June 4, 2012 (TSR) – Russia is ready to give a hand to the European Union (EU) over its economic woes, President Vladimir Putin said here on Monday.
After the 29th Russia-EU summit, Putin told a press conference that Moscow believes the EU will finally overcome its difficulties.
“I agree with Mr. Van Rompuy (European Council President Herman van Rompuy) … the outlook is optimistic, and from our side also. We are ready to facilitate this process, because we are also interested in it,” Putin said.
He added that any recession in Europe would have a direct impact on the Russian economy.
“Anyway, we do not expect any serious shocks and we are capable of rapidly reacting to any developments,” Putin said.
Admitting that Europe is experiencing testing time, Van Rompuy stressed “We are driven by a clear determination to work our way through the challenges.”
He said there is not way back for euro, as there is “only the way ahead toward more integration.”
“We want Greece to stay in the eurozone, while respecting its commitments,” Van Rompuy said.
During the Russia-EU summit, the two sides exchanged views on bilateral relations, visa-free regime, energy cooperation and hot international affairs.
VISA-FREE RUSSIA-EU IS NOT A POLITICAL ISSUE
The visa-free talks between Russia and the European Union (EU) is not a political issue, but rather an economic and humanitarian affair, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.
Putin recalled that during his just-finished tour to Germany and France, reporters from Russian delegation were issued temporary visas which were due to expire even before their departure.
They could do nothing but “go back home” if that happened, Putin said.
Citing this example, Putin urged the EU to facilitate visa-free process so as to promote scientific, cultural and other “people-to-people exchanges” between the two sides.
Putin said the visa obstacle blocks the way of a “true” strategic partnership between the EU and Russia and it should be taken as a humanitarian affair rather than political one.
The Russian president told reporters during a press conference after his talks with Chairman of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy and Chairman of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso that Russia is ready to “move even faster” on the visa talks under the principles of equal partnership, “now the ball is on the EU side.”
Barroso promised that the Russia-EU visa-free agreement toward a close integration will be “finalized soon,” while noting that difficulties and barriers remained since the 27 EU members hold different views on this issue.
Responding to the “go-back-home” story told by Putin on Russian reporters’ one-day visa in Europe, Barroso said the EU side will “check it out.” He stressed that the visa-free talks are not only in the interest of Russia, but also in that of Europe, as more Russian tourists are visiting European countries.
Van Rompuy said Russia and EU are taking “common steps” and “upgrading their visa-free talks.” He told Russian media ahead of the summit that visa-free travel is a “common goal,” but the two sides need to focus on establishing necessary conditions rather than discussing the detailed “timeline” of the process.