President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen,
The talks held at the 31st Russia-EU Summit were constructive and meaningful. We examined in detail the current issues of cooperation in trade, the economy and humanitarian sphere, as well as the improvement of the legal framework for our relations.
Russia and the European Union are close partners. Europe is the largest investor in the Russian economy: accumulated investments amount to $277 billion, of which over $105 billion are direct investments.
In turn, Russian companies have invested $77.5 billion in the economies of EU countries, including $52 billion in direct investments. That is 60% of our current foreign investments.
The EU accounts for nearly 50% of Russia’s foreign trade – 49%, to be precise. Last year, despite the challenges in the global and European economy, trade continued to grow: it rose by 4.1% and exceeded $410 billion. I am confident that we will reach the milestone of $500 billion in the foreseeable future.
We discussed the additional reserves that could be used to increase the flow of goods, services and capital. We should continue our active efforts to abolish the remaining administrative and technical customs barriers, implement joint projects in industry, agriculture and the financial sphere.
Naturally, we reviewed the preparation of the new Russia-EU agreement. This document must reflect the changing international situation and the Eurasian integration processes. We believe that it would be useful for the European Commission’s leadership to establish direct contacts with the inter-state structure of the Customs Union, Common Economic Space and the Eurasian Economic Commission. Close cooperation between the two commissions would be particularly relevant with regard to the decisions on further integration adopted recently at a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council in Astana, Kazakhstan.
We also went over the mutual grievances in trade – we couldn’t get around that. Such a huge volume of trade means that there are always some reciprocal problems; that is only natural. The nature of these grievances is well known: disposal fees, anti-dumping measures, sanitary and phytosanitary standards, and so on. We have agreed to work constructively together to reach compromise solutions. I am sure that this is possible.
Traditionally, energy has had an important place in our negotiations. In March, we signed the Roadmap for Russia-EU Energy Cooperation until 2050. This document states a strategic goal: to create a single European energy sector. Naturally, there are some outstanding issues here. I will not go into detail about them now since they are also widely known, but we are in contact and will continue to seek acceptable solutions.
”The new Russia-EU agreement must reflect the changing international situation and the Eurasian integration processes.“
We also discussed security and countering new challenges. One important outcome is that we have signed an Agreement on Drug Precursors. It will undoubtedly strengthen cooperation between anti-drug agencies of the Russian Federation and the European Union.
During the exchange of views on topical international issues, we paid close attention to Syria. We reiterated Russia’s position that any attempt to influence the situation by force, through direct military intervention, is doomed to failure and will inevitably lead to severe humanitarian consequences.
We have also stated our view on the decision to lift the arms embargo on the Syrian opposition, which was adopted last week by the EU Foreign Ministers. I will not deny that we were disappointed by it. We have agreed to coordinate more closely our efforts to promote Geneva 2 as part of our work on other acute international problems.
In conclusion, I want to thank our European friends for a very useful, open and constructive exchange of views, and for their cooperation today. Thank you very much.
President of The European Council Herman Van Rompuy: Dear Mr President (in Russian),
Let me first of all thank you for your hospitality. I would also like to thank the President for having chosen this remarkable venue for our summit, which symbolises Russia’s Eurasian dimension. It could also be a splendid location for major exhibitions in the future.
We have had good and useful discussions today and yesterday evening, reviewing the wide range of EU-Russia relations. The EU and Russia are strategic partners. We share a common continent and history. We gain a lot from working together, to contribute to security and stability, to promote prosperity, jobs and growth. Our common aim is to reap the full potential of our strategic partnership.
We are also global partners. And together we have to find solutions to global economic challenges, issues of global governance, and security challenges in many parts of the world.
The European Union is pleased to give its full support to Russia’s G20 chairmanship. We share the goals of reforming financial institutions, fighting against tax fraud and tax evasion, and setting the global economy back on track for growth and jobs. We have discussed the steps to take in the run-up to the G20 Summit in St Petersburg next September. And we are confident that the G20 summit will be crowned by success.
We have had an exchange on the economic situation in Russia and the European Union. I emphasise the restored financial stability in the Eurozone. The Euro is no longer under existential threat. I explained the ongoing efforts within the European Union to stimulate growth and fight against youth unemployment. These issues will feature prominently on the agenda of the upcoming European Council at the end of June.
We have discussed our common global security interests and our concerns about the situation in Syria, the Iranian nuclear programme, Afghanistan and North Korea. On all these challenges the EU and Russia work closely together.
