Vladimir Putin: Dear Mr. Federal President,
Dear Mrs. Rau,
Ladies and gentlemen,
We are participants in a truly remarkable event. The count-off of a Year of Russian Culture in Germany begins here today. Also here, a Russian-German Cultural Meetings festival starts at the same time. This action, unique in scope and concept, is worthy to become a notable event in the life of both states. It can consolidate the foundation of our friendship with new human discoveries of each other. And now I congratulate you all on this event. I wish you a common and absolute success!
Today we are bound to recall that the German land inspired many Russian poets, musicians and workers of other arts. Just now Mr. President mentioned Tchaikovsky, who conducted here. I must say that Tchaikovsky was in Germany twenty times. Many works of Russian classics were written in this land. A real event for the musical world has been the find in the Berlin Library of unique scores of the outstanding, brilliant Russian composer Glinka.
In our days quite a few Russian creative intellectuals work in Germany, just as do, fruitfully, many specialists from your country in Russia. The mutual attraction of our countries is evident. Of the one million people studying German in the world, one third are Russians. Likewise in Germany there are quite a few people who know our country and speak Russian.
Contemporary Russian-German relations are free from the Cold War burden. The ”Ice Age“ of our relations is in the past. However, those gathered today in this hall and, I am sure, millions of our co-citizens understand that serious successes in the economy are impossible without close humanitarian contacts. Cultural links are the foundation of a close policy of cooperation. A foundation which helps overcome the differences and build bridges of friendship between the peoples of the world. I absolutely concur with Mr. Federal President: we will never forget that millions of human lives were thrown into the crucible of the world wars, that most valuable cultural properties were also irretrievably lost. Now special responsibility for the preservation of spiritual ties and of a lasting peace has been laid upon us.
In planning the Year of Russian Culture in Germany, we wanted German society to get an objective idea of present-day Russia. A new idea of the new Russia, extending beyond the long-obsolete cliches. And we hope that each visitor to the Russian-German undertakings will discover for himself his Russia.
In conclusion I want to thank the Berliners for the hospitality. I want to wish the citizens of Germany happiness and well-being. I am also sincerely grateful to the German leadership for the attention to this action, and I am glad that Russian-German Meetings have such a vivid and unforgettable beginning.
Frisch gewagt ist halb gewonnen.