Press Conferences

7 november, 2011 18:33

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and SCO Secretary General Muratbek Imanaliyev speak with journalists following a meeting of the Council of the SCO member states' heads of government

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and SCO Secretary General Muratbek Imanaliyev speak with journalists following a meeting of the Council of the SCO member states' heads of government
“Russia is committed to conducting active work in this organisation. This concerns expanding trade and economic relations, security and humanitarian issues. All these things are our absolute priorities.”
Vladimir Putin
At a speaking with journalists following a meeting of the Council of the SCO member states' heads of government


Vladimir Putin: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.

Today we held rich, substantive talks that were marked by a constructive spirit of partnership, as is usual during such events. We conducted a hands-on discussion of topical issues in the development of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the strengthening of multilateral trade and economic cooperation, cultural contacts, and the building of joint coordinated efforts to counter terrorism and drug trafficking.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the SCO. It can be said without exaggeration that the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation has become an integral and highly influential element of present-day international relations, of the modern international architecture. It is no coincidence that many states have expressed a desire to become involved in the work of the SCO, and even to become full members. Of course we welcome these aspirations. Our organisation is open to cooperation with all interested countries. We are prepared to conduct a respectful and constructive dialogue on a diverse range of issues pertaining to the social and economic development of the region.

We will continue to coordinate our efforts in addressing our common tasks in the trade-economic, scientific-technical and investment fields. This is highly relevant in view of the difficult situation that is prevailing in the global markets. We are actively developing projects within the SCO framework in such areas as transport, energy, information technology and agriculture. We intend, within the SCO framework, to employ flexible and compact forms for the implementation of concrete projects. For example, Russia and China could launch a programme involving one or several interested states, which other countries could then join. In particular, we urge you to draw your attention to the Russian-Chinese initiative to create a personal satellite communication system within the SCO space.

We have agreed to speed up work to establish a special account of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation that could become an effective instrument for financing these projects. At the same time, we will address the issue of the Development Bank, an idea proposed by our Chinese partners. The SCO inter-bank association is facing serious challenges. During the meeting we agreed on a medium-term strategy for its development, with priorities placed on strengthening the infrastructure and introducing innovations, attracting capital for the creation of modern production facilities and, especially important, expanding mutual settlements in national currencies.

We will continue to promote direct contact between our companies, business associations and public entities. In return, we expect active and effective efforts from the SCO Business and Youth councils, which have initiated the Moscow Business Dialogue forum where attendees discuss prospects for interaction in breakthrough areas, such as information technology, Internet communications, e-business and e-commerce.

I consider establishing the SCO Energy Club a timely step. With assistance from the club, business communication and information exchange can be developed. It is necessary to establish the club’s regulatory framework and its secretariat. Infrastructure projects are the priority of our joint work. We have discussed the preparations for the draft agreement on securing favourable conditions for international road shipping, and we expect the document to be signed within the next few months. In addition, Russia’s initiative to develop a programme for coordinating motorway development has been supported.

Educational links are traditionally an important and effective element of the SCO’s activities. In this regard, a major step is establishing SCO University, a project involving some 60 top universities in SCO member states. The university charter will be signed during the Week of Education of SCO Member States “Education without Borders” currently underway in Moscow.

In conclusion, I would like to emphasise once again that Russia is set to make active efforts in this organisation. This concerns both expanding trade and economic links and partnership, security issues, and educational aspects as these are our absolute priorities.

The most important thing is that interaction with the SCO partners serves our countries’ interests and aims at strengthening peace and stability in the vast Eurasian region.

Thanks for your attention.

Please, go ahead.

Muratbek Imanaliyev: Thank you, Mr Putin. You have said it all, I will only add that we confirm and state the fact of active and very efficient involvement of our observer states and partners into the SCO’s economical, cultural and educational activities. Particularly, I would like to remind you that the last January saw the meeting of the SCO Business Council board in Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia, our observer state. On this occasion, I would like to thank the Council of Heads of Government for the adopted decision to strengthen the financial, material and organisational aspects of activities of the SCO’s permanent bodies, of the Secretariat and the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS). Thank you for your attention.

