Question: What is your opinion of the summit’s results?
Vladimir Putin: It is well known that both the Balkans and the Black Sea region have always held a special interest for us. And we have always had special political and economic relations with these countries, with the countries of this region. This is due to a number of historical and, one might say, ethnic and humanitarian factors. And the fact that Russia, a country that benefits from new opportunities, is returning to these regions and starting to play a more prominent role is completely natural. This corresponds not only to our interests but also to those of our partners.
I highly appreciate the results we achieved during these two days.
Question: Yesterday President Parvanov confirmed that Bulgaria will participate in the South Stream project. What is your opinion of this project?
Vladimir Putin: Gazprom is extending old agreements and concluding new ones, and of course the company is interested in establishing new contracts with new transportation routes and facilities. So these amount to new infrastructure projects drawn up according to new contracts.
Of course Russia is interested in having direct access to its major European consumers. And this project is absolutely in line with our economic interests. It is certainly in the interests of our European partners as well. As we understand it, this route — just like the North European Gas Pipeline — will allow us to reach our major European consumers directly. It is no accident that many countries in southern Europe are interested in the South Stream project. You witnessed the reaction of our Italian, Bulgarian and Greek partners. It is clear that very different routes from Greece are possible. Choosing a final route naturally depends on experts’ opinions and on the project’s economic viability.
Question: You held many bilateral meetings. What do you retain from these them?
Vladimir Putin: This type of activity gives us the possibility to discuss a great many issues: both bilateral and international ones. We certainly talked about the most sensitive international issues as well as about the Kosovo settlement and certain problems in the states of the former Soviet Union.
We spent a great deal of time discussing our bilateral relations. Russia considers it important that, for example, we once again reaffirmed the principles that were established at the G8 summit in St Petersburg. Let me remind you that this concerns the shared responsibility between countries that extract, export and consume energy resources. This is in the joint statement, in the joint document. There are also several other instances that determine the operating principles in this extremely important sphere and that completely correspond with our vision of desirable relations in the energy sector.
And all the contacts and all agreements that were concluded at the bilateral level will undoubtedly benefit both the Russian economy and those of our partners.
For example we talked about construction projects in Turkey and about the need to increase trade. We talked about the growing opportunities in investment, tourism and sports.
You know that 2007 is the Year of Russian Culture in Turkey and that next year we will host a similar event on Turkish culture in Russia. All of this will undoubtedly facilitate direct contacts between our countries’ citizens.