Press Conferences

26 april, 2011 20:20

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his Danish counterpart Lars Lokke Rasmussen address the media to summarise their talks

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his Danish counterpart Lars Lokke Rasmussen address the media to summarise their talks
“I would like to stress the successful development of Russian-Danish ties at all levels, and the strengthening of contacts between parliaments, agencies and regions. I am confident that the documents signed today will promote further Russian-Danish cooperation,” the Russian prime minister said to the media.

Transcript of the news conference:

Lars Lokke Rasmussen (via interpreter): It is a great pleasure to welcome Mr Putin to Denmark on his first official visit. My country’s government attaches tremendous significance to this visit. Denmark is eager to build up and extend cooperation with Russia, which is among our key partners, with the many economic and political interests shared by our two countries.

Prime Minister Putin and I discussed today what we could do to bolster our partnership in economic and political modernisation.

We have numerous shared interests in politics as both countries want to build up investment and trade to mutual benefit. As practical manifestation of this commitment, Mr Putin and I witnessed today the signing of treaties between Danish and Russian government agencies and contracts between companies. Vast as it is, the Russian market is growing. Russia is much closer to Denmark than many think: it is a two hour flight from Denmark to the west of Russia, and the Baltic Sea is also a highly convenient route.

Denmark stands to gain a great deal with Russia’s further economic integration with the European Union, while Russia joining the World Trade Organisation is an essential prerequisite for it. I would like to emphasise my hope that Russia will join WTO this year.

Politically, we are brought together by shared interests, particularly the interest in the sustainable development of the Arctic and the Baltic region, and in stability in Afghanistan lest its instability affect the neighbouring regions.

I would like to stress our satisfaction with Denmark’s uninterrupted dialogue with Russia. This is my fourth meeting with Mr Putin in the past 18 months. Our dialogue is extremely positive and constructive even in the spheres where we have not yet reached full consensus.

Today’s meeting and President Dmitry Medvedev’s official visit last year both pave the way to closer bilateral ties. The official visit of Her Majesty the Queen of Denmark, due September, will be another landmark of Danish-Russian relations.

Thank you very much.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much. Ladies and gentlemen, we have had very productive talks today. It’s hard to recollect on which issues we had any differences of opinion. I think we agreed on every item, at least every item on today’s agenda, which was dominated by trade and economic ties. I would like to stress the successful development of Russian-Danish ties at all levels, and the strengthening of contacts between parliaments, agencies and regions. I am confident that the documents signed today will promote further Russian-Danish cooperation. Journalists saw the signing of that package of documents, which concerns the development of transport, agricultural and energy cooperation, and technological partnership in many sectors. We are dynamically reviving our economies to overcome the aftermath of the global economic crisis. Bilateral trade grew by more than 4% last year and made a leap in January and February of this year to increase by 34% compared to last year’s first two months.

We will work to improve conditions for investment cooperation. More than 200 Danish companies have presence in 25 Russian regions. Russian and Danish experts are together developing a unique, innovative cancer drug. There are many other instances of partnership in the pharmaceutical and other high-tech industries. We are interested in the closest possible cooperation with all our partners. The transport industry, for one, is indisputably led by Moller-Maersk, a Danish-based company that has opened two routes connecting North Africa and Latin America with St Petersburg.

We are interested in extending cooperation not only in transport but also in the manufacture of relevant equipment and the development of the Russian transport and seaport infrastructure. I had an extensive discussion on the subject with Prime Minister Rasmussen today. Such cooperation can acquire a very large scale. Another meeting, with Danish business leaders, is scheduled for tonight, for a detailed discussion of the development of our contacts and to map new areas of cooperation.

Energy efficiency takes pride of place in Russian-Danish cooperation. We signed more documents in this sphere today. Here, Denmark exemplifies steady economic development despite cuts in energy consumption. We are determined to draw on this experience, and attract our Danish partners to joint work in this critical sector.

I thanked Mr Rasmussen again for Denmark’s decision on whose basis Russia was granted the right to build the Nord Stream pipeline along the bottom of the Baltic Sea in the Danish exclusive economic zone. I informed our colleagues that construction is scheduled to finish in July.

