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Wednesday, 16 January 2002

The official visit of president of the Russian Federation- Press conference

Following an one hour and fifteen minutes of face-to-face conversation between Presidents of Poland Aleksander Kwaśniewski and Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, both Presidents took chairmanship over the plenary talks between the Polish and Russian delegations. To brief over 300 journalists gathered at the Hall of Columns in the Presidential Palace on the course of talks, the President of the Republic of Poland said: First of all I wish to voice my great satisfaction with the fact of playing host to President of the Russian Federation Mr. Vladimir Putin at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw. This is another official Polish visit of the Russian President after 9 years. It has aroused great interest and, as a matter of fact, I should say no more but ask one of the cameras to show how many journalists have come here because this strong group shows how enormous is this interest and expectations. These expectations are voiced by the Polish authorities and, more importantly, by the broadest circles of Polish people. None of the other visits has had this public response. We take it as a good omen but also as a great task for both of us-myself and President Putin, not to fail these expectations and hopes. Poland and Russia are now meeting in a room where the Warsaw Treaty was signed long time ago and the Round Table conference was held later on, as two free, democratic states which are building their new life for the 21st century. Poland is a member of the North Atlantic Alliance. Poland seeks to join the European Union but-having chosen this direction-Poland also want to closely co-operate with the Russian Federation. Poland wants our relations to be founded on good-neighbourly principles, to be rich in political, economic, cultural, and social contacts. Poland is convinced that that good co-operation between our countries will also serve stability, peace, and development of our region, the Central and Eastern Europe. I am glad that in our talks with President Putin we are saying similar, if not the same, things about this subject. We have the same expectations of ourselves and this is the way we want to see contemporary Europe: a Europe which co-operates, a Europe of the same values and utilising the great cultural heritage. But also a Europe able to face new challenges. During our negotiations, we have talked about the most important issues in the relations between our countries. We want this visit to make a new opening in our close political contacts, a true political dialogue at all levels, not only between the presidents but also between governments, ministries, regions, all the authority structures in Poland and Russia. We want this visit to invigorate economic co-operation and help Poland get rid of the huge trade deficit with Russia. I am glad to see the approach of President Putin who also understands our needs in this respect. We need to sort out some formal issues, we must conclude the necessary agreements, such as, the agreement on investment protection or the aviation agreement which has now reached the phase of preparation after years of waiting for finalisation and which will soon be initialled and signed owing to this visit We want to sort out the gas issues and work hard on the transit between Russia and the other parts of Europe because this is in our common interest. We have covered cultural exchange and we both believe that it is very unsatisfactory, much below the desired level, far from what used to be in the past. We are convinced that our societies are still open to the literature, film, theatre, to the great masterpieces which are coming to Poland from Russia and from Poland to Russia. We must do a big job by showing those people, those artistic attainments at exhibitions, through co-operation of the appropriate right institutions in order to restore the cultural exchange level of the past which is so much looked forward to by both our nations. We believe that we should pay more attention to scientific exchange. The first such fact has already occurred. There were "Polish Science Days" in Russia held in Moscow under the patronage of President Putin and myself. I think, we should march on this way just like we should assist ourselves in the contacts of universities, schools, and youth exchange. We have also talked about Kaliningrad, a district of the Russian Federation and a very important partner in the contacts between Poland and Russia. We would like all these issues which are still causing some problems to be solved. The presence of Kaliningrad governor in the delegation proves that the Russian side wants the same. Our talks have started. We will continue them at the lunch. We will hold another round of meetings also tomorrow in Poznań. I am not covering now all we have said about issues of security in Europe, world, about anti-terrorist coalitions, and all that is associated with multi-lateral problems but, closing, I would like to say that the atmosphere of these talks is excellent, very genuine, and open. President Putin is a great partner for conversation because there are no taboos, there is nothing you should refrain from mentioning to him and this is why I think that this visit can provide an atmosphere of confidence, good-neighbourly relations, and an atmosphere which is so needed not only by us, politicians, but also by people involved in business, and first of all by us all, the citizens of Poland and Russia. I would like to thank President Putin for this first phase of negotiations. If we continue the talks in such a spirit, they will certainly produce