They discussed the current status and development prospects of the comprehensive Russian-Argentine strategic partnership in the political, trade, economic and cultural-humanitarian spheres, and interaction on the Covid-19 response effort, as well as topical international and regional issues.
* * *
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, it is a pleasure to see you.
We have been planning this in-person meeting for a long time. Unfortunately, it was not possible for it to go ahead because of the epidemiological situation. To the best of my knowledge, we met in January 2020 at events in Israel commemorating the victims of the Holocaust. Nevertheless, contacts have continued unabated all this time.
Of course, we are grateful to you because Argentina was the first country in the Western Hemisphere to register the Sputnik V vaccine. The first contract has now been virtually fulfilled: almost 15 million of the 20 million doses have been delivered to Argentina. This vaccine is already being manufactured at factories in Argentina, and over six million doses have already been produced. The registration of the Sputnik M vaccine for young people aged 12–17 is now being discussed. And I would like to congratulate you on such a large-scale vaccination effort. Almost 78 percent of your population have been inoculated, and this is a very good outcome.
Of course, we still have a lot to accomplish in order to advance our trade and economic cooperation, which increased by 50 percent in 2021. This is a very serious, impressive result, and the pace is satisfactory.
We have many positive areas of cooperation, our colleagues are working at healthcare ministries, foreign ministries, and other agencies, too.
Your brief stay in Russia is also linked with this situation. But I hope that we will be able to continue these personal contacts in Argentina and here in Russia. We are going to Beijing together, for the opening ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games. But, as I see it, we will find it more convenient to talk here, in a calm and relaxed atmosphere, and to discuss all our bilateral issues and the situation on the international scene, too.
I am happy to see you. Welcome to Russia.
President of the Argentine Republic Alberto Fernandez (retranslated): Mr President,
First, this is a great honour for me, thank you for the invitation, I was eager to see you. It is a great pleasure for me to meet with you in Moscow where we can talk in a calm atmosphere and discuss how we should promote cooperation between Argentina and Russia in all areas.
People in Argentina appreciate Russia a lot, and notably, your assistance with the vaccines that you sent us. This was very important to us in countering the pandemic. Indeed, you provided us with significant support at that time and we are very grateful to you because we did not have enough vaccines then. Thanks to you, we did a good job and the results of our efforts were excellent.
I had two doses myself and then I waited a bit before getting a third dose of Sputnik.
Vladimir Putin: Me too.
Alberto Fernandez: Indeed, we are deeply grateful for this assistance because the rest of the world did not help us with vaccines. This is very important and highly valued.
I think we can deepen and expand this substantial groundwork because there are many areas in which we can cooperate very well.
I believe that Argentina could become Russia’s gateway to Latin America to a certain extent. We could be a venue for the development of your cooperation with Latin American nations. The vaccine example is indicative because we became a stepping stone in the supply of the Russian vaccine to Ecuador, Peru and Paraguay, and this is very important.
I think this is a great opportunity for developing our cooperation, and Argentine society is willing to do this, relying, of course, on your support.
Argentina is now facing a difficult situation because we have serious external debt and challenging economic issues.
Since the 1990s, Argentina has been strongly oriented towards the United States. Argentina and its economy are largely dependent on the US and our relations with it. In fact, our debt to the IMF also emerged because of this relationship.
At first, when our party was in power from 2003 to 2015, we tried hard to get rid of this dependence on the US. We achieved a lot towards this end. You will remember, at that time we signed a strategic agreement with Russia, thereby upgrading our bilateral ties.
A different party came to power in Argentina in 2015. It resumed these relations with the US, and this largely explains our external debt.
I am consistently working to rid Argentina of this dependence on the IMF and the US. I want Argentina to open up new opportunities. Cooperation with Russia is vital for us. I would like to assure you, and I hope that you will accept my assurances that we do want to develop cooperation with Russia.