QUESTION: Vladimir Vladimirovich, you already mentioned your sense of the summit’s outcome. Could you also tell us some of your impressions? Today you will meet one-on-one with the Iranian leadership. What are you expecting from this meeting and what will be its main themes?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I would restate my positive assessment of the results of today’s meeting. I believe that we really did move in the direction of resolving fundamental issues with respect to determining the legal status of the Caspian Sea.We agreed that until we come to a final decision we will adhere to the rules that exist today. But what I think is important is that on certain issues we had unanimous agreement. And on issues that are very important for our countries. We agreed that we will assert the sovereignty of littoral states in the Caspian, and this applies to the issue of sub-soil extraction. And the second thing: we agreed that shipping should only be carried out under the flag of states bordering on the Caspian Sea. In our view this is also very important.
We agreed to intensify our economic cooperation and to a proposal made by the President of Iran who suggested that we should establish a corresponding organisation to oversee our economic activities. As the first step towards implementing this plan, we agreed to hold an economic conference between the Caspian Sea states in Russia next year. All of this is evidence that the summit was a success, and I would especially emphasise that all heads of state were interested in discussing the topics on the summit’s agenda.
We spoke very frankly, topically and in an interested fashion. We did not reach agreement on everything or all the time, but it is truly obvious that we desire to find a consensual arrangement. I am confident that if this atmosphere prevails in the future, then all our decisions will be mutually satisfactory. And just like my other colleagues, I would like to thank the Iranian party for organising today’s meeting.
As to bilateral relations, we know that Russia and Iran have a very long history of mutual contacts. Our volume of trade is growing steadily and has already reached the 2 billion dollar mark. We have very interesting, promising areas for cooperation, including space, aviation – first and foremost civil aviation – and energy, a sector in which we are undoubtedly world leaders. All of this plus, of course, the Iranian nuclear programme. Russia is the only country that is helping Iran carry out its civil nuclear programme. Incidentally, the President of Iran has already said that in the declaration we signed today there is a reference to the fact that all of the Caspian littoral states belong to the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons under the inviolable condition that all our states have the right to develop their peaceful nuclear programmes without any restrictions.
This will certainly be a topic that we discuss seriously today.