Question: Mr Putin, you have spoken of your intention to strengthen partnership in combating the drug threat. But, as you know, the US and other NATO countries plan to withdraw their troops from Afghanistan. In this regard, do you expect higher drug trafficking from that country and which efforts are you planning to undertake? Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: First, the US and other NATO countries are constructing infrastructure there, spending vast sums of money for this purpose. For me, this hardly comports with the plans to withdraw troops, but I guess this is what is going to happen. We will proceed from what we know and hear from official sources. Certainly, we are concerned about the drug threat. We have spoken about it at the meeting today, with all speakers raising this issue. Everyone is concerned about this, and I have commented on the problem at the extended meeting and I will state my view once again: Certainly, the Afghan government, the military and special law enforcement bodies should be able to fulfil security tasks, including combating drug trafficking. This threat is very large and serious, we can see it affecting our country as well. There are several aspects to it. The economic aspect is most important. Efforts should be made to assist Afghanistan in restoring its economy, creating well-paid jobs and developing agriculture. Efforts should be made in all areas. Certainly, assistance must be provided to reinforce Afghan law enforcement bodies and help the country establish its armed forces – again, Russia is doing a lot in this regard – as well as to strengthen professional partnership and cooperation between our law enforcement bodies and to fortify the border. This issue if of particular importance for us within the Customs Union, and we are thoroughly discussing this issue at the union’s sessions.

As you know, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation was established precisely in order to settle border issues between former Soviet republics, Russia and China following the disintegration of the Soviet Union. The organisation has fulfilled its mission in full and very effectively. I am confident that by carrying on this tradition, our border activities will make a significant contribution to the fight against drug trafficking. Let me repeat that this is our common concern, and we have spoken about this in detail today.

Question: Mr Putin, you and your colleagues discussed the global economy today, in particular, the eurozone. In your opinion, what amount, under what conditions and in what form should financial assistance be provided to the eurozone by countries such as Russia or China? You mentioned today the potential participation of the European Central Bank in operations of the Financial Stability Fund. Could this make up another condition? If financial aid is effectively provided, should the European Union become more accommodating in other areas, such as energy?

Vladimir Putin: You said that we had discussed many issues related to problems in the eurozone. We mentioned many of them, but did not discuss them. We mostly talked about challenges and issues facing the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. Of course, everything that happens in the eurozone affects us directly, and we could not help but bring this up. We, at least Russia and China (the main SCO countries in terms of economy), do not have the same problems as the eurozone. We do not have inordinate amounts of government debt, whereas in the eurozone countries it averages 85%-87% of the GDP, in some countries amounting to a whopping 124%-125%. Russia’s government debt makes up 10% of the GDP, of which only 3% are external loans. In fact, Russia’s government debt is approaching zero. In this sense, we can talk about our financial health and feel confident about it. However, we are still dependent on events in the global economy and the eurozone. Yes, it’s true, and I would like to stress that this is my personal opinion, that I believe the ECB would be doing the right thing if it took part in addressing the issues facing the eurozone’s Financial Stability Fund. Yes, that would mean an increased money supply, but this would be a well-grounded decision given the current conditions. 

To a certain extent, there’s nothing wrong with this, and it would not lead any abrupt changes in inflation rates. However, I’m aware that not everyone is of the same opinion, including our European colleagues. Many prefer to strictly abide by the principles of financial discipline and stay the course without the slightest deviation. This position is understandable and it inspires respect. However, the solution to this issue does not depend on us. This must be decided and carried out by our European colleagues.

There is a way that Russia can take part in this. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev spoke about this recently during the G20 meeting. He said that as a member of the IMF, Russia could participate in this work using tools provided by the IMF. We want to minimise the problems in the eurozone. Certainly, we will not link this with energy supplies or anything else. However, we believe that if Russia and the People’s Republic of China actively participate in the global efforts to improve the situation, this should improve our nations’ standing in organisations such as IMF, and other structures of this kind.

Thank you for your attention. Goodbye.