President Vladimir Putin: Dear Mr Prime Minister, dear colleagues,
I am very happy to welcome you to Moscow.
I would like to note that we haven’t met for a long time – this upsets me.
I understand that now you have more obligations, and that internal problems and European problems take up more of your time. But I must say that relations between Russia and Italy, for us at least, are of quite a privileged nature. Bilateral economic and humanitarian ties are actively developing between us. And we would very much like to extend this trusting and constructive atmosphere of bilateral relations between Russia and Italy to relations between Russia and the European Union as a whole.
We know that an according plan of work has been passed by the European Union in the Russian direction. And we very much hope, Mr Prime Minister, that during your chairmanship in the EU we will be able to make serious progress in realising both this plan and the agreements that were reached at the meeting in Petersburg.
We know, Mr Prime Minister, that you favour a positive result, and on our part we will make every effort to insure that it is attained.
Naturally, we are also carefully following the situation that is developing the European Union. We see the tensions within European structures, including the European Parliament. But we very much hope that these political tensions and internal political contradictions, which are in fact probably quite natural in a democratic world, will not stop the constructive development of relations between Russia and the European Union. And we also very much hope that during the chairmanship of Italy, we will make significant progress in interaction between Russia and a united Europe. And our interest in this is understandable: the European Union, especially after its expansion, will account for more than 50% of our trade and economic turnover.
If we look at co-operation between Europe and Russia in the energy sphere, Russia will become one of the most important partners, or rather I think it already is one of the most important partners, of Europe in this sphere. But our energy sources will gain greater and greater significance for Russia over the next few years and over the next decade. We are all interested in the development of constructive relations.
I hope that during your visit today, we can discuss all these aspects of our co-operation.