President Vladimir Putin: Ladies and Gentlemen.
First of all, I would like to thank Mr Vicente Fox for the open and substantial discussion we have had today. I hope our meeting will contribute to the dynamic development of relations between Russia and Mexico in all areas in which we cooperate.
Following our talks, we have adopted a Russian-Mexican declaration that reflects both countries’ political will to make all-round efforts to strengthen our bilateral cooperation. We do indeed have good prospects for opening up and developing new trade and economic cooperation opportunities, all the more so in light of Russia’s forthcoming accession to the World Trade Organisation. It gives me pleasure to say that Russian-Mexican talks on the conditions for Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organisation have been successfully completed and our representatives signed the corresponding protocol yesterday in Geneva. I would like to thank the President and our Mexican colleagues for their constructive approach to this complex and important issue.
The Russian-Mexican Intergovernmental Commission discussed the practical aspects of the matter at its recent meeting in Mexico City.
I am grateful to the President for bringing to Moscow a high-level delegation representing the Mexican business community. I hope that direct contacts between the Russian and Mexican business communities will be fruitful and will lead to the launch of new and promising projects.
Humanitarian cooperation is an important part of interaction between our two countries. Russia and Mexico are both countries with rich cultural traditions and we are justified in hoping for more activeness and more substantial initiatives from the Mixed Commission on Cultural Cooperation. Our plans include the signature of a three-year intergovernmental programme of cultural, education and sports exchanges.
The documents we have signed today represent an important step in carrying out the agreements we have in the area of expanding our legal relations and in strengthening the legal base of contacts between our two countries.
We had a detailed discussion today of the main issues on the international agenda and also spent considerable time discussing regional, Latin American, issues. It is important to note that both sides are interested in developing our bilateral political dialogue and working together on world affairs. Both Russia and Mexico support strengthening the United Nations’ central role in ensuring global stability and security. Our position is that all questions, even the most complex, should be discussed and settled together through a process of constructive dialogue.
Mexico is one of Russia’s leading partners, a priority partner, in Latin America. Along with developing our bilateral contacts, we also hope for Mexico’s help in building up Russia’s ties with influential regional structures. We also see good prospects for cooperation between our countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including within APEC.
In conclusion, I would like to thank all our Mexican friends and colleagues for the interest they have shown and for the substantial discussion we have had during our work together today, and I wish them good memories and impressions of their time spent on Russian soil.
President of Mexico Vicente Fox: Thank you once again, Mr President, for inviting us and making it possible for us to visit your wonderful and fast-growing country.
As our economies are growing, so are our contacts and the intensiveness of our work together. There is no doubt that Mr Putin’s visit last year to our country and my current visit to Russia, both of which are unique events in their way, will bring positive results and give a new boost to our relations.
Our countries have a large number of agreements in various areas. We signed four such agreements today, agreements that reflect the diversity of the issues on our agenda and that will help make our relations more dynamic.
Mr Putin’s words, his assessment of our relations, are very important for Mexico and confirm that the ties between our two countries are built on a solid foundation.
Today we were presented with copies of letters that our first ambassador to Russia sent to Alexander III. This an important historical detail. These letters were written in 1891. This illustrates how our relations go back in time and are rooted in history.
We discussed the energy agenda during our talks. Among other matters, we discussed natural gas, liquefied gas and gasification. Russia expressed an interest in taking part in energy sector development, above all in the areas of natural gas, hydroelectricity and alternative energy sources. We had a detailed exchange of views on each of these questions.
Russia also expressed interest in deep-sea drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Mexico does not have the equipment needed for this kind of project and so we are very interested in Russian involvement in this work.
We discussed an agreement for a 20-year period on supplying liquefied gas to Mexico that will processed by four enterprises that are to be built. This will guarantee stable gas supplies at good prices.
We spoke about the need to activate the negotiating process between Mexican company Pemex and Russia’s Gazprom in order to achieve concrete results.