On Syria, the European Union welcomes the joint Russian-US initiative for a Geneva 2 conference. We are giving our full support to this very important political peace process. The international community must address its responsibilities in the face of this humanitarian tragedy, which has very serious spillover effects on security, stability, and economic development in the region and beyond. The Union will continue to work for the establishment of a democratic and united Syria, respectful of human rights, fundamental freedoms and rights of minorities.
I welcome the fact that we have recently re-launched our cooperation on counter-terrorism, and we are now working together to deepen and broaden its scope. I also raise the need to strengthen cooperation on security in Europe, starting with the protracted conflicts in our common neighbourhoods. I recall that we need a comprehensive settlement on the Transnistria conflict, and basic principles for a future settlement should be agreed now. This is a conflict which can be solved.
We call for continued engagement and cooperation on Nagorno-Karabakh and support for the existing negotiating processes. We welcome positive developments in Russian-Georgian relations; it is important to strengthen stability in the Caucasus based on respect for the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity.
We also have discussed the importance of civil society, and NGOs, and their contribution to the strengthening of democracy, in particular freedom of expression and other fundamental freedoms. Legislative frameworks should recognise this and protect the space for action of civil society. We referred to the important dialogue we already have, even if our views do not always coincide.
To conclude, Mr President, we thank you for your hospitality and the fruitful and open exchange we have had when discussing all these issues.
Thank you for your attention. Thank you very much (in Russian).
President of The European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso: Thank you, Mr President, and good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.
I’m very pleased to be here with you today at the heart of the Urals. In the past Urals were considered to be the natural frontier of Europe. And Yekaterinburg was precisely at the frontier between Europe and Asia. Some called this city a window to Asia.
However, in the 21st century the notion of frontiers, administrative or physical, has not exactly the same significance. And the Urals should be seen more as a bridge than as a barrier. That is why even if the European Commission, as you know, does not vote regarding the exhibition, the World Exhibition in 2020, I am really impressed by the candidature of Yekaterinburg and I wish you all the best for that candidature.
It was in this spirit of “bridging” that we had the summit today and our open exchanges during yesterday’s informal dinner. These discussions followed very useful exchanges that we have held in Moscow last March, on the occasion of our executive-to-executive consultations: the meeting between the Government of the Russian Federation and the European Commission.
Our cooperation spans a wide range of areas and today we signed an agreement on cooperation on drug precursors. This is important for the fight against drugs, both on the supply and demand side. More generally, I am glad that we do have an ambitious common vision for the future of our relations. We have discussed today concretely how to move forward to an ambitious and comprehensive new European Union-Russia agreement.
”We have signed an Agreement on Drug Precursors. It will undoubtedly strengthen cooperation between anti-drug agencies of the Russian Federation and the European Union.“
One of the pillars of our relations is, of course, strong trade flows. Last year we have reached a record level of EUR 336 billion of exchanges. But there is potential for more, and I think we should create the right conditions to expand these flows. Russia’s accession to the WTO was a major step forward in this regard.
We also discussed today the effective implementation of WTO commitments. President Putin mentioned some issues already; we have raised our concerns about the cars recycling fee, which we hope can be lifted by July. We received good news on this matter and also other matters in the very extensive trade relationship between Russia and the European Union.
We are also making good work in our Partnership for Modernisation which is under full implementation, with new projects being prepared, and considerable loan funding available, including now EUR 800 million in loans for small- and medium-sized enterprises. As you know, the EIB, European Investment Bank, apart from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, is also present in this cooperation.
Our energy cooperation is also mutually beneficial but we should deepen it further. Last March the European Commission and the Government of the Russian Federation agreed on a joint Energy Roadmap 2050. This is a significant achievement.
The European Union energy market is the world’s largest, and offers important business opportunities to Russian companies. And Russia will of course remain a very important energy supplier to Europe.
Visa-free travel remains an important common goal. To achieve it, it is important now to fully implement the agreed common steps. The European Union is also ready to conclude negotiations on an upgraded visa facilitation agreement, provided technical details are clarified, and that future regulations in the area transport and mobility do not negatively affect our citizens and transport operators.
We are committed to working together with Russia to make the G20 Summit in St Petersburg a success. A success for Russia, but also a success for Europe and for the wider world. In line with our internal work in the European Union, we hope that growth can be prioritised, and that the G20 can also address other important issues like the fight against tax fraud and tax evasion.
