President Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, dear colleagues, Mr Prime Minister,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to Moscow. This is the first official visit by the Latvian Prime Minister to Russia. We have already met on past occasions in the Russian Federation and at various events abroad. I am very pleased that our contacts are continuing.
I would like to congratulate you, and the Russian Government, on the joint document that you signed yesterday – the agreement on the border. We all realise that the signature of this document marks an important stage in developing the relations between our countries, but at the same time, it does not settle all the issues and problems that exist between us. These problems are many, but there are also positive tendencies that are increasingly visible.
Our bilateral trade increased by 34 percent last year. This is a good result and I think it reflects in large part the work done by the Latvian and Russian Governments. In absolute figures, our bilateral trade comes to around $2 billion. This is good for the relations between our countries. The outlook is positive: Russian investment in the Latvian economy is on the rise. We hope that Latvia, as a member of the European Union, will also be able to play a positive part in helping to bring European investment into the Russian Federation.
I am happy to see you and I wish you welcome.
Latvian Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis: Thank you very much for this opportunity to meet.
I think that there has been an upturn in our relations over the last year. We are meeting at various levels. This is pleasing to see because neighbouring countries need to talk to each other, meet, and settle the issues that come up.
It is important for Latvia to have stable and pragmatic relations with Russia because we are not just neighbours, we also represent, as they say, the European Union’s eastern border, and many joint Russian-European issues are currently in the process of being worked on and resolved. I am pleased to see that we are making headway in this process. The agreement that we have signed is very important for both our countries, and not only for us but also for our friends, and it shows that we can find solutions to the other issues on which we also must reach agreements.
I am pleased that the Intergovernmental Commission has begun its work. It will continue in June. Yesterday, my counterpart Mikhail Yefimovich [Russian Prime Minister Fradkov] and I set out all the issues that we must resolve immediately, and the issues that we still have time to reflect upon, in order to move forward. I think that we will have good results.
Vladimir Putin: I was discussing the relations between our countries with the Prime Minister just before our meeting.
He informed me that more than 20 intergovernmental agreements are in various stages of preparation at the moment. We are well aware of how important Russian freight transit, port transit, is for Latvia, and how important our relations are in the energy and other sectors.
The Russian Government is giving all of these matters its attention. We will work together, building on the positive trends that you have noted in our political relations, namely, the agreement on the border that we signed yesterday. I hope that the members of your parliament, and the members of our State Duma, will react positively to the work accomplished by our two countries’ governments.