should be advanced in such a way that it is a kind of unification of communities, to stop evil from creating its own system.
As for the problems you mentioned, referring to the Baltic States, I would like to say that there are certain nuances in this situation. Nevertheless, we are working with each side to improve the situation, and at the current stage we believe that the history is quite difficult. It may be the task of future generations to solve this problem.
Question: Mr President, is Russia ready to link the signature of an agreement on readmission of illegal immigrants to the agreement on simplifying visa requirements? Two years ago in St Petersburg, when the issue of visa-free travel was discussed, did you take into account the costs that it would take to properly equip the borders with Kazakhstan and other neighbouring countries, and also, was it taken into account that Russia already has such agreements with three European countries?
A question for the European Union representatives: a year has now gone by since ten new members joined the EU. How do you assess the past year in terms of relations with Russia, taking into account that many had hoped that Russia and the Baltic states would sign border agreements here? What is your evaluation of the past year?
Vladimir Putin: Your first question concerned readmission. I think that our European colleagues are correct in the way they have formulated the issue.
It is Russia’s responsibility to settle the readmission issue with its neighbours, and resolve our own problems in this area. It is our responsibility to properly equip our borders and to reach agreements with our closest neighbours on these questions. Of course, all of this will require a certain amount of time because of the costs involved and the negotiating process with the CIS countries. But there is one thing that we should pay particular attention to – and we spoke about this, I also spoke about this, at today’s talks – and that is that we must understand that this is not a simple issue. This is all linked to respect for human rights, the need to respect the basic documents on human rights, the well-known European declarations on human rights. How do you imagine the situation –Russian law enforcement officials are to turn up in a European country and grab by the collars people who have made their way onto your territory from Russia?
Let us instead work out these issues together with public organisations so that we are not accused later of violating human rights. Modern humanitarian law prohibits transferring people from one country to another through the use of force. But there are readmission agreements and there is a need to bring order to the situation. I fully agree with this point of view, but we need to take a constructive and friendly approach if we are to settle these issues.
I think that our partners’ demands on this matter are fair. Russia has to settle a number of issues before we can fully move over to, say, visa-free travel.
We think it excessive to link simplified visa requirements to all the issues concerning readmission. These two areas are not at all directly related. At the same time, I think that the Shengen agreements give the opportunity, within the Shengen area and without violating the agreements, to make it possible to introduce simplified visa requirements for certain categories of people. This would not violate the Shengen agreements.
But overall, as I said, we think the Europeans are correct in the way they have set out the issue and we will try to do everything we can to satisfy the demands that Europe is making of Russia in this area.
Question: How do you evaluate the year that has gone by since the EU enlargement in terms of its consequences for relations between the EU and Russia? (This is a question for the EU representatives) If there were any consequences, that is…
Mr Juncker: Is this an objective question or a subjective question?
The entry of new countries into the European Union for both the European Union and the countries themselves showed that this was a great success. I think that for others it was an additional weight in reconciliation of Europe, shall we say. As for the Russian Federation and the Baltic States, there are a number of problems here. We are trying to create trust from the viewpoint of our Russian colleagues and our Baltic friends. I have already seen for myself that public discussion of these problems does not help a solution to this issue. Today we discussed these issues with our Russian friends and we continue to talk to out Baltic colleagues about what we can do to improve the situation that you refer to. We do not try to teach lessons to our Russian friends or to the Baltic States.
Vladimir Putin: Allow me to just add a couple of words. We are ready to sign the border agreements you mentioned, with Estonia and with Latvia. We hope that they will not be accompanied by foolish territorial demands. In today’s Europe, in the twenty-first century, when one country has territorial claims against another and at the same time wants to ratify a border treaty with that country, this is absolute nonsense, an absurd situation that corresponds neither to the spirit of building a common European home nor to what we are doing with the European Union. We are ready to be patient and to wait until our colleagues, who have begun dreaming up fantasies of this kind, feel ready for real work and are genuinely ready to sign these documents.
Mr Juncker: We hope that wisdom and commonsense will triumph in the problems in this sphere.
Question: My question is for the Russian President and the European Union representatives. I would like some clarification. When, in the context of building this Greater Europe, will Russian citizens have the real right to unhindered visa-free travel in the EU countries?
