2 november, 2009 19:08  

Following their talks, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen held a joint press conference


"We are grateful to the Danish Government for giving permission for the construction of the Nord Stream gas transmission system through Danish territorial waters and part of the Danish exclusive economic zone in the Baltic Sea. We greatly appreciate this prompt and sound decision on the part of our colleagues. It is an example of a measured, politically unbiased approach towards energy issues and energy cooperation in Europe."

Transcript of the beginning of the press conference:

Vladimir Putin: Mr Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen, today was my first meeting with Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen. And I am pleased to say that we had a constructive discussion on almost all items of interest to both our countries. The constructive approach that both parties demonstrated is cause for optimism.

I hope that in the long run these discussions will allow us to bring Russian-Danish relations to a new level, especially since political contacts between our two countries have made significant progress, with cooperation on the economy, science, education, culture and other areas expanding.

Today we discussed cooperation in trade and the economy in depth. In 2008, bilateral trade grew by 37%, amounting to $3.6 billion. However, it fell by the same amount in the first quarter this year because of the crisis. Nevertheless, the mutual interest and the momentum we have gained have had a notable positive effect, and we'll be able to restore the former level trade in the next few months. I expect that that will fall by 17% and no more. It is currently 19%.

Cooperation in the energy sector, other industries, transport, and agriculture has been significant as well. We have mutual, coinciding interests in the Arctic.

As for the energy industry, we are primarily interested in infrastructure projects.

We are grateful to the Danish Government for giving permission for the construction of the Nord Stream gas transmission system through Danish territorial waters and part of the Danish exclusive economic zone in the Baltic Sea.

We greatly appreciate this prompt and sound decision on the part of our colleagues. It is an example of a measured, politically unbiased approach towards energy issues and energy cooperation in Europe.

Bringing this gas transmission system into operation will ensure additional energy supplies to the main European consumers, including Denmark, which will receive 1 billion cubic metres of gas annually through the Nord Stream system. This volume may be increased threefold in the future.

We have been working on energy efficiency and energy saving. Denmark has a very valuable experience in this. The Leningrad, Voronezh, Vologda, and Kaliningrad regions, as well as several other Russian constituent entities, have established ties with Danish organisations that operate in this industry.

Cooperation in high-tech and knowledge-intensive industries, as well as in healthcare and the pharmaceuticals industry, is certainly of mutual interest as well.

We also touched on combining our efforts to combat crime across borders and international terrorism. And of course we discussed environmental issues, such as the environment of the Baltic Sea, effectively protecting it against pollution, and preparations for the 15th session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen in December.

As for preserving the Baltic Sea environment, I can add that Russia, which currently holds the Baltic Sea States Council presidency, has drawn up a separate programme during its tenure, which I signed yesterday. Russia is currently preparing a targeted programme for 2010-2015 to improve the environment of the Baltic Sea. We are determined to carry out a series of environmental measures in the Baltic area consistently.

In conclusion, I would like to thank Mr Rasmussen for the fruitful and comprehensive talks. Today's visit will certainly have a positive impact on the development of the relations between our two countries. Thank you.

Lars Løkke Rasmussen (through an interpreter): First, I would like to thank Prime Minister Putin for inviting me to visit Moscow so soon after I became Prime Minister. I regard the current visit as proof that Russian-Danish relations are good and will further improve in the future.

As Prime Minister Putin has said, the recent years have seen a growth in trade between our countries. Our trade is balanced, although it has dipped because of the financial and economic crisis, but not as much as in other cases.

I hope that this visit and the upcoming state visit (by the Russian President) to Denmark will help to intensify our cooperation.

In addition, we have discussed several topics that have to do with challenges we share. Prime Minister Putin and I agree that ambitious tasks must be set in preparation for the December climate change conference in Copenhagen.

We have had a constructive discussion on the preparations for the climate conference in Copenhagen due in December. I presented Prime Minister Putin with my vision of what the Copenhagen agreement should be. The agreement has two goals. One is a politically binding agreement with immediate effect. Beginning from 2010 the world may embark on a "greener" road.

The agreement should also be a guide to negotiations towards a legally binding accord.

I see Russia as an important partner in the preparation for the climate conference. In this connection I would like to note that Russia is in the process of making decisions on improving energy efficiency.

This shows that it is possible to respond to the climate challenge and at the same time seek economic progress.

Perhaps this area offers new opportunities for cooperation between Russia and Denmark on better use of energy and enhanced energy efficiency.

We have had constructive discussions on creating conditions for cooperation between the business communities of our countries.

This is good news for Danish business leaders with whom I am due to meet later today. They have major investments in Russia. I have the impression that Danish companies readily invest in Russia.

Our two countries face other common challenges, for example, in the security field. Both countries support efforts to achieve stability in Afghanistan. This only begins the long list of common interests. Prime Minister Putin spoke about Baltic Sea cooperation. I can mention cooperation in the Arctic.

In conclusion I would like to note that there are many areas in which we should strengthen the already good relations between Denmark and Russia. So I look forward to this work and I look forward to Prime Minister Putin's  early visit to Copenhagen. Thank you.

Question from Berlingske Tidende (through an interpreter): A question in the light of what may be described as austere relations between Denmark and Russia in recent years. Has Denmark's consent to the building of Nord Stream improved these relations?

