President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Mr President, ladies and gentlemen,
Of course first and foremost I would like to thank the President of Egypt and all our Egyptian colleagues for the warm and friendly welcome they have given our delegation and for the interesting and productive discussions.
I would like to say straight away that our talks were conducted in the same sort of trusting, friendly atmosphere that has always characterised and distinguished the Russian-Egyptian dialogue at the highest level, and of course this has contributed significantly to the achievement of those results towards which we have been working and advancing our contacts and ties to the level of bilateral strategic partnership.
That is why we have now signed an agreement on strategic partnership between Russia and Egypt. It is a blueprint for the long-term direction of our countries' development and for the entire range of Russian-Egyptian relations in the years ahead. In this regard it is a very important document. And I would also agree with the President of Egypt that these talks have shown that we have very similar, largely overlapping positions on a whole range of our relations, as well as on regional cooperation and the resolution of regional conflicts.
In recent years we have achieved very good levels of trade and economic cooperation. Suffice it to say that over the past five years bilateral trade has increased by a factor of five and exceeded last year's figure of 4 billion USD. Nevertheless we have very substantial potential that we can use to stimulate mutual investment and industrial cooperation. We have very promising areas of cooperation, such as energy projects, including nuclear energy, industry and transport sector projects. We are ready to cooperate more in high technology industries, primarily in outer space, and ready to implement programmes for the development of satellite technology and the space industry.
In addition to these there are new areas of cooperation, such as the environment, combating drug trafficking, and archive-keeping. In fact, in addition to trade and economic relations in the narrow sense, many of our people are already familiar with the history and culture of Egypt. That is why tourism has become such a fast-growing industry. In the past year alone it increased almost 22 percent, and the total number of [Russian] citizens who visited Egypt was 1 million 800 thousand. This is a very substantial, very impressive figure for our countries.
Just as you said, Mr President, we exchanged views on important international issues including the situation in Iran, discussed the problems of Africa, and of course we could hardly ignore the issues in the Middle East. We greatly appreciate the efforts made by the President of Egypt to create an atmosphere of trust and cooperation in the region. We hope to continue our concerted efforts in this area. And that is in fact the goal of an International Conference on the Middle East, which we plan to hold at the end of this year in Moscow.
We talked about the current financial situation and reforming international financial institutions. I hope that we can pursue such contacts and discussions, including during the upcoming [G8] summit in Italy, which will be held in July this year.
In conclusion, I would say that we are satisfied with the results of our collaboration and we want to actively continue the dialogue that exists between our countries, a strategic dialogue, based on friendship and mutual understanding. And we would like to bring our relations to a new level of engagement on all issues and in all aspects of our relations.
Thank you for your attention. Thank you.
Question: During your talks, you touched on the issue of the Middle East peace settlement. Recently, a lot of countries, including the United States, have been declaring their readiness to contribute to this process. What is Moscow’s role in this process, given the overall situation in the region and throughout the world?
Dmitry Medvedev: Indeed, the President of Egypt and I spent quite some time discussing this problem. Clearly, it is very complicated, but nevertheless, we are ready to continue seeking out ways to resolve it. As I already said in my opening remarks, we greatly value the suggestions and efforts made by the President of Egypt Hosni Mubarak to build up a trusting atmosphere in addressing this difficult issue, which has caused so much strife.
Unfortunately, the situation has not gotten any easier recently, because the events at the beginning of this year clearly did not contribute to improving trust, since military action never leads to confidence-building. Currently, both sides are making efforts to enter a normal peace-building process, and the Russian Federation is ready to contribute to this work.
What essential elements are necessary to resolve this issue? Naturally, they include generally recognised norms of international law, as well as many principles that must be used in resolving this difficult problem. First and foremost, this includes the two-state principle, discussions on settlements-building, resolving the issue of capitals, and many other subjects that are exceedingly difficult to discuss, but which require that decisions be made.
The Russian Federation is ready to help this process within the framework of existing formats, including through an International Middle East Peace Conference, which could be held in Moscow. We very much appreciate the position held by the President of Egypt, who supports this idea, as was just said.
Question: Did you discuss the issue of an agreement on free trade in Egypt and the creation of a special industrial zone for Russia?
Dmitry Medvedev: We did discuss the issues of an agreement on a free trade zone and of an industrial and commercial zone today. We feel that these topics are most relevant for our countries, despite a certain drop in worldwide trade. The dialogue on these points may not be progressing as rapidly as both sides would like, due to certain legal reasons. But we have agreed that relevant discussion will continue, and our delegations have received instructions accordingly.