President Vladimir Putin:
It is particularly pleasant that this visit is taking place on the opening day of German culture in the Russian Federation. Today, two hours ago, the culture ministers of our countries opened this event in Moscow. And I am certain that the events held this year that acquaint a wide Russian audience with German culture will be very beneficial and fruitful, and help to develop relations between our peoples.
This is a good occasion for us to exchange opinions on issues of bilateral relations and on several international issues.
Gerhard Schroeder: Mr. President, firstly I would like to congratulate you on your re-election. Not many heads of government and state can rely upon the majority – 71.2% of the voters of their country, so I would like to congratulate you heartily on this result. I gladly came to this meeting, because we now see the chance to discuss important issues with you, and I am certain that this will be a beneficial talk. It is especially auspicious that this meeting is taking place at the beginning of the Year of German Culture here, in Moscow, in Russia.
This is evidence of the close cooperation between our countries. It is important for bringing our peoples together, not just so they develop well, but so that both Europe and Russia develop well. And so it is also possible to discuss issues of international politics.
Vladimir Putin: Yes, we do have something to talk about. We have a very serious agenda on bilateral relations, of course, and we are now very closely dealing with issues of Russia’s relations with the expanding European Union. And I would like to discuss certain aspects with you, to “check our watches”. Then, of course, there are issues such as Afghanistan. There has been a report that a conference was held, and I would like to hear your opinion about the results of this work. And, of course, the Middle East and Iraq. And, as you know, there was recently a change of government in Russia. I made an arrangement with the new Russian Prime Minister, and he will come here at the end of our talk. I would like to introduce him to you, and for the three of us to discuss several issues.