I have said in the past that a strategic partnership like ours needs to be based on strategic trust. These summits serve precisely to build that trust. That’s why I want to conclude by once again thanking President Putin for having brought us to this great city. Yekaterinburg is not just a frontier anymore. Today it is a place where we stretch to hold hands and join efforts for the sake of a better future for our citizens.
I thank you for your attention.
Question: I would like to address my question to Mr Van Rompuy. Have your positions come any closer on Syria during talks today, with fundamental disagreements still in place – one being the European Union’s plans to supply arms to Syrian rebels and the other being Russia’s plans to supply S-300 missiles to Damascus?
And I would also like to use this occasion to clarify with Mr President Putin whether the S-300s have been actually delivered. If not, when is that coming? Many thanks.
Herman Van Rompuy: Thank you. On Syria, the European Union has no doubts that only a political solution through negotiations will bring back peace to Syria and to the region. And that’s why both at the European Council and the Council of Foreign Ministers level, the European Union has welcomed and praised the initiative launched by Foreign Minister Lavrov and Secretary of State Kerry to convene an international conference based on the Geneva Principles, with the participation of representatives of the Syrian regime and the opposition.
The first goal of this conference shall be to establish confidence-building measures, open access for humanitarian assistance, release for prisoners, gradual cease-fire, UN observers and so on, in a progressive manner that could pave the way for a transition that will allow the warring parties to replace weapons with political arguments and dialogue.
While the European Union has not renewed its collective embargo on arms, which means that each member state has recovered its competence in the field of arms exports, member states have committed publicly not to supply any weapons at all for the time being. The aim is precisely to give negotiations a real chance to move forward. Intense and significant contacts have been taking place between the Russian administration and the EU officials in the last weeks, which have shown a wide convergence of views regarding the launch of these negotiations. It’s important that we concentrate today on the preparation of this conference and the launch of a credible process to bring peace to Syria.
Vladimir Putin: Regarding the weapons supply.
”The Russian arms supplies to Syria are carried out on the basis of transparent, internationally recognised contracts. They did not violate any international regulations and are made exclusively and entirely within the framework of international law.“
As you know, on the UK initiative the United Nations agreed upon an international document: an international treaty on the non-delivery of arms to non-governmental groups. We proceed from the fact that all UN members will join it and in all circumstances as of today will abide by the rules and principles that have been suggested by our British colleagues. This is the first point.
Second, I do not remember the date but I think it was in 1998 that the European Union adopted a document on roughly the same thing: non-delivery of the weapons to the conflict regions of the world. We believe that although this may not be a legally binding document, it is still a moral basis for any actions in this sensitive area.
As for Russia’s supplies, let me remind you that the Russian arms supplies to Syria are carried out on the basis of transparent, internationally recognised contracts. They did not violate any international regulations and are made exclusively and entirely within the framework of international law. As for the S-300, it is one of the best air defence systems in the world, if not the very best. It is a serious weapon but we do not want to disrupt the balance in the region. The contract was signed several years ago, and it has not been executed yet.
Question: I have a question to all three leaders. I will continue with the Syrian issue raised by my European colleague. The objectives of Geneva 2 have already been announced, but you could clarify what are currently the main obstacles to holding the conference.
And the second question. Turkey is not a member of the European Union, but it is very keen to become one, and I would be interested to hear your views on what is happening in the public squares of Ankara, Istanbul and other Turkish cities. Do you think these events can be interpreted as another wave of Arab Spring, which has now reached Turkey?
Vladimir Putin: Regarding the conference. I have already said, and my colleagues from the European Commission have confirmed this, that we have a shared position on the need for a second conference in Geneva. This is what we have in common with our European colleagues.
The Russian Foreign Minister and US Secretary of State have prepared a proposal in this regard, and it has been agreed. It is our responsibility (which we have undertaken voluntarily) to convince the Syrian leadership to take part in this conference. As you know, the Syrian leadership has already officially announced its agreement to participate in the conference.
What are the obstacles? Probably the lack of good will on the part of the armed opposition, its lack of a common platform and the inability to determine who will represent the armed opposition groups at this conference. We hope that all these issues will be resolved as quickly as possible.
As for Turkey, we have enjoyed very warm, high level relations with that country, especially in recent years. We expect that the Turkish leadership, in a dialogue with the opposition and civil society, will be able to find a solution to all those complex issues that are raised on the streets today. In that case these protests will be legitimised and the issues will be debated at different venues, where people will hear each other.
