President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, colleagues, let me welcome you once again at this meeting in a broader format.
I would like to begin this meeting by saying that the presence of the President of Iceland at events of this kind, devoted to the Arctic and its problems, has become an excellent tradition now. We are very grateful to you for this and are very pleased indeed to see you.
In this respect, let me recall that the Soviet Union was of the first countries to recognise Iceland’s national independence and actively supported Iceland in the so-called cod wars…
President of Iceland Gudni Johannesson: Indeed. Thank you.
VladimirPutin: …Including with respect to the sanctions that some Western countries imposed on Iceland back then.
Our relations are developing positively. I would like very much to discuss our economic ties.
I am pleased to have this chance today, on the sidelines of this forum, to discuss our bilateral relations.
Gudni Johannesson: (In Russian.) Thank you very much.
(In English.) Vladimir Vladimirovich, it has been a pleasure to be here with you at this conference. And I think it is fitting, in a sense, that we are in Arkhangelsk, because you mentioned history, how the authorities in Moscow were among the first to recognise the independence of Iceland in the old days, and their support in the fishing disputes. During the Second World War, convoys also connected Iceland and Arkhangelsk. The convoys would gather in Hvalfjordur in Iceland, some of them at least, and then sail onwards to Arkhangelsk. So it is a pleasure for me as a historian to come to this historic place, and I actually thoroughly enjoyed going to the nautical museum in Arkhangelsk this morning, and I have enjoyed the conference in its entirety as well.
And let me just add as well that even though I thoroughly enjoy history, and I’m sure we could have many interesting discussions on the past, in my relatively new position as President, I must look forward, and see how we can improve the relations between Iceland and Russia. And looking at the past, I see no reason why we could not go down the road of further improvement.