President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Dear Mr President!
I am pleased to continue our negotiations in an extended format. I propose to dedicate this part of our conversation to bilateral relations. I am convinced that they are currently at an exceptionally high level. We are in constant contact, and our governments are in constant contact. The most important thing is that in recent years we have taken a significant number of steps that have moved our economies and our economic ties to a fundamentally new level.
Investment cooperation in recent times has grown very extensively. Suffice it to say that on the Italian side there has been very substantial investment in the Russian economy. This already amounts to more than ten billion dollars. Russian investments in the Italian market already account for billions of dollars. This means that trade and economic cooperation is proceeding apace.
As we have just been saying, there are interstate consultations to come, a meeting of a large parliamentary committee and an exchange of visits by various senators. We are confident that these meetings also constitute precious coins to be deposited in the bank of our relations.
There are two major cultural events on the horizon. First there is the ceremony marking the return to Russia of the St Nicholas Orthodox church in Bari; then there is the centennial of the humanitarian operation performed by the Russian fleet to save the inhabitants of the town of Messina. This is another very important example of our cooperation.
All these are examples of the multifaceted strategic cooperation between our countries.
President of Italy Giorgio Napolitano (as retranslated from Russian): Thank you Mr President!
I am very happy that we have this opportunity to continue discussing the development of our relations, not only between our two countries but also between Russia and the European Union. We know that Russia is an integral part of Europe. It is a great country that has always been an integral part of an extended Europe, and a country that has the opportunity to fix its sights beyond Europe.
As you have rightly observed, trade and economic relations between our countries are moving to an even higher level. That said, the fact that trade between our countries is growing rapidly is not particularly new. I think the really new element is the level of investment. And this is a process that goes in both directions. I will be very interested in discussing measures that could facilitate the process of mutual investment.
I think it is very important to develop investment in the energy sector. For Italy, this is a particularly vital question. But I also think that the implementation of the South Stream [gas pipeline] project is important for both sides.
Once upon a time, many years ago Fiat was the only game in town. Fiat was the sum total of everything Italian in Russia. Now in addition to Fiat, which has decided to further increase its presence in the Russian Federation, Eni is one of the most important companies dramatically developing its relations with Russia. I think it is absolutely right to focus on those projects and the work being done here in Russia. Finmeccanica is another of our companies that is dramatically developing its relations with its Russian partners.