Press Conferences

27 november, 2009 18:02

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and French Prime Minister Francois Fillon gave a joint press conference after the Russian-French talks

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and French Prime Minister Francois Fillon gave a joint press conference after the Russian-French talks

Francois Fillon (through an interpreter): Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to say once again that I am delighted to receive here at Rambouillet on behalf of the French Government Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and a representative delegation of government ministers and the heads of industries at the 14th meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission.

This is a landmark in our bilateral relations. During the course of the talks this morning we repeatedly stressed that economic cooperation between France and Russia is really developing. Very many questions that we asked ourselves in Sochi last year have only now received worthy answers in the shape of signed agreements.

From now on it is quite clear that France occupies and important place in the Russian economy. We are ahead of the United States in terms of investments in Russia.

Our consultations are taking place at a remarkable time because next year will see a milestone in the relations between Russia and France, the Russia Year in France and the French Year in Russia. In this connection we will be very pleased to host President Medvedev who will arrive here in March on an official visit. Prime Minister Putin will come to Paris in May to take part in the inauguration of the Russian exhibition at Grand Palais.

Our President will visit Russia at about the same time. France is a guest of honour at the St.Petersburg Economic Forum in June 2010.

In other words, 2010 will see a good many significant and immensely popular events in such areas as science, economics and education. It will be an important stage in strengthening links and the civil society.

This morning we said that it is important to create a common space with free movement of people, capital and services.

That is why early accession of Russia to the WTO and the signing of new partnership agreements with the European Union are landmarks along the path of important achievements.

I welcome the signing of the agreement on labour migration which will promote freer exchange of professional workers between France and Russia.

We discussed the global challenges of our time which France and Russia must face together. I am referring above all to climate change. The Copenhagen Conference will open in a few days time. We discussed this issue in detail this morning and found out that France and Russia have very close positions as to how the Conference should proceed, especially its final agreements. We are close on the principles and the methods of achieving agreements in Copenhagen.

Very concrete steps have also been made: this morning, as you have seen, an agreement was signed between a Russian enterprise and a French enterprise (BNP Paribas) on the application of the Kyoto Protocol. It sends a very important signal of our shared commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

This morning we spoke about the richness of our bilateral relations which are becoming ever more diversified. I have just been telling my Russian counterpart that each time, from one meeting to the next, more agreements are signed. This reflects our growing partnership.

For example, energy efficiency. There is considerable untapped potential for this activity in Russia. The Dalkia project has been signed. Our gas cooperation is expanding, contributing to energy security of the entire European Union. I am referring to the entry of Electricite de France into the South Stream project. And Gaz de France and Suez are in the Nord Stream project.

An agreement has been signed on the Moscow-St.Petersburg Highway. We have strengthened our industrial and technical cooperation with Safran and Teles and cooperation in the pharmaceutical industry, I am referring to the accords with Sanofri.

Mr.Prime Minister, this morning France and Russia approved a very important resolution on Iran, the crowning of our joint efforts over two years under the UN auspices. The resolution was carried by a large majority of votes, which shows that the world community is concerned about Iran's nuclear programme.

It also shows that when France and Russia speak with one voice they can achieve a great deal in resolving international crises. That is about all I wanted to say.

It was a very positive and fruitful meeting. The project our President, Nicolas Sarkozy, was speaking about, the common space between the European Union and Russia, is not a dream. We can well put it all into practice. France is called upon to play a leading role, which is understandable because we have long-standing strong ties with Russia.

Vladimir Putin: Prime Minister,
Ladies and gentlemen.

The 14th meeting of the Russian French commission on bilateral cooperation has come to an end.

In the former years we often said that our countries had achieved a high level of political interaction but it did not translate itself well enough into real economy.

Throughout this year we have worked hard to change that situation. On the whole progress in many areas has been made. However, today, when we looked at all that has been done up until now, during the previous year in all the areas, I think we are coming close to implementing this task: transforming our good, high-level political relations into the sphere of real economy. I believe what we are witnessing today is a real breakthrough in economic cooperation.

I would like you to note that movement, noticeable movement, is expressed not only in the documents signed today, it is expressed in the amount of investments, the prospects of joint work which has practically started in all areas. Machine building, aviation, building of engines, space. In some areas movement is only starting. But the first steps have been made.

I am referring to our traditional energy cooperation, both in the field of nuclear energy and hydrocarbons. We cooperate in the field of transport. By the way, speaking about energy, a new quality has been achieved in cooperation between Russian and French partners.

How does it manifest itself? It manifests itself in mutual exchanges of assets and joint work in the markets of third countries. Today we discussed, for example, joint work in Britain.

As for transport, when we arrived here Mr.Prime Minister said, "You won't leave until we have solved the issue of flights over Siberia." Such an agreement has been reached, but only through a compromise. Our French partners have agreed to meet our requirements which are essential for the Russian players in this market.

