Vladimir Putin: Warm greetings to all of you in Moscow.
Mr Javier Solana seems to like the premises. Moscow is according a good reception and the splendid Kremlin ensemble produces a favourable impression. We extend sincere greetings to our friends and colleagues. You know that we attach great importance to the European aspect of our policy.
Once again we welcome the President of the EU Council, Mr Goran Persson, the European Commission President, Mr Romano Prodi, and the Secretary-General of the EU Council, Mr Javier Solana, and all our guests.
The institution for the interaction between Russia and the EU has more than once demonstrated its great usefulness. We very much hope that together we will not only preserve but enrich the long-standing tradition of trusting, truly good-neighbourly relations. They are based on common civilisation roots and age-old trade, economic and cultural ties and, finally, on the vast historical experience of cooperation and problem-solving and the building of common European institutions. Proof of this is the mutual enrichment of cultures, mutually beneficial trade and the European integration, which is gaining momentum.
I am sure that the positive political and economic changes taking place in Russia today open up qualitatively new opportunities for deepening our dialogue. There was a time when the relations between Russia and the EU were determined by the political will of the two countries, but today it is increasingly supported by real interest in cooperation, both on the part of the national governments and on the part of the business circles and individual entrepreneurs.
Our third meeting in Moscow is taking place at a time when the Russian economy is sending positive signals, and sending a good signal to investors. The growth of production, liberalisation of the tax and customs policy and debureaucratisation of the economy gave a tangible boost to our cooperation with the European Union. I think the European countries have every reason to see Russia as a reliable and promising partner. There are already a good many success stories in such areas as trade, investment, social development and environmental protection. At our bilateral meeting with the Swedish Prime Minister today we discussed it with special reference to the relations between Sweden and Russia and Russia’s relations with other European Union countries. I hope that our dialogue today will be positive in all these areas of cooperation.
The energy dialogue, which was initiated by Mr Prodi, adds a new dimension to our strategic partnership. It has already met with fairly broad international resonance. One promising area is cooperation in the fields of science and technology. I am pleased that the topic has elicited a positive response at the Stockholm meeting from many European leaders and was backed by the Prime Minister of Belgium, the country which will shortly head up the European Union. We have agreed that this topic, cooperation in the field of high technologies, could be at the top of the agenda of our next dialogue in Brussels.
The agreement on cooperation between Russia and the EU, which came into force a week ago, is designed to give it an additional impulse. I would like to stress that the deepening of cooperation is objectively prompted by the noticeable role the European Union is playing today in European and world politics. The dynamic processes in connection with the upcoming enlargement of the EU, the introduction of a single currency and the emergence of a common foreign policy, security and defence policy – all these elements of course cannot but interest Russia. Russia is ready for positive cooperation in all these areas.
I am convinced that these processes will enable the European countries to take a more active part in world politics, including on such key problems as strategic stability. The Russian side is ready to join the European Union in seeking answers to any global threats and challenges and is ready to seek ways to settle regional conflicts. Our common task is to make life in Europe and in the world more stable and to meet the modern high standards of safety and social comfort. I hope that the meeting in Moscow will be fruitful and I propose to move on to our agenda. Thank you.