President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Ladies and gentlemen, colleagues,
I am very pleased to welcome you to our anniversary summit, the 25th EU-Russia summit.
We chose Rostov-on-Don as its venue, and this choice, to great extent, is symbolic as this city went through hardships and endurances during the Great Patriotic War and not so long ago it was conferred the title of City of Military Glory. This is also a symbol of our good relations.
Since the signing of the relevant [EU-Russia] partnership agreement, we have made considerable headway. Relations of partnership and cooperation have become, in essence, our daily practice. Yesterday we had an informal discussion of what we have and have not achieved, and reviewed current political issues.
Not that long ago we met in Stockholm and discussed an interesting topic, the Partnership for Modernisation idea, and agreed that it will become one of the themes of our cooperation in the coming years. Today, we will, in effect, announce launching that initiative which I hope will give a substantial impetus to our good strategic relations. The summit in Stockholm, by the way, took place as the EU was undergoing serious institutional changes. Today, the Lisbon Treaty has come into force.
For the first time at an EU-Russia summit, your delegation is headed by the President of the Council of Europe and I would like to once again welcome Mr President. Mr Van Rompuy, I wish you and all our colleagues success in the reform effort, as well as in the hard work you are carrying out today coordinating efforts to overcome the global financial crisis and the problems that exist today in some EU countries, which was another subject of our discussion yesterday.
Today we will discuss everything that characterises the multifaceted relations between Russia and the EU. We will address the economy, emergency situations, global and European security, regional problems. We will certainly touch on Iran’s nuclear programme, the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the Middle East settlement. Therefore, I hope that today’s meeting, though an anniversary meeting, will not differ significantly from other summits, as these are working contacts that should promote in all directions relations between the Russian Federation and the European Union.
Dear colleagues, I welcome you again to Rostov-on-Don. We will continue our talks and our communication. You have the floor, Mr Van Rumpuy.
President of the Council of Europe Herman Van Rompuy (as transcribed): Of course I am pleased to be in this historical city of Rostov-on-Don, home to many famous personalities in Russian history, not least Pushkin and Solzhenitsyn, and I am sure that the summit will live up to the expectations raised by the very choice of this location.
The summit comes at a defining time both for the European Union and for Russia. In the European Union we have a new treaty, the Treaty of Lisbon, and new institutional actors, Ms Ashton and myself, we are the products and children of the Lisbon Treaty. We are manoeuvring our way through the economic and financial crisis with the aim of coming out stronger as a union.
Russia is also at the crossroads. Your modernisation initiative, your choice to base Russia’s modernisation in the 21st century on democratic values and building a modern economy implies a significant development and an opportunity for Russia itself, and for renewed momentum to many areas of our relationship.
It is in this context that I see today’s summit. And it is in this context that I see the launch of our Partnership for Modernisation, our forthcoming discussions on the need to boost the ongoing negotiations for the new agreement, the visa dialogue and a new momentum towards Russian WTO accession.
All these issues are somehow interlinked. I believe it is important that our cooperation should reflect this new context.
And we also need to take into account the change of strategic landscape, how the global challenges such as the rise of China and others, climate change and energy security are affecting it and how we as leaders want to relate to it.
I therefore look forward to our discussions today, in the same open spirit as we had over dinner yesterday evening, on the global financial crisis, climate change, energy security, crisis management, and of course on the wide range of international and regional issues planned for the lunch.
Before continuing, Mr President, I want to reiterate our heartfelt condolences for the tragic losses caused by the metro bombings in Moscow in March, and the bombings in Stavropol. Thank you.
President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso (as transcribed): Good afternoon, Mr President and my friend Dmitry Medvedev,
Thank you for your hospitality and for the very good exchanges we started to have yesterday.
Let me also join President Van Rompuy in reiterating my deepest condolences for the tragic losses caused by the metro bombing in Moscow and more recently the deaths in Stavropol. Be sure that we see terrorism as a common threat that has to be tackled jointly.
Looking at geopolitics and geo-economics of the 21st century, it seems crystal clear that the European Union and Russia must be side by side, in a very close partnership. And I am sure that this summit will contribute to that.
Building on also a very good exchange in Stockholm, we will launch today the Partnership for Modernisation. It was an idea that was initiated in those talks and it is indeed an opportunity to give renewed momentum to many areas of our relationship.
I look forward to an in-depth exchange on this, we believe the Partnership for Modernisation is a major commitment to getting our relationship to deliver more, faster, and better. So I am looking forward to what I believe will be a very important summit. I think it’s the 25th summit between the European Union and Russia, and once again thank you for your hospitality and for the political impetus that you put in this relationship.