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Meeting with President of Czech Republic Milos Zeman

May 9, 2015, The Kremlin, Moscow

The discussion focussed on bilateral relations and prospects for the development of cooperation between Russia and the European Union.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, allow me to once again welcome you in the Kremlin.

I would like to say that it is a pleasure to know that there are politicians in Europe who are capable of directly expressing their viewpoint and of asserting and conducting an independent policy.

Mr President, you know we did not initiate the cooling in relations with Europe, and I hope that politicians like you would make it possible to not only restore them to the full, but also to move on.

I am very grateful to you for being with us today and sharing our emotions on this day – the 70th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War.

Serious battles took place on the territory of the Czech Republic in which more than 50,000 Soviet soldiers and officers were killed. I would like to thank you and all our friends in your country who take care of the burial places of Soviet officers and men. This is an important and very sensitive aspect that speaks of the depth of our relations, which have gone through different times. Nevertheless, we expect to not only restore our relations with Europe in general, and with Eastern Europe and the Czech Republic, but to develop them further.

Unfortunately, we have had a certain fall in our trade turnover due to obvious developments, including mutual economic limitations. This damages everyone, there is nothing good about it, we see it and we are ready to fully restore our ties.

Thank you very much for coming to Moscow today.

President of the Czech Republic Milos Zeman (in Russian): Thank you, Mr President.

You know, politics are like the weather: it cools off and then it gets warmer. A person is happy when it warms up after a cool-down. This is one thing.

The other is that I have stated several times in public that I am here primarily to pay tribute not only to those soldiers who died on the territory of the Czech Republic, but to all the 20, or some say 27 million Soviet citizens, both soldiers and civilians, who died during the Great Patriotic War. This was the first purpose of my visit.

As you surely know, I am confident that normal relations will follow the cool-down. Why speak of super-normal relations? What are they? Normal ties are cultural, political and economic ties. Since every president protects the interests of his nation, I am here to protect the interests of the Czech Republic. I don’t want to speak of the whole world the way the UN Secretary-General does.

As for economic interests, they are very simple. I do not know if you remember our first meeting 15 years ago – I was visiting you in your capacity of Prime Minister. I was already performing all the political functions, though I had never been a mayor. I said “We have a minor point” and you said there were no minor points. We also spoke of a gas pipeline somewhere in Kamchatka then. It had to do with an unpaid loan. You resolved it in 14 days. Congratulations.

Some problems recur, as usual. I am certain that the sanctions are a short-term affair. I publicly spoke against the sanctions.

Vladimir Putin: We know that.


May 9, 2015, The Kremlin, Moscow