Press Statement before the Beginning of Russian-French Talks 2006-09-22 10:58:56 Paris French President Jacques Chirac (translation through Russian): Mr President, I would like to tell you that I am especially pleased to be able to receive you here, in Paris, today. We will now have a conversation and then tomorrow we will have a tripartite meeting with the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel. Your trip to Paris provided us with the opportunity to do justice to our veterans and I am thankful to you for joining this event. Today we unveiled a monument to honour the memory of these war heroes. These are people who remain in our thoughts: we remember them, we value them, and they are present in our hearts. Our discussions will touch on a range of international issues and include, unfortunately, the crises that are endangering peace throughout the world today. We must say that our bilateral relations are of very high quality. We will discuss various issues, including issues related to energy, infrastructure, aviation construction and so on. In addition to this I think that we will also discuss a whole range of projects relating to culture, projects that we have prepared here. In 2009 we want to hold the year of France in Russia and in 2010 the year of Russia in France. As a whole, I am very glad to welcome Mr Putin to Paris. Russian President Vladimir Putin: Many thanks dear Mr President. It was with a great deal of pleasure that I came to France and it is pleasant to be here, on hospitable French soil and in this excellent city – one of the best cities of the world – in Paris. Just now we participated in the unveiling of the monument to the Normandy-Neman Regiment. For us, the pilots of Normandy-Neman always were and will remain in our historical memory as a symbol of invincibility, and the fact that France always remained invincible before all. They travelled to Russia even before a second front was open and therefore before it was clear that allied forces would win the war. And today cooperation between France and Russia has a great deal of meaning not only at the bilateral level but also in international affairs and policy. I thanked the President of France for his initiative and for the opportunity to meet tomorrow in a tripartite format since Ms. Merkel will be joining us from Germany. Today we will have the opportunity to talk about our bilateral relations and our cooperation is very intense and growing constantly. Implementing major infrastructure projects and telecommunications projects are topics on the agenda. Of course we are going to talk about joint activities in the sphere of energy policy and, certainly, cooperation in the spheres of culture and education will be one of our most important themes. Thank you very much for your attention. Question: Mr President, please tell us whether you will discuss the situation in the Kharyaginsky deposit where the French company Total is presently active? Vladimir Putin: We are open to discussing any issues. Our relations with the President of France are such that we always talk openly and our meetings are always characterized by a great deal of confidence in one another. If our colleagues are interested in this issue then we will provide them with a comprehensive answer. However, I would like to reassure you at once: rumours about taking away Total’s licence are greatly exaggerated. Question: This is a question for President Putin. What is your attitude towards a referendum in Transdnistria and what value does Mr Smirnov’s visit to Moscow today have? He met with the Russian Prime Minister and what do you think about this, Vladimir Vladimirovich? Vladimir Putin: To tell you the truth, I did not know that Mr Smirnov is in Moscow. I myself am in Paris, as you see. With regards to the referendum that was held there, we must define together with our European partners what principle we consider paramount in international affairs: the principle of territorial integrity or so-called political expediency. Our position consists in affirming that we must adhere to the principles of international law and one of them is the territorial integrity of states. We should search for solutions to such issues that satisfy everyone who lives in this or that territory and especially in Europe. It is a very difficult question and we would like to discuss it with you now but, I think, that we will not be able to solve it here.