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Meeting with the heads of government of the CIS and EAEU states

June 9, 2023, Sochi

The President met with the heads of the foreign delegations taking part in the meetings of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council and the CIS Heads of Government Council in Sochi.

The meeting was attended by Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Chairman of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council Mikhail Mishustin, Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic, Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office and Chairman of the CIS Council of Heads of Government Akylbek Japarov, Prime Minister of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ali Hidayat oglu Asadov, Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of the Republic of Belarus Roman Golovchenko, Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan Alikhan Smailov, Prime Minister of the Republic of Cuba Manuel Marrero Cruz, Prime Minsterof the Republic of Tajikistan Kohir Rasulzoda, Prime Minister of the Republic of Uzbekistan Abdulla Aripov, as well as Secretary General of the Commonwealth of Independent States Sergei Lebedev and Chairman of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission Mikhail Myasnikovich.

* * *

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues and friends!

I am happy to welcome all of you to Sochi. I hope you like it here. Some of you may not have been here before – we are all the more pleased to present the new, post-Olympic Sochi, and I hope you will be interested in seeing it.

Now, Mr Mishustin told us that you have done a great job on the entire extensive agenda. The Eurasian Intergovernmental Council sessions and the CIS Council of Heads of Government meetings were successful.

In addition, there was a plenary session of the Eurasian Congress. At this session, in cooperation with businesses, social and expert circles, representatives of government bodies discussed issues of economic development and ways of improving the living standards of our people as a result of our cooperation, things that we are all striving for, that we are actually working for.

You also visited the Eurasia is Our Home exhibition organised here in Sochi. I hope you enjoyed it. Mr Mishustin reported to me even before he planned this event. I hope it made an impression. In any case, this was done, among other things, to showcase the most prominent and promising areas of our cooperation.

So, you have participated in a wide variety of events that have one central common goal – to deepen integration and identify new areas for interaction. These topics were the focus of attention at the recent meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council in Moscow.

By the way, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko arrived in Sochi yesterday on a working visit. He is still here today and he knows I am meeting with you now, so he asked me to convey his best wishes of success in your work.

I would like to emphasise that the governments of our states are facing very ambitious and complex tasks to promote further integration in the economic, social and humanitarian spheres.

First of all, we are talking about the further expansion of trade ties and greater involvement of our economies and economic entities in Eurasian production, transport and logistics chains, as well as the implementation of relevant investment and infrastructure projects.

We need to increase industrial cooperation more vigorously, to create new joint ventures, including under the common trademark, ‘Made in the EAEU.’ Or it can be ‘Made in the CIS.’ I don’t think anyone would mind. It doesn’t matter, as long as all our countries develop effective cooperation. As I said, it is important that such a brand – or both – become recognisable and popular with consumers in each of our countries.

Particular attention should be paid to strengthening technological sovereignty in the backbone sectors of the economy and achieving genuine technological self-sufficiency, so that our countries do not depend on foreign technologies or companies in critical industries.

I have said this many times, and I would like to repeat it here as well: we are certainly not going to isolate ourselves from anyone, from the global economy, especially not from its most promising development centres. This is not about sparing no effort to make everything at home top to bottom – this is not our plan, not at all. We will strive to remain a significant part of the global economy, and we certainly will. But in critical areas – I will phrase this cautiously – it would certainly be better if we were independent, because self-sufficiency is the basis for sovereignty.

In the same vein, it is imperative that we ensure digital independence. This means that we must continue to work vigorously on building a single digital ecosystem comprised of national systems for online public services and e-governments.

I’d like to boast and say words of gratitude to the Government of the Russian Federation. A lot has been done in Russia in this area in recent years. I think we have the right to say that we are undoubtedly world leaders in this area. In this regard, we are, of course, ready to share our achievements and our experience with each of the CIS and EAEU partner states.

We should step up our activity via the executive authorities and the central banks of our countries to strengthen our financial sovereignty. This will help us to ensure the stability of credit and banking as well as the settlement infrastructure and to diversify and harmonise the Eurasian financial market so as to create favourable conditions for preserving capital and investing it in our economies.

Naturally, any creative ideas aimed at making our integration more dynamic and enriching it with new content would be desirable. The implementation of Russia’s proposal to add a fifth freedom, the freedom of knowledge, to the four freedoms existing within the EAEU – that is, the free movement of goods, services, capital and human resources – would contribute to this. Freedom of knowledge implies the introduction of common principles and standards of education, coordination of scientific programmes, standardisation of requirements for professions, and development of unified textbooks in technical and other subjects.