Works in the sea will finish as early as May 15 since no problems have been encountered during construction. Munitions dumped in the Baltic Sea years ago were not encountered, and there was no environmental pollution. Everything is fine. The pipeline will be filled with service gas in July, and supplies to our customers in Europe will start in October or November. Supplies of Russian natural gas to Denmark will begin at an annual two billion cubic metres with prospects of increase.

Danish construction companies are involved in many projects in Russia, particularly 2014 Olympic projects in Sochi.

Arctic cooperation was a central issue during our talks. Russia and Denmark bear special responsibility for it due to their exit to the Arctic Ocean. Our Arctic cooperation satisfies both countries, and we agree that all issues should be settled by the Arctic states themselves in compliance with the acting international law, primarily the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. That is one of the main principles of the five Arctic coastal states.

We informed our colleagues that navigation along the Northern Sea Route has been increasing. According to Russian expert estimates, freight shipments along the route will grow tenfold within a few years because it is more profitable compared to the Suez Canal: it helps to cut transportation costs and thus the prices of exports to the Asia-Pacific Region. Symbolically, a Danish ship was the first foreign vessel to take the revived Northern Sea Route.

Incidentally, we have made a decision that I have not yet mentioned to Mr Rasmussen. The construction of an Arctic fleet is underway in Russia. We decided to name one of its vessels – one of the most advanced icebreakers in the world – after Vitus Bering, a Danish seafarer and outstanding Russian explorer of the Far East. I expect the ship to be launched in St Petersburg toward the end of next year. It will work in the area explored by Bering.

I would like to use this occasion to invite Danish experts to the annual forum “The Arctic: Territory of Dialogue”, organised by the Russian Geographic Society. Due to gather in Arkhangelsk this autumn, it will be dedicated to the development of the Northern Sea Route.

In conclusion, I would like to thank our Danish partners again for meaningful talks and sincere desire to further develop cooperation with Russia. Thank you.

Question (via interpreter): TV 2 Channel, Denmark. Mr Putin, you are known for not always declaring your career ambitions openly. A recent contribution to The Financial Times urged you not to run for presidency but support your successor, who would continue his social reforms. What do you think of it?

Vladimir Putin: Future Russian presidential hopefuls need support of their own nation, and not from other countries.

Question: Dmitry Vitov, (Russian) television Channel One. Mr Putin, you actively addressed the problems of Pikalyovo industrial plants in the Leningrad Region. A contract was signed today to modernise the entire production complex. Do you think it will be sufficient to settle local social issues? And how far will the modernisation go?

Vladimir Putin: Taking into consideration the three basic industries represented in Pikalyovo, the implementation of today’s contract with our Danish partners can concern two of them: the manufacture of cement, and chemicals and equipment for the aluminium industry. There is great demand for both. I think that we have every chance to meet contract targets and so lead the plant to stability and great economic improvement with technical re-equipment and new, well-paid jobs. The plant will produce goods for which there is demand in Russia and abroad.

Question (via interpreter): Mr Putin, what did you mean when you called the mission in Libya a crusade?

Vladimir Putin: I see the results of our talks do not interest the Danish press, and that is strange since as I said, 200 Danish businesses are operating in Russia, and their economic situation largely depends on Russian orders. Our large-scale cooperation maintains many jobs in Denmark.

However, you are more interested in my position on Libya. Just look at the map of that part of the world, and you will see monarchies all around. Do they have democracy, Danish-style? No, they have monarchies all over the region. The system on the whole satisfies the local public mentality and political practice.

Mr Gaddafi set up a new empire, just as Napoleon in his time, when he proclaimed himself Emperor after the Revolution propelled him to the top. This comparison might be not very apt but there are some grounds for it. Libya is a monarchy – a warped and ugly one, true, but still a monarchy. Now, its inner conflicts have developed into an armed confrontation.

Does this domestic conflict require intervention from outside? After all, there are many other ugly regimes in the world. Should we meddle in all domestic clashes? Look elsewhere in Africa – what has been going on in Somalia for many years? Why shouldn’t we try to restore order there? And there are other countries, too. Should we use bombs and missiles on them? Why not give their nations the chance to settle it all on their own? Much has been said about a ban on flights over Libya. So far so good – but what has happened to the ban when Gaddafi’s palaces are air-raided every night? They say they don’t mean to kill him, but why bomb his palaces then – to get rid of mice, perhaps? Every raid certainly takes a toll of lives. Innocent civilians are dying while Gaddafi has long taken refuge in a shelter.

