Press Conferences

23 may, 2008 20:30

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin answered journalists' questions after the meeting of the Council of the CIS heads of Government

"The first thing discussed today was the strategy for economic cooperation in post-Soviet territory".
Vladimir Putin
Question-and-answer session after the meeting of the Council of the CIS heads of government

Transcript of the meeting: 

Question: Mr Putin, this is your first visit and first event in the capacity of Prime Minister. How would you assess the effectiveness of this format for discussing CIS issues? And what integration prospects you see as Prime Minister?

Vladimir Putin: It was easy and interesting for me. Easy, because the tasks that Prime Ministers have to solve are set by Presidents, and I participated in the process of setting the tasks in previous years.

Speaking of the discussion's effectiveness, I think a meeting of the heads of Government is an effective way to solve problems. Today, over 20 documents on the integration process were signed and all of them deal with practical efforts. The first thing discussed today was the strategy for economic cooperation in post-Soviet territory. There is no doubt this is the basis for integration. We discussed in detail transportation and communications, including television integration.

I won't even mention the social component, our shared past, our decision to celebrate jointly the 65th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War and to issue a joint medal commemorating the 65th V-Day anniversary.

My counterparts have raised very important questions, including the support for the Russian language, one of the most important components for preserving our common humanitarian space. This initiative was not mine, but was prompted by other CIS Prime Ministers.

We also had informal discussions on some common problems, for example, inflation, its causes, and how to fight it. Almost all our countries are facing it. I would say we had a friendly, positive, and interesting discussion.

Question: Have you decided who would head the Agency on CIS Affairs, and did you introduce this person to your colleagues?

Vladimir Putin: No, I didn't. This introduction must be made by the Foreign Minister. I do not know yet if he made his proposal to the President or not.

Question: Did you discuss Russian energy prices with Mr Lukashenko and Ms Tymoshenko, and is Russia still facing the problem of gas debts?

Vladimir Putin: We discussed this in detail with Ms Tymoshenko. We would very much like the payment to be on time.

Question: You and Ms Tymoshenko expressed your readiness to start talks on new strategic agreements on gas deliveries to Ukraine. When will the talks begin?

Vladimir Putin: I said frankly - and our Ukrainian colleagues are aware of it - that we have to settle the debts accumulated in the previous years, so that the intermediaries participating in this process could fulfil their obligations on previous contracts. We are ready to meet our Ukrainian colleagues halfway and work with them directly, without intermediaries. We are ready to let Gazprom work directly with Naftogaz. We don't have any problems here, except one - to settle the debts for previous years. And Ms Tymoshenko understands this.