President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych: Ladies and gentlemen,
Today Mr Medvedev and I held the third meeting of the Interstate Commission and came to a conclusion that this is not the way we should work: holding seven meetings in such a short period of time and putting the heads of our working groups in a situation when they actually need to run around preparing a whole range of decisions. But this all stems from the fact that both Ukraine and Russia are still in their post-crisis period and not making these decisions would mean stunting economic growth and slowing down trade and economic development. So today, we instructed our governments to continue work in a number of areas that are mutually beneficial for both Ukraine and Russia. These include shipbuilding, aviation, space industry, and a number of energy projects that create conditions for economic growth, and, of course, most importantly, for obtaining a financial result.
Tomorrow we will hold our joint business forum. And Ukrainian and Russian business representatives will express their views. We have agreed that in areas where our alliance can produce synergy, we will encourage the creation of joint ventures, maybe holdings or corporations, which would increase the size of our economies and make them competitive by complementing each other and cooperating, including joint operation in third markets.
Of course, our today’s decisions on national security look to the future. We invite our neighbours, the whole Euro-Atlantic area, to create a security architecture that will correspond to the current stage and address the threats that currently exist in the world.
We have agreed to work on our humanitarian cooperation. It is also very important, because the citizens of our countries on both sides of the Russian-Ukrainian border are linked by kinship, linked by the history of our nations — their rights must not be violated on the territories of our states. And we have to decide together on a number of issues related to social protection, pensions. There are still some old issues, but they are very sensitive and painful for our peoples. We also agreed that we will seek to resolve them as soon as possible.
What else do I want to say? We have agreed that we will not ‘team up’ against a third country. And all the decisions we make will be made with a view to protecting our national interests.
I want to say that, of course, we have some matters of principle that we will still have to work on; for example, the delimitation of our water boundaries. We were unable to make a decision this time, because we had very little time, but we will work on this issue, and I think that we will soon finalize it.
On the whole, I want to say that the partnership, neighbourly, strategic relation between Ukraine and Russia has now been restored. And we hope that we will see the positive effect of this already this year. President Medvedev said in his interview that a 7 billion dollar trade turnover our countries achieved in the first three months of this year, it’s a sort of first sign of hope that this year our trade turnover might stand at approximately 35 billion dollars at least. But I think that we will boost the turnover between our countries even further in the second half of the year.
I want to thank Mr Medvedev for being his usual businesslike when instructing to Russian Government, the Russian side of our Interstate Commission, and it was easy for us to work with our colleagues. Naturally, we could not react otherwise. All we did during this period of time was an intense bilateral work we were engaged in in various regions of Ukraine and Russia.
In addition, we have agreed to significantly strengthen our inter-regional cooperation and cross-border trade between our regions. This issue also concerns the simplification of our border crossing procedures, simplification of procedures for our citizens at border crossing points. And, of course, the migration policy, which is also important: this policy should not be humiliating for people working in Ukraine and in Russia, those who are unable to find work in their own country. We will also work on this.
In general, we are satisfied with this third meeting [of the Commission]. We believe that, objectively, we have achieved everything we could have in such a short period of time.
President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to concur with everything that has been said by President of Ukraine, but, perhaps, with one exception. Mr Yanukovych said that it is impossible to work like this, but I would like to add that we will have to work like this for several reasons. First, because in the past few years we lost a great deal. I would like to note that today we are having the third meeting of the Interstate Commission, the third in five years. While in fact such countries as Russia and Ukraine should meet twice a year. So, unfortunately, almost nothing has been done until now. And, second, which I think is very important, Mr Yanukovych just said that we worked well, that the Russian side was businesslike: I am pleased to hear that, I will not hide it.
I would like to say that the Russian side worked well because it finally has a full-fledged Ukrainian partner, meaning a normal leadership that makes decisions and performs them. It is very important in international relations to have a partner who lives up to his word, who is guided not by short-term political interests, by political conjuncture, which of course exists in every country, but by the strategic interests of his country's development, the development of his nation. And the Russian Federation has found such partners in the person of President of Ukraine and the people that make up his team today, working in the Government and the Presidential Administration.
We have talked about almost everything that has been done. Indeed, it is nice to see our trade turnover grow so quickly. I have already talked about it. I am sure that this is a result of not only the general improvement in our countries’ economic situation. We have a serious subjective factor here too, and it is good, because we hope that getting back to pre-crisis turnover levels is not far off.
And I will go even further: I think we need to set ambitious goals. During our visits to various countries, we are always looking forward. We think about what our trade and economic relations will look like, say, in three, five, or seven years. Today, we also spoke about this with Mr Yanukovych and agreed to come up with a special plan to coordinate our socio-economic development over a period of ten years. And our trade turnover has to be planned for the future as well. I believe that if we are talking now about some 35–40 billion [dollars], this is the figure for this year, it must be achieved this year, and for the future, we must aim at 100. This is precisely the level that matches the size of our economies and our desire to develop mutual cooperation, our understanding of the place our economies occupy in the European market, and not only in Europe, of course.
