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President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Mr Prime Minister, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you here in St Petersburg and at the forum. I would like to thank you for your decision to take part in it; we highly value it. This is very important for the development of full-scale intensive Russian-Spanish relations and for the forum, which has been held here for a number of years, to gain momentum.
The two of us started discussing the agenda yesterday. During our meeting in the evening we talked about the situation in the global economy and in the European economy. It was an interesting conversation because for us it is crucial to understand what is happening in Europe, in its separate economies, and what is happening with our closest partners. The EU is Russia’s biggest trading partner: our trade volume is over $300 billion. Spain plays a major role in this relationship. So, it was a compelling discussion and I thank you for it.
I hope you enjoyed St Petersburg yesterday, without rain. The weather is a bit worse today but I think it’s just right for us to get down to work. Once again, welcome and I wish you an excellent stay in St Petersburg.
Prime Minister of Spain Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero (re-translated): Mr President, thank you for your warm welcome and for your invitation to participate in St Petersburg Economic Forum, which is gaining importance every year.
Spain's participation in this forum allows us to deepen and strengthen political relations between Spain and Russia, especially economic relations, which are of particular significance for Spain and for the entire European Union. There is an increasing number of Spanish companies in Russia, and a growing volume of contracts between Russian and Spanish companies.
“The EU is Russia’s biggest trading partner: our trade volume is over $300 billion. Spain plays a major role in this relationship.”
Russia is a big country and a big market that has significant energy potential and resources. Today we will sign a number of important business agreements. In addition, this forum is an opportunity for us to analyse the international financial crisis, to think about what is happening in the eurozone and make some conclusions.
There are three conclusions we can draw already. First, it is essential to consolidate transparency and openness, to strengthen regulation and adopt new requirements for financial markets.
Second, it is vital to expand cooperation, strengthen the alliance between various countries at the level of regional organisations (this may be the European Union and great powers like Russia), and at the level of international organisations, such as the IMF. Cooperation is the answer to economic challenges that we face today and will face tomorrow.
Third, we must focus on education and innovation, and we must do so with great determination. Let’s concentrate on technology, on a more efficient economy and industry, and make sure that finance does not dominate over the real economy. We must imbue it with a new meaning to ensure that the real economy dominates over finance.
Russia is our political ally and our trade ally, vital for EU’s energy security and security in general. Those are the reasons why the Spanish government is committed to actively developing political relations with Russia.
2011 is the Year of Spain in Russia and the Year of Russia in Spain. We can already see its first achievements: progress made in the cultural relations, in the economic relations, and this success is largely due to the active stand of President Medvedev, who has always felt a closeness to our country and promoted special economic relations with us. So I would like to take this opportunity to reassure President Medvedev about the quality and safety of our agricultural produce, especially vegetables.