President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, Mr Larcher, friends. We are very happy to see you here.
It is a pleasure to see that relations between France and Russia, particularly thanks to our parliamentary ties, are developing despite the current difficulties. France is our privileged partner in the European Union and our relations have a long history.
I am sure you and Ms Matviyenko [Federation Council Speaker] have already covered the entire range of our parliamentary relations. Unfortunately, we are observing a certain slow-down in our economic cooperation: last year trade went down by 17.6 percent compared to 2013.
I believe we need to make an effort not just to restore but to enhance our ties and achieve better results as soon as possible. I am certain that parliamentary support will be of great assistance here.
President of The Senate of France Gerard Larcher (retranslated): Thank you, Mr President, for finding the time to see us today with your Senator [Valentina Matviyenko].
In the Presence of the Federation Council Speaker, on behalf of the Assembly I have been heading since autumn and on behalf of the entire country I would like to once again thank you for the solidarity you expressed during the recent tragic terrorist attacks [in Paris].
I told Mr Lavrov, who joined us at the march, that this opens up the way for a solution to our serious common problems in combatting terrorism, particularly Islamic extremism, which we do not confuse with Islam, professed by other citizens, but which has its own special character.
I would also like to say that both as Senate President and as a native of Normandy I was touched by your visit to our country on June 6, 2014 – this was a powerful signal. Similar signals, similar symbols will appear in the next few months as well. I find this a very important feature of the special relations between our countries.
This is why after laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier I also went to the monument to General de Gaulle, a monument that Jacques Chirac unveiled together with you. This was a natural and important gesture for a tourist like myself.
Before we dwell on any specific subject, I would like to convey to you a message from the French community in Moscow, in Russia, from the business community, with whom I met both yesterday and this morning.
Despite the difficulties, they feel confident here and they feel they are being trusted. They attach great importance to our relations – economic relations, naturally, but also in a broader sense – the friendly relations between our nations. They asked me to convey this message to you, which I am doing.