President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko: To begin, I would say that today we created the foundations of an excellent framework for Ukrainian-Russian relations. Today we confirmed the Commission’s composition, the operational format that will allow us to organise the main tasks involved in Ukraine and Russia’s strategic partnership. Henceforth the presidents of our two countries will meet regularly. We have decided that the Commission will hold a session at least twice a year – we have committed to this. Today we agreed that the next session will take place in May or perhaps the beginning of June 2007.
In the next few weeks – before February – we will develop an action plan, a road map, of fundamental measures to regulate the most difficult, sensitive issues in our bilateral relations. We began with border issues – demilitarization, boundary demarcation, and continuing talks on the Kerch Strait. We consider that in the next two to three weeks we will establish a joint action plan for 2007–2008.
Both parties also confirmed that as we prepare for the second Commission session we will finish the declaration on the character of the Ukrainian-Russian strategic partnership, a partnership in which we are consolidating our key positions on extremely topical issues.
Today we reached a number of important results and what I would call developments in several crucially important issues. First and foremost, I am referring to renewing talks about the boundary demarcation in the Kerch Strait and delimiting the land border. The appropriate working group held 25 sessions, including three such sessions last year. We found a good compromise with respect to the Sea of Azov. We began a similar process in the Black Sea and with respect to the Russian-Ukrainian land border.
Today we confirmed that in 2007 we would like to speed up negotiations on the Kerch Strait border as much as possible. We gave orders to our foreign ministries and the Commission’s bodies to accelerate negotiations on this issue to the extent that they can. I hope that by the next Commission session some concrete proposals will already be available.
Today we discussed issues linked to increasing our economic cooperation. We discussed several aspects of our trade policies in detail. As well as cooperation in the space sector and the aviation sector. At the session we also discussed our cooperation prospects in the international arena. In particular, we talked about finding a settlement to the conflict in Transdnistria. I would like to say that in the past few months we really saw progress in this issue. On the one hand, a customs regime that legitimizes this process has been installed. On the other hand, we renewed passenger and trade communications between Ukraine, Russia, Transdnistria and Moldova. We consider that today we have all the necessary conditions to talk about the prospects of renewing the negotiation process within the five plus two format. This is very important.
During the Intergovernmental Commission’s first session we signed a number of bilateral documents that regulate political issues concerning border points. And Vladimir Vladimirovich and I agreed that we are going to continue work in this direction – we will continue to pursue our work within united customs services, unify our customs regimes, construct border points and so on.
A very important document linked to our national interests was signed today, namely an agreement on readmission. Ukraine considers this to be a very difficult problem that creates difficulties for several thousands of refugees each year. This concerns refugee camps, the services there, and their budgetary support. And the agreement today represents a breakthrough in this direction. Today we reached an agreement about the mutual defense of our intellectual property rights within the WTO. And an agreement about cultural cooperation.
In my opinion, today we held a very active and well-thought out Commission session. I am satisfied with the results of our meeting. Thank you for your attention!
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Dear ladies and gentlemen!
I fully agree with the way Viktor Andreevich Yushchenko described the results of our meeting today. I also consider the result of our work to be positive. This was visible in our common aspirations to allow our partnership to take on a new and higher dimension, as well as in a number of concrete proposals.
The project of a 2007–2008 Russian-Ukrainian Action Plan will be developed based on the ideas we put forward.
Among the meeting’s major results I would mention the detailed discussion of concrete themes concerning our economic cooperation. We noted that our present economic cooperation does not correspond to our countries’ potential. As a result, we agreed to strengthen our economic cooperation and prevent our future cooperation and volume of trade from decreasing. We also worked significantly towards improving the investment climate and I hope that we will reinvigorate business contacts in general.
We also discussed a number of joint projects. We discussed using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, space exploration, transport and aircraft manufacturing. The ideas that we expressed here will be developed by our experts.
Certainly we also touched on cooperation in the oil and energy sectors. The Russian party emphasized the importance of adhering to market principles as stated in the Agreement of 4 January 2006. And we well understand how much we need to engage in constructive cooperation here. It is important for stable energy cooperation between our countries as well as for ensuring energy security in Europe.
As Viktor Andreevich Yushchenko already said, our agenda included the problems of the Black Sea Fleet and the Azov – Krech settlement. We agreed to resolve these issues based on the fundamental agreements we already have and on international legal norms. Both parties confirmed that they are prepared to look for ways to further harmonise their positions.