the desired and expected outcome. This is President Putin`s first visit to Poland so we give him a very warm welcome. I hope he will enjoy Warsaw and Poznań so much that he will often come back giving us the pleasure of playing host to him not only during his official visits but also the much expected private tours. I would like to assure Mr. President that Poland welcomes you with all its heart and it believes that this visit will indeed bring about a new quality, a breakthrough, and will give us impulses for Polish-Russian co-operation which are so much needed. At the start of the visit, we received documents recovered from Russian archives concerning Władysław Sikorski, a general, Polish Prime Minister, later on the Chief Commander and Prime Minister of the Polish Government in-Exile. I consider it a very important gesture which augurs that Polish and Russian historians will be able to work together, get into the archives, and describe the Polish-Russian, Polish-Soviet past relations as truly as possible. It made a strong opening of the visit. President of the Russian Federation said: First of all I must and I wish to thank President Kwaśniewski and the Polish authorities for the invitation and the extremely warm welcome. I would also like to thank representatives of the press for their interest in the visit. We see it as a milestone event in the relations between our countries. We believe that we now have good potentials for expanding our political contacts and political co-operation. During the recent years, we have been seeking to give a new quality to our relations, to make them truly European and corresponding with the potentials of our states, the closeness of our nations. I would like to give my special thanks for this to President Aleksander Kwaśniewski. After our meeting in the summer 2000, he was very gently building these relations up to the day of the present visit in which he showed intelligent understanding of all these difficulties and awareness of the prospects and significance of Polish-Russian co-operation. I think he has succeeded and we have succeeded. By overcoming old stereotypes together, we are building inter-state relations of the 21st century. They are founded on the principles of equality of material pragmatism. An important thing is, that our relations today are free from any political problems. During the talks I and President Kwaśniewski have been unanimous on the fact that one of our priority tasks-and my colleague has said it-is reaching a higher level, a new quality of trade and economic relations. Generally, we can be satisfied with the level of our trade relations. I believe that we are going to reach a result of about 6 billion US dollars for the last year. I have been to Paris recently where I said that our turnovers with France totalled only 3.5 billion dollars, while it is 6 billion with Poland. We agree with our Polish colleagues, of course, that the quality of this exchange needs to be improved. I am sure we will find good scenarios for efficient co-operation. It will be beneficial for the Polish nation and the nations of Russia (...). We have covered the question of the expansion of the European Union and Poland`s joining it. Our opinion is that this should not have a negative impact on the Russian-Polish relations. Let me draw your attention to the fact that about 4 million Russian citizens crossed the border to enter Poland and about 3 million Polish citizens visited the Russian Federation. This flow of people shows the diplomacy of nations and their mutual interest. We should intensify our contacts in the sphere of culture, science, and education. These contacts have a good tradition and good prospects. Our contacts in this field are unique, even in the recent years during which we can hardly call them intensive, our scientists with recognized intellectual potentials have never broke their contacts up. The Polish Science Days in Moscow have proven this. As for the international affairs, we have spent most time on struggle against international terrorism. We are sure that only our joint action can provide realistic possibilities, conditions for crushing the ideological, financial, and other structures of international terrorism. Criminals-terrorists must find no shelter. The fight against terrorism should be truly effective, hence we must build our co-operation on the truly international basis, use the potential of the United Nations. The UN should play a main role in this process. We should think of uniform international standards for the relevant law. During our consultations, we have noted close standpoints on such issues as strengthening security and stability. In this connection, I would like to say that Poland`s role goes far beyond the Central and Eastern Europe. We hope for a constructive dialogue with Poland in the construction of a new Europe and a new security system in the world. During the recent months, Russia and NATO commenced a new phase of co-operation and, of course, this subject was also covered in today`s talks with Mr. Kwaśniewski. We should soon develop a mechanism for co-operation with NATO. I am convinced that we have a common interest in building such relations, including the common interest with Poland which has been confirmed today by President Kwaśniewski. An important thing in the new century is not only to strengthen confidence between our nations and countries but also to preserve the best traditions of Polish-Russian and Russian-Polish partnership. I am sure we have all the potentials required for this today. Once again I want to thank Mr. Kwaśniewski for the invitation and for the atmosphere given to our conversation. Thank you very much.
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