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News Conference by French President, Russian President

Aired February 10, 2003 - 12:44   ET


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Let's take you somewhere else in the world, to Paris now, and a news conference being held by French President Jacques Chirac and Vladimir Putin, talking about the situation with Iraq and trying to avert a war.
Let's listen.

JACQUES CHIRAC, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): ... by means of agreement. We mentioned the problems of disarmament and nonproliferation, and we adopted a joint declaration which seeks to take into account the follow-on of the decisions taken in Kananaskis involving global partnership, and we also mentioned the problem of our common participation after the tricentenary of St. Petersburg, and because we -- we mentioned what the G-8 are doing about that.

We also mentioned a number of bilateral issues, be it ever closer cooperation at the ministerial level, who meet every year, the ministers of foreign affairs and defense, in our cooperative council on security matters with regard to the strengthening which we all need to see in the relationship between Russia and the Europe Union. And of course we mentioned the problem of Chechnya.

And I said to President Putin how much we would like, with the referendum that is soon going to take place, that a door will be opened to a political solution to that problem; of course within the framework of the Russian Federation.

And I would of course mention that we condemn all kinds of terrorism.

We mentioned the problems of aeronautics and space, and our cooperation has great promise, and the decisions taken by Aeroflot to buy Airbus and the MiG training aircraft, which is very promising with regard to the future, and also helicopters. And we mentioned the problem of space cooperation, and I expressed the wish that the agreement between Kuru (ph) and Soyuz (ph) be made rapidly with the European Space Agency.

And we mentioned our cooperation in energy. And we also have made a joint declaration on that point, which was distributed to you, or will soon be distributed.

And of course we mentioned the questions of security and safety at sea, which are very sensitive matters for France in particular at the moment.

And finally, we ended with regard to the necessary strengthening of the partnership between Russia and the European Union.

So those are the main subjects which we touched upon. And President Putin will make some comments of his own.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. President, First Lady, I would like to thank the French leadership for inviting me to this country, and I think that it's occurring parallel to a number of very important matters.

And what we discuss bilaterally is equally important, and I think that the president will agree with me that in our meetings we frequently stressed that Franco-Russian relations, given the past and the present, should not only be deepened further, but they should be strengthened and developed further. And that refers to our bilateral actions.

Our countries have relations going back very far in history and have undergone very serious tests, but now we are building a new atmosphere, a new relationship, and we talk about a new security architecture involving France and Russia. This is extremely important for both of our countries and for the world as a whole.

This common action, as I've said, this drawing closer together will help us to build very constructive partnerships with regard to Russia, Europe and the whole world.

Our discussion, I could say that the atmosphere was one of trust and understanding, and I am very grateful to my French colleague for this. And we touched upon very substantive matters, very practical matters related to our relationships with France.

And of course we touched upon some of the most sensitive international issues, including, of course, the situation in Iraq, as you heard, and the position in the Korean Peninsula.

First and foremost, I would like to say that we have a joint position with regard to Iraq. Both of our countries insist on the need to solve the problem and the crisis diplomatically, and we consider that a proper decision can -- or careless action could lead to unknown results.

And we have noted the report submitted by the United States in the Security Council. We think that the international inspectors should carefully examine what they said.

With regard to further action, the Security Council and the United Nations should act and be involved. They are qualified. And further steps will be taken on the basis of that knowledge and qualified reports. And the highly qualified reports of the inspectors will provide a base for the future action.

With regard to the position of our two countries, we agree on other things. We also agree on the need for anti-terrorist action. We work together to strength the nonproliferation. We are joining forces in order to combat the drug trade and organized crime. We seek to work together, and this is shown in a joint document. Firstly, a statement about strategic issues. And in the framework of this visit, we have signed an agreement about cooperation in combating crime and internal security and the convention on extradition of criminal and a memorandum between the Russian financial monitoring body and the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) mentioned combating the problem of money laundering. And we are going to work together in order to strengthen the economic structures of the European continent.

And we have a joint declaration also in regard to energy. We, I and Mr. Chirac, agreed particularly on this. We think that it would be appropriate that European joint action should be given particular attention, and we discussed this together.

And also the cooperation between Russia, the European Union and NATO. And we have made great progress with regard to security, defense, trade, technology, culture and education. And in Russia we very much appreciate the constructive input from France in these areas.

I would like to say in conclusion that we have done a great deal with regard to our common stance and actions, and we continue to work together in the economic area. And we have achieved at this stage a position which cannot really satisfy us; that is the measure of French investment in Russia and commercial exchanges. Together, we are going to promote this further, and I would stress that we want to intensify our cooperation in all these areas.

And let me say how much I appreciate and admire the French people.

Thank you very much for the invitation.

QUESTION (through translator): Do you think that the position of Germany, Russia and France will strengthen the possibilities of a peaceful outcome to the problem of Iraq?

CHIRAC (through translator): I think so and I certainly hope so.

QUESTION (through translator): Question to Mr. Putin.

The last few years the French and Russian leadership have talked about building a greater Europe. With regard to the spilt which we have seen with regard to Iraq, what do you think about this idea, and how realistic is it? And is it possible to have a strategic partnership between Paris, Berlin and Moscow?

PUTIN (through translator): With regard to the situation and the different approaches by different countries to the Iraq problem, I don't want to dramatize it. Each country has the sovereign right to construct its own policy as it sees fit.

SAVIDGE: We've been listening to the Russian President Vladimir Putin, and also French President Jacques President Chirac after they met today talking a lot of topics, but obviously Iraq was top of the menu board. It's clear, though, that Russia and France seem to be very much on the same page, not on the same page at United States. They believe that a peaceful resolution for disarming Iraq is the way it needs to go, and that war is not appropriate at this particular time.


QUESTION (through translator): According to what you've said, you have spent a lot of time talking about economic issues and cooperation between the two countries.

QUESTION (through translator): What are the prospects for developing action in that direction?

PUTIN (through translator): Indeed, energy cooperation is very important, and the president paid a great deal of attention to this subject. We also have made some statements about it. And French companies are actively working in Russia in order to develop equipment for producing oil in Russia and to sell it on the world market.

We have a large gas company, and there is also Gas de France (ph), which is working with Gazprom in all these directions, and we are developing our relationships. And there is a plan for French investment, which was supported by the Russian government.

CHIRAC (through translator): Well, we have to stop there, because we have further engagements. I made the introduction, so could I leave the last word to President Putin?

PUTIN (through translator): Well, I would like to thank the press for taking the interest to come to our joint press conference. Thank you very much.


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