Russian President Vladimir Putin has given a warm welcome to EU leaders who have gathered in St. Petersburg for the EU-Russia summit which opens today. The summit is being held in the St. Petersburg suburb of Strelna. The Russian delegation to the summit includes Putin, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov.
'I am glad to see you all,' said the president. Putin gave a special welcome to Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who, according to the president, had come up with the idea of holding the summit in St. Petersburg during the city's 300th anniversary celebrations. This means that Juncker was the de facto initiator of restoration work on the Konstantinovsky Palace, which had previously been in ruins. Now, said Putin, Russia and the whole of Europe can take pride in the splendid palace.
The Konstantinovsky Palace was built in the 18th century. Restoration work, which cost a total of USD 290 million, began in 2002. 95% of the cost of restoring the palace was born by sponsors.
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