The meeting, organised by the Eastern Committee of the German Economy, Russian-German forum and German Foreign Policy Society, took place at the Huegel villa, former home of the Krupps steel tycoons.
The President was welcomed by the Krupps Fund manager and famous manufacturer Berthold Beitz.
Opening the discussion, the chairman of the Russian-German Forum, Lorenz Schomerus, welcomed the Russian President and noted his positive role in strengthening the bilateral trade and economic contacts.
In his response President Putin said that the gates of reform in Russia have never been opened wider. He reminded that the EU countries accounted for up to 40% of Russia’s trade and 64% of direct investment in Russia, pointing to the mutual attraction and complementarity of the two economies.
The President noted that in the past 18 months the Russian economy underwent serious changes which had been regarded impossible in the past. Speaking about the reform prospects in Russia, Mr Putin stressed the need to fundamentally change the customs administration system, enact laws to protect the rights of owners and creditors and ease the bureaucratic formalities that hindered the development of small business.
Mr Clement highly praised the results of President Putin’s meeting with the German businessmen and the public, and at the joint news conference he stated that the North Rhine-Westphalia planned to present itself in Moscow in late 2002 – early 2003 and asked Mr Putin for assistance.
Answering the reporters’ questions, Mr Putin spoke about the bilateral ties that existed between the North Rhine-Westphalia and Russian regions, specifically the Nizhniy Novgorod, Samara, Kostroma and Rostov regions.
Mr Putin said that many bilateral cooperation issues should be solved not in Moscow, but in places where the economic activity was developing. That is why the Russian delegation included representatives from the Russian regions developing business relations with Germany.
Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller, Vnesheconombank chairman Andrei Kostin, Vneshtorgbank president and board chairman Yury Ponomarev, and National Reserve Bank chairman Alexander Lebedev also took part in the meeting.