Mr Putin and Mr Barroso also held a one-on-one meeting to discuss Cyprus.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, Mr President, colleagues,
I am very glad to see you.
I know that a representative delegation of our colleagues from the EU and the European Commission has arrived in Russia to hold our traditional intergovernmental meetings.
I remember our recent meeting in Brussels, which was very informative and useful. I am sure that at meetings with the Russian Government we will be able not only to discuss existing issues and problems, but also to further stimulate our cooperation.
The EU remains our largest trading partner. Last year our trade turnover amounted to more than $410 billion. But Russia is quite an important partner for the European Union too: we stand firmly in third place behind the US and China. The difference in scale is not huge: I think that the US has a trade turnover with EU countries of a little more than $600 billion, while for China it is $545 billion. I think that in the coming years we may well trade about $500 billion.
You know that we are preparing to host the G20 summit. And I very much look forward to working with our European friends in preparing for it. In fact, we are already cooperating in this regard. However, I want to emphasise that we are of course willing to work with all participants in this forum to prepare the agenda and the final documents. I hope that the agreements we reach will be consistent and benefit all international economic actors.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso: Thank you very much, Mr President,
Dear friends, it is a pleasure to be here. And in fact my participation in the meeting tomorrow between the European Commission and the Russian Government follows on from your visit at that time, when you were leading the Russian delegation two years ago. Back then I also remember that we had a very fruitful meeting.
In fact I come with what I think is the largest delegation ever of Commission members in terms of executive-to-executive meetings. And tomorrow we will have a chance to review the progress made in implementation of our commitments. And where we find that progress has been too slow I think it’s a good opportunity to give it another push together, many pushes.
Why we do that is self-evident, we are not only neighbours but partners; it’s in our interests. We are big partners in trade and investment. I think that, for instance, our economy in Europe needs energy. I think I can also say that Russian economy needs technology. There are a lot of complementarities where we can have win-win solutions. And apart from that, apart from the economic interests, I think we should align. I’ve done it this morning in a conference in the Russian Council of Foreign Relations together with Prime Minister Medvedev. We have a common civilization and we share so many things in common in terms of our history and culture. When I am here in Moscow I feel like I could be in any other European city. I’m sure that you feel the same when you go to the capitals of the European Union. I think that this common civilization matrix is indeed a very important driver for progressively building a relation that is stronger every day.
And why are these relations so important? I think that we both share the vision of a free space from Lisbon to Vladivostok with free circulation of goods and people. Of course we know that this is a long-term vision, that you cannot do it in one go. But we should, as we have said, build it step by step. We can then transform our partnership, which is a partnership of necessity because we are neighbours, but also a partnership of choice because we really want to be close partners.