President Vladimir Putin: Mrs President,
Allow me once again to wish you a warm welcome.
I am very pleased to see you this time in St Petersburg. I thank you for accepting this invitation and coming to the economic forum. It is always good promotion for any event when heads of state attend, and since this event is taking place in St Petersburg your presence here is all the more important because the special nature of relations between Finland and the Northwest of Russia has always been linked precisely to this city.
I am very pleased that the Russian Federation has taken first place among your trading partners. Practically every year we set new records for our trade growth. We work closely in the traditional sectors of energy and forestry, but there is also ever greater interest in cooperation on technology. Finland is a good partner for us in this respect given its level of technological development.
Finally, in just two weeks Finland will take over the presidency of the European Union and we very much hope that the good relations between Russia and Finland will be translated into good relations with the entire European Union.
President of Finland Tarja Halonen: ( translated from Russian) Mr President,
Thank you for your warm words. I agree entirely that relations between Finland and Russia are developing very well. This is true of our economic relations and our ties in other areas. I can say quite frankly that for many Finns, for Finnish people and Finnish companies, St Petersburg is the city that first comes to mind when they think of Russia. In this sense, our discussions on regional cooperation are certainly to our benefit.
I would also like to congratulate you on the [Russia-EU] summit in Sochi. It will be easy and pleasant now for our country to take over the EU presidency. This goes for relations with Russia and for the Northern Dimension. These relations are developing very favourably and the summit was a success in this respect.
Of course, it is very good for us that there is such a positive climate for our relations because there is a lot to do during Finland’s presidency of the European Union. This concerns renewing the Northern Dimension and promoting concrete cooperation between the European Union and Russia in general. We hope, of course, that the good start will lead to good results.
The economic forum that is taking place today here in St Petersburg is good advertising, including for the Northern Dimension. Holding this kind of event is proof that this part of Europe is growing fast and is attracting interest. I hope that our discussions will give us the chance to look in more detail at some specific aspects of our cooperation.