President Vladimir Putin: Today we discussed in considerable detail the most diverse aspects of cooperation between Russia and Spain. One of them is the economic sphere, and I think that Prime Minister Fradkov will probably be able to describe to us the prospects of developing relations in this important area.
You talked of the necessity for more frequent meetings and contacts between our foreign ministers. Today we will formulate an order for them together.
Our Defence Minister [Sergei Ivanov] is planning a visit to Spain in July. You are the chief commander of the armed forces. There are several issues which we could discuss today and which could be discussed in future by Spanish and Russian colleagues during Mr Ivanov’s upcoming visit to Spain.
You also mentioned the activity of the Cervantes Institute in Russia. I hope that our Cultural Minister [Aleksandr Sokolov] will share his ideas about how relations in this sphere can and should be developed between our nations.
It is very pleasing for me that in this informal atmosphere this evening we can discuss all the topics which I mentioned, and any others which you believe are necessary for discussion. [Speaking to Mr. Ivanov] When is your visit?
Sergei Ivanov: On 11 July. And this is not just a routine visit, it is a reciprocal visit to the visit made last year by my Spanish colleague, Mr Bono.
Last year, while he was here in Moscow, he gave us this authentic Orthodox cross, which until 1943 was set on the Cathedral of St. Sophia in Novgorod. Since then until 2004 this cross was held at the military engineering academy near Madrid. Of course, both the Russian Orthodox Church and the people of Russia are very grateful to the leadership of Spain for making the decision to return this cross. But we agreed that Russia would give an exact copy of the cross to the Spanish military. This copy is now ready and is at present in Novgorod.
Mr Putin: The Secretary of the Security Council Igor’ Ivanov is a person whom you know well. He is our main expert in Spanish affairs. So today we have a cosy gathering, and we have the opportunity to talk on any topic of our bilateral contacts. I hope that when you return to Spain you will be able to discuss all of this with Prime Minister Zapatero.