MOSCOW, March 1 (Itar-Tass) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said France remains an important strategic partner for Russia. He made the statement at a news conference after talks with his French colleague Francois Hollande on Thursday.
Noting that it was the French leader’s first visit to Russia, Putin thanked the partners for intensive and productive work.
“France has been and remains an important strategic partner for Russia,” he stressed. “We can state with confidence today that the task to ensure succession in bilateral cooperation - which we set together with Mr Hollande in June 2012 - has been fulfilled.”
Putin stated that the two countries maintain a fruitful political dialogue and strengthen humanitarian ties. “Economic interaction expands thanks to joint production and cooperation with an emphasis on innovations and high technologies,” the Russian president said.
The Russian president said that Russia and France are implementing a number of major projects in high technology spheres such as space, aviation industry and energy, including nuclear. “Thus, our joint program Soyuz at the Guiana Space Centre evokes major interest among consumers of space services, satellite operators. In the second half of 2013 alone it is planned to orbit up to six satellites,” Putin said.
“There is major potential in the aircraft building sector,” he continued. “France is actively involved in the development of modern Russian aircraft MS-21 and Sukhoi Superjet 100, as well as in their promotion on the global market.”
The Russian president particularly stressed broad involvement of French businesses in major infrastructure projects. “These are the Nord Stream South Stream projects for the construction of the gas transmission network preparations for the Sochi Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup in 2018, transport infrastructure and so on,” he said.
Putin said that last year, the Russian automobile market became the second largest in Europe, “and French carmakers have appreciated its possibilities.” “The Renault-Nissan and AvtoVAZ alliance is already producing tangible results,” said the Russian leader, adding that among the successful examples there is also the Peugeot-Citroen plant in the Kaluga Region that reached design capacity last year.
“The French capital is represented in Russia practically in all industries. We have expressed interest in increasing the contribution of Russian investors in the economy of France. “We will use the opportunities offered by Russia’s Direct Investment Fund and France’s Deposits and Consignments Fund [Caisse des D·pots et Consignations] to this effect, that have just signed a memorandum of understanding,” Putin said.
“We hope that the Russian-French Council for Economic, Financial, Industrial and Trade Issues [Conseil Economique, Financier, Industriel et Commercial Franco-Russe (CEFIC)] will continue to effectively promote the full range of our bilateral commercial ties and their further diversification, as well as launch new and interesting projects. The Russian-French Business Council, established in November 2012, must carve out its own niche in our economic cooperation,” he said.
“We have traditionally paid a great deal of attention to developing our contacts in the cultural and educational spheres. The interpenetration of Russian and French cultures truly is full-enhancing. Respective cultural years and seasons marking Russian language and literature in France and French language and literature in Russia represent major events that have marked our countries’ cultural lives,” Putin stated.