President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Colleagues,
We have gathered here at a meeting on the Caspian Sea cooperation. But two tragic events have occurred in our country today. One of them is the terrorist attack in Nazran, and the other is a major, large-scale accident at the Sayano-Shushenskaya Hydroelectric Station, which killed several people. I would like to begin with a moment of silence to honour their memory.
(Moment of silence.)
Dmitry Medvedev: Please be seated.
I would like to say a few words about these events. First, a word about the terrorist act in Ingushetia. This morning, I gave the Interior Minister a number of instructions. Clearly, we must conduct an official investigation. It is imperative to ascertain the circumstances, especially given that this terrorist attack is just one in a series of events that has taken place in the Caucasus region and in Ingushetia in particular. Earlier, there was an attempt to assassinate the President of Ingushetia. Every day, something new happens within the republic, and these are all links in the same chain, resulting from the significant amount of terrorist activity we have recently seen in the area. We will talk more about this at special meetings, but I wanted to make a separate statement about what happened.
I suppose that this is not only a consequence of problems related to the terrorist activity that I mentioned, but also a consequence of unsatisfactory work by law enforcement agencies, particularly the republic’s Ministry of the Interior.
This terrorist attack could have been prevented. In fact, the car that was used in the attack was already on a wanted list. There were also corresponding reports. Overall, this situation is unacceptable. Law enforcement agencies must defend the people and be able to hold their own.
Thus, I think we will soon investigate all the details and sort things out. Today, I made the decision to dismiss Ingushetia’s Interior Minister and to conduct an official investigation. Meanwhile, Russia’s Interior Minister must present concrete suggestions on how to bring peace and order and reinforce the personnel at Ingushetia’s Interior Ministry.
Now, I would like to talk about the accident that took place at the Sayano-Shushenskaya Hydroelectric Station. Our Government is looking into this situation; Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu and Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko are dealing with these issues in Abakan in order to determine the necessary measures for mitigating the negative consequences of this large-scale, complicated, major accident on location. We have created a government commission, the Government is dealing with this, and I hope that soon, it will present its conclusions and recommendations on preventing similar incidents in the future and providing the proper balance of energy, as well as energy supply to major consumers and the general public in this region.
Many major consumers get their energy from the Sayano-Shushenskaya station. This includes many industrial complexes, so we must do everything in our power to ensure that production continues, and we must think about how to put the station back into operation.
Winter is just ahead, so our main goal now is to provide the public with electricity, to ensure that housing and utilities sector is prepared for winter, even with a power station that is out of service. Overall, the situation is under control. I think that under the new energy supply plan, we will be able to provide the necessary electricity, but nevertheless, the Government must monitor this matter carefully. I hope that all executives involved in this situation, including the Government, will make all the necessary efforts and decisions to ensure that these ideas are implemented.
Heads of corresponding ministries and departments must remember that they are personally responsible for implementing all the necessary measures in resolving this difficult situations and preventing similar accidents as quickly as possible. These are my direct instructions to the Government.
This is how things currently stand in regard to the two horrible, tragic events that took place today. But we must also address today’s agenda. Today, we have gathered to discuss the situation in the Caspian region, so it is no coincidence that we are meeting in Astrakhan, a city that has particular significance in this region. The city brings together the trade and economic interests of many countries, and in essence, creates conditions for development in both Europe and Asia.
The Caspian Sea’s mineral resources have enormous significance in providing regional and global energy security. Typically, questions of exploiting and transporting those resources are of interest not only to the five states surrounding the Caspian Sea, the so-called Caspian Five, but to our partners outside that region as well, those who are interested in exploiting these kinds of resources. We understand this quite well, we are not shutting out but nevertheless, I would like to specifically emphasise our principal position. For our part, when it comes to the Caspian Sea, we place priority on the interests of the Russian Federation and the other Caspian states. That is the priority we will focus on as we discuss the rules and principles of Caspian Sea cooperation.
What is our main goal? Without a doubt, it is to preserve the Caspian Sea for future generations, not allowing it to be spoiled. In this regard, it is imperative to implement a variety of actions aimed at exploring and developing the riches that the Caspian Sea offers, preserving its unique and diverse flora and fauna as well as valuable species of fish, and reinforcing our multilateral contractual and legal foundation in preserving the environment.
In particular, we must complete work on the protocols to the Tehran Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea. As you recall, this convention was signed in 2003 and went into effect on August 12, 2006.
Still, preparations of the convention’s protocols are going very slowly. They are devoted to a variety of very important issues, such as preserving biodiversity, ascertaining sources of pollution, assessing the effects of pollution on the environment, and many other issues.
The next point I would like to make is that naturally, Russia is profoundly interested in having the Caspian region remain a zone espousing good neighbourly relations, stability, and mutually beneficial cooperation. To achieve these goals, it is imperative that we hold active talks on defining the legal status of the Caspian Sea. We have been working on this for over 12 years, and frankly, these talks are very difficult – in fact, they are sometimes at a standstill. They involve tough, heavy, sensitive work. Still, it is quite clear that providing new momentum to the work on drawing up a Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea is in all of our interests.
In the time since we first began, we have achieved certain results, including in the area of managing subsoil resources. We were able to delimit the seabed in the northern part of the Caspian Sea with Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. We feel that this positive experience could also be used to delimit the southern part of the sea. Clearly, there are some difficulties; these include issues regarding the formula for delimitation, delimiting the seabed, and delimiting the water, but nevertheless, I think that with good will and taking into account the approaches we generally use, these decisions can be made.
Initiatives on multilateral security cooperation around the Caspian Sea are progressing, albeit slowly. In our view, the key goal is to provide security in the fight against terrorism. We must also act to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction and illegal drug trafficking. I therefore think that we must do everything in our power to convoke an expert meeting in Baku to develop a pentalateral agreement on security cooperation around the Caspian Sea as soon as possible; our side will give corresponding instructions.
In order to strengthen our position in the region, we need to work on economic development of Russia’s part of the Caspian coast: first and foremost, we are looking at improving transport infrastructure, modernising shipbuilding and ship repairing facilities, building harbour facilities, and developing new methods for hydrocarbon production and transportation. We have here at our meeting heads of major Russian companies – both state and private companies. So, we need to think of possible solutions to these problems as well.
The creation of the Caspian Sea Economic Cooperation Organisation could contribute significantly to improving our economic ties. This matter was discussed last autumn, here in Astrakhan, at the Intergovernmental Economic Conference. And although no decision was made, there was significant interest in such an organisation. I think that this work should be continued.
Colleagues, I suggest that we discuss the issues I have listed, as well as several other matters relevant to the Caspian region.
I am counting on our honest exchange of opinions to significantly enhance the efficiency of our work and improve coordination between federal executive agencies in implementing our nation’s interests on the Caspian Sea.
Soon, I will hold a number of meetings with our partners in Caspian cooperation, with heads of state, and I hope that during our meeting today, we will make certain decisions that will help us enhance our cooperation and increase interaction with our neighbours in regard to this issue. Thus, I suggest that we begin our work, give our concrete opinions regarding all of the issues I brought up, as well as others.