President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, ladies and gentlemen,
We have just completed talks with President of the Republic of South Africa Mr Zuma. In Durban, we reached agreements that were important for our bilateral relations. At the time, we agreed that we would not put off discussions on how to practically implement them.
In summing up today’s discussion, I will note that we were able to address a whole range of current issues in further strengthening Russian-South African ties. I would also like to note that the regularity of our bilateral political dialogue is effectively complemented by our cooperation in leading organisations and structures, including the UN, BRICS, the G20 and others.
As for economic cooperation, in 2012, our trade turnover increased by 66 percent. We’ve seen more growth since the beginning of this year – over 17 percent. The absolute figures are still modest, but we have every reason to believe we are moving in the right direction.
Another key objective is to step up investment cooperation. This will certainly make our joint work more stable.
The number of joint projects in all areas is growing. As of now, Russian companies have invested over $1 billion in South African economy, including the mining industry, energy and machine engineering.
We see great potential for cooperation in nuclear energy. Russia is ready to provide assistance in creating a comprehensive nuclear energy industry in South Africa.
We were just saying that our nations are also working in other sectors of energy, including alternative sources of energy.
In aircraft engineering, we are planning joint production of a light multipurpose helicopter. A regional maintenance centre for Russian helicopters has launched operations in Johannesburg and talks are underway on supplying Russian passenger jets to South Africa.
The work of the Mixed Intergovernmental Committee and contacts between business communities are intensifying.
Plans include expanding humanitarian ties. We intend to implement an intergovernmental programme for joint cultural projects for 2013–2016. This programme will include exchanges between national museums and libraries, festivals and exhibitions, including on the basis of the State Hermitage Museum and the Cape Town Museum Association.
We also discussed expanding our cooperation within BRICS. We intend to transform this group into a full-fledged mechanism for cooperating on global economic and political issues.
Mr Zuma and I also touched on several issues on the international agenda. We agreed on further coordinating positions on peaceful settlement of the conflict in Syria. We are determined to continue work to end violence and external interference as quickly as possible and will encourage the maintenance of Syria’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
In September of this year, a G20 summit will be held in St Petersburg. There, we will discuss complex, pressing problems faced by the global economy. President Zuma suggested that we invite representatives from African nations to St Petersburg. I would like to say that we really appreciate this suggestion, this initiative, and are ready to welcome leaders from the African Union and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) to the G20 summit.
In conclusion, I would like to thank the President of South Africa and all our South African colleagues for today’s constructive talks. I am sure that today’s joint work will serve to further promote our bilateral cooperation.
Thank you for your attention.
President of South Africa Jacob Zuma: Thank you very much, Your Excellency, President Putin, firstly, for inviting us to come for the working visit when we could not conclude all the issues in Durban when we were meeting on the sidelines of the BRICS summit.
I’m very happy with the outcome of the discussions today that we’ve had between the two of us and our ministers. As the President has indicated, we discussed bilateral matters, particularly at the level of economic cooperation and how to take advantage of the BRICS cooperation and the area that opens for us, the two countries, how to take advantage of that to deepen our relations at all levels.
The President has given a lot of details in that area. I don’t think I need to repeat, except to say that we feel we are on the right move in terms of deepening our relations. And today’s meeting will go a long way to ensure that they are strengthened, they are broadened, they are different.
We also discussed matters related to the African continent, as well as the AU, which is the continental organisation on the African continent. We talked mainly with regard to the challenges that face Africa, with regard to some pockets of rebellions, of the rebel groupings that at times emerge from one area to the other, that in fact, Africa is faced with this challenge. It will certainly benefit from the support that would come from countries like the Russian Federation.
We also discussed challenges in other parts of the world, as the President mentioned, Syria for example, and expressed our concerns. And also, on behalf of the continent of Africa, that this conflict has been going on for a long time, and we wish that particularly the powers that are in the Security Council should move together to take a common position that could ease the pain of the ordinary people of Syria. We totally agreed that at the centre of these initiatives, the respect of the integrity of other countries, and their rights should be respected. There should be no undermining of other rights and integrity of other countries in the process as we try to find solutions.
We are certainly very happy, Mr President, that this meeting has come as quickly as it has after Durban, and indeed has helped us to move quicker to implement our agreements and to ensure that our relations are deepened. Thank you very much for the hospitality given to my delegation. We were indeed very happy, we feel very happy. We came also at the right time when it is hot. Usually, the time when we come here it is always – even if people are friendly, the weather is always something else. This time, everything – the weather, the people – everybody was happy, so we are very happy. Thank you very much the opportunity.
[In Russian] Thank you very much.