President Vladimir Putin: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to receive in St Petersburg today a respected guest – President of Germany Horst Koehler.
St Petersburg is a major cultural centre not only for our country but for the entire world. I think it is symbolic that the series of Russian-German cultural meetings held over 2003–2004 are ending here in this city.
We all agree that this large-scale and in many ways unique programme of events has been a clear success. These two years of Russian-German cultural meetings have shown just what need there is for humanitarian projects and initiatives and how useful they are for developing cooperation between countries and bringing different peoples closer together.
Our peoples have had the chance to get to know new works from leading Russian and German theatre and music groups and have had an excellent opportunity to appreciate the creations of modern Russian and German artists, poets and writers.
In 2003 alone around 3,000 Russian artists and cultural figures spent time in Germany. German cultural figures visited 25 different Russian regions and took part in many promising projects. One project that I particularly want to mention was the restoration by German craftsmen of the organ that we just heard today.
The Russian-German cultural meetings have strengthened our two countries’ historically close cultural ties. I am convinced that we must consistently continue our work in this area and enrich it with new ideas and projects.
We will continue to develop our cultural ties and look together for new forms of creative cooperation, involving professionals, amateurs and above all young people. It is of great importance that people in both Russia and Germany understand well the significance of this cultural contribution to the strategic partnership we have developed.
The President and I held very substantial talks today. Bilateral relations were at the centre of our attention, including, of course, pursuit of the multi-faceted Russian-German dialogue and development of humanitarian contacts, above all youth exchanges.
Russia and Germany will mark a significant date this year – the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries.
We believe that joint participation in the events marking this occasion can symbolise the new character of Russian-German relations – relations built on the principles of genuine partnership.
In conclusion I would like to thank the President for the constructive and positive discussion we had. I am convinced that its results will help to further strengthen the trust and cooperation between our countries, between the peoples of Germany and Russia.