Beginning of Russian-German talks in restricted format
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Madam Federal Chancellor, colleagues,
We are delighted to welcome you to the Kremlin. I think we last met more than a year ago at a conference on Libya, which was organised in Berlin on your initiative. Actually, thanks to that conference, good progress has been made on this track. We will talk about it later.
Right now, I would like to note that the Federal Republic of Germany remains one of Russia’s main partners, both in Europe and in the world, and your efforts as Federal Chancellor over the past 16 years have greatly contributed to this.
At the country level, Germany is our second trade and economic partner after China. Despite the serious recession in 2020, we have by now achieved an almost twofold increase in trade in the first six months of 2021. All joint formats are up and running, including various groups and forums. The Year of Germany is underway in Russia, a year associated with economic growth. We have kept constantly in touch by telephone.
We have many issues that require a discussion in a personal format. So I am sure that this will not only be a farewell visit, given your decision not to run for another term as Federal Chancellor, but also a visit filled with serious, down-to-business content.
Federal Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Angela Merkel (retranslated): Thank you very much, Mr President, dear Vladimir.
Yes, this is my farewell visit, and I am very happy about that. But, as you rightly said, it is not only a farewell visit, but also a working one; we have much to talk about.
I certainly cannot fail to mention that 80 years ago Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union, and I have just honoured this occasion by laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Even though we have our differences, I think it is a good thing that we talk to each other and we intend to keep in touch and continue talking.
As I said, we have much to discuss, including bilateral relations and many issues on the international agenda. You have already mentioned the conference on Libya. There is also Afghanistan, our trade relations, our cooperation; you just mentioned the Year of Germany in Russia underway now.
We will certainly talk about civil society matters, about non-profit organisations. This means that we have a few things to occupy our time with, and I greatly appreciate this opportunity.