Eurogroup’s Juncker, Russia’s Putin put faith in euro

by on September 25, 2012 7:57 pm GMT

MOSCOW, Sept 25 |
Tue Sep 25, 2012 3:57pm EDT

(Reuters) – The euro zone is better prepared
to overcome difficulties than it was a few years ago, the
chairman of the Eurogroup of finance ministers said on Tuesday
during a visit to Moscow.

“All those who believe that in some time the euro zone will
collapse or will cease to exist in the short term are terribly
mistaken,” Juncker, who is also Luxembourg’s prime minister,
said after talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“There is unconditional will in the euro zone to preserve
the single currency,” he said, speaking through an interpreter.

Putin, who has often been critical of how the euro zone
countries have managed their fiscal woes, said he trusts the
leaders of the group.

“We see the determination of the (European) Commission and
key players in the euro zone to change for the better,” Putin
said. “We trust such policy.”

The two leaders agreed that Europe should be more ambitious
in developing ties with Russia despite disagreements on human
rights issues.

“I believe that the European Union should intensify its
relationship with Russia and set more ambitious tasks even
despite the existing differences over the human rights issues,”
Juncker told Putin at the start of their meeting in the Kremlin.

Many politicians and rights campaigners in the European
Union have accused Brussels of complacency about human rights
violations in Russia. The EU accounts for half of Russia’s
external trade and gets much of its natural gas from Russia.

Juncker also praised Putin for keeping part of Russia’s
reserves, that at $522.8 billion as of mid-September are the
world’s third largest, in euros. Putin said the policy would not

“A significant part of our reserves, slightly less than
half, is in euros. We are aware of the risks but the
fundamentals are such that will allow the single currency to
stay,” Putin told reporters.