European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker talked of his desire to see the EU “trading freely” with Russia in the future, when his addressed today’s opening session of the 20th International Economic Forum in St Petersburg.
“In the coming hours we must not only talk about Russia, we must also talk with Russia; its leadership and its people,” said the EC president.
“From the start of my life in politics, I have always worked to build bridges and for dialogue. I believe that the peace and prosperity of humankind lie in openness and exchange.
“We need to have a frank conversation about where we stand today. It will be a difficult conversation, I have no doubt, but it is a necessary one.
“If our relationship today is troubled and marked by mistrust, it is not broken beyond repair. We need to mend it, and I believe we can.”
The EC president said that for both the EU and Russia, the prize (of working together) one day, could be great, resulting in a “vast region governed by the rule of law, trading freely and working together on common projects”.
“In such a world, we might disagree on many things but we must agree on the rules,” he said. “We might follow different economic policies but we must live up to our WTO obligations.”
Headline image (provided by the TASS news agency) shows Jean-Claude Juncker looking on and listening during this morning’s opening session in St. Petersburg.