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Meeting with Romano Prodi

November 25, 2013, Rome

Vladimir Putin met with former Prime Minister of Italy and Special Envoy of UN Secretary-General for the Sahel Region Romano Prodi. Mr Putin and Mr Prodi exchanged views concerning the situation on the African continent, as well as migration-related issues.

Special Envoy of the Un Secretary-General Romano Prodi (retranslated): Welcome!

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good evening, Romano! I am very happy to see you. Thank you for finding the time to meet.

Romano Prodi: It is always a pleasure for me. Following Valdai, it is very important and enjoyable for me to be meeting with you in Rome.

Vladimir Putin: I also wanted to start with that topic. I wanted to thank you for participating in that conference and make a request. As you know, we are preparing for the G8 summit next year, and one of our main themes for the G8 is a very important one: migration, migration processes and the problems associated with them. I think this issue is particularly pertinent for Russia, Europe and Italy.

I would like to make a request: would you, as a member of the Valdai Club or simply as an expert, work with our experts, including our sherpas, to prepare this topic?

Romano Prodi: It would be my great pleasure, although, of course, I am not a serious expert on migration. But naturally, I am ready to help with all the economic aspects pertaining to these issues.

We can discuss which topics we want to give more attention to, which topics to address. Naturally, I would like to talk more about the Mediterranean Region, the region that I am familiar with, where I live. But that is a technical aspect, and of course, my answer is yes.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you.

We will talk with our colleagues, those who worked within the framework of the Valdai Club, to get that part of the expert community involved in preparing issues for the G8 as well.

Romano Prodi: Will this be an exclusive topic on the G8 agenda?

Vladimir Putin: It will be one of the main topics.

I would like to give you, as an expert in our Valdai Club, a pin which we will present to all its foreign participants, as a memento.

Romano Prodi: It is beautiful. Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: The second topic is the one you brought up yourself – I am referring to your efforts in the United Nations, the African issues you are working on.

Romano Prodi: To give a brief summary of what I have done in my work, I would like to say that, as you probably know, I am preparing a special report to discuss within the framework of the Security Council. We will also hold a special meeting on this issue; there will be a Security Council session on December 12 devoted specifically to my topic.

An Italian university and our experts have prepared a special programme. The topics we will be touching on are known to everyone: food, water, healthcare, schools and energy.

The biggest innovation in this process lies in the fact that donor-nations, and I hope that Russia will be among them, can choose how they provide assistance: either transferring funds directly, or selecting a particular project and carrying it out under their flags. For example, building a hospital, which would be constructed under the flag of a particular nation.

This will help us implement our projects much more quickly, to avoid all the bureaucratic procedures and immediately carry out the work necessary to reach our objectives. This way we will be changing the concepts of versatility and multilateralism, but all the participants have agreed with this idea.

I very much hope that Russia will become an active participant in this process, as far as our policy in Africa is concerned. This way, Russia can make a sizable, real input into our common work.

Initially, my mandate was supposed to expire in October, but it was extended until January 31, 2014 and I expect that in the next few days my plans and projects in this area will be approved. The African Bank has committed to monitoring the implementation of these ideas.

I very much hope that we will be able to carry out everything on our agenda, although I won’t deny my concern that the global community’s attention has recently been diverted toward other issues. Many other international crises have arisen, including in Syria, and people are simply forgetting that Africa also has some very pressing problems.

It’s not even about the economic situation in these countries being particularly difficult, but rather the fact that, among other things, there is a risk of terrorism in these states, where borders barely exist.

I would like to tell you about my particular concern regarding the situation in Libya. We underrate the processes taking place in that nation, the tension and clashes that are occurring there. I think the situation there may become similar to the conditions in Syria before the war. We need to do something now, before all these problems spiral out of control.

Vladimir Putin: I fully agree with you on this matter. As for your suggestions concerning Africa: at this time, I cannot say how and how much, but we will certainly participate in this programme and certainly look into your proposals in more detail.


November 25, 2013, Rome