President Vladimir Putin: Mr Prime Minister, colleagues,
Allow me to welcome you to Moscow. I am pleased to be able to say that our relations with France are developing very intensively. We have not been satisfied with the level of our trade and economic ties so far, but we are seeing a great deal of progress here too – trade between our countries increased by 33 percent over a six-month period. I remember our meeting in Paris. I am sure that during your visit here, we will have the chance to not just discuss all the issues on our bilateral agenda and international issues, but, I am sure, we will also be able to make progress in resolving them.
Our relations with France are important to us in many areas. This regards our bilateral relations and also our relations with united Europe, and it regards the resolution of international issues, given that France is our longstanding and reliable partner in the United Nations Security Council.
Mr Prime Minister, we work together in many different areas. There are sectors in which our cooperation is already a tradition, and there are also new areas of cooperation – in high-technology sectors and in the military-technical sphere.
We are promoting cooperation in our space programmes, and I am sure that this cooperation will continue to develop. Recently we have often felt France’s support, particularly in difficult moments for us as we were trying to build Russia’s new economy.
Complex processes are at work in the economy today. The industrially developed countries face various financial problems and to help create a positive climate for our cooperation, Russia is ready this year to make advanced payments on Soviet debt to the Paris Club.
Of course, the cost of money today and the cost of money tomorrow are two different things. This is a matter for the specialists to discuss, and I know that you have meetings scheduled and talks with the Russian Government. I would like to tell you that our specialists are ready to discuss this matter with you if you are interested.
The Russian economy is developing successfully at the moment allowing us to be able to do this, and in certain conditions it would even be in our interest. This is by far not the most important matter you will discuss with the Russian Government, but it is one of the subjects that could be examined.