Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia is ready and willing to fully re-establish its relations with the European Union while meeting with his Czech counterpart, Milos Zeman.
“Unfortunately, we have suffered a certain decline in trade, due to the matters we know about all too well, including mutual economic sanctions,” Putin said on Saturday
Putin, who presided over the largest military parade in Russian history on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II on Saturday, said “there’s nothing good in this, it only produces losses”.
“We’re aware of that, which is why we’re ready and willing to fully re-establish our relations. We hope not only to re-establish them with Europe in general and with Eastern Europe and the Czech Republic in particular, but also to develop them,” he said.
He added that there are leaders in Europe like Zeman who are capable of “defending their positions and who practice an independent policy”.
For his part, Zeman expressed his conviction that the EU’s current sanctions on Moscow for its interference in neighbouring Ukraine “will be a short-term matter”.
“Politics is like the weather. There are times when it cools off and others when it warms up. I’m convinced that after this coldness we’ll see some normal relations — cultural, political and economic,” Zeman said.
He also paid tribute to the 50,000 Soviet soldiers killed in Czechoslovakia in battles against Hitler’s troops and stressed the importance of preserving the monuments erected in their honour.
Zeman is one of the few Western leaders to attend the military parade in Moscow’s Red Square, a visit highly criticised by the US, which urged a boycott of the event because of the sanctions in place against the Kremlin.
This contrasted with the 60th anniversary of the victory in 2005, when the parade was attended by US President George W. Bush, Germany’s Gerhard Schroeder, Jacques Chirac of France and Japan’s Junichiro Koizumi.