We have already spoken about the things we have done. Of course, we still have specific projects ahead of us. I hope that we will soon finalize a series of documents that are currently being discussed, in the energy sector, including nuclear power, and that we will expand our cooperation in such sectors as rocket and space technology, aerospace, and shipbuilding. I would like our cooperation to be very high-tech in nature, especially taking into account the potential of our economies, our technological and production similarity, even despite the difficult post-Soviet period and the crisis period of the past two years. The two economies remain closely connected to each other. And that is very important, because this is the only way we can achieve full results.
Of course, humanitarian projects are also important. I would like to remind everyone that we have signed several documents in this area. Our cultural exchanges, contacts between civil societies remain very important. I already mentioned it last time that we are ready to begin full-scale broadcasts in Ukrainian language using Russian satellite capacity, so that all the people in Russia who are interested in Ukrainian language and Ukrainian culture, can get the information directly from the source, as we say, with a 24-hour access to broadcasts from one of Ukraine’s major TV channels. The list could be expanded subsequently.
We have some outstanding issues where we need to hold fairly complex consultations. We are all sensible people, and we understand that it is impossible to solve all problems in just three months. We understand that we still have some long consultations ahead of us on a number of issues. But the most important thing is that we are back on friendly terms, sitting at the same table. And today, concluding the meeting of the Interstate Commission, addressing both the Russian and the Ukrainian side, I said: ”The whole thing now depends on our colleagues who will need to communicate almost on a daily basis, resolving minor issues, promote ambitious goals, and negotiate the implementation of joint projects. Then it will work.” Business needs to engage, too. I hope that Mr President and I will talk tomorrow with business community representatives and send all the necessary signals that we are open to mutual investments, that the ‘witch-hunt’ era is over, that investments from our countries (Ukrainian and Russian) are welcome, that they will get the necessary level of protection in both countries, the level of most favoured nation, as they usually say in international law.
This is what I want to say first. I would sincerely like to thank Mr Yanukovych and our Ukrainian partners for the productive work and for the businesslike atmosphere of the Interstate Commission’s meeting.
Question: You already mentioned that you have reached an agreement to step up cooperation in shipbuilding, aviation, space research, and energy sectors. Could you be a little more specific on these projects? And, more important, on what terms will they be implemented, because the Ukrainian opposition warns that, with creation of joint ventures and holdings, Ukraine will lose its aviation industry, its energy sector, and, as a result, its gas pipeline.
And the second question concerns borders: when will the land frontier demarcation finally be launched? And given friendship like this, what will this frontier give the two nations?
Dmitry Medvedev: Are you asking me?
Reply: You too, yes. I’m asking both presidents.
Dmitry Medvedev: Ok, I see.
With regard to projects in shipbuilding, aviation, space and energy sectors. You know, if we were happy with everything, there would be no need to launch any joint projects. But to be honest, we know the problems the industry faces, both in Ukraine and in Russia. And the crisis has made these problems even worse. Besides that our industry requires radical reshaping and modernisation, the crisis has negatively affected our competitiveness.
What should we do in this case? First, we should not get frustrated, but rather try to get the maximum positive effect even from the negative processes currently underway. And positive here means creating brand new standards of competitiveness. So, we need to implement all these projects we plan to carry out based on two principles.
The first principle is that these should be absolutely pragmatic approaches. No charity, no unilateral decisions, but projects that are totally mutually beneficial. This is the only way to make these projects viable, otherwise one party might feel hurt or offended and retract from implementing them.
The second principle means that we must seek to find the most advanced technological solutions.
We already have, for example, in aircraft engineering, a good potential for cooperation and a desire to continue work along the entire range of aviation products, which, for example, can be developed jointly by the Antonov State Aircraft Building Concern and Russia's United Aircraft Corporation. We are talking here about all aircrafts that have been already manufactured and, what we call it, ready to be put into production, or future aircraft. I mean the An-140 and An-148; in the future — the An-70 and An-124. But we must not stop there. Looking to the future, we must think about the products that will be in demand in the aviation market in 10–15 years. And, to be honest, all of the machines I have mentioned are still mostly from the past.
We need to create new products; these must be digital models of aircraft and vessels. Only then can we enter the market with these models: the Ukrainian market, the Russian market, and the European market. That’s why our cooperation in this area must rest on such basis.
As for specific agreements, they are being prepared in all of these areas. By the way, we have signed a very serious document on GLONASS today. This is an absolutely practical work that will be mutually beneficial and will allow using this system on Ukraine’s territory using the most advanced technology. So I hope that we will soon be in position to sign specific agreements on cooperation in all the main sectors of our economies.
Viktor Yanukovych: I would like to add a few words to what Mr Medvedev has just said. The Antonov aircraft line he spoke about has been supplemented by the An-158, which has 15 seats more than the An-148, and which is better in terms of cost performance. I think that this aircraft will also be competitive on the market; we have it ready to be put into production.
