President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Mr President, Ukrainian colleagues, meeting participants,
Today, the Russian-Ukrainian Interstate Commission is meeting for the third time, and this meeting is taking place in a rather different situation. As Mr Yanukovych just stated, it is occurring amid an active restoration of the relations between our nations. We discussed this during our one-on-one conversation, and I hope that this meeting will turn a new leaf in the development of our relations.
I have already said that recently, we were able to make some progress in restoring full-blooded ties between our peoples and our countries as evidenced by our trade, which has grown rapidly, and the drastic increase in the contacts, not just between our nations’ presidents, but between our prime ministers and ministers as well. I hope that all this will ultimately produce a synergic effect contributing to our economies’ advancements and overcoming the hardships confronted in 2008, when the global financial crisis began.
I share the same assessments that were expressed by Mr Yanukovych about the beginning of today’s talks and about what has been done recently. I hope we do not stop at what we’ve so far achieved, especially since the [Russian-Ukrainian Interstate] Commission is meeting today in Kiev. I would like to once again say that I’m very happy this is occurring here in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. The Commission is a very important body, but it is in the first place an instrument, a high level instrument chaired by the presidents, a capable instrument. I hope that it will be a powerful instrument, but we must apply it properly, and that depends on the two sides’ political will and how successful, effective, and assertive our work is.
I think that Mr Yanukovych and I did the right thing during his first visit [to Russia] as President of Ukraine when we agreed not to delay another session of the Interstate Commission.
[At our meeting then] we looked into different options, but ultimately decided that the President of Russia would make an official visit [to Ukraine] in May and it would coincide with the Interstate Commission meeting.
So now we need to assess everything we have today. Indeed, our colleagues have been working hard and I would like to thank the secretaries of the Commission and all the ministers present here; they combed through a lot of material. As Mr Yanukovych rightly noted, many of the problems are not exactly new but a resonance of the past and unfortunately, we will need to put in more effort to properly address these problems.
The Interstate Commission has priorities in its work and it seems to me that its top priority should be the all-around development of relations between our states.
On the other hand, the priorities should be tailored to our current economic goals. Both Russia and Ukraine have two tasks: overcoming the effects of the global financial crisis and modernising our economies. We are directly coordinating our efforts with regard to both tasks, but we must also do everything possible for simply helping one another.
Mr Yanukovych said that at some point, Russia outran Ukraine. Even though such a wording may be employed, I believe we should rather put it differently. At some moment Russia was actively accelerating while Ukraine was slowing down and energetically looking around to see what was happening elsewhere. As a result, things progressed somewhat at lower pace. Thus, the President of Ukraine and its new government face a greater responsibility and bigger challenge.
I am certain that we will be able to build strategic, long-term cooperation on a pragmatic, mutually beneficial basis. We must work in all areas, and this work is already underway. It involves cooperation in transportation, the aircraft manufacturing industry, the aerospace industry, the military technical sector, the high-tech sector, and the so-called new economies, which I already mentioned. What’s most important is to remove administrative barriers that are genuinely impeding business activities and direct contacts between entrepreneurs. We will work on this, not just today, but at tomorrow’s meeting with our nations’ business communities as well.
I think that we really can consider jointly drafting a socioeconomic cooperation programme for the medium- and long-term, at least through 2020. It’s the right thing to do, especially since it is always best to have far-reaching plans.
We have come to this meeting of the Interstate Commission with a whole set of specific agreements which will be approved by the presidents. These are three political declarations, very important ones, as well as concrete economic agreements to be signed today. I should put it straightforwardly, this is just the beginning. It is unlikely that anybody expects us to immediately accomplish all of our goals, although we would like to be able to do that. What’s most important is not to let down the pressure or slow down, but rather, to move forward quickly and effectively.
Indeed, some of the topics have to do with the border and we reached an important, historical agreement. We need to continue our work on reaching agreement regarding state border demarcation.
We also need to discuss transportation matters, including the passage of vessels through the Strait of Kerch.
Furthermore, I see great promise in one of our traditional sector, one that we have not discussed yet today, but which is very important for our nations: agriculture and agricultural production. In this regard, everything has been developing fairly well in our countries. Even though last year was a crisis year, Russian agriculture grew by 3.5 percent at a time when many other sectors were unfortunately in decline. Ukraine also has its own achievements. I think that we could consider engaging in real, full-fledged cooperation in this sector.
Many other interesting ideas and a variety of prospect agreements are under consideration. We must give them momentum. I am specifically referring to energy cooperation agreements, some of which are almost harmonised. We will be progressing with a number of agreements in transportation, communications, culture and education.
Briefly addressing international issues, I should say we think that cooperation within the framework of the CIS is of high importance. Not long ago, an informal CIS summit was held in Moscow and Mr Yanukovych and I met on its sidelines to discuss current issues.
It is evident our views on a unified Europe are very similar now too.
It is in our common interests that all of the peoples of all the countries of our continent could enjoy modern, dignified, safe life. At the same time, there are a number of initiatives to be examined, including the Russian initiative on the European Security Treaty. We assume that security is indivisible and may not be guaranteed without account for the security of others.
This must be a cornerstone, a basic principle in our bilateral cooperation, as well as cooperation with other nations. We will certainly coordinate our efforts within the United Nations, the OSCE, the Council of Europe, and other international forums as well as various bilateral relationships. We will continue discussions with the European Union, sharing our own experiences and promoting integration processes, especially since Europe is currently going through difficult times.
We can see the hardships that the European Union is facing, and we are ready to discuss all these problems with our EU colleagues in a cooperative manner, because we understand that given today’s conditions, all the barriers between states, all the walls that currently exist can be said to be made of glass. At the very least, we can see what is happening in one another’s nations, and unfortunately, these walls can collapse at any minute, such that we may find ourselves with many of the problems in the functioning of our financial and monetary systems.
While speaking with Mr Yanukovych, I said that Russia as a state is a participant in the G8 and the G20 of major economies, and is ready to promote a variety of issues relevant to Ukraine in a partner-like way. This includes, but is not limited to, supporting Ukraine’s positions in the IMF and World Bank. Furthermore, I believe that it is extremely important to coordinate our bilateral positions and multilateral positions within the CIS framework, as well as in other integrative associations, regarding the future of the international financial and economic structure. So in these regards we are always ready to help, given that Russia is the only post-Soviet state represented in these two respected organisations and consequently, able to make decisions on a variety of matters relating to developing international financial and monetary systems.
We have taken a number of breakthrough steps – very important steps – on subjects that include Russia’s Black Sea Fleet stationing in Ukraine. I am certain the Kharkov agreement that was signed and ratified creates a stable, long-term, mutually beneficial foundation for years to come.
This was a wise and timely decision, and I am confident that it will ultimately offer better conditions for guaranteeing security within Europe. I also believe that it will have a positive effect on socioeconomic development in Sevastopol and the towns where Black Sea Fleet’s facilities are located in line with our agreements. This is a partnership decision.
I would like to once again thank Mr Yanukovych for the fact that the first meeting of the Interstate Commission in the renewed format is taking place in Kiev. I am certain that we will achieve great results.