President Vladimir Putin: Esteemed Mr President, ladies and gentlemen,
First of all I would like to give my sincere thanks to all the participants and organisers of the programme of Russian-German cultural meetings. I would like to thank you all for your dedication and enthusiasm and for your contribution to strengthening the friendship and mutual understanding between our peoples.
This project was the result of our common desire to help the citizens of Russia and Germany become better acquainted with our countries’ rich cultural heritage. It has helped us to learn more about the spiritual and historical roots of our two peoples.
It was initially planned to hold some 600 joint events, but in the end, according to what are so far only the most approximate calculations, the number of events that took place was almost five times higher – around 3,000.
I would like to make particular note of several events. First of all, there was our German friends’ active participation in the celebrations of the 300th anniversary of the founding of St Petersburg. I also want to note the Russian delegation’s presence at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2003 and, of course, the Berlin-Moscow Moscow-Berlin exhibition that took place in both capitals and was a genuinely huge success.
Another important event is taking place today as part of the Russian-German cultural meetings. The sounds of an organ restored by German craftsmen will ring out today here within the walls of the St Petersburg Academic Philharmonic Society.
This restoration is the result of two years of hard work, work which has made yet another significant contribution to the humanitarian and cultural cooperation between our two countries.
I am sure that this impressive and eventful two-year marathon will hold a worthy place in the chronicles of friendship and cooperation between Germany and Russia, and that we can expect more such interesting and fruitful projects in the future.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Our Russian-German cultural meetings are coming to a close on the eve of important world events. In a few months we will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe.
Our peoples found themselves at the epicentre of this, the most terrible tragedy in the entire history of humanity. But we have shown that we are able to overcome this difficult legacy of the past. We have proven ourselves capable of showing a sincere desire to take steps towards each other and build up feelings of mutual respect and trust rather than speculating on the tragedies our peoples have faced and puffing ourselves up with conceit and chauvinism.
Today this priceless experience is helping us to build new relations as partners, relations that will help our countries and Europe in its entirety to move towards a safe and prosperous future. Our common task now is to continue this noble work at state level and through our civil societies.
In conclusion I would like to stress that the value of Russia’s and Germany’s spiritual inheritance is of significance for the entire world and over the course of centuries it has acted as a sort of cultural beacon. This means that active and ongoing cultural ties between our countries are important not just for us but for the whole world and for all of Europe.
Our cultural ties serve as an example of constructive humanitarian dialogue for all those who understand that peace and prosperity in this world depend not only on political will, and that by opening ourselves up to the culture and traditions of other peoples we draw closer together and learn to understand each other better.
Once again, I would like to thank sincerely everyone who took part in these Russian-German cultural meetings.
I wish you all health, prosperity and creative success.