Vladimir Putin: Mr Lord Mayor, ladies and gentlemen,
I must say that my wife and I and the members of our delegation have a special feeling being here today. First, I must be frank with you that of course performing the duties of the President of Russia I have in recent years visited many places in many countries, but I haven’t seen anything more colourful than this. But frankly, that is not the only reason for such special feelings: we are indeed in a unique place, in a unique hall.
The City has played an outstanding role not only in the emergence of your economy, it has in fact played a special role in promoting the entrepreneurial spirit in the whole world. Despite the blend of architectural styles one is aware of a sense of stability and the march of time. The city is a unique place with unique traditions. But it is also a very modern place for modern people.
The long traditions of business links between Russia and the United Kingdom have been mentioned here. They go back many centuries. In recent history, if one can call it “recent history”, 450 years ago a merchant ship brought to Russia a letter from the monarch. The ship’s captain was received by Tsar Ivan IV, Ivan the Terrible, conveyed the letter from the English monarch and was granted special trading rights. Ever since that time new business relations between our countries began. That was 450 years ago. I cannot be quite sure that the splendid furs on these beautiful mantles of the Council members go back to those times, but the chances are that they are of Russian origin.
Business contacts, in our opinion, have been developing in a very positive way in recent years. Much of the credit for this must go to the political will of the leadership of the United Kingdom, the Queen and the Prime Minister of Britain.
I want to thank all of you for your attention. Thank you for the opportunity to be here today and to express the hope that we will all do our best to promote bilateral links between the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom, and to wish you all the best.
Thank you for your attention.