President Vladimir Putin: Dear Mr Prime Minister,
Let me wish you a warm welcome to the Moscow Kremlin. I think that we will agree that relations between the Russian Federation and Norway have recently been developing in the very best way. I believe that our cooperation may well be called an example of good-neighbourliness and partnership.
Over the last year, trade turnover between our countries has grown by 36%.
We have very good perspectives in the oil and gas industry. Yesterday I was shown a plan of your underwater pipelines. We know the quality, experience and capabilities of your gas and oil industry workers. If this is combined with our supply capabilities, with our interests in Europe, the effect may be very considerable both for our country and for the European continent in general.
I am glad to note that we have completed talks on terms of Russia’s joining the World Trade Organisation. This is taking place against the background of quite intensive development of political contacts.
This year we are celebrating 100 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations. I will allow myself to remind you, dear Mr Prime Minister, that Russia was the first country to recognise the state independence of Norway.
Kjell Magne Bundevik: Thank you, Mr President.
I am very happy to visit Moscow once more. I have very nice memories of my recent visit to Moscow, when we celebrated the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.
In connection with this, we would note that Norway has a great deal to be grateful to Russia for. And as you noted yourself, Mr President, this year we have the pleasure of celebrating the 100th anniversary of the establishment of our diplomatic relations.
But our cooperation is intensifying. In St. Petersburg in April, in your native city, the joint exhibition “Norway – Russia: through centuries and border” was opened. At this ceremony two ministers of the Russian Federation were present: the Foreign Minister and the Cultural Minister.
I fully agree with you, Mr President, that we have enormous opportunities to strengthen our cooperation, particularly in the North, particularly in the energy sphere. And I am happy about the fact that today Russian Prime Minister Fradkov and I will sign an agreement on cooperation in the energy sector, and that we have completed work on preparing a bilateral agreement on the WTO, which will also be signed.
Economic relations between our two countries are currently going through a very dynamic period. Over the last two years joint trade has grown by 60%. At the same time, direct investment from Norway in the Russian market is also growing, and now it has reached over 4 billion Norwegian krone. We also welcome Russian investment and the presence of Russian companies on the territory of Norway. Our government has now proposed a thorough plan on northern regions, which we have submitted for examination by our parliament.