11 june 2010

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and French Prime Minister Francois Fillon open and inspect the Russian National Exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris

“We are inaugurating an exhibition that was created by Russia’s largest companies, including the research and technical community. This is one of the main events of the Year of Russia in France and the Year of France in Russia. You will see not only Russia’s past achievements but also our ideas spearheaded into the 21st century,” Russian Prime Minister said at the opening ceremony.

Francois Fillon (as translated): Mr Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen, it is a great pleasure for me to inaugurate the Russian National Exhibition at the Grand Palais jointly with Vladimir Putin. We know each other well, and I'd like to say that France is happy to welcome you again.

The agenda for the Russia-France cross-cultural year is very big. In early March, President Dmitry Medvedev was in France on a state visit. Vladimir Putin has been here for two days, yesterday and today. On June 19, the French President will attend the economic forum in St Petersburg. And I will close the cross-cultural year of Russia and France in late December during a traditional meeting of the French and Russian governments.

The agenda for this exchange year includes about 400 cultural, artistic and economic events. The Russian National Exhibition is the main event of the year. I'd like to welcome its organisers, all those who contributed to it, and to wish them success.

The exhibition Holy Rus at the Louvre in March this year introduced the French public to the greatness of Russia's history and civilisation. The exhibition we are inaugurating today offers a broader view of modern Russia, its wealth and its people, their intellectual and artistic achievements, its industrial and technological potential, and the diversity of its regions.

Our impression is that we are in a national pavilion of a World Exhibition, also because Pont Alexandre III, the bridge which Russia presented to France in the late 19th century, is located near the Grand Palace. We are reminded that the friendship between our people goes back for centuries. Currently we are cooperating in industry, automobile manufacturing, aerospace, and the power industry, including nuclear generation. We are cooperating in a number of areas, and our cooperation is very strong. We discussed these issues again this morning; we have agreed that we can continue to develop this cooperation, in particular focusing on areas we have neglected, such as agriculture and the medical industry. France and Russia are strategic partners.

Never before have we felt so strongly that the future of the European continent is our common future. We are resolved to take up the security challenges in Europe and also the challenge of globalisation. We have a common will and a common striving for modernisation, reforms and progress. This striving is part of the common humanitarian and economic space of Russia and Europe, which France wholeheartedly upholds.

Vladimir Putin yesterday spoke of our economic cooperation, saying that our trade has grown fourfold since 2000.

Today we also discussed the issues of Georgia and Nagorny Karabakh, relations with Iran, and the crisis in international relations. We spoke about a conference on security that could be held within the framework of the CSTO in Kazakhstan. We discussed prospects for French investment and for expanding such investment in the Russian Far East.

Just in the past few months, France rose from ninth to fifth place in Russian imports; we don't think this is the limit. A mutual increase in investment, in particular Russian investment in France, will be a key factor in support of this goal.

I would like to greet all Russian citizens who are present here. Russia will celebrate a national holiday tomorrow. On that day, all people are united by common pride. Consequently, I would like to convey my whole-hearted congratulations and to proclaim: Long live Russia! Long live France! Long live Russian-French friendship!

Vladimir Putin:

Esteemed Mr Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen,

First of all, I would like to say that I am very happy to visit Paris again, to have an opportunity to admire this wonderful city and to meet with my friends.

It is common knowledge that Russia and France have maintained strong relations through the ages. Mr Fillon showed me two places in the very heart of Paris before our ceremony here to open the exhibition. The first is the location of a new spiritual and cultural Russian centre, and the second is where a monument to Russian soldiers who defended France and were killed during World War I will be unveiled.

I would like to say that we are deeply grateful to the President of the French Republic and the Government for their decisions. I am confident that this will not merely serve as a reminder of our special relations, our friendship and our cooperation and allied relations. This will also become an additional, spiritual, bridge linking the people of France and Russia.

You and I are attending the ceremony to open an exhibition which was conceived by major Russian companies, the academic and expert community. This is a key event in the Year of Russia in France and the Year of France in the Russian Federation. You will become acquainted with Russia's current achievements that make it proud and also with our potential that will lead us into the 21st century. We have substantial opportunities for cooperation and for attaining new successes.

Naturally, this concerns the energy sector, including the nuclear and conventional power industries, and hydrocarbon resources. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that we are seeing major high-tech European-scale projects in the aircraft industry, engineering, space exploration, chemistry and biology. We also cooperate in various scientific ventures. Naturally, the exhibition features what we call Russia's spiritual state, including art, photography and paintings.

It is common knowledge that we have maintained particularly profound relations in this field. I would like to express hope that all events being held during the Year of Russia in France and the Year of France in Russia will make it possible to reassess our past and our joint future and will enable the citizens of both countries to get to know each other better and to chart ways of effective work in the near future and in the long-term.

It is hardly surprising that General Charles de Gaulle once assessed Russian-French relations and said the Russian-French alliance always became particularly important at all crucial stages of history. One could not say better. The world is now experiencing numerous turbulent processes. Such interesting processes facilitate considerable changes. We need to pool efforts in order to be competitive, effective, have development prospects and remain at the advanced frontiers of science, technology and education.

I would like to wish all the best to exhibition organisers and to thank all those involved. Thank you very much! Thank you for your attention.

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After the opening ceremony, Vladimir Putin and Francois Fillon inspected the exhibition, including the Sukhoi aircraft display, where a model of the Sukhoi Superjet 100 was presented. They also attended the signing of an agreement between the Russian Aviation Union and GIFAS, the French Aerospace Industries Association.

Putin and Fillon were shown around the Nizhni Novgorod Region exhibit which is promoting the establishment of a nuclear engineering cluster in the region, and the exhibits of Russian Technologies State Corporation and automaker AvtoVAZ, which is displaying the Lada Kalina Sport hatchback and the Niva SUV models.

The two prime ministers also visited the exhibit of truck maker Kamaz, which includes the winning team truck from the Dakar Series Silk Way 2009 rally, Kamaz-Master.