Vladimir Putin made a press statement and answered questions from Russian and foreign journalists following his visit to France to participate in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, good evening,
I will talk briefly about our impressions of the Paris conference. This is a huge, major international event. I want to congratulate our French friends on the organisation of this work: everything is very smart and easy, convenient, and most importantly, I hope, will yield the result.
I will repeat what I said in my speech – namely, that Russia has not only met the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol, but has done even more. We not only maintained the 1990 emission levels, we actually reduced them. At the same time, as I already said, we nearly doubled GDP during this period. In other words, it is possible to develop the economy while preserving the environment. And at the next stage, Russia will reduce emissions to 70% of 1990 levels – that will be our contribution, and a very serious one.
So I hope that the conference will end on the right note, with the signing of a corresponding agreement that will be in force after 2020, when the Kyoto Protocol expires. Russia intends to make some serious commitments. We are confident that we will fulfil all these commitments – hoping, of course, that these commitments are legally binding and apply to all the world’s nations, taking into account what we agreed upon, including in Bashkortostan at the BRICS summit, where we worked out common approaches to resolving various global challenges.
One of these problems is certainly that of limiting organic emissions and keeping global warming within an increase to two degrees Celsius. I think this is a realistic plan and we are prepared to work on this together with our partners.
During today’s visit to Paris, I also had a series of meetings with colleagues, including the President of Peru, the President of the United States of America, the Chancellor of Germany, the President of the European Commission, the President of South Korea and the Prime Minister of Israel. We discussed bilateral issues, developing bilateral relations and, of course, the most pressing current problems, first and foremost the Syrian issue and options for its settlement.
Overall, I feel we are on the same wavelength and all assume that we can resolve the Syrian conflict exclusively through political means. We are currently seeking a platform to move forward. I hope that our foreign ministers will be able to find more common ground at the upcoming meeting in Vienna; I think we have the prerequisites for this.
Thank you for your attention.
Question (retranslated): Mr President, I want to ask why you did not arrive in time for the opening of the conference, why you did not participate in the moment of silence for the victims of the Paris terrorist attacks and did not participate in the group photo session.
Vladimir Putin: This is a purely technical issue.
You know how we feel about the terrorist attacks and what is happening as a result of those attacks. We were among the first to express our condolences to the French people following the attacks in Paris.
Russia has dealt with terrorist attacks many times and has had many victims, including in the latest attack – one of the biggest catastrophes of its kind – the destruction of our civilian aircraft over the Sinai Peninsula.
As you know, President Hollande recently visited Moscow and we discussed all this in detail; all this is the subject of our constant dialogue. The reason for my not being present for the photo session or any rituals is, I repeat again, purely technical and is due to my working schedule and the need to complete the discussions with my colleagues, to discuss in full detail everything we had to say here, at the session for which I came here, and during the bilateral meetings.
And I hope that our cooperation with French colleagues will go farther than with many others, that we will fight terrorism in Syria together on a practical level – I mean the agreements between our military agencies to coordinate their actions.
Question: Good evening, Mr President. What do you believe is the main obstacle to agreeing on a new climate protocol? For example, how can we settle the difference in quotas for developed and developing nations? What is your opinion on this?
Vladimir Putin: It’s always about seeking compromise. What is the essence of the developing nations’ position? The position is well-known to all, that nations with a developed economy have already covered a certain ground of development, achieved certain results and attained a certain production capacity and technological development, and if the heavy burden of emission restrictions is placed on developing economies, having to do with paying fines and so on, this will be one of the ways to hinder their development.
Of course, that is precisely why we all say we should provide assistance to developing economies through UN mechanisms, so they can reach a higher level of technological development and not have their hands and feet tied by emissions-related limitations. If we find that compromise – and we are close to it – then success is guaranteed.
Question: Good evening, Mr President. Many journalists want to know, did you have a meeting with President of Turkey Mr Erdogan today? And how often was the topic of the downed Russian plane brought up in your dialogues and contacts with other heads of state?
Vladimir Putin: I did not meet with the President of Turkey; we did not see one another and did not have a meeting.
As for the topic of the downed Russian plane, naturally, this topic came up during nearly all of my bilateral meetings; I provided the corresponding clarifications and talked about what happened. But it seems to me – in fact, I saw this – all my colleagues listened carefully and the overwhelming majority share the view that there was no need to strike an unprotected Russian bomber that did not threaten Turkey.
Question: I would like to ask a clarifying question that is probably of interest to colleagues as well. A week has passed since the attack on the Russian plane. Have you personally been able to understand why the President of Turkey took this step?
