* * *
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Vice Chancellor, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to welcome you to Moscow once again. I am very pleased to see you.
The Federal Republic of Germany remains one of our most important trade and economic partners. Unfortunately, our trade balance is falling. Last year it was minus 35 percent and even more, over minus 40 percent. In the first six months of this year, it was again minus 35.
We are making certain efforts – at least we are trying to on both sides now. We know that the Days of Russia forum took place in Rostock, which was attended by more than 600 business representatives from both Germany and Russia. We can see that businesspeople are inclined to develop relations.
In this context, we consider your visit to be very important. I hope that we will be able to talk and search for ways to solve the problems that we are facing.
Welcome to Moscow.
Vice Chancellor and Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Sigmar Gabriel (retranslated): Thank you, Mr President. I am glad that I managed to visit you in Moscow.
As you know, we had already fixed the date, but in connection with Britain’s decision, Europe is in a predicament. This is why this visit was postponed, and I am glad that we managed to make it happen. Our delegation includes representatives of the business community. You rightly said that there are interested parties on both sides: Russian and German entrepreneurs want not only to maintain the existing cooperation, but also to expand it.
I personally attended the Russian Economy Days in Rostock and met with the Russian Minister of Industry there. I can say that this interest exists not only in the East of Germany. The entire economy and all business quarters of Germany are very interested in developing and expanding all contacts despite the existing crises.
Thank you for the opportunity to meet with a representative of your Government tomorrow. Over 5,000 German companies are represented here, in the Russian Federation. Therefore, we are grateful for the opportunity to continue our dialogue.
We are meeting in very difficult times. We always meet during hard times. I visited the Soviet Union for the first time in 1980, when the West boycotted the Olympic games. It so happens that I always come here during times of trial.
There are complicated issues related to Syria and Ukraine. I would be grateful if we could discuss them, especially the most recent incidents, such as the attack on the humanitarian convoy in Syria. Naturally, this is making the situation much more complicated. I would be grateful if we could find an opportunity to discuss these issues.
Vladimir Putin: By all means.
As for the German entrepreneurs who came this time, we have very many friends in Germany, and despite all the difficulties arising in politics, our friends remain our friends and we know and feel this.
Our German friends also know that we remain their friends. Therefore, I think that relying on this positive potential, we should seek solutions to all complicated issues. We will find them eventually, but the sooner the better.