Beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian Intergovernmental Session 2006-12-22 19:00:58 Kiev President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko: Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich! Dear Russian friends and colleagues! Allow me to welcome you to Kiev for the first session of our Ukrainian-Russian Intergovernmental Commission. We consider this to be a significant event. The fact that our Commission has begun operation acts as proof of both parties’ desire to give a significant new stimulus to our political dialogue. I personally consider the Intergovernmental Commission a crucial instrument for strengthening Ukrainian-Russian strategic cooperation. This Commission will undoubtedly act as an effective mechanism in which to organise and coordinate our high-level dialogue. Today’s session bears witness to the fact that our countries’ presidents are personally overseeing the development of Ukrainian-Russian relations. Of course, the heads of government who will be responsible for implementing our agreements play a special role in this respect. We inherited a number of complicated, difficult and, at times, very problematic issues in our bilateral relations. However, I am confident that there are and will be no irresolvable problems between Russia and Ukraine. I am convinced that in the presence of good will we will be able to find mutually acceptable solutions. Please allow me to express my opinion on a number of important issues that affect our bilateral relations and require the attention of both the presidents and governments of our countries. I would like to state our main goals for 2007 and 2008, the ones that Vladimir Vladimirovich and I discussed during our meeting, and to present them to the members of the Commission. Settling outstanding border issues should constitute one of our crucial areas of cooperation in 2007. The second category concerns the presence of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation on Ukrainian territory, especially issues connected with land ownership, real estate, radio frequencies and navigation. We propose to create a separate category for issues concerning our economic cooperation, namely cooperation in aviation, the energy sector, in the cultural, educational and social spheres, and in the international arena. Harmonising our transport and customs policies and implementing joint projects in the high-tech sector represent a special interest for us. We certainly recognize that we can categorise these fields within the 2007–2008 Action Plan in order to have an absolutely clear road map to help us resolve these problems in the next two years. We highly value the work that was done both by the Russian and Ukrainian parties to create a memorandum on the character of Ukrainian-Russian strategic relations. This is an important document that will determine the basic philosophy underlying our strategic relations for years to come. Both parties made a number of significant proposals concerning the first and second documents and we are both studying these proposals today. I hope that by our Commission’s second session they will be ready to sign. Of course, we can and must expand the range of issues we address. But I am convinced that proceeding together as partners and friends is the most important thing as we implement these tasks. I would like to once again thank the Russian delegation and yourself, Vladimir Vladimirovich, for your visit. Please go ahead. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Dear Viktor Andreevich! Dear Commission members! This is our very first meeting in such a format. Yet we are not starting from zero. Our countries have experience of cooperation within the Mixed Russian-Ukrainian Cooperation Commission. In addition, our meeting was preceded by a whole number of sessions of the working bodies of the Intergovernmental Commission. As far as I know, both Russian and Ukrainian parties are fully satisfied with the results of these sessions. And this is a good backdrop for our meeting today, a meeting that I hope will take place in a business-like and constructive atmosphere, and one that is open to exchanges of opinions. I must say that Viktor Andreevich and I discussed a whole range of issues in detail and it was obvious that the Ukrainian party was not only ready to discuss these issues but has also elaborated the details of a whole range of documents that were discussed by experts. Our agenda is very full. As I already mentioned, we need to discuss the whole range of our business, economic, military, political, cultural and educational relations. We call on the Intergovernmental Commission to give a new stimulus to our trade and economic relations. Along with this I would like to point out that over the first ten months of 2006 the volume of trade between our two countries increased by 20 percent and now amounts to 20 billion dollars. As a whole, trade cooperation is developing well. We need to determine ways to deepen cooperation in aircraft manufacturing, the space sector, transport and communications. We need to strengthen our countries’ industrial competitiveness. We also have good prospects in the agricultural industry. We certainly consider it wise to talk about integration processes, including with respect to the Common Economic Space. As I already mentioned, I am referring to it as an instrument of establishing the best and most competitive conditions for our countries’ economic development in the world market. Disintegration processes in our bilateral relations are harmful for our producers, whose economic activities are intrinsically dependent on each other’s. And the reverse is also true – through joint efforts we can achieve a great deal on the world market. In this context it is important that our cooperation in the fuel and energy sectors is firmly based on market principles. We are finalising agreements in the energy sector. This is the only way that we will be able to ensure our countries’ and Europe’s energy security. Recently we have given a much-needed stimulus to our interregional and cross-border ties. We need to devote a maximum amount of energy to fully implementing the provisions of the Russian-Ukrainian Programme for Interregional and Cross-Border Cooperation until 2010. Russia and Ukraine are united by a common goal, namely creating a united Europe without any dividing lines. A Europe in which our peoples benefit from good living conditions, the freedom of communication, and freedom of movement without restrictions. In order to achieve this goal it is important to stimulate our cooperation both within international organizations and on a bilateral level. In my opinion, the President of Ukraine has made and continues to make many valuable proposals concerning cross-border cooperation and establishing favourable conditions for communications between economic actors and citizens. Viktor Andreevich formulated these proposals and I think that they all deserve to be developed and supported. I hope that these problems will be resolved at the expert level. One of the Commission’s fundamental tasks involves developing cooperation in the military sector. Today we established quite promising relations between our military departments, and representatives from our defense ministries meet on a regular basis. We are still working on the issue of helping the Ukrainian party with disposition of ammunition and propellants. This sector offers a good example of our teamwork. The fact that the Russian Black Sea Fleet is stationed on Ukrainian territory is also an important component of our bilateral relations. This is regulated by the 1997 fundamental agreement. And our attitude remains the same as it was in 1997. We would like the Fleet to benefit from the opportunity to operate at full capacity and therefore strengthen security in the region and deepen Russian-Ukrainian partnership. An awareness of our evident, mutual national interests must remain the basis on which we can resolve the range of issues connected with the operation and the emplacement of the Fleet. Viktor Andreevich and I spoke quite seriously and in a lot of detail about this problem. I am convinced that we must consider Russian-Ukrainian relations in light of our main task, namely supporting the close ties between our fraternal peoples. It is for this reason that we must pay special attention to cooperation in the cultural and educational spheres, including within the Commonwealth of Independent States. We are linked by geopolitical realities, language as well as our cultural and historical heritage. And it is this favourable base that allows us to strengthen our relations and brings our peoples even closer together. At the session of the subcommittee for cooperation in the cultural and educational spheres we agreed on a number of interesting and significant projects. In our opinion, we must promote fields such as education, archival work, Russian and Ukrainian history, migration, and the protection of the rights of Russian citizens living in Ukraine and those of Ukrainians living in Russia. I would suggest that we begin developing joint events for the celebrations in 2009 in honour of our common history, such as the 300th anniversary of the Battle of Poltava and the 200th anniversary of Gogol’s birth. Viktor Andreevich also suggested the same thing. In conclusion I would like to point out that we value our good neighbour relations with Ukraine. And we expect that the activities of the Intergovernmental Commission will help us find constructive solutions to all outstanding issues in the interests of the general development of Russian-Ukrainian relations and will make a powerful contribution to the future development of multifaceted cooperation between our states. Thank you very much.