Herman Van Rompuy: So, on Syria, I’ve made my statement. Of course there are a lot of problems to be solved. Problems of composition – I mentioned participation of the Syrian regime and of the opposition – problems of timeframe, problems of date… most important thing is that we focus now on the negotiations. We are in close contact with the high representative, with Foreign Minister Lavrov, also with Secretary of State Kerry, to give our position on this, but we are fully supporting a political process. There is no military solution for the Syrian conflict. So the only alternative are negotiations. And we owe this to the Syrian people. That’s my first remark.
The second is on Turkey. I make no comments on the internal situation in a country, especially not in a country such as Turkey which is a candidate country for the European Union. Every country has its problems, and I’m sure that the Turkish government is perfectly capable of dealing with the problems at hand.
Jose Manuel Barroso: Regarding Syria, I just want to make a point I made during our conversation, since the European Commission is a major donor of humanitarian aid. Indeed, the European Union Commission plus member states, we are by far the biggest donor of humanitarian aid to the refugees coming from Syria. Just some days ago, I received the major international organisations in humanitarian aid, from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to Assistant Secretary General for Humanitarian Aid, the World Food Programme. And a point I’ve underlined independently from the broader issue of political and security concerns that was already expressed is the need, immediately, to guarantee unrestricted and unconditional access to the victims. And this is the appeal that the international community has to make clear both to the government and to the opposition parties there, because the situation is really dramatic.
We have received a full debriefing of the situation. It’s really a humanitarian catastrophe what is going on in Syria. And of course, while we expect that Geneva produces results, including in this area, I believe that now, all of us, with the channels we have, should convey this message to the parties in conflict: unrestricted, unconditional access to humanitarian aid, because what’s going on in Syria today is indeed a stain on mankind’s conscience.
Vladimir Putin: Television channels showed how members of the armed Syrian opposition take out the internal organs of their dead enemies and eat them. I hope that we will not see such negotiators at Geneva 2, otherwise it would be difficult for me to guarantee the safety of the Russian delegation. It would probably be difficult to work with people like that as well.
Question: I’d like to come back to the WTO membership. A lot of manufacturers are actually complaining about obstacles and protective measures in Russia. And regular people in the street, they are expecting lower prices. When will we actually see these effects in practice?
And another question on latest political developments in Russia Obviously, there’s a lot of concern at German enterprises and other Western enterprises that raids on NGOs and the recent fleeing of Mr Guriyev to Paris last week might actually damage Russia’s image as a country for foreign investors. How much do you expect these developments to damage Russian economy? Thank you.
Jose Manuel Barroso: Mentioning the issue of trade, first of all, the good news, because I think it is important to take note of the good news. Just yesterday, the statistical office of the European Union, Eurostat, published the latest data in terms of trade between the European Union and Russia in 2012. And in fact, we are reaching new records and we are doing now better than before the crisis. The latest figures available show an increase in our exports to Russia from EUR 105 billion in 2009 to 123 billion now, and also an increase of exports from Russia to the European Union, from EUR 178 billion in 2009 to 213 billion. These are the official statistics we received just yesterday.
Of course, the deficit from the European side is explained by our huge imports of energy; while our exports to Russia – 85 percent of them – were manufactured goods, energy accounted for more than three quarters of our imports from Russia. So generally speaking, trade between the European Union and Russia is going very well. But it can go better. And this is precisely one of the issues we have discussed today in a constructive spirit, analysing some of these matters.
President Putin already mentioned some, this issue of recycling fees, where I hope now that these measures announced by the Russian side will be implemented in a non-discriminatory manner. These recycling fees for cars. There are also issues – I’m not going now into detail – phytosanitary matters. The Russian side also has some complaints on our side, to be fair.
I think what we can say today is that I saw a real spirit of commitment to try to solve these issues and address them very constructively as soon as possible, because the potential of our trade relations is in investment relations. Here in Yekaterinburg there are many European countries. The potential is immense and as President Putin also said, the European Union is by far the biggest partner, in economic terms, of Russia, and we intend to remain so. That’s why facilitating all exchanges is important. And this is also, in terms, of course, of the general atmosphere in the country in terms of rule of law, so everything that relates also to the civil society, to the rule of law, all of these matters are very important, not only of course from the political point of view that is critically important, but also, I think, for the creation of an even better atmosphere in the relations – the economic relationship between Russia and the European Union.
”Despite the problems in the global, including and especially in the European economy, trade between Russia and the EU grew by 4.1% and reached a record $410 billion.“
Vladimir Putin: Regarding the concerns of our partners who work in Russia and are worried about the business environment. Name at least one such person, and we meet with him immediately and find out what exactly is causing their concerns.