And my second question is to do with the climate summit. Considering the huge amounts of unused waste is the Russian Federation prepared to conclude a binding agreement?

Vladimir Putin: We have agreed that there will be one question per journalist. But considering that it is the first visit by Mr Prime Minister, we will make an exception.

As for the Nord Stream, that is a thoroughly pragmatic decision of the Danish Government. That is my opinion. Denmark does not merely meet its obligations as a member of the European Union and contribute to the creation of new routes for the delivery of Russian energy to the main consumers in western Europe - and that means many European countries - but guarantees extra gas deliveries for itself via the same route, namely, Nord Stream.

Increased Russian gas supplies to Denmark will enable Denmark to remain a gas exporter to the European market, including Sweden and the Netherlands. The Prime Minister made it explicit during the negotiations today. It makes more economic sense for everybody.

Now, to give a short answer to your question as to whether this decision has improved the relations between our states, the answer is yes, it has.

And now a word about the climate conference in Copenhagen. As you probably know, it was Russia's ratification of the Kyoto Protocol that enabled the Protocol to come into legal force. But for the Russian ratification that document would not exist. Russia has declared itself to be an active supporter of promoting the idea of nature conservation.

In accordance with the Protocol, we were entitled to zero growth of emissions into the atmosphere since 1990. In reality, we have reduced that parameter down to minus 30% of the 1990 level.

We can even today cooperate on this with many European countries, including Denmark, in the framework of the Kyoto Protocol. The cooperation must have a practical economic character.

Are we prepared to back Denmark's efforts to promote the ideas of the post-Kyoto period? Yes, we are ready to do so. We believe that it would call for a solution of at least two issues.

The first is a global one and it is that all countries, especially the biggest polluters - that is, the major economies of the world - should sign this document. All of them without exception. Otherwise it would be rendered meaningless.

Secondly, Russia will insist that its capacity, the capacity of its forests to absorb carbon dioxide, should be more fully taken into account, something that the Kyoto Protocol, in our opinion, has not done on a proper scale.

Therefore we will support Mr Rasmussen's proposal that the Copenhagen meeting should lead to a binding political document. Our support will be based on broad cooperation with other participants in this process. Thank you.

Question from RIA Novosti:  I'll try to make it one question although it will probably be a little too long.

Vladimir Putin: Two short questions is the same as one long one. 

Question: On Sunday you had a conversation with the Prime Minister of Sweden, which currently holds the presidency of the European Union, and you discussed the potential gas problem that may arise with Ukraine.

It was reported today that you have talked with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, although the topic of your discussion has not been revealed. In light of the fact that Russia and Denmark are jointly implementing the project of an alternative route of delivery to Europe, have you discussed this subject today and what was the keynote of the discussion? Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: First of all I would like to say that Nord Stream is not an alternative, but an additional route for delivering gas to Europe. I don't think I will divulge any secrets if I tell you that our conversation with Ms Merkel today was devoted more to industrial cooperation than to energy. We discussed possible cooperation on some ambitious projects in the sphere of high technology, specific large-scale projects. We also discussed investments in Russia and the engagement of the German and Russian Governments in all these areas.

I mentioned the possible problems that may arise in connection with Ukraine's failure to pay for our gas supplies, but I did not press the issue, I spoke in general terms. I do not want to unduly enlarge on this subject now. I hope that both Gazprom and its Ukrainian partners will honour their contractual obligations.

Of course I briefed the European Union President, and the President today is Sweden, so I discussed it with the Swedish Prime Minister. Russia has made an advance payment of $2.5 billion for transit. In effect we have given massive financial assistance to our Ukrainian partners. We have paid for transit through the 1st quarter of 2010.

The IMF is telling us that Ukraine has no problems with money, that it has the money. The Ukrainian Prime Minister claims that President Yushchenko is blocking the transfer of the money from the Ukrainian Central Bank to the Government so that payment could be made.

We know nothing about it; we do not interfere because these are internal political matters in Ukraine in the run-up to the election. But if there are indeed any problems we would ask our European partners to step in and if necessary make available the necessary financial resources in the shape of loans to our Ukrainian partners. I repeat, we have already paid Ukraine $2.5 billion, let the Europeans throw in a billion, they should not be stingy, they have the money, let them splash out.

But the question should be directed not to our guest today, but to the President of the European Union and the Chairman of the European Commission. In principle, they have said earlier that this is possible: they need a month or a month and a half. Three months have passed, and it is high time something real were done about it.

I have briefed our guest today on this issue. But I do not think that we should burden the current visit with problems on which this visit has no direct bearing.

To date our Ukrainian partners have met their obligations, although we all are experiencing difficulties because of the current crisis. We hope that these obligations will continue to be fulfilled.

We have many bilateral questions and problems. They are being addressed, and we are moving forward on all of them. I would like to thank the Prime Minister. We are solving many issues with dispatch. These issues may be very important bilaterally and in terms of international multilateral cooperation. They have a marked European relevance.

Lars Løkke Rasmussen: I agree with you entirely. I would like to thank you for the constructive discussion. I look forward to our next meeting. Conversations and talks between Prime Ministers is one thing and cooperation between enterprises, businesses and schools in the two countries is quite another.

So, I look forward to the debates at the Danish-Russian Government Council which was created several years ago and which guarantees closer cooperation.

Thank you.