Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.
I cordially welcome everyone at our representative event. Four hundred companies, including 70 foreign partners, are a large team of those who are engaged in the most important sphere of the world economy – energy.
Today, at the Energy for Global Growth plenary session, we are discussing key, defining questions: what tomorrow's global energy will be, what priority tasks we have to solve in order to ensure a reliable supply of energy to the largest macro regions of the planet and each country separately, and on this basis to increase the competitiveness of national economies as well as improve the quality of life of millions of people.
Today I would like to outline the most important trends that will determine the common energy future of mankind, in our opinion.
The energy community is now actively debating the future energy balance of the 21st century. The majority agree that hydrocarbons will continue to play a leading role in the next 20–25 years, particularly in the conditions when some countries voluntarily restrict their nuclear power generation.
Today, it is important to consistently remove barriers in the path of a free movement of energy resources and investment in their production, to actively develop energy infrastructure, as well as to develop new technology by joint efforts.
Let me emphasise that we are indeed ready to cooperate in the energy sphere with all partners concerned on the basis of the principles of equality and mutual benefit.
John Fraher: So, let me now turn to foreign policy and the Middle East, which is of course a region of great importance for energy markets.
In many ways you have become over the last few years one of the most important players in the Middle East. In fact, Bloomberg wrote a story yesterday arguing that it is very difficult to get anything done in the Middle East these days without going through President Putin.
But, of course, I also know that you are a keen student of history, and the Middle East, historically speaking, is a dangerous place to do business and to play politics.
So, I’d like to sort of talk through some scenarios, some of the particular situations in the Middle East, and get your insights into how you see them.
John Fraher: What sort of role do you see for Iran in Syria in a post-war world? And, you know, will you… would you… could you guarantee to the Saudis that all Iranian forces and militia will leave Syria after the conflict?
Vladimir Putin: We have no right to prescribe the path for another country to follow. This is a sovereign right of the people of a given country. The same applies to Iran. Russia has always respected sovereignty of all states and their domestic and foreign policy choices.
Iran is our neighbour and long-standing partner, and we value this relationship and respect Iran’s national interests. However, Iran is not the only country pursuing its national interests. So are Russia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
We are aware of these concerns. In fact, all sides have their own concerns that may be contradictory. For example, the situation in Iraq and the way it develops has become a matter of concern for everyone after the referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan. There are many internal and regional issues.
Focusing on finding compromises and solutions that would be acceptable for all participants in this process helps stabilise the situation.
John Fraher: Turning to Iran. Of course, there is a lot of talk that President Trump will pull out of the Iranian deal. And certainly, when you talk to people in Tehran, there is almost an assumption in the Iranian government that somehow Trump, the new US administration, will find a way to pull out. If that happens, will you still support the deal as the Europeans said they will? Can we make it work without the United States?
Vladimir Putin: Are you asking me?
John Fraher: Yes, Mr President.
Vladimir Putin: Are we going to continue a one-on-one discussion?
It is not Russia that determines whether Iran is performing its obligations under the nuclear agreement or not. Primarily, it is up to the IAEA to decide, a specialised organisation respected and recognised by the international community. And all IAEA reports indicate that Iran is fully meeting its obligations.
We are guided by these arguments and will support the agreement that was closed with the former US administration, although we had many disagreements with them, as you know, on other issues. But as long as all the parties perform their obligations, and their conduct fully complies with the respective UN Security Council resolution, we will support the deal.