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Excerpts from an interview of the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the French Republic to the Russian Federation, Jean de Gliniasty, to Tatarstan’s official server

The Day of Europe was observed in Kazan on March 29, 2009, and we hope this will become traditional and enrich our calendar. What in your opinion makes Russia and Europe closer? What are the differences between Russia and European countries?

It was a wonderful initiative proposed by the delegation of the European Commission in Moscow, and the French Embassy applied a lot of efforts to implement it. Besides, the Alliance Francaise took an active part in celebrating the Day of Europe and we would be happy if next year this holiday takes place again.

I think there are a lot of things that bring Russia and Europe closer, they belong to the same civilization. As well as other European countries, Russia appeared from a mixture of destinies of the Roman Empire, Byzantium and Constantinople and the contribution of northern peoples.

After the collapse of the USSR, we realized that we had to respond to challenges of the 21st century together. Neither Russia, nor France can do it alone. That is why President Sarkozi proposed that Russia and Turkey should create a single economic space and security space which could unite 800 million people. Possibly, joining together makes sense in order to have a opportunity to be influential in the world where there are such social and economic giants as for example China and India.

Energy is also a factor bringing us together. We are interconnected, and it places on us some responsibility, and as soon as we demonstrate pragmatism and intellectual honesty, we will find the solution for the gas crisis that has affected both Europe and Russia.

The main difference is certainly explained by the vast territory of the Russian Federation, the giant country reaching from Smolensk up to Vladivostok, which is neighbour to Central Asia, China and Japan. It is clear that Europe does not face the problems related to necessity of overcoming huge spaces.

We realize and it makes us happy that France is showing its interest to Tatarstan. During each official visit, the French side expresses aspiration to more active development of economic and trade cooperation between France and Tatarstan. What is new in this direction?

During my visit to Kazan I'll take part in the opening of the Ibis hotel of the Accor group which is located in the center of Kazan. It is evidence of France's interest in the development of infrastructure and tourism. Air Liquide Company which is engaged in production of industrial gas has made a decision to invest 35 million euros in creation of the Alabuga special economic zone. It received a resident certificate at the Embassy of France in Moscow this may. Such is the pace of the France-Tatarstan cooperation! We should also mention Schneider Elektrik which completed construction of the electrical equipment plant in Kazan a year ago.

Besides, Kazan's hosting the Universiade 2013 opens up promising prospects in infrastructure projects and reception of tourists. French enterprises should share their experience!

June 17, 2009.