Introductory Remarks at a Meeting with President of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili 2004-02-11 20:14:26 The Kremlin, Moscow Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, dear Mikhail Nikolayevich. Allow me to welcome you and take this opportunity to congratulate you on your election to the high office of President of Georgia. I will not dwell on the historical roots that unite our peoples. So many different people have already said so much on this subject. I would only like to reaffirm that we have particularly warm feelings for Georgia and the Georgian people. There really is much that unites us spiritually and historically. Georgia is an important partner for us today. We hope that Georgia also considers Russia as such. We are one of your biggest trading and economic partners and account for 16 percent of your trade turnover. Perhaps that seems still an insignificant amount, but our trade turnover increased by more than 37 percent compared to the same period last year. This is a good growth rate. Some companies are working well. What I would like to stress is that we are always willing to accommodate Georgia on every question. This goes for debt restructuring and for energy supplies. As you know, we ourselves had problems with electricity supplies in our southern regions the year before last, but when we learned of the accident at the Inguri Power Station we restricted supplies to our own regions and increased our supplies to Georgia. We also reacted swiftly to the accident with the gas pipeline last year. We did all we could to get everything back in working order again. Mr President, we have noted with attention your statements made in Georgia and abroad, and yesterday at your meeting with students. They send very positive signals aimed at reviving Georgian-Russian relations. We are very pleased to see you and we hope that this visit will bring good results.