President Vladimir Putin: Vladimir Olegovich [Potanin], how are your international projects developing?
Vladimir Potanin: I can tell you today about our first successes. I already told you about our work in developing hydrogen energy in Russia and about our programme to finance innovative scientific developments. Just yesterday we concluded a deal to acquire a major U.S. company working in this area. This is our first step towards entering the North-American and international markets with our products. We think that this step will help us to accelerate the introduction of the developments we already have today in Russia and it will help us to bring them closer to world markets. We also hope to promote high-technology products on our own market over the coming two-three years.
Vladimir Putin: You are working on all of this together with specialists from the Academy of Sciences?
Vladimir Potanin: Yes. We are working on all of these developments with specialists from the Academy of Sciences. Our American colleagues who we have been in contact with have a very high opinion of the developments we have here and are very interested in carrying out exchanges. What is especially pleasing to note in this case is that the cooperation between the Russian and American scientific and technological specialists in this area is taking place on an equal footing and we are not playing the role of junior partner. This is cooperation on a genuinely equal basis and I am very happy to see that this is the case.
Vladimir Putin: And are there good prospects in sight?
Vladimir Potanin: Yes, there are good prospects in sight.
Vladimir Putin: I remember that last time we met you still had some doubts on this point and said that a lot of investment was going into this project but that it was not very clear when there would be a return.
Vladimir Potanin: We know that we will have to wait some time before seeing a return on this investment, but we are increasingly confident that this is the right choice and that it will bring great benefits for our economy.
Vladimir Putin: How is your group doing in general right now?
Vladimir Potanin: Our group is going through what you could call a new stage in its development thanks to the fact that the current situation on various raw materials markets, which are one of the specific areas of our group’s activity, are enabling us to expand our business. As you probably remember, when we last met on December 15, I told you about our plans in the CIS, in particular in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. I would like to thank you for the support you have given these projects. They are not completed yet but we have entered talks with our commercial partners and with state officials in these countries. I must say that we have been attempting to enter these markets since the mid-1990s, but without success, and, analysing that experience now, I must say that one of the things we were missing was a well-oiled mechanism for interaction between the state, the Russian state, and business. There was no developed mechanism in place for providing state support for our international projects and this made itself felt. Now these mechanisms have been developed and I would like to say that, on your instructions, the Presidential Executive Office and the Government worked very effectively, I think, on these particular projects. We are feeling the benefits and I ask you please to continue giving these projects your attention because we are still only halfway there at the moment.
Vladimir Putin: It so happens that I have plans to speak with the President of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, and with the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbaev, on the telephone, and this will probably be a good opportunity to also mention your projects and to thank them, in any case, for the support that they have given.
Vladimir Potanin: Thank you, Vladimir Vladimirovich.