Vladimir Putin: For this to happen, Russia has a lot of its own work to do first. We cannot put excessive demands on our partners if we have not yet sorted out our border questions with our neighbours and settled the readmission issues that our European partners have raised. These are all fair demands. For our part, this will require a lot of investment in equipping our borders and a great amount of diplomatic work with our CIS neighbours. But we will carry out this work and we will do so actively. We also hope that, as part of the first stage, we will be able to reach an agreement with the European Union, as we have already done with some of the individual EU countries, on simplified visa procedures for some categories of people such as students, politicians, sportspeople, scientists and others. Our ultimate objective, of course, is visa-free travel. Only then will we be able to talk about a Europe with no dividing lines. We hear about this a lot, and we are all for it, it seems, but I believe that we will in fact be able to say this is a reality only when people can travel freely around the continent. Of course, we will all work towards this together.
Mr Barroso: I would like to stress what President Putin just said. On our part we are indeed prepared to work on simplifying the visa system for Russia. Our position is that contacts between people should be made easier. Our goal is to receive concrete results for the people of Europe and Russia. Furthermore, we are all interested in combating illegal migration. Society gives considerable attention to this issue, so we work very closely with the Russian authorities. We cannot complete talks on readmission yet, but we are working together on this, to regulate fighting illegal immigration parallel to simplifying the visa system, as President Putin said – meaning doing away with visas altogether between Russia and the European Union in our European area.
Question: Estonian television. My question is for Mr Putin. What territorial demands has Estonia made? As far as I know, there are none, so what are you talking about? And another question, why is it so hard for you to say, “Sorry for the occupation”? If you were to say these words, we would all be able to live together so much easier.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much for your question. It is very timely. I will start with the second point. You speak good Russian and I am sure that you read Russian just as well. Please take a look at the resolution passed by the Congress of People’s Deputies in 1989, where it is written black on white that the Congress of People’s Deputies denounces the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and considers it legally invalid. It did not reflect the opinion of the Soviet people but was the personal affair of Stalin and Hitler.
How can we be more clear and precise on this point? Or would you rather that we repeated these words every year? What do you think, what more can we say? We think that this question is closed. I will not come back to it. We expressed our view once and that is enough.
Now, on the subject of occupation. As I see it, in 1918, Russia and Germany concluded a deal that was sealed in the Brest-Litovsk Peace Treaty, under which Russia handed over part of its territories to German control. This marked the beginning of Estonian statehood. In 1939, Russia and Germany concluded another deal and Germany handed these territories back to Russia. In 1939, they were absorbed into the Soviet Union. Let us not talk now about whether this was good or bad. This is part of history. I think that this was a deal, and small countries and small nations were the bargaining chips in this deal. Regrettably, such was the reality of those times, just as there was the reality of European countries’ colonial past, or the use of slave labour in the United States. But today, are we, day after day, to allow the ghosts of the past to seize us by the hands and prevent us from moving forward?
If the Baltic states had already been absorbed into the Soviet Union in 1939, then the Soviet Union could not occupy them in 1945 because they had already become part of its territory. I perhaps did not study terribly well at university (because I spent my free time drinking beer), but I do remember some of all this. We had good teachers. That is concerning the second point you raised.
On the first point, the question of settling the border issue with Estonia, we have no problems with Estonia, thank goodness.
When I was still working in Leningrad and then St. Petersburg, I represented the Russian government at talks with Estonia on such matters. Such questions did come up then and you probably remember them.
To the Estonians’ honour, they took a pragmatic approach to their national interests. We are ready now to sign these agreements with Estonia. We are ready to do this despite what I see as your leadership’s mistaken decision not to come to Moscow on May 9. I think this was a mistake, but this is Estonia’s affair. We will not let this create tension and dampen our relations. I have instructed our Foreign Ministry to sign this agreement with Estonia.
Concerning other questions of a territorial nature, we do have issues to settle with Latvia, which is essentially raising the question of us handing over to them the Pytalovsky District in Pskov Oblast, citing the 1920 treaty [Treaty of Riga]. Latvia’s representatives have informed us that they are ready to sign an agreement on the border, but they want the text of the agreement to contain a reservation and reference to the 1920 treaty, which gave the Pytalovsky District to Latvia.
You know, the Russian Federation lost tens of thousands of pieces of its historic territory as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union. And are we now to divide everything up again? Should we demand the return of the Crimea and parts of the territory of other former Soviet republics and so on? How about giving back Klaipeda then? Let’s all start dividing Europe again. I doubt that this is what you want. We are calling on Latvia’s politicians to stop their political demagogy and begin constructive work. Russia is ready for such work.