As for the issues associated with excessive administrative pressure, with corruption, and so on, we always work directly with our partners in the framework of relevant institutions. We have created special tools for interaction with foreign partners, and we discuss all issues and problems directly.
You have certainly raised a very important issue related to the reciprocal trade restrictions. This is an area we are working on with our colleagues from the European Union. It is not the only area, but a key one.
There are some mutual grievances. On the whole, there is nothing special or unusual about this. Just take a look at Europe’s relations with the United States. Is it unusual for them to encounter problems with trade? How many problems arise in the framework of WTO negotiations? A huge number. And it’s the same with us. The question is not whether problems exist or not. For example, there is a restriction on access of Russian mineral fertilisers to the European market. An anti-dumping investigation has been going on since 1995 and there is this restriction. We have joined the WTO, but there has been no result on this issue. We discussed it earlier today: the restriction is the same as ever.
We are also aware of our European colleagues’ grievances against us, and we recognise that some of them are fair. In fact, I even said, “You know, I'm ashamed that we (meaning the Russian side) have not resolves some of the issues”. We meet in order to solve them.
As for the fact that the head of our economic school went to Paris: his wife lives and works in Paris. Nobody threatened him, and he visits her all the time. He can come back if he wants to, he is a free man, and if he wants to live in Paris, he can live in Paris. No one is driving him away, exiling or frightening him, and there is no need to inflate a problem that, strictly speaking, does not exist.
As for our economic relations with the European Union, we have already said that despite the problems in the global, including and especially in the European economy, trade between Russia and the EU grew by 4.1% and reached a record $410 billion. We have never seen that before. So we are moving forward with confidence.
Question: I have a question about an issue that has not been mentioned today, but I think it is of great public importance. There is an increasing trend towards same-sex marriages in Europe. We recently saw the news reports from France, and all this causes concern in Russia, because same-sex families can now adopt children, including children from Russia. I would like to ask President Putin whether this issue was raised in the negotiations, and what steps could Russia take in this regard?
I also have a question for our guests from Brussels. We know that the EU pays special attention to the protection of human rights around the world, and this applies to the freedom of press, freedom of speech and the like. It would certainly be impossible to ignore the fact that the trial of the main WikiLeaks informant Bradley Manning began recently in the United States. If found guilty, Bradley Manning is facing a 20-year prison term. How do you feel about this trial?
Vladimir Putin: You’re starting to get on my nerves with these same-sex marriages. No matter where I turn, go to Europe and they’re out waving banners there, come here, and you’re after me again on the issue. I already stated my opinion on this matter overall. I think that our legislation is very liberal in this respect and there is no discrimination of any sort. People in our country work and pursue their careers regardless of their sexual orientation. We give them state recognition for their achievements in the specific areas in which they work. I think in this sense we have no problems.
I think indeed that we should all be more tolerant of each other and less aggressive towards each other, no matter whether we’re talking about heterosexuals or homosexuals. Less aggression and less song and dance about these issues would be the best thing for everybody.
As for a law banning gay couples abroad from adopting children from Russia, I have not seen such a draft law yet. If our country’s parliament passes such a law, I will sign it.
Question: You just spoke about Turkey and said that it would be better if the government engaged in dialogue with those who are protesting in the streets.
”As for a law banning gay couples abroad from adopting children from Russia, I have not seen such a draft law yet. If our country’s parliament passes such a law, I will sign it.“
Vladimir Putin: Will we have such a dialogue? Yes!“As for a law banning gay couples abroad from adopting children from Russia, I have not seen such a draft law yet. If our country’s parliament passes such a law, I will sign it.“
Question: This handling of what’s happening stands in sharp contrast to what you said about the ‘colour’ revolutions in Ukraine, Georgia and North Africa. But you do not talk this way about the opposition in Russia itself.
Vladimir Putin: Yes we do.
Question: You say that they are supposedly agents from foreign countries. What is the difference between the handling of the opposition in Turkey…?
And a question regarding Guriyev. He said that his email box was seized, even though this had not been agreed upon. He had agreed to be interviewed, but ultimately, the agents seized his email. That’s what he says. Can you truly guarantee Guriyev’s safety, if he returns to Russia? Could he end up in jail? Thank you.
