Carlo Azeglio Ciampi: President Putin’s official visit to Italy enables us to continue the dialogue started during my official visit to Russia in 2000. Our bilateral ties are growing stronger, in the European format and within the framework of the UN.
Italy is the second largest Western trade and economic partner of Russia. Investments in common initiatives are growing and our mutually complementary ties in the energy sphere are expanding. In a few minutes we will unveil the exposition of Leonardo da Vinci’s painting Madonna Litta which is part of the permanent collection at the Hermitage museum in St Petersburg. That masterpiece is a symbol of our rich shared cultural heritage.
Russia has scored significant successes in improving its economy, increasing its gross domestic product, reducing its national debt, slowing down inflation and ensuring a high level of currency reserves and a trade surplus.
That would have been impossible if President Putin had not launched profound reforms. Their success paves the way for Russia’s economic, social and democratic progress.
The values of liberty, democracy and of law are very important for the future of Russia and for building a vast common space of security, economic interdependence and cultural dialogue in Europe.
Cooperation between the European Union and the Russian Federation may be a decisive factor of stability and progress in Europe and the world.
A renewed and enlarged European Union, which will soon assume the shape of a political centre, will be able to work more effectively to expand partnership relations with Russia.
I hope that Russia will be using the euro more extensively in its financial deals.
Russia and Italy have similar positions and a common interest in confronting the major threats of the 21st century. It is important to strengthen the legal mechanisms of the international community to effectively address the crisis situations that arise.
Italy and Russia believe in the strength of the United Nations. Our cooperation in this field will help to strengthen the role of the UN. The recent decisions of the UN Security Council on Afghanistan and Iraq make us confident that we must follow the road of multilateral cooperation if we are to achieve peace.
The situation in the Middle East remains an area of particular concern. It requires greater joint efforts and joint pressure on all parties involved.
Vladimir Putin: First of all, I would like once more to thank President Ciampi for inviting me to come to Italy on a state visit.
Russia values the high level of cooperation and interaction with the Italian Republic. Today, our cooperation is an important factor in world and European politics.
The talk I had with President Ciampi took place in a traditional atmosphere of trust and mutual understanding. We noted that our positions coincided on key international problems.
In light of Italy’s chairmanship of the European Union, I would particularly like to note Italy’s constructive approach in the collective work on the advancement of the entire complex of relations between the Russian Federation and the EU. We expect that the high-level meeting beginning tomorrow in Rome will become an important step in solving the strategic tasks of Russia and the European Union coming closer together, in the creation of common spaces – in the area of economics and trade, domestic and foreign security, freedom and justice, science and culture.
I would also like to say that Russia and Italy understand that it is necessary to remove visa barriers, to provide true freedom of contacts between people on the European continent. A visa free system between Russia and the European Union is not an issue for today, but our close interaction in this sphere may and should realistically bring us closer to solving this problem.
As for bilateral relations, here we can see consistency and gradual progress in all spheres – in political, economic, scientific and other areas.
I hope that President Ciampi and I will be able to discuss all these important issues in Moscow in the near future. I have invited the President of the Italian Republic to come to Russia on an official visit at a time that is convenient for him.
I stress once more: our countries are united in the belief that the development of mutually beneficial relations is in our national interests.
In conclusion, I would like to say I am certain that today’s talks will give a new stimulus to the entire spectrum of our constructive interaction. A detailed examination of the entire complex of interaction between Italy and Russia will continue at talks with Prime Minister Berlusconi, with the participation of Ministers of both Governments.