President Vladimir Putin: Good day, dear colleagues and friends!
We have just finished our full-scale talks with the President of Uzbekistan. They have shown once again how active and fruitful the political dialogue between our countries is, and confirmed the strength and the positive development of Russian-Uzbekistan relations on virtually all fronts. The fact that, after his re-election as President of Uzbekistan, Islam Abduganievich Karimov chose Russia for his first official visit demonstrates the special nature of our relations. We are grateful for this, since it confirms our joint desire to extend our strategic partnership.
Building on our cooperation, we have set ourselves ambitious yet realistic and pragmatic goals. This approach is fully justified because it yields results. A good example is the successful development of trade and economic cooperation: according to our estimates, our trade this year is approaching three billion, four billion according to Uzbekistan. Trade in 2007 is up by almost 40 percent compared to 2006.
I want to single out the importance of upgrading the structure of our trade and economic ties. About a third of Russian exports to Uzbekistan and half our imports are machine products. We have pointed out flaws in the patterns of investment: unfortunately to this point most of them are in the field of energy, even though this sector is very important for us.
The Intergovernmental Commission, along with the Russian-Uzbekistan and Uzbekistan-Russian Business Council, plays an important role in consolidating these positive trends and demonstrating the economic potential of maximum disclosure. The two countries' business circles have made an important contribution to the strengthening of economic ties. It is significant that there are more than 700 companies in Uzbekistan supported by Russian capital. Large companies such as Gazprom, Lukoil, EU-Russia, Basic Element, Stroytransgaz and the leading banking and telecommunications firms, as well as representatives of small- and medium-sized businesses, have all shown an interest in expanding investment. They have been particularly active in the food industry, agriculture and commercial enterprises. During the first days of the Russian national exhibition, which was held late last year in Uzbekistan, contracts worth more than 100 million dollars were signed.
The most dynamic sector of our economic cooperation is fuel and energy. We specifically discussed strategically important energy projects, including promising ones like the nuclear industry.
Both sides confirmed an interest in the timely implementation of agreements on gas transportation infrastructure in the Central Asian region. In implementing these, we aim to work closely with Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.
We intend to pay more attention to building partnerships in the high-tech sector. There have been promising developments concerning aircraft, a joint study of outer space, including the use of GLONASS [the Global Navigation Satellite System] and military-technical cooperation.
The bilateral agreements prepared during the visit show how serious our intentions are in these areas. They include an agreement on the integration of our aircraft construction, as well as a programme for economic cooperation from 2008 to 2012.
I particularly want to underline the significance of the statement issued at the end of the talks. The main thing in this agreement is the joint desire to promote cooperation in substantive ways, seek tangible results, identify specific goals and to achieve them.
I want to stress that Russia sees Uzbekistan as one of its most important strategic partners in Central Asia. We will continue to work closely on key aspects of the international agenda, including the situation in Afghanistan, and to work together in the context of regional integration structures: CIS, EurAsEC [the Eurasian Economic Community], CSTO [the Collective Security Treaty Organisation] , SCO [the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation] and other international organisations. For our part, we will continue to use every opportunity to build our multi-faceted cooperation for the benefit of the peoples of Russia and Uzbekistan.