Many said that they were not interested in Gaddafi’s death. Now, certain officials say out loud that they want Gaddafi killed. Did anyone authorise such pronouncements? Has any court condemned him to death? Who can assume the right to kill a man, however bad he might be? Everyone keeps silent on this. And what does the resolution on Libya say? Just read it: it calls on everyone to do anything they like in Libya.

I repeat: at first, the issue concerned only the ban on flights over Libya. Now, its entire infrastructure is being ruined as one of the belligerents advances under air protection. It will go on nonstop. As I see it, we should act responsibly, in compliance with the international law and with consideration for civilians. Meanwhile, the so-called civilised community attacks a small country and destroys its infrastructure, created by many generations’ efforts. I don’t know whether this is good or bad but I don’t like it.

Question: My question concerns the results of the Russian-Danish talks. Prospects of the energy dialogue were mentioned at the negotiating table. Please specify: Denmark has an option to increase its natural gas imports to three billion cubic metres a year. Will you use this option? Are there any differences on prices – in this instance, on the price formation formula?

My second question concerns cooperation in the Arctic under the aegis of the Arctic Council. Did the talks help to reach an understanding? Will Denmark be Russia’s partner? Will we cooperate or compete with each other in the region that many consider a future bonanza? Were the prospects of extending Arctic Council membership discussed at today’s talks? Thank you.

Lars Lokke Rasmussen: Thank you for your question. Where energy cooperation is concerned, Denmark’s DONG Energy is already buying Russian natural gas. When the Nord Stream opens, we expect steadier gas supplies to Denmark from Russia and other countries. These are promising prospects.

There is another reasonable prospect – to stock up some of the imported gas. Denmark is rather active in energy saving. I informed Prime Minister Putin about our experience of energy saving and efficiency, considering an ambitious goal posed by the Russian authorities – to reduce energy consumption by 40%.

As for the Arctic Council, our cooperation on it has been a great success. We are aware of the importance of a meeting due on May 12 in Nuuk, Greenland. We have close teamwork in research and other spheres, and Denmark is glad to participate in it. Denmark hopes that the debates round the prospects of inviting several countries to the Arctic Council as observers will finish in Nuuk on May 12.

Denmark believes that full membership of the Arctic Council should belong to countries that have an Arctic coast. However, we consider it natural for other countries to be entitled to an observer status with limited rights.

Vladimir Putin: We have never before exported our natural gas to Denmark. Now, relevant contracts have been signed, which means that all issues, in particular, concerning prices, are settled. I repeat once again: our supplies will make 1 billion cubic metres after the first leg is ready, plus another billion cubic metres with the opening of the second leg, with prospects to increase exports to 2 billion cubic metres. These prospects are under discussion though relevant contracts have not been signed yet.

I think that the implementation of these projects is very timely considering the problems which the world energy industry is facing after the disaster in Japan. Now, Japan will at least avoid an increase in energy production by nuclear plants. That much is clear. So the demand for hydrocarbon fuels, mainly natural gas, will grow. Importantly, there is no environmentally friendlier fuel than gas. It offers the least air pollution of all fuels. As we know, Europe is reducing the output of its nuclear power plants.

The situation in North Africa and the Middle East has done nothing to improve the world energy industry, to say the least. A question was asked here about Libya, which ranks first in Africa for oil reserves and 4th for natural gas. It would be reasonable to ask whether that is what underlies the current foreign intervention.

We treat the present situation in the global energy industry with the utmost responsibility. Russia is willing to increase exports to the Asia-Pacific Region and Europe. These matters did not come up at today’s talks but as you know, we are discussing with our European partners the prospects for the construction of the South Stream and possible increase of Nord Stream capacity. At any rate, we will work on it.

We are negotiating with Danish companies to develop mineral deposits in Northern Europe, including the Arctic. This partnership implies the participation of Danish businesses in the construction of seaport and other facilities, commodities delivery, and the shipment of oil, gas and minerals from the site of their extraction to shore and pipelines. An ambitious job lies ahead. We believe it is possible to attract Danish companies to the reconstruction of port facilities in Kaliningrad, on the Black Sea, and in the Russian Far East. As for the Nordic Council, I think that this is mainly the Arctic countries’ concern. However, we are open for dialogue with anyone who displays an interest in Arctic-based cooperation.


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