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French PM goes to Russia to co-chair intergovernmental commission meeting

November 17, 2011, 2:00 UTC+3

This will be Fillon’s fourth trip to Russia since he took the office of French prime minister

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PARIS, November 17 (Itar-Tass) —— French Prime Minister Francois Fillon will travel to Russia on Thursday, November 17, to co-chair a meeting of the bilateral inter-governmental commission on trade, economic, scientific and technical cooperation.

This will be Fillon’s fourth trip to Russia since he took the office of French prime minister.

Fillion and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin “have exerted great effort over the past three years to invigorate economic cooperation between the two countries at all levels”, the French prime minister’s office said.

“To this end, the prime ministers of the two countries have already held a number of meetings,” it added.

The inter-governmental commission is expected to coordinate new steps to develop economic cooperation between Russia and France, which has already kicked off several major projects, such as Nord Stream, which involves Gaz de France. Its CEO Gerard Mestrallet believes that this project will facilitate energy security in Northeast Europe.

The first gas came by Nord Stream into the European gas transportation system on Tuesday, November 8. The second stretch is scheduled for October 2012.

Russia will supply one million cubic metres of gas an hour by this pipeline, or about 8.5 billion cubic meters a year.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and French Prime Minister Francois Fillon attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony in Lubmin, a coastal resort in the German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, on November 8.

Nord Stream is an international project and its construction is regulated by the international conventions and national legislation of each state, which territorial waters and/or exclusive economic zone the pipeline will cross.

Construction work was preceded by a detailed environmental impact assessment. Nord Stream will be built in compliance with the most rigid environmental standards and without the Baltic Sea ecosystem disruption.

The construction of the North Stream gas pipeline on the Baltic seabed between Russia and Germany has had no serious impact on the environment, according to a study released by the Nord Stream consortium (Nord Stream AG), which is building the pipelines for transportation of Russian natural gas from Vyborg to Lubmin, Germany, near Greifswald.

The study involved some 20 independent enterprises and institutes, including Free University of Berlin, which had made measurements at more than a thousand places along the pipeline route.

Nord Stream will transport 27.5 billion cubic metres of natural gas from late 2011, and up to 55 billion cubic metres from 2012. This amount of gas corresponds to the energy produced by 55 coal power plants pr 20 new nuclear reactors.

The Shtokman gas and condensate field will be a resource base for gas deliveries via Nord Stream.

In October, a Russian Soyuz carrier rocket blasted off from the Kourou Space Centre in French Guiana to orbit two European satellites for the Galilee navigation system.

Jorg Khan, a Galileo programme spokesman in Russia, told Itar-Tass that 18 satellites would be put into orbit by 2015 as part of French-Russian aerospace cooperation.

The use of Kourou will allow Soyuz rockets to carry 50 percent more payload compared to those launched from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

The commissioning of the new launch paid at Kourou will increase the number of launches from 10 now to 12 a year.

On November 7, 2003, Russian and French governments formally agreed to bring Soyuz to Kourou.

With the signing of a formal agreement between Arianespace and Russian Space Agency on April 11, 2005, the countdown for the construction of the launch pad officially started on April 26, 2005. According to the contract, the Moscow-based KBOM design bureau had to be ready for the "all out" tests of the launch pad with the Soyuz-2 (Soyuz-ST) rocket within 35 months from the beginning of the construction. The tests were expected to last for two months, culminating with the actual launch of the first mission sometime in 2008, or 37 months after the beginning of the construction. At the time, the excavation for the pad was expected to start at the end of the monsoon season of 2005. As many as 50 Soyuz launches were expected from Kourou over a 15-year period.

Another example of successful cooperation between Russia and France is the agreement to buy two Mistral helicopter-carriers to Russia under the contract signed in June.

On June 17, Russia's Rosorobonexport arms exporter and the French state shipbuilding company DCNS signed a contract for the purchased by Russia of two Mistral helicopter carriers.

The contract is estimated at 1.2 billion euros.

France will transfer a number of sensitive technologies to Russia along with Mistral ships to be purchased by Russia, including the SENIT-9 tactical combat information system installed on the helicopter carriers.

In the future, these technologies will be used in the construction of two other Mistral ships in Russia, Rosoboronexport CEO Anatoly Isaikin said.

“The French side will transfer to us all technologies that have been included in the inter-governmental agreement signed several months ago in Saint-Nasaire. These technologies will then be used for building two similar ships in Russia,” Isaikin said, referring to the SENIT-9 system and “two other systems”.

The first Mistral ship will be delivered to Russia in 2014. Isakin confirmed information announced earlier by the French shipbuilding company DCNS.

“The first and second ships of this type will be delivered in 36 and 48 months respectively after the entry of the contract into force,” Isaikin said.

Russia and France have devised a joint mechanism for interaction at the level of the governments of the two countries for the implementation of the helicopter carrier project.

The United Shipbuilding Company (USC) will represent Russia in the international consortium.

Russian and French shipbuilding corporations have agreed to create a consortium for building military and civilian vessels.

Russia is buying the French helicopter carrier Mistral with French equipment, including combat navigation devices, but will arm it with its own weaponry.

The keel of the first Mistral-type ship will be laid down in December 2011, with localisation of two first such ships in Russia to be 40 percent, USC President Roman Trotsenko said.

Russia will make a half of the Mistral ship, that is, “all of its after body”, he said.

The after bodies to be built Russia will be supplied to the Korean shipyard STX at Saint Nazaire, France.

The third and fourth Mistral-type ships will be built fully in Russia, Trotsenko said.

The universal amphibious assault ship of the Mistral class has a displacement of 20,000 tonnes, hull length of 200 meters, full speed of 19 knots, fuel endurance of up to 11,000 miles at a speed of 15 knots, a crew of 160 and air wing personnel of 220. The ship is capable of carrying a force of up to 450 Marines. The air force component consists of 20 HN-90 helicopters. The ship carries four light amphibious boats or two hovercraft. The freight deck accommodates 60 armoured vehicles.

The inter-governmental commission will also discuss the programme of linguistic seasons that will take over the Russia-France cross-years in order to promote the Russian language in France and the French language in Russia.

The participants in the meeting will also discuss international and global issues of interest to France and Russia, such as Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organisation.

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