Concerning the helicopter technical servicing and repair centre in Vera Cruz, I would like to thank Mr Putin for the speed with which this complex project was completed. I would also like to note the project for selling and assembling Ural large-cargo trucks and the project we have underway in the aerospace sector. We also have a large number of commercial projects and investment projects. We know that a meeting is taking place at this moment between Russian and Mexican business community representatives and we hope that they will make headway in their discussions.
We are working together in education and on scientific and student exchanges. We are cooperating actively in ensuring security and combating drug trafficking. We are also developing our cooperation in education, culture and sport.
We had a detailed discussion on Latin-American issues and on cooperation between our countries in the United Nations, above all within the framework of the reforms initiated by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
In order to encourage continued development of our contacts, we need to settle the question of issuing Russian visas for Mexican citizens and Mexican visas for Russian citizens. It should be made quicker to obtain a visa.
Thank you very much.
Question: Dear Presidents, you talked about the high level of partnership between Russia and Mexico. What do you think, in what directions can cooperation develop, including in the UN and other international organisations? Thank you.
President Vladimir Putin: Mr President just talked about almost all the directions of our cooperation, and in considerable detail.
I can only add that during consultations on important recent issues at the UN, our positions were quite similar. And we felt that in this sense, Mexico always takes an independent position and is a reliable partner. It is very important for us that Mexico supported our initiatives in the anti-terrorist area. And we believe that we have a very important common issue – to unite efforts in the war on drug trafficking, on the drug trade, both on a bilateral basis and in international organisations.
We conduct active dialogue on reforming the UN. You know our position: we are prepared to support any sensible decision based on wide consensus. And of course, cooperation in the economic sphere has primary important for us. Thank you.
Question: The first question for both presents concerns the effect of the increase in oil prices. How did these prices affect the situation? And secondly: did you exchange experience on the realisation of joint programmes, programmes to combat poverty? And a question for the Mexican President: could you describe how you spent your first night at the Kremlin?
Vicente Fox: As for oil prices, the demand recently for this resource led to the prices that we are all well aware of. They can be rightly called historic prices. Mexico, both in the past and now, believes that fair oil prices help a country that exports this resource to receive income from soil of oil that is necessary for the development of the country’s economy. At the same time, there should not be any restrictions placed on this trade. I would like to add once more that income from this resource allows our economy to grow.
As for the question about combating poverty, we did not discuss this topic today. As for my visit to this beautiful city with clean wide streets, gardens and parks, it greatly impresses me. I have already had the opportunity to tell Mr Putin how impressed I was by the number of new cars of various brands, which in my opinion shows the swift growth of the economy. As was stated, economic growth is at 6–7%.
As for the Kremlin, it undoubtedly deserves special words. I am very grateful to Mr Putin for inviting me to stay here, inside the Kremlin. I am still impressed by the Kremlin, by the halls where we were, by the suites and the rooms which we had the opportunity to visit.
This morning we laid a wreath by the Grave of the Unknown Soldier. And I would like to make special mention of the memorial itself, the place where it is located, and the fact that it symbolises the struggle of man against tyranny, the struggle for freedom, the struggle for development, for democratic values, for the values of peace, a struggle for stability, and for respect of human dignity.
And as Mr Putin said, we still have many surprises ahead of us, for example the hall where dinner will be held this evening. It is no less beautiful than the halls which we have already had the opportunity to visit.
Mr Putin: I will start with the most important thing – with socio-economic problems. We did not indeed discuss the issue of combating poverty today, but I am very happy the our guest, the President of the United States of Mexico, has been able recently to reduce the number of poor people in the country by almost a third. We have approximately the same rates in reducing the number of our citizens who live below the poverty line in the Russian Federation, and I hope that we will continue to solve this task at these rates in future.
Will solving this task be helped by high oil prices? It will partially help – in that the state’s budget will be filled. At the same time, high oil prices, and a major flow of oil dollars into the country’s economy will create certain difficulties for the Central Bank and the Government in keeping inflating in the parameters set, and will lead to an excessive strengthening of the national currency, which will not help the successful activity of our exporters and processing industry.
At the same time, the price on any goods, just like on oil, is determined by supply and demand, i.e. the market, and we cannot seriously affect this. I would also like to note that the problem of prices on energy resources and oil products is not just determined by the volume of production, but also by insufficient attention in recent years given by producers of these projects to the problem of processing oil and insufficient investment in the sphere of creating new facilities, new oil processing enterprises and factories.
