President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Mr President,
I wish you a warm welcome to the Kremlin and once again congratulate you on your election to the post of President of Ukraine. I wish you great success in your work because the prosperity of a country very close to us depends on this success.
I hope very much that with a new President of Ukraine now in office our countries’ relations will start to show new growth and become closer. I hope our ties will be built on goodwill and pragmatism, and reflect the desire of the huge number of people in our countries to be friends, be together, develop our economies, resolve big regional issues, and lay the foundations for a decent life for all us, for everyone in Russia and in Ukraine.
In this context I wish you the greatest success. I hope that the bad patch our relations went through is over now with your election as President, and that we will be able to set our cooperation on a completely new track.
Once again, I welcome you to the Kremlin. We will continue our discussions before answering questions from the media, but I wanted to begin with these few words as this is the first time I am receiving you in the Kremlin as President of Ukraine.
President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych: Thank you.
Mr President, first of all I want to thank you for being among the first to congratulate me on winning the election. It was a far from easy election, but it was democratic. I hope that this election will bring about much change in Ukraine’s policies, both foreign and domestic. I see my task as being to bring about a turnaround in relations between Ukraine and Russia, and set them on the right track so as to work together to reach the goals to which both of our peoples aspire. Actually, I am still not quite over the election period yet…
Dmitry Medvedev: That’s understandable.
Viktor Yanukovych: I remember how many voters spoke with a mixture of worry and great hope that they want to see Ukraine’s new leadership change relations with Russia and ensure that they will never again reach the state they were in over these last five years. I understand the voters very well because, as an ordinary Ukrainian and not just a politician, I was constantly following what was going on and it was really very sad to see. We never imagined that our relations could take such a turn. Of course we must make use of the potential that our countries have, the economic and industrial cooperation that had become such a tradition between us. Ukraine was always known as a breadbasket and we hope to make use of this huge potential our agriculture sector has, and make use of our economies’ respective strong points, especially now, as we go through this difficult time of financial and economic crisis.
I think we can draw on Russia’s experience in this respect, because the stability that Russia achieved did much to help it withstand the initial impact of the crisis. Looking at the situation today, we could say that Russia has probably already entered the post-crisis period. Russia has pulled ahead a little, and my task is now to catch up to Russia – catch up in the positive sense – bring our living standards, pensions and social support up to Russian levels, because we live next door to each other and our people are in contact with each other, know how each other lives. Many Ukrainians have family and friends here. We are all linked by immense and closely intertwined historical roots. I therefore believe that we can use our potential to achieve a synergy effect that will make it possible to take our economies to a new level, making use of their many specific advantages and qualities.
Your initiative to modernize Russia is very interesting, and I think that we have plenty of ideas to share with each other. I hope that we have a good and interesting road ahead of us.