Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon Viktor Fedorovich. I am very glad to see you in Moscow.
The day before yesterday in Minsk we had the opportunity to speak briefly with the President of Ukraine about the meeting that will be held within the limits of the intergovernmental commission.
I am very pleased that recently contacts are developing very actively between all levels and in all directions, as one would say in this case. We have increased our contacts in the cultural and educational spheres and we are clearly seeing a revival in cooperation in the economic sphere. It is very pleasant to note that, as a whole, final agreements are being reached in the energy sector. A number of documents are being prepared to be signed during my visit to Kiev on 22 December 2006 and, in practice, these documents are in their final stages. I am confident that your recent meetings with the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Mikhail Efimovich Fradkov — both recent meetings and those today — will also contribute towards the preparation of this event. This is an event that we have already talked about for a long time, and that the President of Ukraine has both initiated and is carrying out. We are satisfied with how our teamwork is proceeding.
Viktor Yanukovich: Thank you Vladimir Vladimirovich.
First and foremost I would like to confirm that we are very much awaiting your visit on 22 December 2006. The Prime Minister of Russia and I just had what one can call a final meeting before that of the Intergovernmental Commission. There were literally only a few documents left and we will literally finish these documents in a few days and then be completely ready for the meeting.
I would like to say that there is certainly a huge range of work to be done in the cultural and educational spheres. We think that we need to strengthen this field of cooperation. If possible, we would ask that the first Deputy Prime Minister of Russia be appointed Co-Chairman of the cultural and educational spheres. This was our preliminary arrangement. Now we have already started examining concrete issues and we consider that this is in the spirit of the historic relations between Ukraine and Russia. We always emphasise that relations between our peoples are fraternal relations. For that reason we would ask that cooperation in this field now start to proceed more actively.
I would also like to inform you — and I told my colleagues this — that in the last three months the volume of trade between Ukraine and Russia has grown by approximately 300 million USD.
Along with this, there are problems that we need to solve, problems that in our opinion constitute obstacles to further progress. As you are well aware, one of the major issues is the unification of customs systems. Not only those of Ukraine and Russia but also with other countries, and especially Central Asian countries. We discussed this issue with Kazakhstan and we are very worried about this issue. The two-year pause once again demonstrated that we have important opportunities to increase transport both through Ukraine and through Russia. And today we are holding talks with Russian customs about freight traffic that previously passed through Baltic countries in order to essentially send them through Ukraine. We are building good roads and we are suggesting to create a similar such road that links Kiev and Moscow. And today we do not see obstacles that will prevent us from establishing such an intergovernmental commission. We are very interested in this. I well remember our conversation that if there was a consensus from all sides … We certainly consider that it will be favourable, that one could consider it to be the first serious and major step within the Common Economic Space.
Vladimir Putin: If I understood you correctly, then Ukraine is thinking about the Common Economic Space.
Viktor Yanukovich: Sure.