President Vladimir Putin: Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to rate very highly these talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. I note also that today’s visit has an important historical context and marks exactly 15 years since the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and our country.
Through our common efforts, we have come a lot closer to each other over these years. The relations between our two countries are growing fast and expanding to ever-new areas of cooperation: political, cultural, economic and humanitarian ties. We remember well how much Ariel Sharon contributed to developing these ties and we are pleased to see that the new Israeli leadership is continuing this policy of developing relations with Russia.
We examined the prospects for cooperation between our two countries in detail today at our talks. This concerns economic cooperation and work to strengthen the legal foundation for this cooperation. This also concerns our cooperation in the energy sector and in infrastructure development. And when the Prime Minister spoke about the need to double our bilateral trade figure, I fully agree with him and we will do everything necessary for this.
We have the possibility of carrying out plans in the high-technology sector, including in outer space exploration. We will, of course, also do everything to make it easier for our citizens to travel between our two countries (a considerable number of people in Israel came originally from our country).
We have high expectations for the work of the Russian Science and Culture Centre in Israel. Preparations for its opening are already nearing completion.
There can be no doubt that stable bilateral relations are in the long-term interests of both Russia and Israel, and that strengthening these relations will contribute to ensuring regional and international stability.
Our countries are united in their desire to combat the threats of the twenty-first century, threats such as terrorism, extremism, ethnic intolerance and local conflicts.
Naturally, our talks today also focused on the situation in the Middle East. This is a situation that calls for great responsibility and restraint on all sides. Only a fair and all-encompassing settlement adopted by all the region’s peoples can provide a reliable and long-term solution. The only way to break out of the vicious circle of violence is to end mutual accusations, free the hostages and resume peaceful negotiations. It is extremely important to protect the civilian population of Israel and its neighbours from terror.
As a participant in the Middle East Quartet, Russia is committed to continuing to work towards stabilising the situation as rapidly as possible and resuming negotiations.
In conclusion I would like to thank the Prime Minister and all of our colleagues for a constructive and businesslike approach to the talks. I am sure that the results of this meeting will help to further develop the huge potential of the partnership between our two countries.
Thank you for your attention.
Ehud Olmert: Mr President,
I would like to thank you for this invitation to visit your country and for the lengthy and substantial talks that took place between our two delegations. Once again, I was able to see your deep and friendly attitude towards Israel and your strong commitment to Israel’s security. Today we are celebrating a historical milestone – 15 years since the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and Israel. Over this period, relations between our countries have developed in a whole number of areas, including in politics, the economy, science and technology and even sport. I value highly, Mr President, the fact that in sports, Russia has not shown its superiority over our country, its decisive superiority over our country in football.
You have made a particularly important contribution to developing our relations. I am firmly convinced, Mr President, that with your participation, this process can go ahead even more rapidly. Trade between our countries has already reached a figure of more than $1 billion in value terms. I fully agree with you that it would be easy to double this figure over a short space of time. The potential is great. We will do everything we can to develop our trade, business and other ties.
Of course, our talks also examined the issues on the agenda for developing relations between our two countries and the entire international community.
In my talks with President Putin, I emphasised once again that the Iranian issue is at the cornerstone in this respect. This issue is of great concern for Israel. We do not have the privilege of being able to afford to let a country like Iran possess non-conventional weapons. Israel will never accept such a situation. If the leader of a country like Iran says publicly that he seeks to annihilate our country, we cannot prepare a response scenario but must prevent this from ever happening. I heard from President Putin a far-reaching and all-round analysis of all the issues linked to the Iranian problem today and I am sure that after our talks, President Putin has gained an even deeper understanding of all the aspects concerning how we view this issue.
Of course, we also discussed the situation in Palestine, including the action taken by President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas. I explained to President Putin that I am interested in meeting with President Abbas as soon as possible. I also explained that our representatives are in constant, almost daily contact with Mr Abbas’ representatives. We are committed to continuing our work in this direction and will not suspend our efforts under any circumstances.
There can be no doubt that the key to advancing the peace process in the whole Middle East region is to implement all of the conditions drawn up by the international Quartet – conditions based on recognition of the State of Israel, a recognition that must be absolutely unambiguous and clear.
Also essential is full commitment to implementing all the agreements previously reached between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and also a complete halt to all terrorist activity. As one of the parties in the international Quartet, which plays an important part in this work, Russia can play a key role in this situation given its particular position on the international stage. I would also mention in this respect the particular role that a world-recognised leader such as President Putin can play.
President Putin and I also discussed the situation in Lebanon and the importance of resolution 1701, passed by the UN Security Council with Russia’s active support. We consider that key components of this resolution’s implementation are the embargo on arms supplies to Lebanon, according to the terms of the resolution, and successful consolidation of all forces in Lebanon to ensure that Hezbollah does not resume its activities. Also important is to strengthen and stabilise the Lebanese government given the undermining activities undertaken by Hezbollah internally and Syria externally.
In conclusion, I would like to thank President Putin for this invitation and for the moving personal hospitality and the way we have been received. I am sure that this is also moving for many people in Israel, who view Russia in their own special way, given their particular ties with this country.
I would like to thank you, Mr President, for the efforts you have made, and I hope will continue to make, to free our abducted soldiers, Gelad Shalit, who was abducted by Hamas, and also Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, who were abducted by Hezbollah. I am sure, Mr President, that together we will make every effort to strengthen relations between Russia and Israel in order to bring greater stability and security to our region.