Talks in Kiev: breakthrough Russian-Ukrainian relations

The talks between the Russian President and his Ukrainian counterpart in Kiev have been successful. At the joint press conference after the meeting both presidents expressed satisfaction with the results.

According to Mr Putin, the sides have achieved the new higher quality of their partnership. The Russian president said that the potential of relations between Russia and Ukraine is great and needs developing. Among others, the sides agreed to improve both the investment climate and business contacts between the two countries. Presidents also paid attention to several joint projects concerning peaceful use of atomic energy, space exploration and construction of aviation.

The presidents also discussed co-operation in the energy sector.

The Russian side stressed its sticking to the economic principles fixed in the previous agreement that was reached in 2006.

“We do not see any reasons to change our stance on the already signed agreements. As for the additional supplies of gas, we can discuss it within the framework of previously reached agreements. As I have already mentioned, we are ready to co-operate with Ukraine on the basis of market principles. If there is a need, we are ready to supple additional gas,” emphasised Mr Putin.

For his part, President Yushchenko underscored the general character of assessment that was made at the talks.

“We have drawn attention [from details] to our relations as a whole. We have assessed the current situation in the energy system and the organization of the electricity supplies. We have discussed the future of gas co-operation in terms of transit and gas supplies. However, we haven’t gone into technical details,” Mr Yushchenko pointed out.

Russia’s president also remarked that enhancing co-operation in the energy field is key to energy security not only for the two countries but also for the whole Europe.

As for the problems of the Russian Black Sea fleet and the Kerch Strait, the parties agreed to work on those issues using as a springboard the agreements they had already reached.

“Within the next 2 or 3 weeks we are going to formulate the joint plan of actions concerning our state borders or so-called ”road map“ for 2007-2008. Both sides have confirmed that before our next meeting we finish our work on the declaration of strategic partnership between Ukraine and Russia. We also confirmed our strategic positions on topical issues. Today we have achieved major results concerning cornerstone questions. I mean, first of all, our principal agreement to intensify our talks about the delimitation of our territories in the Kerch Strait,” specified Mr Yushchenko.

The Ukrainian president then elaborated on the problem of Transdniestria breakaway republic, saying that Russia and Ukraine have made a definite progress in resolving the problem.

“On the one hand, the customs order has been preserved in the region, and, on the other hand, the passenger and cargo transportation have been resumed among Ukraine, Russia, Transdniestria and Moldova, which is very important. A number of agreements on check points have been signed with Mr Putin. We have agreed we shall continue our work on the issue, including the organisation of the future work of the unified customs agencies, unification of customs order and construction of several new check points in the future. The very important document in terms of international interests that we signed today is the agreement on the number of commissions,” added the Ukrainian president.

“I agree with Mr Yushchenko that we have advanced on the Transdniestria problem as well as the state borders issue and overall international co-operation. We have agreed to help the citizens of our countries to maintain friendly ties. Humanitarian co-operation is one of the most important aspects we are going to develop. In this framework we shall promote a number of joint cultural and humanitarian projects. Thus,  in 2009 both of our countries are going to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the famous writer Nikolay Gogol [who is traditionally appreciated in both countries],” said the Russian president.

In conclusion, the presidents expressed their common opinion that both countries realise the strategic importance and practical advantages of Russian-Ukrainian co-operation.

“That is why we are going to keep on building our relations on the basis of pragmatism, respect for our equal rights, and, of course, friendship,” summed up Mr Putin.

“For some issues, we simply need more time to solve them. The main thing we have no shortage of political will to solve them. Although some questions were not solved during the talks, we have agreed on the mechanisms,” added Mr Yushchenko.

Although the sides did not discuss most of the problems in detail, they found common grounds for their solution and expressed principal agreement to continue their work on many aspects of Russia-Ukraine co-operation in the near future.

In comparison with the previous time of tensions, the results of the meeting could be considered as a breakthrough in Russia-Ukraine relations.

Later today, President Putin also met with Ukraine's Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich. At this meeting Mr Putin stressed the important role the Ukrainian government has in boosting relations between the two countries.

“I am pleased to observe the growth of the trade turnover between our countries.  To the great extent it was due to the efforts of the Ukrainian government.  There are many issues yet to be resolved, and we are having active dialogue in the field of energy supplies, machinery, aviation, space development and transportation – the issues that are vitally important for the millions of people in our countries. I am totally satisfied with the work that is done, and I think we have a very good prospect of solving all of the existing issues,” said the Russian president.

On his side, Mr Yanukovich expressed optimism concerning the future of co-operation between the two countries.

“The Ukrainian government will continue the intensive dialogue and co-operation with our Russian colleagues. This mood is shared by the Russian government and, what is most important, by the people,” emphasised Mr Yanukovich.