I agree that we can give the process of finding a Transdnistrian settlement a new stimulus. Important themes in our talks included cooperation in border and consular issues, as well as cross-border and interregional cooperation. And we are going to coordinate our work in these fields very closely. The most important thing is that we agreed to help the citizens of both countries entertain ties between family and friends without hindrance of any kind.
Allow me to point out that cooperation in the educational and cultural spheres is one type of cooperation that we are going to develop actively. We understand the great attraction between two fraternal peoples such as ours. And we aspire to create the most favourable conditions for free exchanges to develop and also to expand our business, cultural, scientific and educational contacts.
We will support our citizens’ aspirations to maintain their national culture and language. I think that celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Nikolai Vasilevich Gogol in 2009 will have an equal value for Russians and Ukrainians. And Viktor Andreevich and I agreed to prepare joint events to celebrate this anniversary.
In conclusion I would like to express what I see as our countries’ shared opinion. Both countries are fully aware of the practical benefits and the strategic importance of our partnership. And in the future we will continue to steadily develop our relations based on the principles of pragmatism, equal rights, good neighbourliness and friendship.
Thank you for your attention.
Question: In the event that the passing away of President Niyazov leads to problems with the deliveries of gas from Turkmenistan, would Russia be ready to deliver additional gas to Ukraine?
And a question to President Yushchenko. Viktor Andreevich, you heard Russia’s position on the economic expediency of a gas price of 130 USD, something that was mentioned earlier. How much variation in gas prices is possible? Thank you.
Vladimir Putin: We have long-term agreements with Turkmenistan about delivering gas to Ukraine. Russia always has delivered gas, continues to deliver gas and intends to keep on fulfilling its responsibilities as stated in the signed documents, in our contracts, including with respect to the transport of energy products through Russian territory. We see no reason for revising the agreements we already have. The issue of transporting additional gas could be addressed within the framework of the agreements that we reached in January 2006 – those that I already mentioned. We are ready to cooperate with Ukraine based on market principles and, if necessary, we are ready to consider additional fuel deliveries.
Viktor Yushchenko: (answer in Ukrainian).
Vladimir Putin: And as to the price you mentioned – 135 USD – this is not Russia’s price, this is Turkmenistan’s price. Turkmenistan sold all its gas to Russia for 100 USD per 1000 cubic metres. The cost of transport added to the overhead expenses results in the price you mentioned. That is all.
Question: Today you once again spoke a great deal about strategic cooperation and partnership. As I understand it, perhaps this is not being examined yet because a great many sensitive problems remain more important. Are you confident that these problems will be resolved in the near future? And what is required for Russian-Ukrainian cooperation to really become strategic cooperation? Thank you.
Vladimir Putin: Truth to tell, today we did not run into any emotionally charged problems. We had a very constructive, gracious, friendly discussion and we discussed the concrete fields in which we cooperate in much detail. We really discussed the space sector, aviation and the energy sector. All of this was done with the utmost pragmatism and in a friendly, business-like atmosphere. In addition to searching for compromises to resolve outstanding problems, we saw during today’s talks that both Russian and Ukrainian parties really want to find compromises. And it is for this reason that we are fully satisfied both with the results and the atmosphere of today’s talks.
Viktor Yushchenko: When we began our one-on-one talks today, Vladimir Vladimirovich had a whole dossier full of subjects he had prepared for our discussion and I had a similar file.
Of course we recognise that resolving many of these problems requires time. But many of these issues benefit from our trust, mutual understanding, and our desire and political will to resolve them. And many issues have also simply been politicised in such a way that they kept showing up on the agenda. When one considers the number of outstanding issues in the educational, cultural and social spheres through to economic, trade, and investment cooperation as well as the regulation of other sectoral issues, then it is obvious that this category of issues is wide-ranging. Many open questions remain – both difficult and more manageable ones. But it seems to me that today’s biggest breakthrough consists in the fact that we have not only reached a new level of mutual understanding on how to resolve the said problems, there is also no conflict between the parties as they consider each other’s position. I think that perhaps the most important thing that resulted from today’s meeting is that we established a framework within which to examine and help us resolve significant number of these issues in real time. I am referring to our Intergovernmental Commission that will act as the instrument to allow us to work on our current plans.
Vladimir Vladimirovich and I agreed that a few weeks after the Ukrainian party has created an outline of our projects I will phone him and we will go over all the points on our agenda over the telephone. Today we have 22 key items and I think that we will add to that number. And let me add that all the issues I raised with Vladimir Vladimirovich met with an answer that the Ukrainian party considers both positive and satisfying.