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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Prime Minister, friends,
Good afternoon, it is a great pleasure to welcome you here.
These are troubled times we are going through, and Europe is feeling the difficulties particularly hard. It makes me therefore very happy to see that the deep and good relations that we have with Italy continue despite the changes in the world around and in our own countries.
Our bilateral trade is recovering now and increased by more than 25 percent last year to reach a figure of $45.9 billion. We are now just $7 billion short of the pre-crisis level, but if we keep up the current pace we will soon reach this mark.
Italy is among the countries that have signed the most agreements with different Russian regions. We have many big joint projects, and I note that despite the turbulence in the global economy at the moment, not one of our joint projects has stopped. On the contrary, they are all developing, and successfully too.
Given the extent of our relations and their great importance for both countries’ economies, we are very happy to see you here, not to mention that we feel a great depth of warmth for your country.
Welcome, Mr Prime Minister!
Prime Minister of Italy Mario Monti (retranslated): Mr President, I am very happy too, and it is a great honour for me and my delegation to meet with you here today.
I thank you for the invitation. We can assure you that Italy places great strategic importance on our relations with the Russian Federation.
The previous government in power in Italy saw relations with Russia as very important, and it is my intent to continue this course and strengthen yet further our economic, industrial, and cultural ties, and the relations between our civil societies.
Europe’s current difficulties, especially in the Eurozone, show us that we should strengthen real economic and industrial ties, and in this respect Russia is a departure point for building such relations.
Once again, I thank you for the invitation. I want to work very closely with you. I know that you are putting much effort into not just Russia’s own development, but also into economic issues and relations with other countries, including our country – your strategic partner.
Vladimir Putin: We met recently at the G20 summit, though that was only a very brief meeting with hardly the time to sit down. Thank you for responding so swiftly to our invitation and coming here to Russia so soon.