Vladimir Putin: We have heard from the Turkish side that it was not the President of Turkey who made the decision, that the decision was made by other officials. This does not have much significance to us. What is important is that this criminal action resulted in the death of two of our service members: the pilot in command and a marine corps member who was a part of the rescue unit. As for why they did it, you would need to ask them. It was a huge mistake.
Question (retranslated): Two questions, one related to diplomacy and the other concerning climate change.
First, what can you say about the planned blockade with regard to the formation of a broad anti-terrorist coalition? How do you assess the current situation in this area?
And second, as far as I understand, Mr President, you spoke about the importance of forests to preserve climate stability. According to statistics, in 2013, the area of forests in Russia decreased. How do you reconcile these two facts?
Vladimir Putin: As far as forests are concerned, they act to absorb emissions, soaking them up like a sponge, it is true that we have faced certain problems, particularly of a technological and environmental nature.
We are talking about climate change. When people talk about forest fires, particularly in northern Russia, it is, in part, the result of global climate change. This is the result of climate change when we witness other climactic or unusual phenomena in the form of hurricanes of a magnitude that mankind has never seen, et cetera. All this is a manifestation of the changes due, for example, to melting glaciers in the Arctic.
The preservation of these forests – and putting out forest fires when they occur – requires significant financial resources. These are the planet’s “lungs,” so we need corresponding treatment to keep them in good health. So indeed, we link the forests to the commitments to cut emissions. And overall, the overwhelming majority of our colleagues on the global arena agree.
Now, as far as creating a broad coalition to fight terrorism is concerned. You know, I spoke about this at the 70th anniversary session of the UN General Assembly: we have always supported this. But we cannot achieve this until somebody uses part of the terrorist organisations to achieve short-term political goals, until we fulfil the UN Security Council resolutions on stopping the sale of oil unlawfully extracted by terrorists, the illegal sale of the works of art, and so on.
We have just received additional information proving that unfortunately, large volumes of oil, industrial volumes coming from oil fields controlled by ISIS and other terrorist organisations, enter Turkey’s territory. And we have every reason to believe that the decision to shoot down our plane was dictated by the desire to ensure the security of these oil supply routes to Turkey – to the ports where it is shipped out in tankers, – while protecting the Turkmen is merely a pretext.
And, of course, you know that our pilots write “For our people!” on their missiles; in other words, this is revenge for our citizens who died over Sinai. They also write “For Paris!” on the missiles, as a revenge for the terrorist attacks in Paris. And yet, this bomber is shot down by the Turkish air force. What can we discuss here? What broad coalition? But we will still strive toward creating a truly effective, broad coalition, so that regional, local and financial interests will fade into the background against the global threat of terrorism.
Question: Mr President, we know that you had a meeting with President Obama today. What did you discuss, and did you agree on anything?
Vladimir Putin: We talked first and foremost about Syria, as well as things that should be at the forefront of our attention in the near future, including the list of what we consider to be terrorist organisations and the list of organisations that represent the healthy part of the Syrian opposition. We also talked about our joint actions on this political track. And overall, I think we have an understanding of where we need to go. If we are talking about the need for a political settlement, then we need to work on a new constitution, new elections and monitoring of their results.
And part of the discussion focused on settling the situation in southeast Ukraine; we discussed the need for full compliance with the Minsk agreements by all sides.
Question: Mr President, overall, are you upset with the state of bilateral relations with Turkey? After all, the level of partnership was unprecedented, and had taken decades of work. Now what?
Vladimir Putin: I think we are all upset, and I am personally very upset, because I myself did a great deal to build those relations over the course of a long period of time.
But there are problems that occurred long ago and which we were trying to resolve through dialogue with our Turkish partners. For example, we have long asked them to pay attention to the fact that representatives of terrorist organisations that fought or try to fight us with weapons in hand in certain Russian regions, including in the North Caucasus, emerge on Turkey’s territory.
We asked to stop this practice, but nevertheless have established that they are located on the territory of the Turkish Republic, residing in regions guarded by special services and the police, and later, using the visa-free regime, appear again on our territory, where we continue to fight them.
This has been happening for a long time, and we have repeatedly asked questions at the level of special services through so-called partner channels, as well as at the foreign ministry level and the highest political level. Unfortunately, we did not see any partner-oriented reaction to our concerns.
Thus, many questions that needed to be resolved one way or another have been brewing for some time. It is unfortunate that we must resolve them in such circumstances, but this is not our fault, this was not our choice.
Let’s end here. Thank you, and have a good evening.