Putin Post G8 Press Conference
Russian President Vladimir Putin Remarks at Press Conference Following Group of Eight Heads of State and Government Meeting, Evian, France, June 3, 2003
Good afternoon, esteemed ladies and gentlemen. Allow me to share with you the results of the work and, of course, the first thing that I must say is to express words of gratefulness to the Summit Chairman, the President of France Mr. Chirac for the hospitality and for the facilities provided for its work. The meeting in Evian has again shown that the G8 members are united by long-term strategic interests, and this enabled us to discuss any, including disputable, issues and in the end arrive at mutually acceptable decisions. A new and highly fruitful decision in the summit's practice was the debate in an extended composition. For many of our partners this was the first contact with the G8, and we welcome the start of such a broad dialogue.
From the concrete summit results I can, first of all, note the following: the Evian meeting on the whole will help strengthen the international antiterrorist coalition, for we understand that the success of the struggle against terror hinges directly on our unity and on the effectiveness of our combined efforts. Set up by a decision of the summit, the G8 group on antiterrorist actions is designed to become a serious instrument; its activities will be closely linked with the Counter-Terrorism Committee of the United Nations Security Council, the main coordinator for the efforts of the world community in this field. I must say that Russia is disposed to actively participate in the work of the new body, and it is only logical that the main focus on our part will be on the CIS space and the zone of operation of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Further, the G8 has adopted a serious decision in the field of the regime of nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction. This is particularly relevant in the light of attempts by terrorist organizations to gain access to weapons of mass destruction. Neither should it be forgotten that the nonproliferation regimes play a key role in the maintenance of regional stability. The main efforts should be directed to the strengthening of the legal regimes and mechanisms for their implementation.
We have also analyzed and examined how the Global Partnership initiative against the spread of weapons and materials of mass destruction is being implemented. Russia is making a substantial contribution to the advancement of this program. In the next ten years we plan to allocate and spend at least two billion dollars for these purposes. A special mechanism has been set up in our country for the coordination of Global Partnership work under the leadership of the Chairman of the Government of Russia, and the necessary international legal base has also been formed. I mean the Agreement on the Multilateral Nuclear Environmental Program in the Russian Federation (MNEPR), and a number of bilateral agreements.
We welcome the statement of our partners on the possibility of allocating funds for the projects envisaged by the accords reached in Kananaskis. We feel that these statements should be backed by practical actions, in the first place - the speediest elaboration of projects in priority areas of the Global Partnership, the liquidation of chemical weapons and disposition of obsolete and decommissioned nuclear submarines. Russia for the first time took part in the preparation of the entire package of financial and economic documents of the meeting, and I regard this as one more proof of its organic integration into world structures, into the world economy.
An innovatory document is the plan of action to develop scientific and technical cooperation. We regard and expect that this kind of combination of investment, advanced technologies and management will help accomplish a real breakthrough in the interests of civilization. Also of great importance is the striving of our countries to assist the solution of the most acute problems of the Third World. First of all, it is the struggle against hunger and epidemics, regional ecological threats. We also discussed practical possibilities of cooperation in the combating of dangerous and newly originating diseases. In this regard, Russia has put forward an initiative to establish a global system of monitoring. I want to note that Russia is not only a recipient of various programs, but is also itself becoming more and more of a sponsor and an ever greater source of finance for solving the most diverse problems our civilization encounters. I want to recall, I have already spoken of this, that in the last six years Russia has written off for the group of least developed countries almost 35 billion dollars of debt. I want to once against highly assess the results of the just-held summit and to thank our partners for the keen and constructive work and the French friends for the cordial welcome, the hospitality and the simply brilliant organization of our meeting.
Thank you very much.
Question (ITAR-TASS): How would you evaluate the summit results, what can be singled out and what has been successfully done?
Answer: I can repeat to you what I said in a very narrow circle with my colleagues. As we parted, we there also practically summed up the results among ourselves. Indeed, the summit was held in complicated conditions. The international situation is quite complicated today and it was on the summit's eve even more complicated. After the summit I've got a firm conviction that the situation has become better. And this is the main, speaking frankly, result. It must be confessed, we understand what it is all about. After the events in Iraq there arose a certain strain between the leading countries. And I think that it has been thanks to President Chirac, thanks to his ability to conduct discussions, thanks to his ability to organize things of this kind and thanks to his experience that it has been possible to gloss over many problems, it has been possible to draw closer to one another, to bring the positions closer together, and moreover it has been possible to do that in the course of a frank and in general a principled debate, which is very important. I think that it is even well that the summit was held precisely in France and maybe somebody else would not have managed to achieve such results. Because Jacques Chirac conducted and organized our entire work with inherent French brilliance and correctness. Not to mention the documents which we signed; you know about them. In my opinion, this is very important. And even more important is that these documents, and they were agreed upon as a result of the complex and intense work of our assistants, sherpas, even though not binding, give very clear signals to the international community and the international public about what the leaders of the world's leading countries think. This appropriately forms the complex of international relations de facto. In my view, this is very important and, bearing in mind the high quality of the prepared agreements, it can be held that the summit in Evian was concluded successfully.