Vladimir Putin: Why, is there any basis for putting him in jail? I don’t know anything about it. I only heard this name for the first time recently, and I don’t know whether he has had any legal transgressions. If he did not break any laws, I can guarantee 100 percent that he is not under any threat. 100 percent. Moreover, he works in economics. Let him do what he does, wherever he wants and wherever he likes.
As for comparing the events in Turkey with our NGOs, that’s like comparing apples and oranges. As a Russian expression goes, A flower in the garden and an uncle in Kiev. What do the NGOs have to do with anything? Is anyone closing them? Have you read the law, to start with? Look into the Russian legislation. It does not say anything about closing these organisations, let alone any sanctions. The laws talk about revealing financial data and say that if an organisation is involved in any political activity, it has to register as a foreign agent, if it receives money for those activities from abroad. But nobody is closing them.
What does the Arab Spring have to do with this? I think these are entirely different things.
As for dialogue, we are prepared to engage in dialogue with everyone.
Question: Excuse me, but I did not receive an answer to my question about Bradley Manning. My question for Mr Van Rompuy and Mr Barroso: what do you think about the trial in the United States that began yesterday?
Jose Manuel Barroso: I have to say very frankly that I don’t know enough about the legal proceedings going on in the US. I’m sorry, it’s probably my ignorance that I’m not informed enough. And in fact, this was not discussed today in the discussion with President Putin. What I can tell you regarding the fundamental issues that we’ve mentioned, not to leave you without an answer, is the following, for you to understand the position of the European Union. In terms of, for instance, homosexuality, we believe in the European Union that there is a very important principle: it’s the principle of non-discrimination. And we are committed to the principles of non-discrimination, based on gender, on age, on ethnic specificities, on any kind of thing, including, of course, sexual orientation. So we are against discrimination regarding homosexuals. Now regarding the issue of same-sex marriages, we consider this part of the family policy, and it’s treated at the national level. There is not one norm at the European level. We have countries like mine that accept same-sex marriages, just like France, which just now adopted it, and others that do not accept same-sex marriages – or, at least, they treat them as unions of different sexes. So it’s what, according to what we call the principle of subsidiarity, is regulated at the national level and not the European level. There is not a norm for this. There are different situations according to the national legislation. But the principle against discrimination, this is very important and this is enshrined in the European Charter of Human Rights. We believe it’s important. And by the way, I know that in other parts of the world, there are people that are persecuted, that are, in fact, sometimes killed because they have a different sexual orientation. We condemn that. This is part of our dialogue with countries in the world where homosexuality is criminalised.
So I think I gave you a broad explanation of what we feel in the European Union regarding these issues, while underlining that there are different solutions, according to the different national legislation on some sensitive matters, these matters of same-sex marriage, adoption or co-adoption. This is a matter that is extremely difficult. There are different situations in different countries, but a debate is going on in some of our countries about what could happen in case of adoption. There are many different responses to that. I think it’s a societal debate that should be addressed with a sense of responsibility.
Question: We know that the energy sector and military industrial sector depend largely on the rare earth elements industry. Can you please talk about how the partnership between Russia and the EU will open prospects for the Russian aviation industry, the military industrial sector overall, and the energy sector?
Can you also please tell us if you discussed the issue of thorium power today?
Vladimir Putin: No, unfortunately we did not discuss thorium power, although it is an important issue. But as far as aircraft engineering is concerned, this is an area where we have been cooperating for a long time and it is also a fairly sensitive area, having to do with the workload in the aviation industry in EU nations, particularly Germany, France and to some extent Spain – Spain has many problems.
Currently, it would be quite difficult to transfer some of their production to, say, Russia; I think their unemployment among youth has reached nearly 40 percent, which, incidentally, should be considered first and foremost. But we bought a small package – five percent of EADS – we are in contact, we are developing joint designs, and we are already doing some of the production at our companies.
We are discussing deeper cooperation in this sector – in aviation and space. At the business enterprise level, talks are progressing quite actively, and if they progress in an acceptable direction, then I am confident the European Commission will support it, as will the Government of Russia; but for the time being, it’s too early to talk about this. The level is quite high, but we have rather good prospects and naturally, this would then reflect on the entire sector.
In conclusion, I would like to thank our guests, the European Commission and European Union high officials, for their direct support of Yekaterinburg’s bid as the host city for the Expo 2020, given that this is a industrial area of the Russian Federation. Of course, the Commission does not vote, but let’s not forget that dozens if not thousands of companies from EU countries are operating not merely in Yekaterinburg but throughout the entire Ural industrial region.
Thank you very much for your attention.