President Vladimir Putin: Ms Federal Chancellor, I would like to wish you a warm welcome to Sochi. Thank you for agreeing to come here.
(Pointing at Koni) The dog does not bother you, does it? It’s a friendly dog and I’m sure it will behave itself.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (in Russian): It doesn’t eat journalists, after all.
Vladimir Putin: Germany has just gained two major and very important undertakings: it is chairing the G8 and has taken over the presidency of the European Union.
Regarding Germany’s presidency of the G8, I would like to recall Russia’s work in this area and thank our German partners for your help during preparations for the summit in St Petersburg.
I know that our experts are already in contact over your presidency of the G8 and the joint work that we will pursue in this area this year. As for your presidency of the European Union, we have good, trusting and multifaceted relations with Germany and we hope that this will help us build up relations with other countries in the European Union and with the organisation as a whole.
Our bilateral relations showed very good development last year. We are happy with the level and nature of our relations. This extends to our political contacts and to trade growth. As for our humanitarian ties, they have not only continued but have expanded in practically every area. I am very happy to see you here. Welcome.
Angela Merkel (Translated from German through Russian): Thank you for the invitation to come to Sochi. I am very pleased that we can start this year with an opportunity to intensify the already close contacts between our two countries. You are right indeed in that this time we are meeting not only at bilateral level, because Germany is also here today as the country presiding over the European Union and the G8.
Germany has succeeded Russia as president of the G8. Last year gave us the opportunity to cooperate very closely with each other and we are continuing this cooperation today. We will focus on a number of different issues during our presidency. There will be a lot of emphasis on energy, environmental protection and climate change. I think that in this sense we are continuing the course that Russia set.
As for Germany’s presidency of the EU, I am sure that we will speak today about the upcoming Russia-EU summit that is to take place here in Russia.
We will be trying to make an even greater effort to make progress on the bilateral agreements between Russia and the EU and to ensure that our relations are not only strategic in nature but become even closer and focused on the long term.
We will also have the chance to discuss a large number of international issues that we gave much attention to over the last year.
I think that today we will be picking up where our last talks left off and so I have no fears that there won’t be subjects for discussion. Thank you once again for the invitation.