Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will hold talks with visiting Austrian President Heinz Fischer in Moscow on Friday, which will focus on trade and economic cooperation between the countries, including joint energy projects.
Fischer arrived in Russia on an official visit on Wednesday and held talks with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday. Their talks also focused on economic cooperation between the countries, particularly related to Russia's South Stream gas pipeline project, designed to diversify the country's gas supply routes and reduce its dependence on transit nations.
Austria joined the South Stream project, which is widely seen as a rival project to the EU-backed Nabucco, in April 2010. The South Stream pipeline is designed to carry more than 60 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas a year across the Black Sea to Bulgaria and further on to Italy and Austria.
The Russian president told his Austrian counterpart on Thursday that energy cooperation between the countries should not be limited to hydrocarbon supplies, but also focus on alternative energy projects. Russia needs Austrian experience in the sphere, he said.
Joint investments were also in the focus during talks between Medvedev and Fischer. Austria has invested $4,2 billion in Russia's economy as of late 2010, including $2,4 billion in direct investments, becoming the country's 12th largest investor. Trade turnover between Russia and Austria stood at $3,48 billion in 2010, with export accounting for $1,02 billion and import for $2,46 billion.
Austria's possible participation in the creation of a touristic cluster in Russia's North Caucasus and the construction of facilities for the 2018 FIFA World Cup is also among the priorities of the two countries' business cooperation. Austrian companies have already been involved in the construction of facilities for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi.
Besides this, Russia and Austria are also involved in the construction of a broad-gauge railway from Kosice in eastern Slovakia to Vienne, as well as in the creation of a logistics center on the Danube River.
A declaration signed by the Russian and Austrian presidents during the talks states that the countries will work towards the easing of the EU-Russia visa regime and the subsequent introduction of visa-free travel between Russia and the EU.
MOSCOW, May 20 (RIA Novosti)