President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Larcher, friends, colleagues. Let me welcome you to Moscow. I believe we met exactly a year ago.
President of the Senate of France Gerard Larcher (retranslated): Almost.
Vladimir Putin: I should say that despite the well-known difficulties and problems, relations between France and Russia are developing and are maintained on the parliamentary level and the level of executive authorities and, naturally, the business level.
I believe last year I met with the French President five times and spoke on the telephone with him 23 times. However, the parliamentary dimension is, naturally, very important because we need support from members of parliament, but of course it is also necessary to promote an appropriate atmosphere for the development of relations.
We are happy to see you, Mr Larcher. We know you as an advocate of deepening our interstate relations.
Gerard Larcher: Mr President, I would like to thank you for receiving our senators, Mr Ambassador and me.
Yesterday, we met with the Federation Council Speaker and the Deputy Speaker, and it seems to us that we worked well last evening.
There will be an opening event in October: our two foreign affairs committees will meet here under the chairmanship of Jean-Pierre Raffarin – I believe you know him. He is our former prime minister, and now he is Chairman of the French Senate Committee for Foreign Affairs.
First of all, I would like to convey a message to you on behalf of the French business community. I talked to them for a long time yesterday, and you know what – they are very happy to live and work here in Russia.
I also met with Moscow Mayor yesterday, and I should say that the changes inspire confidence. We decided to enhance contacts with our Ile-de-France region and with Paris. By the way, I was elected in Ile-de-France.