President Vladimir Putin: Let me wish you a warm welcome. We have not seen each other for a long time and each time we meet is a special event for me because it really is a genuine pleasure to talk with you.
I remember our meetings in Hamburg at the beginning of the 1990s, and I must mention that this year we are to celebrate a big event – the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries. I recall that it was your predecessor, [Konrad] Adenauer who took that step and came to Moscow to establish diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union and Berlin.
This year we are also celebrating the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II. The fact that the German chancellor is to take part in these events underscores the special nature of the relations that exist today between Russia and Germany. We want to develop our relations with all the different political forces in Germany and that is why we are very happy to welcome you here as someone who has done a great deal for your party and for Germany’s development overall. As far as I know, you are to speak on a very interesting subject today and so I am expecting that we shall have a very substantial discussion.
Former Federal Chancellor of Germany Helmut Kohl (translated from Russian): Thank you very much, Mr President, for your warm reception. I thank you for finding the time to talk with me even though my stay here is only brief. I too recall our first meetings and our many conversations, and also the conversations I have had with your predecessor, whom I have just visited.
It makes me very happy that one of my biggest dreams has come true and that relations between our two countries have taken such a positive turn. This is of great benefit to Germany, Russia and the entire world. Many of our neighbours did not understand this. For me, to see our relations developing in this way is a dream come true.
I still remember my first visit here as federal chancellor. I was received then by Mr Andropov and we had conversation in connection with the opening of a former German soldiers cemetery here in Moscow. It was a big Russian cemetery and next to there was a cemetery where former German soldiers were buried. I visited it on a Sunday and there were many Muscovites that day at the Russian cemetery, especially many women, of course. They had found out about the German cemetery being opened and when we arrived there hundreds of these women embraced my wife. This was an incredible event for me. I always say that we need monuments to honour the memory of the departed, but that we should never create new cemeteries. You know that my brother died at the age of 19 and how many people lost their lives here. I think that what we saw that day at that cemetery was truly amazing.
I have great respect for what you are doing and I know that it is not an easy undertaking. I was federal chancellor for 16 years and I know that many people think they could have done things better, and those who do the least are those who think they know best of all. And so I wish you much happiness and success on your road forward.
Vladimir Putin: You know, I recall how after our first meeting in Hamburg you invited us to Bonn and we had a discussion there that perhaps diddn’t touch upon specific issues, but you spoke then precisely about the future of Europe, the significance of Russia and Germany and the importance of our cooperation in this future world. That was almost 12 years ago but the main points that you formulated then are now becoming reality. I found it very interesting to hear what you had to say at that time and it is especially interesting today to see it actually taking place.