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Russia interested in EU as strong and independent partner, Putin says

"Regardless of what relations within Europe are, we are interested in developing relations with Europe," Putin said

MOSCOW, December 23. /TASS/. Russia is interested in Europe as an independent partner, without holding talks with it through third countries, Russian President Vladimir Putin said during his annual news conference on Friday.

"Of course, we do want to have a reliable, strong, and, which is no less important, an independent partner. If we have to get in touch with third countries or a third country to tackle issues related to relations between Europe and Russia, in that case we are not interested in talking with Europe itself," the Russian leader said. 

"Of course, we would like Europe to speak in one voice. We would like to have a partner we can talk to, that is important for us. However, if this is not the case, we will look for opportunities to talk at the international level with all our partners in Europe. That’s the way it is today. We resolve some issues with the European Commission, while some other issues are addressed at a national level with European countries, and we are satisfied with that by and large," the Russian president said.

Putin also drew attention to disagreements within the EU on the migrant crisis and some other issues. "Of course, those European countries that disagree with the current migrant policy, they are not indifferent to the degree of their participation in decision-making, they don’t like it when someone tries to impose decisions they consider to be unacceptable for themselves," Putin noted, mentioning Poland and Hungary among these countries. The Russian leader added that these issues are tackled during debates within the European Union.

"Regardless of what relations within Europe are, we are interested in developing relations with Europe, and we will seek to achieve this goal," Putin said.