03:29 GMT +319 October 2019
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    Calls for EU-Russia Free Trade Agreement Echo at St. Petersburg Forum

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    St.Petersburg International Economic Forum 2016 (38)
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    A free trade agreement between Russia and the EU would help resolve the current political crisis and improve relations between the two entities, according to a top manager of the major French-based multinational train-building company Alstom.

    Philippe Pegorier, head of Alstom in Russia, told Sputnik that the concept of establishing a free trade zone between the EU and the Eurasian Economic Union "remains a positive element for resolving a crisis" between the two organizations.

    "It would help resolve the political crisis, as well as to improve conditions for attracting investments to the Eurasian Economic Union. It would also allow the Eurasian Economic Commission to benefit from the EU experience in establishing such an economic union. I believe that investors completely endorse the creation of such a free trade zone," Pegorier said.

    He also pointed out that the fact that this year's forum was attended by European Commission representatives, including President Jean-Claude Juncker and Digital Economy and Society Commissioner Gunther Oettinger, hints at changes in the 'political' climate.

    "I believe that Europeans want to communicate with Russia. They understand that the isolationist policy they created doesn’t work and turned out to be a mistake, and that they need to talk with Russia instead," Pegorier remarked.

    He added that the former French head of state Nicolas Sarkozy arrived to Saint Petersburg as part of the ongoing presidential election campaign, bearing message that Russia shouldn’t be isolated. If Sarkozy was president now, he would definitely opt for a direct dialogue with Vladimir Putin, according to Pegorier.

    "It (Russia) helps in Syria, helps resolve important global issues. Vladimir Putin is a crucial partner, and it is necessary to maintain contacts [with Russia]. And this is exactly why Sarkozy is here now. He realizes Russia plays a vital role in resolving certain crises together with us Europeans (and not acting against us), and that we share common interests," he explained.

    The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) is an annual event that invariably draws the attention of major companies across the world. This year the forum was attended by a number of prominent dignitaries, including European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and a host of executives from the world's leading companies.

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    St.Petersburg International Economic Forum 2016 (38)

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    Tags:
    isolation, free trade, dialogue, St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) 2016, Alstom, Vladimir Putin, Nicolas Sarkozy, Russia, France
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