President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen.
The talks with President of the Republic of Abkhazia Mr Khadzhimba took place in a friendly and constructive spirit. We discussed the full range of our bilateral relations and made a detailed examination of the situation in the region in general.
I want to especially note the point that the Agreement on Alliance and Strategic Partnership between Russia and Abkhazia, which we just signed, reflects the high level of relations our two countries have established. This is a new step towards carrying out earlier agreements and strengthening the legal base that we have built up over these years.
The issue we face is that of guaranteeing Abkhazia’s secure existence, ensuring the security of its borders, and creating conditions that will make it possible to continue developing trade and economic ties. Of course, the ultimate goal of all of this is to improve people’s lives.
The Agreement sets out the main priorities for Russian-Abkhazian cooperation. As I said, these priorities are the economic, social and humanitarian sectors and defence and security matters.
We have set new tasks and long-term goals. They are backed up with substantial funds. In 2015, we will allocate Abkhazia 5 billion rubles [more than $111 million] for implementing the Agreement.
We have done a lot of work to build up our cooperation over the years since Abkhazia’s independence was recognised. Russia is in solid first place among Abkhazia’s economic partners. More than 50 companies with Russian capital are working in Abkhazia and are active in basic sectors such as the fuel and energy industry, telecommunications, mass communications, banking services and tourism.
The 2013–2015 Investment Programme for Facilitating Abkhazia’s Socioeconomic Development is also producing good results. This year will see completion of 54 facilities in the areas of transport infrastructure, housing and utilities, and agriculture.
Incidentally, we gave significant attention to issues of transport infrastructure during today’s talks. We feel it is possible to consider this with other partners and implement such a project under general consensus. For example, railroad transit connections could be built in the direction of Sukhumi, Tbilisi and further, to Armenia on one side and Russia on the other. We believe that implementing such projects will certainly promote the creation of conditions for developing cooperation between all interested nations in the region.
Tomorrow’s meeting of the intergovernmental commission will be looking at a draft investment programme for another three-year period: 2015–2017. The proposed volume for its financing is over four billion rubles annually. This means, for example, that next year, financing for Abkhazia will be increased nearly two-fold compared to this year, to 9.2 or 9.3 billion rubles.
Interregional cooperation is advancing dynamically: over 30 Russian regions have signed agreements with Abkhazia.
We have a high level of cooperation in the culture and humanitarian sector. We have allocated 290 spots for Abkhazian students at Russian universities this school year. We are holding regular Russian-Abkhazian humanitarian forums.
During the meeting, we also discussed other issues of mutual interest.
And in conclusion, I would like to once again give a high assessment to our talks. I am confident that the Russian-Abkhazian cooperation, alliance and strategic partnership will continue to grow stronger.
Thank you for your attention.
President of Abkhazia Raul Khadzhimba: Mr President, colleagues,
The signing of the agreement between the Republic of Abkhazia and the Russian Federation on alliance and strategic partnership is certainly an important historic event in the cooperation of our governments and peoples.
Our relations are entering a qualitatively new level that presupposes close cooperation between parties to ensure regional security and stability. Russia once again demonstrates its commitment to equitable cooperation with Abkhazia, which is an example of respecting international law and commitment to obligations. Allied relations with Russia create a full set of guarantees of security for our state and broad opportunities for socioeconomic development.
We are a small nation, but over the course of many years, we have consistently looked toward Russia, thereby ensuring our common interests. And this consistence has been supported by the Russian leadership, which recognised our independence and actively supports us in the international arena.
We are sincerely grateful to you, Mr President, for everything you did to support our people. We are interested in activating and broadening international recognition of our state and participating in integration projects initiated by Russia in the post-Soviet space. And we are sure that this Agreement will give new momentum to this process.
In conclusion, I would like to stress that our people have long made their historic choice in favour of strengthening equitable cooperation and the alliance with Russia. This meets our long-term, strategic interests and lays a solid foundation for further strengthening the sovereignty and security of the Republic of Abkhazia.
Thank you for your attention.