Putin urges EU to restore cooperation with Russia, says Moscow is ready to meet halfway

Russia's President Vladimir Putin at the 20th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg, Russia, June 17, 2016. © Mikhail Metzel / TASS
Vladimir Putin has called on the EU to restore cooperation with Russia. Speaking at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on Friday, Putin said Russia was ready to meet halfway, but stressed that the EU should also be willing to compromise.

LIVE UPDATES: 2016 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum

"We do not hold a grudge and are ready to meet our European partners halfway," the Russian president told the forum. "But it certainly cannot be a one-way game."

“Our recent meetings with representatives of the German and French business circles have proved that the European business is willing and is ready to cooperate with our country. Politicians need to meet the businesspeople halfway, and show wisdom, foresight and flexibility. We need to regain trust in Russian-European relations and to restore the level of interaction," Putin said.

READ MORE: Russia, EU pledge to continue dialogue despite sanctions

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on Thursday that Russia and the EU should continue their dialogue, despite the sanctions.

"We can have no illusions about the problems weighing on our relationship today. They exist,” Juncker said, adding that it would be “pointless, even dangerous, to ignore them.”

We must tackle them urgently," he said, adding that the dialogue should begin with discussing the Minsk agreements on solving the Ukraine crisis, and ensuring the norms and rules of international law.

Russia has never courted confrontation with the West, and has always been "in favor of an equal and mutually beneficial dialogue," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in response.

Russia needs a powerful country like the US, but that country should not interfere in Russian affairs and hinder the EU in building a relationship with Moscow, Putin said.

"The world needs such a powerful country like the United States, and so do we, but we do not need it [the US] to constantly interfere in our affairs, tell us how to live, hinder Europe in building ties with us,” Putin noted.

Speaking at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on Friday, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said that Europe and Russia should make an effort to restore relationships.

"It is obvious that there are some problems in the Europe-Russia relationships, and it is clear that each of us has good reasons to think about the past, about why these problems occurred,” Renzi said.

"I find it fundamentally important that at this stage, the stage we go through these days, given all the challenges we currently face, we unite our efforts and try to solve this problem, looking into the future, and what we have in common,” he added.