Text of Putin’s speech at NATO Summit (Bucharest, April 2, 2008)
The south of Ukraine – there are only Russians… Ukraine merely received it with the decision of KPSS political bureau. Who may assert that we do not have any interest there?… (excerpt from the famous Putin`s Bucharest speech)
So, about Kosovo. Mr. Сhairman has said that everybody respects Resolution 1244, but if everybody respected Resolution 1244, there would not be any one-sided declaration of independence. But I do not want to discuss this issue, we have discussed it at the G8, as well as at other forums, and we made a decision that we consider it illegal and able to cause serious consequences. But, if you noticed, we do not force anything. We formulated our position, and our position is open, but we do not go off into hysterics on this issue, and you should have paid attention to how reserved we were in the Caucasus on this issue. Of course, this policy puts us into a very complicated position at the post-Soviet space, because we have there enough situations similar to that with Kosovo – it is Transdniestria, Southern Ossetia, Abkhazia, Karabakh – there are many such situations. And you put us into a very complicated position, but we are trying to wriggle and behave very carefully, without destroying the situation there and without provoking military conflicts. That is why, however sad it may seem, but we here are also ready to look for any consensus, or a way out of the situation. Now I do not specify which exactly situation, I do not want to anticipate anything, in any case, we are ready to hear you, ready to think, ready to work somehow together.
As for the policy of expanding the alliance, we have been attentively watching your discussion yesterday. On the whole, of course, we are satisfied with your decisions, which took place. But If I speak about Georgia and Ukraine, it is clear that the matter concerns not only security issues. For our Georgian friends, of course, it is one of means to restore their territorial integrity, as they believe. Besides, by means of force, under the aegis of NATO. It is an old, many-years, lasting for more than a hundred years, ethnic conflict between Georgians, between Abkhazians (it is a small ethnic group, it numbers a mere 200 thousand people), between Ossetians, for a hundred years, and more, these conflicts are ethnic. To solve these problems they need not to enter NATO, they should have patience, establish dialog with small ethnic groups. And we have been trying to help them, besides, to help Georgia restore its territorial integrity. And even despite the decisions on Kosovo, we will not recognize the independence of these quasipublic formations, though they have been calling on us since long ago, for decades already. We have been very responsible, very weighted, and call on you to be careful as well.
But in Ukraine, one third are ethnic Russians. Out of forty five million people, in line with the official census, seventeen millions are Russians. There are regions, where only the Russian population lives, for instance, in the Crimea. 90% are Russians. Generally speaking, Ukraine is a very complicated state. Ukraine, in the form it currently exists, was created in the Soviet times, it received its territories from Poland – after the Second World war, from Czechoslovakia, from Romania – and at present not all the problems have been solved as yet in the border region with Romania in the Black Sea. Then, it received huge territories from Russia in the east and south of the country. It is a complicated state formation. If we introduce into it NATO problems, other problems, it may put the state on the verge of its existence. Complicated internal political problems are taking place there. We should act also very-very carefully. We do not have any right to veto, and, probably, we do not pretend to have. But I want that all of us, when deciding such issues, realize that we have there our interests as well. Well, seventeen million Russians currently live in Ukraine. Who may state that we do not have any interests there? South, the south of Ukraine, completely, there are only Russians.
The Crimea was merely received by Ukraine with the decision of the KPSS Political Bureau. There were not even any state procedures on transferring this territory. We have been calm and responsible about these problems. We are not trying to provoke anything, we have been acting very carefully, but we ask our partners to act reasonably as well. Besides, there was a call to act more actively on some directions of collaboration, let’s say, on Afghanistan. You know, I have just reminded Mr. Secretary General, when we talked with him tete-a-tete, that if our American friends managed to act rather effectively in Afghanistan and President Bush was very decisive and, on the whole, effective, I think the Afghan direction, without any doubt, is a success of the foreign policy of USA, in my opinion. But it happened also because we, Russia, have been supporting one-sidedly the so-called Northern Alliance for many years. We supplied them with a hundred millions of dollars of arms. It was the only real political and military force in Afghanistan, which, even pressed by the Taliban to the Tajik border, operated and formed the basis, which began battle actions against the Taliban at the territory.
It created a springboard for the international forces to enter this territory. We have been maintaining relations with Afghanistan, helping them restore their armed forces, supplying them with arms, spare parts, rendering humanitarian aid, training, and for a long time we have even provided the thing, which you could hardly imagine before – a transit not only by air, by also by land, for France, for the Federative Republic of Germany, and today Mr.Scheffer and our Foreign Minister signed a document on transit for the whole Organization of the North-Atlantic Treaty, about the transit of military cargo through our territory. Besides, if the discussion on your expansion issues developed differently yesterday, today’s transit agreement would not likely be signed.
But, considering that, nevertheless, as we understand, our concerns were heard somehow at last, we made decision for ourselves to not stop the collaboration on Afghanistan, but, to put it honestly, there was such a desire…