Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.
To start with, I want to thank the Federal Chancellor for his invitation to visit Germany.
Germany is among Russia’s closest partners. Our comprehensive treaty contains a clause envisaging consultations when the international situation comes to an edge. Proceeding from that clause, we opened our meeting today with discussing the situation following the tragedy in New York and Washington.
We spoke about an effective all-round response to terrorism, and I fully agree with Mr Schroeder on that score.
I have said on many occasions, and I repeat now, that flirting with terrorists and their appeasement must be ruled out anywhere and at any time. I want also to quote President George W. Bush: we must above all concentrate on stopping the financing of terrorism. Terrorists must see they are in complete political and ideological isolation. Practically all the leading countries of the world share this position. I informed Mr Schroeder about Russian contacts with the Chinese leadership. We are partners in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, which also has an anti-terrorist structure. But I think it would be best to concentrate on bilateral relations in our meetings today and tomorrow.
We have taken stock of our priorities, and we will discuss political, economic and social priorities at our upcoming meetings. We have highlighted obstacles to active development of our partnership, and we will tackle those problems.
The entire range of trade and economic links is among our most important themes. I think we’ll be right to pay special attention to the development of Russia’s economic ties with industries in the German east.
We can only regret that things occasionally go wrong in certain fields we regard as priorities, especially when we launch large projects and announce their support on both sides. As for the spheres to which we fail to pay due attention, their development is effective, despite all the problems.
One of such spheres is high technologies, information technologies, communications, R&D and everything connected with it. They have excellent prospects, and offer a vast field for breakthrough projects.
Many of our ministries and departments, including the military, have been stepping up contacts in the preceding months. I would like to mention here an agreement between our Defence Ministers for a joint peacekeeping exercise in Russia and Germany, in 2002.
Cultural partnership has always been an important part of Russian-German cooperation. Germany and Russia will take turns for each other’s Culture Days in 2002–03.
A first joint Russian and German language contest will be held next spring. The Federal Chancellor and I both think that public initiatives deserve the greatest possible support from officials. This point also concerns the recently established forum St Petersburg Dialogue.
Question: Have you and Mr Schroeder discussed stepping up the anti-terrorist alliance?
Vladimir Putin: You know, what I especially like about Russian-German partnership is that when I meet with the Chancellor and other German leaders, there is no need to talk about problems in general—what we call “beating about the bush”. Our discussions are completely practical. I had another chance to see it today. Mr Schroeder appeared really concerned about what had happened, and we thought together what we could do to protect our nations from possible attacks, and how to join hands against terrorism.
It is clear that we are both ready to step up those efforts. We have practical ideas in this field, and I am sure we will implement them.
Question: Mr Putin, Russia has opened routes for US aircraft to land in Ukraine and other countries. Will German craft have the same opportunities when necessary?
Vladimir Putin: If Germany makes such a request, we will consider it.