Press Conferences

11 november, 2008 19:00

Vladimir Putin and Egyptian Prime Minister Dr Ahmed Mahmoud Mohammed Nazif held a joint news conference following talks

Vladimir Putin and Egyptian Prime Minister Dr Ahmed Mahmoud Mohammed Nazif held a joint news conference following talks
"Russia and Egypt established friendly ties long ago, and are steadily developing a dialogue at the highest and other high levels. We have been coordinating our foreign political positions and successfully developing our trade and economic contacts."
Vladimir Putin
Joint news conference following talks with Egyptian Prime Minister Dr Ahmed Mahmoud Mohammed Nazif

Vladimir Putin: Ladies and gentlemen, Mr Nazif,

It is a great pleasure for me to meet this representative Egyptian delegation led by Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif.

I would like to say straight away that I am very satisfied with our detailed talks, which were of great mutual interest-just as all our contacts of recent years, as it should be in long-established friendly partnerships.

What I have said is not an empty compliment. Egypt truly is one of Russia's principal partners in the Arab and Muslim world. We regard it as the leading country of its region.

Russia and Egypt established friendly ties long ago, and are steadily developing a dialogue at the highest and other high levels. We have been coordinating our foreign political positions and successfully developing our trade and economic contacts.

When I visited Cairo in April 2005, we adopted a joint statement on further deepening our friendly relations and partnership. We are glad to see our bilateral ties rise to a qualitatively new level within these years.

To promote our strategic partnership, I believe it possible in the present situation to elaborate its more eventful formats. It is necessary, considering current global developments, to respond to global economic challenges.

In this connection, I would like to point out the clear progress in our trade and economic contacts, which is borne out by statistics. Bilateral trade has grown fivefold since 2003 to hit the $4.2 billion mark, including revenues from tourism. One and a half million Russians visited Egypt last year, and this year's figure will approach two million.

Improving the structure of our trade was also on the agenda of today's talks. This improvement is due to high technologies, and joint projects in aviation, space, civil nuclear energy, transport and communications.

We also talked about the establishment of a specialised Russian industrial area in Burg el Arab, near Alexandria. If this project is a success, it will promote Russian commodities and high tech services in the Egyptian market and in third countries, mainly in the Middle East.

As I summarise today's work, I want to stress that we are determined to further strengthen an equal and mutually respectful partnership with Egypt. I am conscious of the great positive role Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak plays in the process. Today, we have made another stride on the road of strengthening our ties.

Thank you.

Ahmed Nazif (from interpreter's text): Ladies and gentlemen, Mr Prime Minister, ministers, brothers and sisters,

The decades of Egyptian-Russian relations have proved that understanding between the two nations and national leaderships is a reliable basis for overcoming the adverse results of cardinal global changes and difficulties arising from shifts in the political and economic world order.

This partnership also promotes the transformation of the energy of reform into greater opportunities for closer bilateral links.

Coordination between our countries is the key factor of their further close ties, as confirmed by continuing contacts and meetings of their leaders. The present visit is part of these efforts. We regard as an instrument of coordinating all bilateral issues and joint analyses of the ways to open new vistas of our relations, especially in trade and the economy, for development in the interests of both countries.

I have brought with me two written messages from Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, with words of the utmost respect and best wishes. Both messages confirm Egypt's interest in strengthening our bilateral relations. They also say that Mr Hosni Mubarak is eager to meet with Mr Medvedev and Mr Putin in Cairo. Their visits would come as welcome continuation of regular bilateral consultations and coordination.

Our meetings of this morning demonstrated the great degree of similarity between the two countries' approaches to a wide range of international problems of shared interest. They also showed how close our views were on Middle Eastern regional problems. In that, we proceeded from our unity in realising the importance of joint efforts toward peace and stability, and toward the elimination of all conflicts the region presently encounters.

In this connection, we welcome and highly appreciate Russia's principled stance on restoring the rights of those entitled to them, and in favour of peaceful settlement of Middle Eastern problems through dialogue, negotiations, and rejection of violence and of attempts to change particular situations by force. We also pay Russia its due for its active and effective peace efforts at international forums and in such influential international formats as the Quartet of Principals, which had its latest meeting in Sharm el Sheikh on November 9, as well as the G8.

The global economic crisis has affected world banking and domestic financial markets. Both countries pay great attention to it. In this connection, we confirm the necessity of international teamwork and permanent Egyptian-Russian coordination to minimise the dire influence of the crisis on our countries' and global industry.

We also confirm the need to support many spheres of bilateral partnership-the projects that have been under discussion and that can decrease the impact of the crisis on our countries.

