President Vladimir Putin: Esteemed Mr President, allow me once again to wish you a warm welcome to Russia. This is not our first meeting. I remember our meetings in Moscow when you were still at the head of the International Monetary Fund. We worked together quite well during that period, indeed, we worked together not just quite well but very well. It gives me great pleasure to see you here again in Russia this time in a completely different capacity, that of head of state of Germany, a country with whom we have good relations. What’s more, you have arrived for such a pleasant occasion as the end of our series of cultural meetings that has gone on for the last two years. I am very pleased to have the opportunity to exchange views with you on the end of these events and discuss our next steps in the humanitarian area and in political cooperation. And since I cannot forget that you were just recently still head of the International Monetary Foundation, I think we will also have be able to discuss global and bilateral economic issues.
You just mentioned the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. We would like the events marking this anniversary to be a symbol of reconciliation in Europe in general. As for our peoples, I think that this is not enough for Russia and Germany because a lot in Europe and in the world overall depends on how we work together. When we were listening to the organ concert just before, our specialists told me that the German restorers had restored the organ’s original sound. This was not just restoration work but was an example of scientific restoration. Now we have had the chance to hear how not only has this original sound been restored but the organ’s capabilities have also been expanded.
I ask you to convey my very best wishes to Mr Rau. We worked well together and over the last years we were able to do a lot to develop relations between Russia and Germany. I think, Mr President, that we must take the next steps forward in developing our relations. Just as the German specialists expanded the organ’s capabilities, we must expand and intensify our cooperation as much as possible in order to reach new horizons in our work together.
You are in St Petersburg for the first time, but I hope it will not be the last time.