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Meeting with President of Iceland Olafur Ragnar Grimsson

September 25, 2013, Salekhard

Vladimir Putin met with President of Iceland Olafur Ragnar Grimsson on the sidelines of the International Arctic Forum.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, please allow me to once again welcome you to Russia.

Thank you very much for always participating in events that address Arctic issues.

You have just told me you plan to hold a major forum in your country, bringing together members of the public and the academic community involved in studying Arctic issues. We will certainly support all such endeavours.

I am pleased to note that we are developing our bilateral ties. We are celebrating the 70th anniversary of the establishment of our diplomatic relations. Despite our low trade level, it is nevertheless evolving in a positive direction, which is great news.

President of Iceland Olafur Ragnar Grimsson: Thank you very much for inviting me to come again to participate in the Arctic Dialogue conference. I found in Moscow, when it started, it was a very important venue for constructive Arctic cooperation, and I have often in my discussions and speeches, both in Europe and the United States and elsewhere, referred to the Arctic conferences hosted by the Russian Geographical Society and your speeches as very strong evidence of the Russian commitment, of your personal commitment, to constructive cooperation in the Arctic.

So once again, I think this conference has shown a very strong signal on the importance of the environment, and your own comments, both in the speech and also afterwards, earlier today, is a very important signal to all of us.

And as we just discussed, at the Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik next month, we hope to continue this dialogue. We would welcome participation from the Russian Duma and from more scientific institutions, because I think it is important that people in all the Arctic countries should listen to the members of the Russian Parliament who have done legislation on the Northern Shield and other issues. So we become familiar with not only what the Presidency or the Government is doing, but also what the Russian Parliament is doing. So if I may use this opportunity to extend an invitation to members of the Russian Duma to attend next month the conference in Reykjavik. It would also be a good way to reinforce our long-standing cooperation between Iceland and Russia.

I will be participating in St Petersburg tomorrow in an opening of the exhibition of Kjarval, which you have supported personally, and in the beginning of October, we will continue in Reykjavik this culture of celebrations of our cooperation.

Throughout the history of the Republic, cooperation with Russia has a very strong element. And now, the arctic dimension has made it even more important, and as you said yourself, we are increasing our commercial ties. Iceland is continuing to export more to Russia. Icelandair started this summer a regular flight from St Petersburg to Iceland and then on to the United States. So for the first time in history, we offer regular flights to all the Arctic countries. This will be continued next year, hopefully also with Transaero from Russia participating.

And in other commercial areas, we are also seeing very good signs of cooperation. But once again, I bring to our meetings the importance of geothermal and clean energy cooperation. We have interested partners in building urban heating systems in different Russian towns. And also, perhaps, electricity production, both in Kamchatka and other areas. We discussed that two years ago. There was a method to execute that. It has not produced results so far. But I hope with your support, we can really move this forward in many different parts of Russia, both with respect to urban heating as well as electricity production linked to aluminium smelters and other industrial developments.

And finally, we also take a strong interest in the possibility of the Arctic cable, which will link Europe and America through Russia to Asia. And we have both Icelandic and American partners that are willing to participate in that process, which would bring high technology and information technology to all the Arctic areas and link Iceland and Russia and the Russian North to Iceland and America and Europe, as well as Asia, in a new way.

Let me also mention that in your speech at the previous Arctic Dialogue conference, you mentioned the need to cooperate on the new sea route, to create the regulatory framework, the laws and the other necessary ground rules for constructive Arctic shipping, and maybe we can do more in that area in the years to come.

Vladimir Putin: I would like to respond directly to a few issues.

First of all, with regard to geothermal sources and our agreements on cooperation in Kamchatka, all of this is still in force. I’m sure you realise that we simply need to make these projects economically viable and competitive, compared to other types of primary energy sources.

We know about your Arctic development plans, including for transport corridors and creating a port, and we are studying them carefully.

Of course, we are interested in broadening our cooperation not only in fishing, but in the high technology sectors as well. One example is laying a telecommunications cable that could later be connected to the North American lines.

You mentioned that Icelandair has begun flying to Russia. And indeed, we hope that soon, Russian airlines will also have the opportunity to do so – that they will see flying to Iceland from Moscow and St Petersburg as viable.

Finally, the exhibition in St Petersburg that you just mentioned. I think working in the humanitarian sector is no less of an opportunity than working in transport and or any economic sector. I know that your wife participated very actively in preparing this exhibition; please express to her my sincere words of gratitude.

As I already mentioned, we are commemorating the 70th anniversary of our diplomatic relations, and to this end, we have a range of cultural events scheduled both in Reykjavik and in Russian regions. For our part, we will support and promote these events in many ways.

Thank you very much.

September 25, 2013, Salekhard