Russian-Italian cooperation in the fuel and energy sphere, notably gas, came in for a detailed discussion.
Vladimir Putin and Silvio Berlusconi also discussed cooperation in the education field. The President welcomed Silvio Berlusconi’s initiative of promoting Russian-Italian school exchanges. The Russian head of state backed the proposal by the French President Jacques Chirac on including Russia in the Bologna process.
Vladimir Putin’s official visit to Italy scheduled for November this year will coincide with the holding of the regular Russia-EU Summit in Rome. An active preparation for these events is underway, the President noted.
Silvio Berlusconi, who will hold the EU presidency in the second half of 2003, said he would exert his best efforts to further promote bilateral cooperation between Russia and the European Community.
At the start of the meeting Vladimir Putin congratulated the Italian Premier on the national holiday, Republic Day.
Earlier in the day the Russian head of state sent greetings to the Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi. The message reads in part:
“Heartfelt congratulations to you and all the people of Italy on the national holiday – Republic Day.
“Today Italy is one of the key partners of Russia the relations with which are more intense and dynamic than ever. Russian-Italian bilateral cooperation is developing steadily. Constructive interaction between Russia and Italy in the international scene plays an ever more noticeable role in promoting the positive climate of security and stability in Europe and the world.
“Our forthcoming meeting in Rome will undoubtedly mark an important stage in expanding and deepening the Russian-Italian dialogue in all areas and would make a substantial contribution to the formation of a democratic, strong and prosperous Europe.”