25.09.2022

Putin’s visit to Austria, EU window still open

The President of Russia completed his visit to Austria, dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the signing of the first contract for the supply of natural gas from the Soviet Union to Austria.

During which he met with representatives of local business, Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen and Austrian Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurtz.

Following the talks, Putin said that his visit to Austria indicates the absence of a deficit of confidence in Moscow. According to him, Russia remains open for cooperation with European countries.

However, he also mentioned that sanctions, as well as any politically motivated restrictions, protectionism are harmful to everyone, including the initiators themselves.

Sanctions

Russia and Austria will expand bilateral relations. Now Russia is the second investor in the Austrian economy after the Federal Republic of Germany. According to Putin, trade and energy cooperation between countries are growing at a good pace.

On July 1, Austria will take over the presidency of the EU Council, which is why the issue of anti-Russian sanctions has become a key issue in Putin’s negotiations with Van der Bellen and Kurtz.

“The dialogue with Russia is very important not only for Austria, but also for the EU. Russia is a real part of Europe, ”said the Austrian president.

He noted that for him a good relationship between Austria and Russia is a personal matter, since his ancestors lived in Russia from the end of the 17th century to the beginning of the 20th century.

At the same time, he noted that Austria will adhere to the EU line on the issue of anti-Russian sanctions.

“We live in times of increased tension. Austria pledged to contribute to defusing tensions. But I must say that Austria adheres to the EU line in the issue of sanctions, ”said the Austrian president.

The head of the Austrian government, Kurtz, shared a similar opinion during negotiations with Putin. At the same time, he expressed hope that progress in the implementation of the Minsk agreements will allow “step by step to lift the sanctions” that were introduced by the European Union against the Russian Federation in connection with the events in the Donbass.

“This is the scenario we want to achieve for our continent,” Kurtz said. We are firmly convinced that on our continent it is possible to develop only together with each other, but not against each other, ”he added.

For his part, Putin assured Kurtz of Russia’s openness to cooperation with Europe and recalled that, until recently, a whole set of mechanisms and instruments of interaction between the Russian Federation and the EU worked.

“Now it’s almost all collapsed, and collapsed not through our fault, we are not the initiators of curtailing this interaction. Gradually, little by little this work is being reborn, we see it. We are holding consultations and dialogues with representatives from Brussels in a number of areas. In my opinion, they are coming in a very constructive, although not easy, ”Putin stated.

As for sanctions, they harm everyone, so all parties are interested in lifting them, Putin said.

“And to those who initiate, and to those against whom these actions, which we call sanctions, are directed, they are harmful to everyone. It seems to me that everyone is interested in their cancellation, and so are we. We are well aware and aware that it is quite difficult for each of the EU countries to talk about it individually, but everything that happens in this area does not prevent us from developing relations with Austria, ”Putin said.

Economic ties between Russia and Austria

Gazprom and the Austrian gas company OMV entered into an agreement on the supply of Russian fuel until 2040. The document was signed following talks between Vladimir Putin and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurtz. President of Russia on an official visit to Vienna.

“Russia, of course, is a very important market, including for Austria,” said the Austrian president.

In his opinion, as regards the expansion of economic ties, the relations between the two countries “still have huge potential”.

“We have very good prospects. I am sure that they will be implemented, ”the head of the Russian state agreed.

According to Putin, now relations between Moscow and Vienna are “developing well, progressively.” As an example, he cited the fact that Russia is the second investor in the Austrian economy after the Federal Republic of Germany.

“Almost four billion were invested by our Austrian partners, more than 500 Austrian enterprises operate on the Russian market,” Putin said.

He also drew attention to the fact that the large Russian market can be even larger due to the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union (Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan).

“This is a really large, capacious market, and rapidly growing,” Putin said.

In his opinion, trade between Russia and Austria is “growing at a good pace.” “Thanks to cooperation with the Soviet Union, and then with Russia, Austria has become a pan-European energy hub, and is actively developing. In this sense, the importance, the role of the Republic of Austria in the energy sector of Europe is significant, significant and will only increase, ”the Russian leader emphasized.

He expressed confidence that there are prospects for the development of relations not only in the energy sector, but also in engineering, woodworking, transportation, and logistics. The two countries have a plan that includes about 20 areas of cooperation, Putin recalled.

Gas supplies to Europe

Vladimir Putin arrived in Austria. This is the first foreign visit of the Russian president after taking office. The trip is dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the export of natural gas from the Soviet Union to Austria.

The key focus of the talks was on the supply of Russian gas to Austria and the European market. The cooperation between Gazprom and the Austrian oil and gas company OMV confirms the importance of gas supplies and overcomes any difficulties, the Chancellor of Austria said after negotiations.

The Austrian president called cooperation between the two countries in the field of gas supplies an example of “outstanding cooperation.” He also said that he saw no reason to replace Russian gas with deliveries of more expensive liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the United States, which some American politicians are imposing on Europe.

“It is often not taken into account that American LNG is two, if not three times, more expensive than Russian gas. In this regard, from a purely economic point of view, it makes no sense to replace Russian gas with American liquefied gas, ”said Van der Bellen.

The Russian leader recalled the uninterrupted supply for half a century and the fact that through the territory of Austria, Russian energy carriers transit to the markets of other European countries.

“Thus, it would not be an exaggeration to say that, jointly, Russia and Austria are making a significant contribution to ensuring the energy security of the entire European continent,” Putin said.

“The implementation of the Nord Stream 2 project is ongoing. “Mr. Federal Chancellor confirmed that the Austrian leadership positively assesses this project as purely economic,” the Russian head of state said.

At a meeting with representatives of the Austrian business, he also emphasized that Gazprom and OMV are “ready to jointly implement the Nord Stream-2 pipeline system, this will minimize transit risks and provide the European economy with an additional volume of 55 billion cubic meters.

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