On an upcoming visit to Moscow by Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev
President Vladimir Putin: We are expecting a visit from a Bulgarian delegation that has outlined a broad range of issues to examine regarding our bilateral and international cooperation. What are the most recent developments in this area?
Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Naryshkin: Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev is beginning a two-day visit to Russia today. Tomorrow he will have talks with you and with [Prime Minister] Mikhail Yefimovich Fradkov.
Vladimir Putin: Sergei Yevgenyevich [Naryshkin] chairs the intergovernmental commission.
Sergei Naryshkin: I held a meeting of the intergovernmental commission at the end of April to prepare for this visit. We have had good growth in trade and intensification in our trade and economic relations over the last two-three years. Last year alone growth reached around 55 percent.
The energy sector is our main field of cooperation, but this sector includes some good projects with a high-technology component, above all the project to build a new nuclear power plant. Our company, Atomstroiexport, won the tender for building this plant. Work is also going full steam ahead on a transport project to develop a rail-ferry link between the ports of Kavkaz and Varna.
Four intergovernmental agreements have been drawn up and will be signed during the visit: on protecting intellectual property rights in the military-technical cooperation sector; on protecting classified information; a general agreement on economic, scientific and technical cooperation; and an agreement on cooperation in the tourism sector.
On the results of the international conference on Iraq that took place in Egypt, and on the meeting between the Quartet of mediators in the Middle East peace process and ministers from the League of Arab States’ working group on the Middle East peace process
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov: Two important events took place in Egypt. First was the international conference on Iraq, attended by all of Iraq’s neighbours, the permanent members of the UN Security Council, the UN secretary general, the secretary general of the League of Arab States and the head of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.
The discussions were very concrete and the declaration that was adopted sets out the main principles that we, along with other countries, consistently supported. These are the principles of Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and the need to resolve the crisis in such a way as to uphold these principles. With this goal in mind, the declaration underscores the importance of beginning a genuine dialogue within Iraq, a dialogue that would involve all of the political, ethnic and sectarian groups in order to achieve real national reconciliation in the country and prevent it from splitting apart.
The declaration also emphasises the need to settle at the earliest possible time on a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq. The declaration does not actually name a date, but it states very clearly the importance of this issue for bringing security to the country and ensuring a transition to social and economic development in a situation free of violence.
Another important point for our work is that a mechanism for accompanying the Iraqi peace settlement process, which will involve all the participants in the Sharm-el-Sheik conference and will monitor the implementation of the agreements set out in the declaration. Through this mechanism, recommendations will be drawn up and presented to the next ministerial meeting, which will also take the format of an international conference and will take place in Turkey in autumn.
A ministerial meeting between the Quartet of international mediators – Russia, the United States, the European Union – and the UN Secretary General and the ministers from the League of Arab States’ working group on the Middle East peace process also took place in Sharm-el-Sheik. The meeting discussed the Arab peace initiative aimed at putting in place the conditions for full implementation of the UN resolutions on full return of the occupied territories and on recognition of the State of Israel by all Arab countries. These steps aim at ensuring that Israel and its neighbours can live in peace and security.
An important result from this meeting is that we have agreed to meet regularly in this format, that is, the Quartet plus the Arab countries.
Vladimir Putin: Were the discussions only about the return of territories, or was the issue of refugees also discussed?
Sergei Lavrov: A final settlement requires the implementation of all the UN resolutions. This means addressing not just the issue of the occupied territories but also the return of refugees and the status of Jerusalem, given that this city is home to the holy sites of three great religions, and so all of these issues will be examined together. The two events in Egypt show that your initiative to hold multilateral forums on Iraq and the Middle East is gaining support.
Vladimir Putin: When did we first propose holding an international conference on Iraq?
Sergei Lavrov: Two-and-a-half years ago, in autumn 2004.