Mr Fischer is in Russia on an official visit.
* * *
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, colleagues, friends, let me welcome you at the Moscow Kremlin.
Despite the difficulties we have encountered of late, relations between Russia and Austria continue to develop and we attach great importance to these ties.
We have always put particular emphasis on our trade and economic relations. Sadly, the difficulties I have just mentioned have caused a substantial drop in our trade turnover, a decrease of around 25 percent, though Russian exports to Austria, surprising as it might seem, actually increased slightly over the previous year.
Russia is one of the biggest investors in Austria’s economy. Austria and Austrian companies have also invested considerable resources and funds in Russia’s economy.
Mr President, we are very pleased to see you. I am sure that we will have the chance to discuss our bilateral relations and our multilateral ties, our relations with the European Union, for example, and to examine the pressing issues on the agenda today.
President of Austria Heinz Fischer (retranslated): Mr President, gentlemen,
It was with pleasure that I accepted your invitation to come to Moscow with my delegation. Let me note that this is already our seventh meeting since 2014. We met recently in Vienna. I am very happy with the good and decent cooperation our two countries have.
Austrian journalists asked me before I came here if this would be a difficult visit. I said that there are some difficult moments and complicated issues, of course, some of which you have already mentioned, but that the visit itself would not be difficult because it has been well prepared and because we Austrians know Russia and Russia knows Austria.
I discussed the State Duma’s work today with the Speaker, Mr Naryshkin. We talked the upcoming elections, and also about civil society and its opportunities and prospects. I discussed economic matters with Prime Minister Medvedev, and also the sanctions, the Ukraine crisis, human rights and other matters.
Now I am happy to have this chance to exchange views with you and your high-level delegation on international affairs, probably the sanctions, the situation in Syria, and the matters that you mentioned.
Let me start by setting out our position on the sanctions issue. Anyone with an interest in developing good economic relations between Europe and Russia cannot be happy with sanctions. However, at the same time, Austria is a loyal member of the European Union and will remain so. We realise that the sanctions issue is closely linked to issues with the Minsk Agreements. The Foreign Minister knows all the various aspects and details.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you.