President Vladimir Putin: Mr President,
It gives me great pleasure to see you here in Moscow. We agreed on this meeting back at the G8 summit in Heiligendamm. I know that you have a very busy schedule and I am therefore all the more pleased that you have accepted our invitation and come here today to Russia. France was, is, and I hope will remain one of our priority partners in Europe and the world. Our relations are developing well and top-level contacts take place regularly. Our foreign minister and our economy ministers met recently. Now we have the pleasure of welcoming the President of France to Moscow.
Our bilateral trade is also on the rise. I am sure that during our informal meeting over dinner to night, and during our talks tomorrow, we will have much to talk about.
French President Nicholas Sarkozy: Mr President, I would like to thank you. It is a great honour for me to be received here at your dacha and I am pleased that we will soon have the opportunity to have a one-on-one talk over dinner. I was very pleased with our meeting in Heiligendamm. France seeks to be a friend to Russia and is watching Russia’s development efforts very attentively. I have seen the strength of your convictions and I think that we will be able to understand each other, for I also have strong convictions of my own. I am happy to have this chance to talk with you. We will discuss the situation in our countries, important world affairs, and the fact that, given the situation in the world today, we need to work together. Speaking frankly, it is a pleasure for me to be here.
Vladimir Putin: Mr President, you spoke of your desire to understand Russia. There is a well known poem about just this. I do not know how the interpreter will translate it, but in Russian it is very convincing: “Russia cannot be fathomed with the mind, nor seized with any common measure, she has a character of her own and you can but simply believe in her”. I will do everything I can to answer your question and I will explain any of our positions in order to make them clear to all.
Nicholas Sarkozy: I realise that Russia has gone through many trials over these last years. France understands Russia’s desire to once again take its place on the international stage. Discussions are fruitless unless we also try to understand the reasons for a situation. I want to understand you, and I hope that you will also try to understand our convictions.