Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, dear colleagues and friends,
Allow me to wish you a warm welcome. I am very pleased that we have this opportunity to meet here today in Sochi. I think that during the working part of our meeting we will continue to discuss the subjects I discussed earlier with my colleagues, the G8 leaders, in St Petersburg. But I also hope that your stay here will broaden your knowledge of Russia and give you the chance to get to know not just St Petersburg, but also the south of Russia, here in Sochi.
The G8 parliamentary leaders’ forum is still quite a young gathering, but it is very much needed, because there are times when it is simply impossible to implement at legislative level this or that proposal formulated by the G8 leaders. This goes for laws regulating relations both at international and national level. This also concerns the approval of budgets that need to reflect our common vision of how to build the global world today and what share of responsibility the G8 countries should take for resolving the global issues that we all face.
I know that in St Petersburg you discussed essentially the same issues that were discussed there in July. But you also placed a lot of emphasis on modern threats and challenges. You would have spoken about terrorism, infectious diseases and so on. But there is another issue that is of principle importance for us, and that is energy security. This is an issue that affects all of our countries and practically the entire world economy.
I would like to note that the G8 forum is becoming more open and democratic. This can be seen in the fact that a wider range of different bodies are being involved in its work, and your meeting in St Petersburg and my meeting today in Sochi with you, the leaders of your countries’ parliaments, are a vivid illustration of this. It can also be seen in how the G8 is becoming internationally more open. I remind you that present at the G8 summit in St Petersburg were delegations from China, India, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa and several major international organisations. This greater openness enables us not just to discuss issues, but to coordinate our positions regarding the biggest problems the world faces today and find common solutions in order to make progress. I note that this democratisation process is gathering speed and we welcome it and will continue to follow this principle and this direction in our work.
As my recent talks in African countries, in South Africa and Morocco, showed, people there value the attention the G8 is giving the continent’s problems. Of course, this does not mean that the G8 is trying to substitute itself for other international organisations, above all the United Nations, through which, along with other multilateral structures, we act to implement our coordinated decisions. But the informal format of the G8 provides the opportunity to identify key issues, discuss them in an informal setting and come up with common decisions to help us address and overcome these problems.
The G8 summit in St Petersburg took into account the discussions that took place at two forums in Moscow at the beginning of July: the world summit of religious leaders and the international forum of NGO leaders – the Civil G8 2006. These two forums were organised on the Russian presidency’s initiative. Our sole objective was to take the dialogue with civil society to a new level. Our meeting today represents another step in this direction.
I would like to note in particular the world summit of religious leaders in Moscow. We did everything we could to develop a dialogue between civilisations. I am sure that the leaders of the world’s main religions have enough strength and wisdom to avoid any extremes in relations between the different faiths.
We are very much aware of just how sensitive these issues can be, and it would be the right thing to do to call on the leaders of all the world’s religions to show restraint and responsibility.
One of the summit’s main results was in the energy sector. Through our joint effort we succeeded in drawing up a common approach to the issue of global energy security, although there were some differences of opinion at the early stages. In the end, however — and I am grateful to my G8 colleagues for this – everyone agreed that energy security means security not only for the consumers but also for the producers. Only by taking each other’s interests into consideration can we achieve positive results. The decisions adopted in St Petersburg enable us to ensure long-term improvement of the global energy security system and, also important, cover practically all aspects of energy security including making the energy infrastructure more reliable, diversifying production and supplies and developing energy conservation technology and alternative energy sources. Recently, Russia has begun diversifying its energy supply routes, thereby making them more dependable. As you know, work has already begun on the construction of the North European Gas Pipeline. Work is also going full steam ahead on the laying of an oil pipeline from Siberia to the Pacific coast. Just recently, I visited Athens, where I reached agreements with the leaders of Greece and Bulgaria on speeding up work on another energy project – the Burgas-Alexandropoulis Trans-Balkan oil pipeline. Currently, the Asia-Pacific region accounts for around three percent of our total oil exports, but we plan to increase this share to at least 30 percent of our total energy exports over the next decade. We have already begun work on carrying out two major energy transport projects to deliver natural gas to China.
Another important result of the summit in another priority area, education, is that for the first time in its documents, the G8 has set out a concept of education development based on a close relation between three main elements: education itself, scientific research, and innovation. I would also like to note the adopted document’s provisions regarding immigration and using the possibilities offered by the education system to help immigrants adapt to their new homes. There is plenty of room in this area for legislative work. Practically all our countries face problems of this kind. Well, perhaps somewhat less so in Japan, but people in Japan too are still aware of these problems. These problems exist in all the European countries, in the United States, and to a lesser extent in Russia, though these issues are present here too. This humanitarian and economic aspect of our work is very important.
The summit saw the adoption of significant decisions in the fight against infectious diseases, decisions that will see us increase the international effort to prevent and stop the spread of epidemics. These decisions follow on from previous work and set out the future strategy for the G8’s work to prevent mass-scale disease. I particularly note the document’s emphasis on bolstering multilateral mechanisms for early detection and swift response to epidemics, assistance in developing new diagnostic methods and new means for the prevention and cure of infectious diseases. I think that all of this together will make a considerable contribution to successfully combating infectious diseases.
I think the summit’s political agenda was also very substantial. It is important that the G8 countries reaffirmed their readiness to pursue their active and coordinated non-proliferation work. This is reflected today in our work together to settle the issue of the Iranian nuclear programme.
I think that the G8 has also made progress in counter-terrorist cooperation. We put the emphasis on improving and developing the legal basis for such cooperation, preventing the financing of terrorism and terrorist propaganda and developing measures to ensure that both terrorists and their sponsors will be certain to be brought to account for their acts.
The initiative to combat acts of nuclear terrorism put forward by U.S. President George Bush and I just before the summit met with unanimous support. This is not a bilateral undertaking but is an invitation to all interested partners to take part in collective action. It is extremely important that the summit underscored the United Nations’ unique role in consolidating multilateral counter-terrorist efforts and outlined concrete steps to make it more effective. I would like to think that the solidarity-based approach taken by the G8 was instrumental in the UN General Assembly’s recent adoption by consensus of the UN’s global counter-terrorist strategy.
A large part of our discussion in St Petersburg was given over to the settlement of regional conflicts and crisis situations, above all in the Middle East, given the outbreak of violence in that region. I think that the ideas and proposals the G8 leaders set out in St Petersburg, above all with regards to the continued danger posed by the unresolved Arab-Israeli conflict, are the G8’s contribution to the international effort to overcome the crisis in the region and put in place the conditions for renewing the peace process. Our countries showed solidarity also in providing humanitarian assistance to Lebanon.
I would like to say once again that the parliaments of our countries have an important part to play in implementing the decisions of the St Petersburg summit, above all ensuring the legislative support they require and ensuring broad-based public and political support within our countries. I hope for your active involvement.
I am sure that the G8’s parliamentary dimension is something that is very much needed and that will gain in influence over time.
Thank you very much for your attention.