3 july, 2009 19:22  

On completing his visit to the Krasnodar Territory, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin went to see the Ice Palace of the Sports Complex in the village of Vyselki, and also replied to questions from journalists


Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon. What questions would you like to ask?

Question: Mr Putin, you have held a meeting on agriculture. This sector looks good against the background of other industries, there are some positive results, but we are still in a crisis. Maybe, it makes sense to adopt some additional measures for supporting agriculture?

Vladimir Putin: I have already announced one of these measures. During the harvest, we will hold prices on fuel and lubricants to a 10% discount. I mean 10% below the wholesale prices. We have agreed on this with the oil industry.

But this is not the only measure of support. As you know, we continue subsidising interest rates, and will be doing this in the future.

We have discussed in detail the regions' preparations for the harvest season, and what interventions we should make on the grain market. We still have 25 million tonnes of grain in reserve, and we must make decisions on using it to prevent it from influencing the market during this and next year. We have mapped out measures to this end with the governors.

We have spoken about support for draught-hit regions. Regrettably, we have such regions, for instance Samara, which is facing huge problems. But, on the whole, agriculture in Russia is in good shape. Moreover, if it were not for the crisis, we would not have even felt this. For the first time in many decades, this industry is demonstrating better figures than any other sector of the economy.

The social development programme is also making headway, although we would like to do more in this direction.

This was a working meeting. Following the results, we have mapped out a plan of action which will be reflected in our draft resolution, which will be carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture and the other relevant departments.

I hope this is not simply an anti-crisis measure but a measure aimed at developing agriculture.

Question: Mr Putin, yesterday the President of the US said that you stand with one foot in the old way of doing business and the other in the new. How do you feel in this position? After all you will be meeting him, as will Dmitry Medvedev. What do you think about this?

Vladimir Putin: I have not seen the statement to which you refer, and so it is difficult for me to comment on it. If it is as you said, then what can I say... We will indeed meet and talk. The President of the US will be able to discuss any questions related to problems of cooperation on foreign policy, security and defence with Mr Medvedev.

As for, say, non-proliferation, the war on terror, even without those there are many areas where our points of view coincide. Often they complement each other and help stabilise the situation in the world.

If we see new developments in other areas, for example, if our American partners were to decide against deploying their new military installations in Europe, their anti-missile defence systems, or for example, if they were to reconsider their approach in expanding their military-political blocs, if they were to back away from that bloc-mentality, then it would of course be a big step forward.

In the economy, for example, some decisions were taken by the United States during the Cold War. Take the Jackson-Vanik amendment, which they have been promising to cancel for at least eight years and which to this day they have still not cancelled. If this were to happen, it would be big progress.

For our part we are ready to cooperate fully. We indeed expect a great deal from the new Administration. We think that the signals we have, so far, been getting from Washington indicate a positive dialogue and the development of a positive relationship.

We are awaiting the arrival of the President of the United States. And I would like to express my hope that this meeting will be productive. It will focus on strengthening our dialogue, something both we and the US need, I am sure of it. We are the largest nuclear powers, and that is why the world must also pay attention to these meetings.

We are living in a time of global financial and economic crisis, and in that sense what the American Administration is planning in terms of anti-crisis measures is also very important for us. What's new? What new actions are being planned by the American Administration to move beyond this global financial crisis? And in this respect we have a direct interest in the success of the American Administration since we hold a significant quantity of our gold and currency reserves in dollars.

Overall we expect the visit to be interesting and fruitful. As for us, if we are standing with one foot in the past and the other in the future... Well, you know there's a popular, less than literary, expression for this stance - we couldn't stand for long in such an awkward and barely upright position; we stand with both feet firmly on the ground, looking always to the future. This is one of Russia's essential qualities. And it is this that has always enabled Russia to move forward and get stronger. And that is how it will be in the future; I have no doubt about it.

But we are awaiting this visit with warm feelings and will say "welcome" to the President of the United States.