Vladimir Putin: Dear Mr Prime Minister, dear colleagues!
First of all, I would like to sincerely thank you for the opportunity to visit the Netherlands, to meet with you and with Dutch business representatives and to talk about all our different relations. I completely agree with your appraisal of our mutual relations. It is necessary to point out that over the past few years our economic relations have developed in an unprecedented way. After the Federal Republic of Germany, the Netherlands are solidly our second western European trading and economic partner. While last year our trade was valued at 16,5 billion dollars, this year we will go over the 25 billion dollar mark. This is simply a record. Over the past five years, the volume of Dutch investments, 80 percent of which are direct investments, has grown not by 10, 20 or 40 percent, but by 20 times. The volume of our cooperation is such that it is necessary for us to have not only high-level contacts, such as those today, but also to encourage contacts between business representatives, experts, ministers and civil society representatives, since they can best create an atmosphere that favours cooperation between our states and peoples.