Today's talks focused on trade and economic relations. We proceeded from the necessity of joint efforts to extend bilateral trade and balance it out through diversifying exports and spheres of partnership, promoting investment in many manufacturing fields, and taking steps to remove possible obstacles to those goals. New fields of bilateral investment should also be helpful. We confirmed the importance of promoting Russian tourism in Egypt, and we shall do everything necessary to increase it.

Egypt is eager to attract ever greater Russian investments, and has proposed gas, oil and petrochemical projects, and infrastructural development of ports and motorways. We regard these initiatives among the most spectacular instances in that field.

We also pay due attention to Russia's readiness to cooperate with Egypt in its intention to launch civil nuclear energy projects. We are eager to draw on Russia's rich experience in personnel training and project management and safety. That is why we call Russian companies to take part in tenders for future nuclear plant construction.

On my own behalf and on behalf of the delegation accompanying me, I would like to express heartfelt gratitude to Mr Vladimir Putin and entire Russia for its hospitality and the spirit of partnership that permeated today's consultations. All that confirms our intention to make a breakthrough in our relations, excellent as they are.

Thank you, Mr Prime Minister. We look forward to welcoming you in Cairo.

MC: Ladies and gentlemen, please ask your questions, one from Russian and one from Egyptian journalists.

Question (from interpreter's text): I have a question for both Prime Ministers about bilateral investment partnership. What do you think of its future?

Ahmed Nazif (from interpreter's text): We think there are vast opportunities for such partnership, considering the many fields where we could pool our efforts.

In particular, we have both concluded that grain is prominent in our bilateral trade. We are both convinced that we should increase the proportion of high-tech industrial products in trade.

That is why we find transport partnership so promising. We are interested in spreading joint investment projects to that field, too. We want Russian companies to take part in developing Egyptian ports and other infrastructure, and thus promote Russian commodities in Egypt and third countries.

There are also ambitious energy projects, especially considering Russia's vast experience in that sphere. These projects concern gas pipes and all other relevant fields, to say nothing of civil nuclear projects, which were on today's agenda.

Vladimir Putin: I fully agree with Mr Nazif. Engineering and high technologies make just 10% of our trade.

On the whole, our partnership is diversified. Nevertheless, communications, engineering, high technologies and other fields of two or three processing stages remain the most promising and of the utmost importance. Our aircraft building partnership has excellent antecedents of partnership. Our second jointly produced TU-204 liner is working in China and has excellent prospects in the world market.

Energy partnership is also promising. Such Russian companies as LUKoil and Novotech are already working in Egypt, and certain companies, Gazprom, for example, are interested in investments and production.

We have signed documents on Egyptian initiative to develop our contacts in civil nuclear energy, and specialists of the Rosatom state corporation are ready to start practical consultations.

The infrastructure, railways, motorways and seaports are all of great shared interest, and all open investment opportunities, to say nothing of special zones, one of which, near Alexandria, I mentioned earlier.

There is a problem, however. I pointed it out to Mr Nazif and asked him for assistance, as well as President Hosni Mubarak. As we see it, Russian banks should have an opportunity not merely to issue loans to Russian and other investors who want to work in the Egyptian market but also to accept their assets as collateral, as they have fully proved their vitality, competence, reliability and effectiveness. This is especially topical in a global financial crisis. We will discuss this further.

Question: I represent the Arabic-language Rusiya Al-Yaum television, and have a question for both Mr Putin and Mr Nazif. In its time, Russia proposed to establish an organisation of gas exporting countries. Iran, Qatar and other countries might join it. What do you think of such prospects?

Vladimir Putin: You are referring to the so-called Gas Exporting Countries Forum. We are promoting this idea. We are well aware of certain consumer countries' apprehensions. They are ungrounded, I assure you. We are not setting up a cartel, and we do not intend to sign cartel agreements. None of us intends to cede even the slightest part of our independence in decision-making. However, energy producing and consuming countries should be equally entitled to the right of coordinating their actions, exchanging information, and doing everything in their power for smooth energy supplies to the world market. More than that, I think it is those countries' duty. Main consumers should be entitled to reliable and unbroken supplies with fair and economically sound pricing. As we all know, Moscow will host the next meeting, and our Egyptian partners have confirmed their desire to attend and their interest in Forum activities.

Ahmed Nazif: Egypt has previously taken part in the work of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum. Indicatively, Cairo hosted its 5th ministerial meeting. We look forward to the 7th meeting, which will gather in Moscow, as Mr Putin said. I fully agree with him on the need for gas exporting countries' coordination. It is their right, and no one should regard the exercise of that right as a threat to gas consuming countries.

Vladimir Putin: After all, basic consumers establish similar organisations, so why shouldn't exporters do so? I don't see any grounds for discrimination.

Thank you.