Let me stress once again: this does not mean that we should return to the Soviet system of education – and we all come from the Soviet Union – and use some old postulates from 30 or 50 years ago, not at all, and very differently, actually. We should simply build on the fundamentals of our education system, but look forward, move forward, take the best that exists in the world and create our own.

I am sure that all these areas can and should be developed in a broader context: with the participation of all member states of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Russia will assume the CIS chairmanship next year, and we are determined to work very closely with our partners in the commonwealth to implement these ambitious plans. By all means, we will take into account the practical suggestions and initiatives that are discussed during your work here in Sochi.

In conclusion, I would like once again to thank the participants of today’s meeting and express my conviction that by working in concert, together, helping each other, we can achieve tangible results in the development of multi-faceted interaction between our states, and thus, between our peoples.

I thank you for your attention. I hope I did not bore you with my opening remarks.

It is my pleasure to give the floor to the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Mikhail Mishustin.

Welcome, Mr. Mishustin.

Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Chairman of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council Mikhail Mishustin:

Thank you.

Mr President, colleagues!

Indeed, a number of important international events attended by representatives from our closest neighbours and allies are taking place in Sochi.

This year Russia is chairing the bodies of the Eurasian Economic Union, and our colleagues in the five member states are part of the implementation of the priorities you outlined in your address to the union leaders.

Our cooperation is developing very dynamically. We had an in-depth and constructive discussion on the most important issues within the union. We also considered the possibilities of increasing this interaction both internally and externally.

We exchanged views on implementing the plan of priority measures for the digitalisation of rail transit, and the agreement on the use of navigation seals.

We compared our approaches to the creation of an independent ratings agency in the Eurasian space. Mr President, you listed this goal among our priorities for this year.

Separately, I would like to inform you that the Agreement on Mutual Recognition of Documents on Academic Degrees in the Eurasian Economic Union was signed. This removes certain restrictions on the mobility of highly qualified personnel. These specialists will be able to take jobs in any of our countries and pursue professional activities there.

Vladimir Putin: By the way, I looked it up and many of our colleagues here have academic degrees. I believe this is significant for all those present.

Mikhail Mishustin: Yes, exactly. I believe there will be far fewer bureaucratic procedures.

The main thing we are concentrating on now is our efforts to achieve technological sovereignty. Our colleagues share this approach. We are focusing on resolving issues related to the substitution of foreign products, among other things, on launching joint ventures in strategic industries.

My colleagues and I also visited the Eurasia is Our Home exhibition. Mr President, we talked about this, and you supported the idea of the exhibition itself. It presents more than two hundred cooperation projects which cover almost all areas, including industry, finance, digitalisation, healthcare, education, sports, and many others. Significantly, the exhibition was arranged by industry-specific principle rather than country-specific, as we have done in the past. We are talking about common initiatives that are being implemented in close cooperation between our states.

Each of the projects proves in practice that by combining our competencies, our resources, our experience and, of course, using the strengths of each, exchanging these practices, it is possible to produce excellent, sought-after and competitive products. We have everything we need for this: talented and creative people, manufacturing capacity, and most importantly, the desire to move forward together, and the understanding that further development is possible only by relying on our own strengths and working with reliable partners from among friendly states.

We are now preparing the regulatory framework to launch a very important project – subsidising the union’s programmes. We expect that the first ones will receive support as early as the beginning of next year. That is, we will be able to further promote EAEU-made high-quality products, advanced solutions and technologies.

Within the EAEU, we are stepping up our efforts on the digital track. We are taking measures to increase the share of mutual transactions in national currencies and expanding the possibilities of using national payment systems.

Regarding the international agenda, the union remains the centre of attraction for a large number of foreign partners. Many countries are interested in increasing the dialogue with the union in various formats today. We have carried out serious work on drafting a free trade agreement with Iran; we expect to sign it before the end of the year. We are stepping up our talks with Egypt, Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates.

I would like to assure you that my colleagues and I are doing all we can to ensure the timely and effective implementation of the decisions of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council meeting held on 25 May in Moscow under your chairmanship, Mr President.

Other events were timed to coincide with the meetings of the Intergovernmental Council – I will briefly mention them. One of them is the third Eurasian Congress, which brought together experts, representatives of our business and academic communities, and government authorities. The discussions were lively, and there were many practical ideas on how to promote the integration process. We collected a lot of proposals on how to address the challenges we are facing.

Another important event is the second Youth Forum of the Commonwealth of Independent States, which was held jointly with the Eurasian Economic Union. It allows us, Mr President, to receive feedback from young people. You always suggest this: see what people expect from you before undertaking any project. We want to understand the views of young people on how our states should develop. It is very encouraging to see that we have a large number of young people that are not indifferent, that are talented and full of initiatives. We have held a number of meetings with them and they are ready to work for the benefit of our countries.

