14 november, 2009 16:30  

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Slovenian Prime Minister Borut Pahor held a joint press conference


“First of all, we have been able to review all the issues on which our two countries cooperate. Secondly, we were able to make a lot of progress today on the work our two countries have been involved in together. This includes concluding an intergovernmental agreement on Slovenia’s participation in the South Stream project.”

Vladimir Putin A joint press conference with Slovenian Prime Minister Borut Pahor

Vladimir Putin: Distinguished ladies and gentlemen! First of all, I would like to welcome my Slovenian colleague, Mr Borut Pahor, and thank him for accepting our invitation to come to Moscow today. Of course, the most important thing today is football, clear as day. But as it happens, we concerned ourselves with some other issues.

Accordingly, I can say with full confidence that whatever the outcome of the match, today the visit will have a positive outcome for both Russia and Slovenia. Therefore, first of all, we have been able to review all the issues on which our two countries cooperate. Secondly, we were able to make a lot of progress today on the work our two countries have been involved in together. This includes concluding an intergovernmental agreement on Slovenia's participation in the South Stream project.

South Stream is becoming truly pan-European and a major energy project. We signed a concluding agreement with all the European partners that are necessary for the implementation of this project.

Therefore, today I have the opportunity to thank both our Slovenian partners and all of our partners in South and Central Europe with whom we have completed this work. Today, by signing the agreement between Slovenia and Russia, we can say that our energy and economy ministers dotted the final "i."

As for our bilateral relations, they are developing successfully. Last year, we had a record volume of trade between our two countries - almost two billion dollars.

Of course, we are seeing something of a drop due to the global financial and economic crisis. But we talked today and we are confident that we will overcome these problems and will develop our relations even further. It is important that we have created favorable conditions for mutual investment. Today, we agreed to expedite our joint work on drafting changes and amendments in our Agreement on Mutual Security of Investments.

And we already have investments today - Slovenian ones in the pharmaceuticals industry in Russia, for example. Our investments are the metallurgical industry of Slovenia. Altogether, there are Slovenian companies operating in more than 50 regions of the Russian Federation. We have agreed to support these operations in every way.

And Mr Prime Minister has come forward with an initiative to establish a business forum made up of representatives of Russian and Slovenian business circles. I think that this is a very good idea, and we, on our part, will support it.

Naturally, we need to develop our relations in the cultural sphere. Our associate center of the Forum of Slavic Cultures is located in Ljubljana. And in the time that Slovenia has been represented in the Council of Ministers of the Council of Europe - incidentally, Slovenia had worked quite energetically and in a results-oriented manner in this capacity - a major cultural event was held in the context of this forum in Europe. We thank our Slovenian partners for this work.

Slovenia has carefully preserved the memory of Russian soldiers who died in Slovenia during World War I and World War II. We are very grateful for this.

I would like to thank Mr Prime Minister and his entire team for today's joint work.

Thank you.

Borut Pahor (as translated): Mr Prime Minister, Your Excellency, ladies and gentlemen, now the time has come to be frank. And now I must answer the question - why has Slovenia pushed these talks so much in the past month? We wanted to hurry up and sign the agreement before our relations spoiled as the result of our football team winning.

Vladimir Putin (laughs): We'll see.

Borut Pahor: And now, Mr Prime Minister, we can say that in addition to talking about the work that the groups performed on the talks, we also conversed concerning the political and economic ties between our countries.

There are no open-ended issues between our countries, all the more so since both governments want to cooperate in the future cooperation and deepen our good relations. Why is Slovenia, a smaller country, important for Russia? First of all, we are the westernmost Slavic country. And since both people attach great importance to their Slavic identity, we have established a Slavic Forum in Ljubljana and both prime ministers note the importance of this Forum's work.

Slovenia is a member state of the European Union, a member of the Eurozone and part of the Schengen zone. Slovenia treats the Russian Federation as a friend and ally and wants the Russian Federation to treat Slovenia as a friend and ally.

The second item on our agenda is economic relations. The mutual benefit consists of both countries creating favourable conditions for investment and for joint entry into common markets.

We know that as a result of the economic downturn this year, the exchange of goods and services has been reduced, but we would like to turn this around next year. And that is exactly why we are the initiators of the establishment of a business forum.

I look optimistically into the future and this is good for our relations with our neighbours and friends. And now I invite you, Mr Prime Minister, to countenance our victory.

Vladimir Putin: Now would you look at that! We have a saying, "Don't count your eggs until they're hatched." Let the strongest team win, and we will welcome this victory. I am sure that not only opponents, but friends will meet today on the football pitch.

I want to once more thank all of our colleagues, because our work was not easy and the talks were difficult. But we still managed to find mutually acceptable solutions. Thank you very much.

And regardless of the rivalry, I'll say it again - we in Russia will always greet you on the football pitch as true friends. Thanks.