Speaking about the humanitarian spheres, I would like to single out the intergovernmental agreement on labour migration. It greatly facilitates the procedure and paperwork for entry for enterprise managers, the staff of offices and subsidiaries.

It envisages considerable preferences for high-skilled specialists as well as young people who want to acquire an education or a new profession in one of our two countries.

This is a ground-breaking agreement to which business circles have actively contributed. I would like to stress that such questions are constantly raised not only by the representatives of the French business community. Practically all our colleagues in all the European countries have been seeking simplified procedures. Today we have agreed with the French for the first time that we will do it.

The document reflects our mutual desire to open up new opportunities for the citizens of the two countries. To create favourable conditions for direct cooperation between enterprises.

This is particularly relevant today in the context of global economic and financial upheavals. I am confident that it will help us to exit from the crisis.

The year between the previous meeting of the Commission and now has indeed been a difficult one. But the vast majority of large Russian-French joint projects, especially in the high-tech areas, are moving forward in accordance with the original plans and schedules.

In addition, there is a shared interest in broader business partnership. Our meeting today with the heads of major Russian and French companies is convincing proof of this. Many of the companies that were present, as I have said, are already working effectively.

We have discussed the planned Russian Year in France and France Year in Russia. There will be more than 350 joint events, not only in the capitals - Moscow and Paris - but in the regions of the Russian Federation and in the provinces of the French Republic.

The Commission approved the official programme of the future events. It includes five main areas: Economics, Higher Education and Research, Education and Youth Exchanges and Healthcare, Sports and Tourism...

I am sure that this initiative will bring us still closer together, will help us to get to know and understand each other better. I would like to warmly thank all those involved in this process: businessmen, and our colleagues in the Russian Government and the French Government. I think we have done a good job of work and I am sure that cooperation will broaden and develop at the same fast pace.

Thank you for your attention.

Question (as translated): France plans to sell a Mistral ship and Georgia is very concerned that it will be used against it. Mr Fillon, has Russia reassured you that it won't use this ship against Georgia? Mr Putin, you had a telephone conversation with Nicolas Sarkozy. Aren't you upset that he will not personally meet with you?

Francois Fillon (as translated): We held talks last evening. President Sarkozy could not attend them and he told Prime Minister Putin about this on Wednesday. As you all know, Copenhagen is not far off. France will play a major role in this conference, and therefore we are concentrating on preparations for the President's visit. After it, he will attend the summit.

We didn't find it difficult to persuade Vladimir Putin to defend similar positions as ours in Copenhagen, and our President fully agrees with him on this issue. As for the sale of the Mistral ship, it is sooner a logistics vessel.

We are now completing talks with the Russian Government. We are engaged in full-fledged cooperation in all fields. We cannot say that we want to establish a single economic space between Russia and the European Union (EU) and enhance security in Europe - such are our OSCE commitments, and then go backwards on every question. This is contrary to the requirements of our time. I would also like to recall that France, and its President played a major role in settling the Georgian crisis. France is ready for cooperation with Russia in all fields, including the defence industry.

Vladimir Putin: First, regarding the opportunity to meet with the French President. To my knowledge, he is currently in Latin America.

Second, I had a telephone conversation with him.

Third, under the Russian Constitution I could not keep my position, and now I occupy a more modest position. I don't find it embarrassing in any way. Moreover, I like my new job. My relations with the French President, Mr Sarkozy, have not changed. We are on a first-name basis. He calls me simply Vladimir and I call him Nicolas. To repeat, our relations are the same, there are no changes for the worse although he is a top executive and I'm a modest official in the Russian administration. Our personal ties have not been affected by this.

I wish you to have such friends. When you leave your important job in the media and occupy a more modest position, which happens in life, I wish you keep your friends.

Now let me turn to armaments. We have not yet decided anything on the purchase of a Mistral. You are a vendor and we are a customer. We have other interesting proposals. And in general, we haven't yet decided whether we will import anything or not, but anything is possible.

As for our use of armaments, I will tell you that if we buy armaments we will use them as we see fit.

Question: Mr Putin, could you comment on the agreement to restructure the capital of AvtoVAZ, which has just been signed?

At one point you made it clear to Renault that it would be good to render material aid to AvtoVAZ. When you suggested this, Renault gave a non-committal response and proposed some technological assistance.

What was signed today? Will the capitalisation of AvtoVAZ change? What role will Renault play in its operation? What will their partnership be like in practical terms? Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Major documents on the preservation and development of AvtoVAZ have been signed today. Renault will remain our strategic partner. We have agreed that Renault's share will not be decreased. It owns a stake of more than 25%, but may increase this share.

The Russian Government will provide 50 billion roubles for resolving social issues and developing the company in general. We may decide to capitalise the loans granted earlier, in which case our support will amount to 75 billion roubles.

Renault has assumed a commitment to contribute 300 million euros in the near future. We have a cooperation schedule. These funds may be transferred either as technological assistance or, probably in the future, as direct investment.

