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Official website of the President of Russia

Transcripts   /

Excerpts from a Transcript of a Conversation with Journalists during a Visit to a Drilling Rig

March 3, 2000, Surgut

Question: What is the importance of Russian oil for Europe?

Vladimir Putin: For Europe? I need first of all to think about the importance of oil for Russia because oil exports account for about 40% of national foreign currency earnings.

I believe oil and gas are a solid foundation for cooperation between Russia and Europe. In this respect, Russia has always been and will remain a very reliable and stable partner for Europe. Right now, we are expanding the export potential of the oil and gas sector. We can also cooperate with Europe in the sphere of petroleum derivatives because we have always maintained good relations with European oil and engineering companies. We have always bought a lot of drilling and refining equipment, and we also need equipment for deep oil refining.

In effect, oil is a solid foundation for expanding multi-faceted cooperation with Europe.

Question: Is political integration the main issue on your agenda?

Vladimir Putin: Are you talking about integration with Europe? As you know, business cannot develop without the goodwill of politicians. In my opinion, it is the duty of politicians to promote business and not to create any obstacles. Unfortunately, time-serving tactical political considerations, including domestic political ones, often become detrimental to the long-term interests of our countries.

March 3, 2000, Surgut