Question (Itogi): A week-long international marathon is over. Can you, after communicating with dozens of heads of state, say what is changing in attitude to Russia?
Answer: I think it's an obvious thing. Attitude in the world to Russia has long since been changing with the change of Russia itself. Much depends on us. Only today, by the way, the host of the summit, President Jacques Chirac, spoke of this. Spoke in passing, but still he said a very important thing - that Russia even several years ago not only declared that it was renouncing the policy of the Soviet Union, the policy of pressure on its partners, of any pressure and the forcible advancement of its own ideas, which seem correct to us; it has completely changed its policy. Russia has itself changed, and this changes attitude to us on the part of our partners. This is the most important thing. The main problem is in us ourselves. With the democratization of the country, with the strengthening of our economy and solution of social questions we are increasingly integrating ourselves into the international community, becoming full-fledged members of international intercourse. And this cannot but have an effect on attitudes from our partners. And the major international meetings have consolidated these trends.
Question (Kommersant): It appears that in these days, after the SCO summit and the series of major international meetings in St. Petersburg and Evian, a new hierarchy of the world is taking shape, and Russia in it is in a privileged position. But there is, on the other hand, the United States, which stands apart and acts alone. What can you say on that score?
Answer: I would not say that somebody, including such a large country as the United States, wants to stand apart. And, knowing President Bush, I am confident that he does not want that status for his country. Moreover, however much somebody would like this to be so, it won't happen. I mean at least the power of the United States and, above all - economic power. For us, the US is one of the leading partners in the economic and political fields, and in some areas of activity the role and importance of the United States for Russia is absolutely unique. I mean, above all, our cooperation in the field of international security and strategic stability. Let us not forget that the United States and Russia are major nuclear powers and on our behavior, on our relationship very much depends in the world, not to mention the economic component of our partnership. Bearing in mind all these circumstances, as well as what, say, in certain areas is sensitive for us, such as the fight against terrorism, the US is a consistent and reliable partner. All this creates a certain atmosphere around the United States as well. So that I do not agree with the way you put the question that America somehow stands apart. It was in the previous times, when the Soviet Union headed one camp and the US did the other, that one could behave camp-style. Today it is an entirely different situation in the world.
Today if we want to see a balanced world it has to develop on democratic principles. I assure you that everybody understands this. If you mean the complexities that arose in connection with the events in Iraq, the explanations are many here. One of them, not the only one, lies, of course, in the threat which the United States feels for itself, in the hurt pride after the terrorist acts of September 11 and in the need for self-assertion. I do not think that this was done the best way, but that was one of the motives for its actions. Of course, this needs to be understood, but you know our position, it was not only consistent with regard to the Iraqi events, but also sufficiently tough. And after all the President of the United States could have behaved differently. He could have taken offense, could have simply not come to Petersburg. Could have done many other things in order to aggravate Russian-American relations. But President Bush chose different tactics, a different path. He behaved as a serious politician. As a man who wants to develop relations with Russia and with the entire world. And he came to Petersburg. We elaborated very many documents, very many important questions. It is stupid on our part not to see these signs and push away an outstretched hand. It would have been an unforgivable mistake to scorn this, to pout, to turn away, to create coalitions and split the international community. We will continue to hold a principled stand on the questions on which we have our own opinion. We will continue to pursue in carrying out our foreign policy tasks, above all, the aims of our national policy and our national interests. We will work for the strengthening of the international community.
Question (France Presse): What can you say about the situation with the Iranian nuclear program?
Answer: I consider that the problem of nonproliferation is one of the chief problems of the 21st century, and one of the most acute problems, for the solution of which all civilized countries ought to join forces. As to Iran, we cooperate with Iran. It is our neighbor, and we will cooperate with it in the future. We are categorically against the pulling out of problems which would be used for unfair competition, including in the Iranian market. But at the same time we feel that the IAEA, among others, should play a decisive role in nonproliferation. We will insist that all the Iranian programs in the nuclear field are placed under the control of this organization. And we will build our cooperation with all countries based on how open they are and to what extent they are in a position to place their programs under IAEA control.