President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Michel, colleagues, welcome and good afternoon.
Last year marked the 300th anniversary of Peter the Great’s visit to Belgium. This year marks the 165th anniversary of diplomatic relations that were established during the reign of the first King of Belgium. Leopold I, who, as you know, was part of Russian Emperor Alexander I’s entourage and was enlisted in Russian military service in his early childhood. So we have good, solid and deep ties.
I am aware that you have a very busy itinerary during your stay here in Russia. Prime Minister Medvedev told me about yesterday's meetings and talks, and we have a mixed Russian-Belgian-Luxembourg commission on economic cooperation, which will meet soon.
Mr Prime Minister, I am confident that your visit will be beneficial for our countries and economies. We are very pleased to have you. Welcome!
Prime Minister of Belgium Charles Michel (retranslated): Thank you very much, Mr President, for your warm welcome.
I am pleased that you receive me here; I am pleased to have this dialogue. I recently met with your Foreign Minister in Brussels and your Prime Minister as well.
This year marks 165 years of diplomatic relations between Russia and Belgium. I am convinced that there are many subjects that we could discuss in order to better understand each other. In the spirit of this dialogue, I am pleased that we can discuss a large number of issues related to security, the fight against terrorism, and southern European borders.
History has known good and not so good moments in relations between Europe and Russia. However, since we are neighbours, we will always work together.
I am pleased to have the opportunity to discuss not only the subjects that may divide us, and regarding which we, perhaps, still do not always understand each other, but also the ones where we can make progress. I am also pleased that I was able to discuss economic matters with Mr Medvedev yesterday.