I want to say that tentatively our cooperation in aircraft engineering, which we currently discuss, contemplates, for example, that if an aircraft is being assembled in Russia, the share of Russian assembly parts will be 60 percent, and the Ukraine’s – 40 percent. If assembled in Ukraine, the share of Ukrainian assembly parts will be 60 percent, and Russian — 40 percent. Our specialists have been working together for a long time now, only that at certain moments this joint work has been hitting political or bureaucratic obstacles. Today, we understand full well that to enter the third countries’ markets, we don’t need a limited production, as was the case until recently, — we need full-scale, serial production. And it will mean a completely different competitive price, it will mean a totally different quality. And of course, the related companies producing aircraft assembly parts will also cut prices, because they will produce parts in larger numbers, and they will come out much cheaper. That means that, together, we will earn more than struggling to enter global markets alone.
We can say the same thing about shipbuilding, and draw a similar parallel with the space industry. On shipbuilding (Mr Medvedev didn’t mention it), we have agreed with President Medvedev that Russia will complete the 1164 Project, cruiser Ukraine. I would say, this project is crucial for us, too, because it has been delayed for so long, though it is actually 95 percent complete. But we have little opportunity to complete it without Russia’s help.
You asked about frontier demarcation: the agreement on the border between Ukraine and Russia was signed in 2003. Just imagine, it’s been seven years — it took us seven years to come down to the frontier demarcation agreement. Of course, it was our joint political decision. And now, under this agreement, a commission will be set up that will quickly solve this problem and create additional conditions for Ukraine and for Russia to solve various problems, including international ones.
Question: Mr Yanukovych, we have actually witnessed recently the significant strengthening of Russian-Ukrainian relations, but nevertheless it is no secret that in Ukraine there are forces that oppose it. What is your opinion? Is there now a real danger that the new trend in our relations will not be maintained?
And Mr Medvedev, a question for you, if I may. It was reported today that Iran, Turkey, and Brazil have agreed on the shipment of uranium to Turkey for further enrichment. Will that serve as a guarantee against the use of sanctions against Iran? And will Russia’s facilities be engaged in this process in any way?
Viktor Yanukovych: I am convinced that today the Ukrainian people understand clearly where we were for five years. And if we need to return to the past, that question should not be addressed to me. You have to ask every citizen in every region of Ukraine. I repeat, not only in the west, south, or east. In any region of Ukraine today, there is an understanding that stability is crucial, because it is the factor that can improve the economic situation and people's lives. And we have to be effective not only in domestic policy. The leadership must enjoy the confidence of the people. And confidence can be achieved only by solving various problems, I would say, the problem of living standards in our country, life support. And without a vibrant economy, this cannot be achieved.
And as regards international relations, please tell me, when was confrontation a good policy? I know of no country that was successful in defending its national interests with such a policy. So, naturally, the principle of protecting our national interests will always exist in our policy. It will always be our principal position. And it will be the foundation.
Dmitry Medvedev: Before I say a few words on the Iranian nuclear program — although the question was not addressed to me —and it is President Yanukovych, the elected president and no one else, who is responsible to the Ukrainian people, I will say maybe a simple thing, but I think it is the most important. Ultimately, the people living here or in Russia will feel whether or not there is a change for the better. Their perception will be based on a variety of facts that make up their welfare, their well-being. So if the cooperation between Russia and Ukraine brings to people who live here, or in the east, or in the west or in central Ukraine, only positive changes, if they feel that the inflow of investment and increased trade ultimately create new jobs, increasing their salaries and creating opportunities for regular payment of pensions and social benefits, I'm sure there will be no doubts in their minds, because that is the main criterion by which ordinary people judge their leadership’s domestic and foreign policy choices.
Now concerning the developments on the Iranian track. Indeed, we have received interesting information from Iran. The work conducted with involvement of Brazil and Turkey has produced a corresponding declaration. We are currently analysing this declaration very carefully. Tonight I hope to have a telephone conversation with my colleague and my friend, President of Brazil Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, and I hope to get the information at first hand.
This is what I can say at this moment. First of all, it is good news that there is a concrete result: the most complicated aspect of the Iranian nuclear problem was discussed.
Second, there is a desire to exchange low-enriched uranium for highly enriched uranium in proportions set forth in the agreement.
The question now arises as to whether this level of exchange operations is sufficient and adequate? Will all members of the international community be satisfied with that? I do not know. Apparently, separate consultations will be needed with all those who, as they say, are parties to this process.
A separate question also arises as to whether Iran will undertake further enrichment itself. As I understand it, based on the statements made by certain Iranian officials, Iran will continue this work. In that case, of course, the concerns the international community has expressed could remain.
And finally, we still have to wait and see what will follow the declaration. So, I think, in any case, we should welcome the results achieved by our colleagues from Brazil and Turkey. This is a political and diplomatic way to solve the Iranian problem. We need to hold urgent consultations with all the parties concerned, including Iran, before making any decisions as to what to do next, whether the decisions proposed are enough, or whether we need to do something else. Therefore, I think, a brief pause on this issue would be useful. I am sure that we will continue our consultations with our partners – Brazil and Turkey, as well as other colleagues involved in Iran’s nuclear program, — in the near future.