Mr President!

Sochi also hosted events of the Commonwealth of Independent States, where we also reached some very important agreements.

First, let me congratulate my colleagues: an agreement on free trade in services and on investments has been signed. This is an important step. This document had been under development for over ten years, and now its implementation will open additional opportunities for businesses and for our people.

I would like my colleague Akylbek Japarov, Prime Minister and Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office of the Kyrgyz Republic, to speak about the results of the talks within the CIS format, as it is our Kyrgyz friends who are chairing the CIS this year.

Mr President, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you personally, and on behalf of my colleagues, for your attention to the past events and for organising all the events here in Sochi now.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Please, Mr Japarov.

Prime Minister and Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office of the Kyrgyz Republic Akylbek Japarov:

Thank you very much.

Mr President,

First, let me express my sincere gratitude to you and Mr Mishustin for the warm welcome and the high level of hospitality in Sochi.

Please also let me pass to you the warm greetings and best wishes from our President, Mr Sadyr Japarov.

It is gratifying to note President of the Kyrgyz Republic Sadyr Zhaparov’s successful official visit to Russia on the eve of Victory Day in the Great Patriotic War and his participation in the Victory Parade as an honoured guest. Kyrgyzstan carefully preserves the memory of our fathers and grandfathers’ heroic deeds. They gave their lives for the sake of our common great Victory.

Before my speech, I would like to make a small digression to history. In 1945, it was in this region that the historic meeting of the three leaders took place. We have all seen this meeting in many photos. We were born in the Soviet Union. Thus, I want to say that both in the 20th and in the 21st centuries Sochi has been a centre of decision-making, at least I hope so.

Over three busy days we successfully held the first meeting of the Council of Heads of Government of the CIS – the Commonwealth of Independent States – in the year of the Kyrgyz Republic’s chairmanship.

The signing of the Agreement on Free Trade in Services, Establishment, Activities and Investments, which has been worked out over the past ten years, during the CIS meeting was an important event.

During our chairmanship at the CIS, we are determined to further strengthen our joint measures to create the most favourable conditions for mutual trade and eliminate unnecessary barriers to trade, to contribute to stepping up CIS activities, to the deepening of integration processes in the commonwealth space.

The Eurasian Intergovernmental Council meeting was held in a traditionally constructive and trust-based atmosphere.

In addition, I am very happy to note the successful holding of the second Youth Forum of the EAEU and CIS countries in Sochi on the same days, which was launched last year in Kyrgyzstan, the “Eurasia is Our Home” international exhibition, where our republic fully participated, and the third Eurasian Congress held today.

The results of these events and the exceptionally friendly atmosphere in which they took place, without doubt, clearly express our common desire to increase integration and cooperation.

I would like to emphasise that no pessimistic forecast by international financial institutions can interfere with our firm intention to consistently promote trade and economic cooperation.

As a scholar and practical economist, I can say that they – some international financial analysts – rely on the economy of forecasts whereas we rely on the economy of data. These data show us the exact opposite, the dynamics of the economic growth in our countries.

Meanwhile, today we are facing not only difficult challenges and goals but also opportunities and prospects. It is important to use this time to intensify our work on promoting integration ties, and trade and economic cooperation. Joint efforts to develop trade, investment and economic integration are opening up new horizons for our business people and facilitating sustainable economic growth.

It is important in the current conditions to expand the use of alternative currencies in mutual transactions – rubles, soms, and yuans, as well as gold. Previously, in the Soviet Union, our currency – the ruble – was backed by gold and precious metals and this practice was common knowledge. Later, this efficient system was replaced with the current fiscal system. It created the conditions for one currency to dominate in international transactions.

I would like to say again that we need to work hard on this. We also need to step up our joint efforts to develop transport infrastructure and logistics between our countries.

In conclusion, I would like to emphasise that we can only find solutions and ways out of difficult situations if we act together, proceeding from mutually beneficial and mutually acceptable decisions. So, today Sochi should perform its historical mission once again to facilitate the drafting of decisions in favour of peace and humanity.

I am pleased to announce that the meetings of the Council of the Heads of State and the Heads of Government will take place in Bishkek next autumn under our CIS Chairmanship.

Mr President, we will be happy to welcome you to hospitable Kyrgyzstan. For our part, we will do all we can for an excellent experience at the forthcoming events.

Thank you for your attention.


June 9, 2023, Sochi