Mike Reads Putin

Sometimes  record speeches for (future interpreter) students. Recently I found an (English version of an) interview between Vladimir Putin and Kysun Yeon from Korean broadcaster KBS. I got the interview from here.  I didn’t read the whole interview, but just the part below. I made a few changes to the English in certain places so what I read is not exactly as the original. It should be exactly as the interview appears below. I figured I might as well share the recording around after having spent a bit of time on it.

Here is the audio and what I read is below the picture.

KYUSUN YEON: First of all, I would like to thank you for taking time for this interview out of your busy schedule.

PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Thank you for your interest.

KYUSUN YEON: I do hope that this interview will be a good opportunity to strengthen the relationship between our two countries. Let me ask my first question regarding the relations and partnership between our countries.

It has already been 20 years since these relations were established. And during this period, our two countries have been building a strategic partnership. What is your assessment of this? What are your considerations?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: First, I would like to thank the President of the Republic of Korea for her invitation and an opportunity to visit your country.

I made my first visit to the Republic of Korea in the early 90s, when I still was a deputy mayor of St. Petersburg, and, already back then, I was deeply impressed by your country. We visited not only Seoul, but also the southern part of the country, including Busan, as well as a large number of various industrial facilities. Even then, we were talking about the possibility and the need to develop our relationship not only on the national level, but also on the level of the regions of the Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation.

And you are right that we have achieved a substantial progress in a number of areas over these years. The Republic of Korea has become one of our key partners in Asia, which is reflected not only in the growing trade and a solid diversification of our relations, but in the strong ties even in such sensitive areas as military and technical cooperation. This gives me enough reasons to believe that the upcoming visit will bear fruit and create a positive and meaningful incentive for further development of our relations, both political and economic. I am sure that we will be able to cover all these topics in much more detail.

KYUSUN YEON: Now I would like to ask a question relating to the six-party talks. How do you assess the meaning and significance of these six-party talks and what role could Russia play in them?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I definitely understand the frustration of those involved in the process which is due to the failure of talks. Since we have no other mechanism and the composition of participants seems to be optimal, provided that there is good will on both sides, first of all, on the part of the DPRK, Republic of Korea and, as a matter of fact, of other participants in the process, and it is even more true as there are three nuclear powers among them (Russia, the USA and People’s Republic of China) – all this still gives me some optimism, and I very much hope that this mechanism will play a positive role in the future. In any case, I would like it to happen, and the Russian Federation will strive in every possible way to facilitate the process. I have already mentioned here that we have a good and even trusting relationship with the Republic of Korea, but traditionally we have maintained good contacts with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. I think that this is something of an advantage that Russia has, and that, without any doubt, we intend to and we will take to get things moving.

KYUSUN YEON: Some people believe that the resumption of the six-party talks is possible in case North Korea meets a number of preconditions. What do you think about this?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I suppose that the most important objective is to unblock, to resume the talks as well as to eliminate all the obstacles which hinder the process. If we constantly set preconditions for the start of talks, they may never begin. It seems to me that it would be better if the talks resumed and all the participants returned to the negotiating table and then resolved the issues that had brought them together. I think that this is more promising. On the contrary, when we try to agree on some complex and sensitive issues and adopt an extremely tough attitude, give ultimatums, as a rule, this does not lead to the expected result. Of course, I perfectly understand and I am aware of the fact that even for the start of the talks we need good will and understanding that it is crucial for all its participants.

KYUSUN YEON: I would like to ask you about the prospects for the development of the Far East. South Korean businesspeople are showing great interest in the development of the Far East and Siberia. In your opinion, what is the possibility for the development of these regions?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: As I have said, I believe we have prospects for cooperation in various fields. These are engineering, space, transport machinery and transport infrastructure. The Russian Federation sets an objective to ensure accelerated and priority development of Siberian regions, especially the Eastern Siberia and the Far East. We are neighbours exactly in this region of the world, almost neighbours with the Republic of Korea through the territory of North Korea, at sea we are practically very close. Therefore, bearing in mind the potential of the Republic of Korea, its highly developed industry sectors which we expect to develop at a rapid pace (I’ll speak about this), it seems to me that there are a lot of areas where we could effectively work together. Which areas, for example? Shipbuilding, for instance. We want to revive the shipbuilding cluster in the Far East, we have been negotiating this for a long time with our South Korean partners. Unfortunately, various reasons have still prevented us from establishing practical work even though it seemed to be about to start. We value the high expertise of our South Korean friends in the area of shipbuilding and I would like a lot to see these projects implemented, including those involving South Korean companies. We talked a lot and now are hatching plans for the development of transport systems in the Far East, namely, we plan to expand the Trans-Siberian Railway’s capacities, the Baikal-Amur Mainline, we even plan to allocate money from our reserve funds, from the National Welfare Fund.

In this regard we should support the contacts that have been established between our Development Bank and the relevant financial institution of the Republic of Korea, between our Investment Fund and the respective Fund of the Republic of Korea. Of course, we could work very close and effectively with each other in this respect.

I have spoken about other areas, such as space exploration, and you know that now we are building a new launch site in the east of the country just for the purposes of the national economy, for civil purposes. It seems to me that the Republic of Korea could take part in this work as well. As you know, last year we hosted the APEC summit and gave all the facilities that we have prepared for this event to our Far Eastern Federal University, which I hope will become a very good place for training personnel not only for Russia, but also for the entire region. Of course, we

could effectively cooperate also in this area in the present and in the future.

KYUSUN YEON: I also was in Vladivostok when the APEC summit was being held there and I saw how the city was changing.

And now I would like to ask you about the initiative put forward by Ms. Park Geun-hye to bring Eurasian countries closer together. What is your opinion about this “Eurasia Initiative” of Ms. Park Geun-hye?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I think this is a remarkable initiative. Moreover, it is fully in line with specific Russian proposals in this regard that we laid out several years ago. One of such initiatives – which is no longer just an initiative written on paper as we have already taken certain practical steps aimed at its implementation – concerns linking the Trans-Korean and Trans-Siberian Railways in order to ensure quick, reliable, safe and rather low-cost transportation of goods between Asia and Europe. I believe this is a highly interesting joint project. As I have just mentioned, our leading company “Russian Railways” has already taken specific steps, having renovated, if not built almost from scratch, quite a long stretch of the railroad in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. If South and North Koreas, overcoming certain political difficulties, could agree to reconstruct the Trans-Korean Railway, if South Korean companies chose to join the development of rail transport infrastructure, including port facilities in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, this would be an important contribution to the realization of the programme proposed by President Park Geun-hye which is indeed very interesting and promising.

In this regard, I would also like to mention once again and to remind you of a major integration project which is being carried out by Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus – the Customs Union – and our plans to make the following step towards deeper cooperation and the creation of a Eurasian Economic Union. By now, several dozens of countries have already shown interest in establishing cooperation with the Customs Union, including Vietnam which I also plan to visit in the near future. In this context, the Republic of Korea could certainly make use of these opportunities as well, and if such interest exists we could discuss the possibilities together with our colleagues in the Customs Union. In my point of view, the 170 million people market could definitely be of interest to our South Korean partners.

Extras!

Here are a few links related to the trip to Seoul.

“Seoul Cautious on Putin’s Far East Development Push”--Wall street Journal

South Korean English media chastises Putin for his behavior during the visit. 

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