Vladimir Putin: I am glad to welcome you to Moscow for the 9th Russia-European Union Summit. And I should say from the beginning that the fact that these meetings are regular does not make them “routine”. This is a case of quantity translating itself into quality. Perhaps not as fast as we would like to, but still it signifies movement in a positive direction.
Against the background of major shifts in the relations between Russia and the United States, Russia and NATO, we face a fundamentally new task of giving a new impetus to the strategic partnership between Russia and the European Union, of confirming its importance as an underpinning not only of European, but of the world system of interstate relations.
Meetings such as this are called upon to solve concrete issues of practical interaction in the political, trade, economic, and social spheres.
Unfortunately, many problems already have a longish history and the discussion of these problems, unfortunately, goes in circles. That “vicious circle” must be broken if our meetings are not to turn into a discussion club. I don’t think anyone is interested in that.
We expect that today we will finally reach concrete agreements in such areas as interaction in the sphere of security and defense and the recognition of the market status of the Russian economy. It is also important to initiate a real negotiating process on a comprehensive approach to the problems connected with the life support of the Kaliningrad Region in the light of the forthcoming enlargement of the EU.
I would like to dwell on the last issue in more detail. All our proposals on ensuring the transit of people and cargoes between the Kaliningrad Region and the rest of Russia have so far met with no response in Brussels. I would put it more bluntly: the solutions that we are offered would mean just one thing: that the right of a Russian to freely communicate with his or her relatives living in various parts of the country would depend on the wishes of a foreign state. During our debate today we will dwell on this in more detail and I will spell out the Russian position. I expect an understanding on your part, dear colleagues.
Now that the Cold War has been buried, reverting to such approaches is absolutely unjustified. The solution of this issue, which affects the vital interests of Russians, would determine the whole course of the development of relations with the European Union on many other issues. It is an absolute criterion of the quality of our interaction, a “litmus test” of our interaction.
We cannot afford to move forward leaving unsolved problems behind, problems that affect the destinies of millions of people. For this is truly the case.
I stress, there is no alternative to a solution that would fully guarantee the rights of the citizens of the Russian Federation, and we are talking about millions of people.
The creation of a common space of security and economic development in Europe are pressing and achievable goals. We have repeatedly declared them in our joint documents and elsewhere. It is now time to translate political declarations into effective agreements. The Russian side looks forward to this kind of joint work.
We look forward to fruitful cooperation on the agenda of today’s meeting and we are ready to make a constructive contribution to the process.
Thank you for your attention. And once again I warmly welcome you in Moscow and I suggest that we get down to our agenda.