News conference following talks with Federal Chancellor of Austria Sebastian Kurz

Source: President of Russia – The Kremlin – English

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Federal Chancellor, ladies and gentlemen,
We are delighted to have this opportunity to meet with Mr Kurz in St Petersburg. It is already the second visit for the Chancellor, and our fourth meeting this year.
There is no doubt that intensive contacts at the highest political level create the business-like atmosphere we need to promote the relations between our countries in all spheres.
Mr Kurz and I have just held bilateral talks in a business-like and constructive atmosphere. As you have seen, before this meeting we attended the opening of the exhibition titled Imperial Capitals: St Petersburg – Vienna. Masterpieces of Museum Collections here at the Hermitage. Cultural and humanitarian contacts are one of the foundations for our bilateral relations alongside contacts on the inter-parliamentary, inter-regional and civil society tracks.
At the talks, we paid special attention to economic matters. Russia and Austria are reliable trade partners. Despite the current uncertainty in terms of international politics and economy, Russian and Austria have seen positive momentum in their trade and investment ties. Trade was up 40 percent to $4.1 billion in 2017, and almost doubled in the first seven months of 2018.
Austria has become a top importer of Russian goods among EU countries, while Russia ranks second in terms of investment in Austria. The cumulative investment by Russia in the Austrian economy exceeds $31 billion, while Austria’s investment in the Russian economy stands at about $6 billion.
Companies from both countries are engaged in joint projects in various spheres. The Russian-Austrian Business Council is very effective. There is also a mixed commission on economic cooperation that had its regular meeting on the sidelines of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum in May 2018. By the way, Austria had one of the most high-profile delegations at the forum.
I would like to highlight the long-standing fruitful cooperation between Russia and Austria in the energy sector. Our country is continuously supplying Austria with energy resources; we also supply other European countries via transit through Austria’s territory. Without a doubt, it is one of the key aspects of our cooperation.
As a result of the talks held this July in Vienna, Gazprom and the Austrian oil and gas company OMV signed an agreement on extending the long-term gas supply contracts with Austria to 2040. Another agreement on involving OMV in the development of the Urengoy gas and condensate field, which was signed just now, showcases the strategic nature of this company’s partnership with Gazprom. OMV is also participating in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline construction project. The Russian side welcomes the Austrian Government’s position on supporting this project, which is of great importance to the entire European continent.
We also discussed expanding our trade and industrial cooperation, and commended the progress made in implementing the 2011 Declaration on Partnership for Modernisation. Within the framework of this declaration, a total of 28 joint innovation projects worth 2.8 billion euros are underway.
I would also like to point out one large infrastructure project: the construction of the broad gauge railway between Vienna and Kosice, Slovakia. When this project is completed, volumes of cargo transportation between Europe and Asia via the Trans-Siberian Railway will grow significantly, while the costs for end-users will decrease.
Of course, we also exchanged opinions on a range of issues on the international and regional agenda. We informed our Austrian colleagues of our approaches to resolving Ukraine’s internal crisis – this time, we only exchanged our ideas.
We also discussed the issue of resolving the Syrian crisis. We can see the prospects for revitalising the political process on the basis of the UN Security Council Resolution 2254 and the agreements reached within the framework of the Astana Process. This will secure the progress made in the country and create the environment necessary for the restoration of civilian life and the refugees’ returning to their homes.
We would like to point out Austria’s readiness to participate in humanitarian campaigns to support the Syrian people. It is important for the aid to be provided via the channels approved by the legitimate authorities, and for it to extend to all Syrian regions affected by the terrorist aggression and the civil war.
On November 12, Austria will celebrate 100 years since the proclamation of the Republic of Austria. Tomorrow, together with the Federal President of the Republic of Austria and heads of state governments, Mr Kurz will host a ceremony to launch a series of celebrations marking this important date. I would like to take this opportunity to extend my warmest greetings to the people of Austria, wishing them happiness, well-being and prosperity.
I would also like to thank Mr Kurz for the meaningful talks that we had today.
Thank you for your attention.
To be continued.