"We [Russia] were not the initiators of the cooling of relations with Europe, but I hope that thanks to politicians like you, we will succeed in restoring them and will move forward," Putin said at a meeting with Zeman in Moscow.
"It is pleasant to state that there are still politicians who are able to directly express their point of view, to carry out independent policy and defend it," the Russian president added.
Putin said he expects that Russia will not only be able to restore relations, but also to build up cooperation with Europe.
Russia's relations with Europe deteriorated dramatically in 2014 over Ukraine crisis. The European Union, the United States and their allies imposed several rounds of economic sanctions against Russia, citing country's alleged role in the ongoing Ukrainian armed conflict.
Western sanctions against Moscow are set to expire in July. In March, EU leaders decided to keep the sanctions in place until a February ceasefire in Ukraine is fully implemented.
Moscow has repeatedly denied any involvement in the Ukrainian internal conflict and expressed readiness to resume dialogue and cooperation with European partners on terms of mutual respect.