Vladimir Putin: First, I would like to say a few words about the fate of the Russian airmen arrested and given long prison sentences in India. As you know, they are in jail and today the Indian government informed us through its Foreign Minister that, out of considerations of humanity and in view of the special relations between India and the Russian Federation, the Indian leadership has decided and the Indian President has signed a pardon for these Russian citizens. The airmen will fly from Calcutta to Moscow on July 24. It comes as a result of vigorous efforts of the Russian leadership through government channels, diplomatic channels and, of course and most importantly, it has to do with the friendly attitude of the Indian people and the Indian leadership towards Russia.
I would like to take this opportunity to convey through the media my thanks to the whole Indian leadership: the Prime Minister and the President of the country – for this humane decision. And I would like to stress that the relations between India and the Russian Federation have been developing progressively, and this gesture, without any doubt, will contribute to further improvement of our cooperation.
Question: What are the results of the G8 meetings today?
Vladimir Putin: We have been working intensively. In the morning we discussed the problems of world economy and of course in this context practically all the leaders spoke about their countries. I spoke about what is happening in Russia. Everybody showed a lively interest and practically all the members of the conference met it with approval. They welcomed not only the economic performance Russia has demonstrated recently, but the very approach to the problems our country faces.
In addition, we discussed the informatisation of society and the problems that arise due to globalisation of the relations connected with informatisation. In this context, we discussed protection and dissemination of information, problems of education, the development of the Internet, electronic trade and associated problems of protecting consumers’ rights, and protecting the rights of the state, meaning the legal foundation of electronic trade, which is increasing rapidly throughout the world.
I have to tell you that this is a highly relevant problem for our country. Many journalists recently accompanied us to Blagoveshchensk and even then we said that considering the size of our country and the size of our state, this type of communication is very promising and very effective. And of course Russia will pay great attention to it. It was a very useful discussion.
As for the second part, the focus was on the problems of health, problems connected with the discovery of the human genome and food safety. I must say that the overwhelming majority of participants in the meeting agreed on the need to inform consumers in a more detailed and all-embracing way, considering the growing capacity of food producers in the world to produce food using genetic engineering and other modern methods. On the one hand, this problem needs to be studied, and on the other hand, it is necessary to provide information to the consumer to allow him to decide for himself what products to buy. This was the context of the conversation today. As for what we have agreed on, you will learn it from the corresponding communiqués.
Question: Can you speak about your meeting with the German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder?
Vladimir Putin: It was a working meeting to sum up the interim results of what our states have done since our Berlin meeting. We discussed bilateral relations in a general way, some international problems, issues of European security, the situation in the Balkans and how Germany and the Russian Federation see various aspects of these problems. And of course we spoke about preparations for the 10th anniversary of the Treaty between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Russian Federation. The Chancellor has accepted our invitation and intends to take part in events to mark the 10th anniversary of the treaty between Russia and Germany in November. We look forward to seeing him in Moscow.
Question: Was the problem of debt raised?
Vladimir Putin: I would like to remind you that Russia is a creditor of a significant number of developing countries (such as Tanzania, Mozambique and other countries). Russia has inherited these debts from the Soviet Union.
The meetings today touched upon the problems of debt in a very general way, with reference to developing countries. Back in 1999, Russia joined the agreements reached in the framework of the G8 and in the framework of the Paris Club. We are working with the whole international community within the framework laid down in the previous years.