Beginning of a Meeting with Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini 2003-01-16 00:00:00 Novo-Ogaryovo Vladimir Putin: Mr Minister, I am very pleased to welcome you. I hope we will be able to discuss the Italian Prime Minister’s working visit to Russia. We talked about it several times with him and he has agreed to come to Moscow. We have regular meetings, which is good, and they yield positive results. The dialogue between Italy and Russia is developing vigorously because there are concrete things, there are problems on which we have to work. We include the political, economic and humanitarian spheres among the key spheres of our interaction. As for economics, we have many large projects and the current activities I think are very positive. We have just completed one such major project – we call it “The Blue Stream” – the building of a gas pipeline under the Black Sea from Russia to Turkey with Italian technical and financial assistance. I hope that during the Italian Prime Minister’s visit to the Russian Federation we will be able to officially open the pipeline. I hope we will be able to agree on similar projects in Europe that we could jointly implement. I am glad that the relations in the military-technical field between our foreign and defence ministries are making good headway. The whole range of our interaction is largely overseen by the foreign ministries, so I hope very much that you personally, and your ministry will take an active part in coordinating all these complicated activities with their Russian colleagues. Franco Frattini: Mr President, first of all, I greatly appreciate your invitation to visit Russia and I would like to convey the best regards and assurances of friendship from Prime Minister Berlusconi. Prime Minister Berlusconi has asked me to confirm to you, because you probably already know, that he will arrive in Moscow on the agreed date. Mr Prime Minister is very glad indeed to be able to take part with you together in the official opening of the Blue Stream project. As regards our relations, I would like to confirm the excellent level of these relations. Our meetings with my counterpart, Mr Igor Ivanov, are marked by the same spirit. We are working – and we will be working especially hard during the Italian presidency of the EU – towards a powerful rapprochement between Russia and the European Union. In my talk with Mr Ivanov, I have already expressed support for the Russian initiative of setting up a working group to prepare proposals for a more active Russia-EU dialogue during the Italian presidency of the EU. In addition, I believe, Mr President, and I will report to Prime Minister Berlusconi, that it is necessary to continue to expand cooperation between Russia and the European Union not only in economics but in such areas as culture, security and the fight against terrorism, and promote the adoption of measures that would guarantee social stability on our continent. I will present my views on the issue to Mr Berlusconi so that he can voice the position of the Italian Government at a higher level during his meeting with you. Vladimir Putin: We regard Prime Minister Berlusconi as a great friend of our country. Please convey to him that we will do all we can to ensure the quality and high level of results of his visit to Moscow.