As I've already said, we do not rule out an increase in Renault's share. We do not yet have an agreement to this effect but it is not ruled out. If the French concern is interested, we are willing to discuss it.

Renault's commitment is to transfer technology and secure the manufacture of premium quality cars in its segment, and Renault is ready to transfer technology, the necessary equipment, licenses, expertise and so on. Its Russian partners are very happy about this.

As for social issues, laid-off workers at AvtoVAZ will be employed by its subsidiaries, which will be set up in the course of joint cooperation. At any rate, this is what the documents say and what we are planning to do.

Renault has experience in restructuring business and we will use this expertise.

Furthermore, with Renault's support, AvtoVAZ will launch an auto manufacturing enterprise in the Far East. I'm referring to the Japanese segment, notably Nissan.

Question: Messrs prime ministers. You spoke about commerce and cooperation, but there is also an issue of human rights.

You know that a lawyer died in prison recently and human rights activists are being murdered in Russia. Aren't you embarrassed about it, Mr Putin? This is discrediting Russia's image. Are you going to do something about this, Mr Putin?

Also, Mr Khodorkovsky spoke about the need not to forget about human rights. Have you talked to your Russian colleague about this, Mr Fillon?

Vladimir Putin: By virtue of our competence we have to deal with industry and the economy, although the issues you raised are very important and government bodies should always keep an eye on them.

As for the death of people, the state must make a special effort to protect life and health. If crimes occur in this respect, I'm referring to attempts on the lives and health of people, it goes without saying that the state should suppress them. We in Russia have always strived for this and will continue to work in this direction.

Now about the individuals you mentioned. If a lawyer was under arrest, he was not acting as a lawyer but was charged with some violations. If a man died behind bars, this is a tragedy and I'm very sorry about it. But I cannot comment on this case because I don't know the details or the charges against him.

Now a few words about other cases you've mentioned. Mr Madoff was sentenced for life in the United States and nobody gave a damn. Everyone says: "Good guy, it serves him right." Now Britain is considering the extradition of a hacker who stole a million dollars. He may be turned over to the United States, where he may be sentenced to 60 years in prison. Why don't you ask about him?

Some of those who went on trial in Russia have stolen billions of dollars! They are also charged with attempts on the lives of specific people in the course of their commercial activities. And these episodes have been proved in court.

As you know, Al Capone was formally tried in the 1930s in the United States for tax evasion, and in fact he was suspected for a whole combination of crimes. Tax evasion was proven in court and he was sentenced under the legislation in force.

Francois Fillon: I would like to add a few words in response to your question. France is closely following human rights issues all over the world and we know what road Russia has traversed in the last 20 years.

Today Russia is a democracy. I listened to President Dmitry Medvedev's address on November 12 and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's speech on November 21. They spoke about the need to diversify the economy, consolidate a law-based state and legal standards, and to promote freedom in all fields.

As all other EU countries, France is willing to help Russia on this road. It wants to be close to Russia and sign as many economic agreements with it as possible. We want to promote contact with Russia with a view to reaching common goals both in Russia and the EU - free movement of people, capital and services. This would be a space of freedom, a major instrument for giving globalisation a human dimension because globalisation does not always show respect for human rights, either.

This is the policy France is pursuing and will continue to pursue in the future. In this context I welcome all events in Russian-French relations next year. Our relations will become even stronger. Russian and French citizens will know more about each other's countries and their partnership.

Question: I have a question for both prime ministers. Did you discuss issues related to the global economy in the light of the latest news from Dubai? Can you comment on expert forecasts suggesting it marks the beginning of the second wave of the crisis? Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Indeed, what happened with the investment fund in Dubai, its technical problems and technical default has, to a certain extent, affected stock markets worldwide, after all it is a large fund.

We said more than once that dealing with the recession will be an exacting task and that fluctuation will be possible. The downturn affected the Russian economy, with the stock market sinking somewhat and the dollar gaining versus the rouble. Russian exporters worried about the rapid growth of the rouble, and they must be relieved now to see the latest developments. On the whole, I believe that the trend for revival can be sustained. Fluctuation is possible, but the overall trend is positive.

Francois Fillon (as translated): I would like to add that this is in no way a second surge in the crisis. It is one of the effects of the downturn, which is not over yet. We are aware of it; there are a number of indicators available to us. The economy is now becoming more stable, and we appear to be making our way out of the crisis.

It is necessary to uphold our efforts to revive the economy to maintain this fragile trend.

Some states may still suffer difficulties. This is why from the very outset France has been calling for carefully managing state mechanisms designed to deal with the recession.

We cannot allow any bubbles in the real estate and financial markets in the future since we know that they resulted in this decline. We are searching for tools to avert such developments in the future. As for your remarks, there are diverse financial tools in this region, which, I hope, will provide for averting a second surge of the crisis. This is it.

Thank you for your attention.