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Talks with Federal President of Austria Alexander Van der Bellen

May 15, 2019, Sochi

Vladimir Putin held talks in Sochi with Federal President of the Republic of Austria Alexander Van der Bellen, who is in Russia on a working visit.

The discussion focused on aspects of bilateral relations in various fields, as well as current international and regional issues.

Following the consultations, the President of Russia and the Federal President of Austria attended a document exchange ceremony. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Austrian Federal Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs Karin Kneissl signed the Joint Statement on the Russian-Austrian Cross Years of Literature and Theater in 2020–2021.

Vladimir Putin and Alexander Van der Bellen then gave a joint news conference.

* * *

Beginning of the conversation with Federal President of the Republic of Austria Alexander Van der Bellen

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, colleagues,

Welcome to Russia. We are delighted to see you in Sochi.

I remember our meeting in Vienna and the warm welcome you offered us. As we meet here in Sochi, we have a chance to bring one of your ideas to fruition. I am referring to the civil society forum that we called the Sochi Dialogue.

I would like to note that we are expanding our bilateral relations across the board. Our foreign ministries and governments maintain regular contacts. We have regular meetings with the Federal Chancellor.

Trade is also on the rise. Last year it increased by more than 42 percent. I hope and I strongly believe that your visit, Mr President, will help further expand and strengthen our cooperation.

Once again, welcome.

Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen (retranslated): Thank you very much, Mr President.

We have met one year ago in Vienna. It was a great honour for me to have a meeting with you back then, since it took place right after the runoff election when I was elected President.

Today is a very important day, since we are marking the anniversary of the Austrian State Treaty, which was signed on May 15, 1955. This is a memorable date for us.

I would like to emphasise, Mr President, the long track record of relations between Russia and Austria. We remember that it was in Moscow that the allied powers decided in 1943 to ensure Austria’s independence after the war.

Last year we announced the establishment of the Sochi Dialogue forum, and today we are officially opening it. I want to thank you, ministers Kneissl and Lavrov, and particularly Ms Klestil-Löffler.

Our economic relations are developing very well, as is trade. As I prepared for this event, I was slightly surprised and very proud to find that, as it turns out, Austria’s direct investment in Russia is the second largest among the EU countries, after Germany.

The Sochi Dialogue forum will strengthen contacts between our academic and cultural communities and, as they say in modern German, P2P, or people-to-people contacts that we will be further expanding, as they are already strong.

Mr President, I would like to thank you for holding this meeting in Sochi. Not only because Sochi is hosting the Sochi Dialogue. I am very glad to be here because earlier I had an opportunity to visit Moscow and St Petersburg as a parliament member, but not Sochi. I do not know if it is true but I heard a story that Nikita Khrushchev spent 13 days in Austria to explore the country. I do not know about his experience, but as soon as you start exploring Sochi, you want to spend much more time here.

Once again, thank you very much for the invitation. I am happy to be here.

Vladimir Putin: Mr President, you mentioned the signing of the 1955 treaty. The Soviet Union played a crucial role in this treaty. Austria not only restored its full sovereignty but also established itself in Europe as a neutral state. We highly appreciate it, Mr President. Your country’s non-bloc status helps us to develop our relations today.

Thank you.

Alexander Van der Bellen: Thank you.


May 15, 2019, Sochi