As for our guest’s staying at the Kremlin, I am very happy that the shadows of Stalin and Trotsky do not stop him from feeling comfortable here.
Question: My question is for both Presidents. As you already noted, Vladimir Vladimirovich, recently a protocol was signed in Geneva on the completion of talks for Russia joining the WTO. I am interested in your opinion. How, in your opinion, will this effect further development of cooperation? Thank you.
Mr Putin: We hope, we are even certain that this will be very favourably received by all participants of the market and economic cooperation. It is an important step on Russia joining the WTO. But in itself this is already a positive signal for the development of trade and economic ties. We, I repeat, are grateful to our partners for meeting us halfway. We have crated a joint commission which will deal with studying the issue of giving the Russian economy market status in relations with our Mexican partners, and we hope that this will be another additional step on the path to strengthening our cooperation in the sphere of economic cooperation.
Mr Fox: Over the last year, trade turnover between our countries has increased by 80%, which in itself characterises the high level of dynamism of our relations. We congratulate the Russian Federation on joining the WTO. This will create the necessary regulatory limits which will allow us to regulate trade disagreements. It will give a new stimulus to the already growing and swiftly developing Russian economy.
Question: A question for President Fox. How freely were you in discussing the energy agenda, taking into account the process of reform which are currently taking place? And in how much detail did you discuss cooperation and mutual aid in the war on drug trafficking, drug crime, especially given the situation that is taking place in the country, particularly in the northern regions?
And a question for Mr Putin. How do you see and what do you think about a President representing Latin America, who represents left forces in Latin America, a President who you characterised as an important partner in our relations, a President who is realising an active social programme in the country?
Mr Fox: As for our energy dialogue with Russia, we conduct this dialogue on the level of the private sector both with the Russian and the Mexican side. Cooperation is conducted between state enterprises, but this is all done within the law. There are appropriate legal limits which regulate drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
As for the four enterprises for processing liquefied gas, here we can also not ignore the demands of existing legislation. The same thing can be said of 26 enterprises of combined production of electricity which also use natural gas. The same thing can be said the construction of the hydroelectric station Kajon. A contract was signed with a Russian enterprise on delivery of water turbines.
There are also other questions connected with the exchange of technical experience, construction, renewal and improvement of oil processing enterprises, where over $20 million was invested last year – all this is being realised with the participation of the private sector.
As for issues relating to terrorism, the war on drugs, organised crime and cartels, we continued to discuss them and exchanged experience, and today the proposal was made to deepen this dialogue in future, and to take into account which is developing at the moment. This concerns the war, the active war on cartels, on completely eliminating them, especially taking into account the growing number of kidnappings that has been seen recently. Our task is to fight this actively.
Mr Putin: First of all I would like to say a few words about our cooperation in the energy sphere. This cooperation is not only restricted to joint and possible mining of raw materials in Mexico. Raw hydrocarbon materials are an extremely important sphere of our possible cooperation.
But I would like to confirm what Mr President said: we are already cooperation in the electrical energy sphere, I primarily mean energy machine construction. Russian companies are already delivering the necessary equipment, and we have prospects for further expansion of our cooperation in this sphere.
We have good opportunities for expanding cooperation in nuclear energy, and our companies are already conducting deliveries of nuclear fuel to the Mexican market.
As for the upcoming Presidential elections in Mexico – what can we say to you about this? In recent years we have dealt with Mexico as a reliable partner which pursues an independent foreign policy. We can see that President Fox is able to ensure quite swift rates of economic growth, which create conditions for widening our cooperation in the economic sphere. Of course, I am sure that the President himself and the people of his country would probably like greater success, for example, in combating poverty, but the 30% reduction of poverty in the country over the last four and a half year is a good social effect and also creates favourable conditions for widening cooperation.
We wish to develop relations with your country. What else do we need? As people say here: let well alone. But elections are elections, and the Mexican people will make their own choice, and we will work with any President, whatever political views he holds.