President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, Mr Prime Minister, friends,
We are very happy to see you here in Sochi. First of all, let me thank you for finding the time to come to the opening of these Olympics. We see this as an important sign of our longstanding good cooperation and the high level of our relations.
I know that His Majesty the King has come too. We are very grateful to him for this. He was here recently. We are very pleased to have this opportunity to meet with you and discuss our bilateral relations, especially our trade and economic ties.
Our bilateral trade reached a new record in 2012. It dropped slightly last year though, and this is reason to discuss the situation and what we can do to change it, turn it around and move forward.
Welcome, Mr Prime Minister!
Prime MINISTER OF THE NETHERLANDS MARK RUTTE (retranslated): For my part, I want to start by thanking you very much for the hospitality.
What distinguishes relations between Russia and the Netherlands is the great amount of not just economic and cultural ties but also political cooperation. We have had a number of occasions over the last year to meet, in Amsterdam and in St Petersburg, and also to speak by telephone and discuss our countries’ relations.
Our ties are good enough for us to be able to discuss with each other difficult issues that come up in our relations. I am very pleased to have this chance now to discuss with you the various matters of concern to our relations, and perhaps the problems that may arise in these relations. Therefore, once again, thank you very much for this reception.
Vladimir PUTIN: To be honest, I do not really see that we have any particularly big problems in our relations. Of course there are issues that are always cause for some debate, especially infrastructure, transport and economic matters.
I know that you always pay a lot of attention to humanitarian issues and respect for human rights. We are always open for discussions on any subject. Let me say again that it is a great pleasure to see you.
Mark RUTTE: I think it was very important that during our last meeting in Amsterdam, and in St Petersburg, we were able to discuss economic and geopolitical issues, and also subjects such as the situation of the LGBT community, for example.
Vladimir PUTIN: I saw a TV report recently from a gay club (here in Sochi). As I understood it, one of the regulars there, or the club’s owner, said to the journalists, “You know, can you just finally leave us be. Sport is sport and the Olympics is the Olympics. Let’s focus on the Olympics now. The less aggression there is from both sides on these issues, the better, in my opinion.” I fully agree with what he said.
Seeing as we are here for the Olympics, let me take this opportunity to wish your athletes success in their competitions here in Sochi. The Dutch have always been particularly strong in some events, especially skating, and so we hope to enjoy your athletes’ performances here. I wish them success.
Mark RUTTE: For my part, I wish the Russian sportspeople all the very best and success too, though not too much in the events in which we will be in direct competition (laughter).
Once more, thank you very much for this chance to discuss various matters.