President Vladimir Putin: First of all, I would like to warmly welcome you to Moscow. I am very happy that we have developed the habit of regularly consulting one another.
I must point out that the practice of holding interstate consultations, something you initiated in 1998, has become firmly established. I hope this will continue under the new Chancellor of the Federal Republic. In connection with this, I would like to congratulate you on the fact that the new head of the German government is a member of the party you led for so many years.
Helmut Kohl (translated from Russian): Many thanks President Putin.
Dear President Putin, I highly value and always warmly remember the development of friendly relations between our countries, first under Mikhail Gorbachev and then under Boris Yeltsin. And we saw how determined you were to improve those relations, both as your interest and as your task. Indeed, this improvement is occurring regardless of who is head of state at any one time. The most important thing is that relations between our peoples improve, and one of the best experiences of my life is recognition from people in the street. Knowing both the monstrous sufferings that Hitler's Germany inflicted on your country and how we are presently constructing our future relations, I can assure you that the government, the head of state and the people all aspire to improving our relations.
For Germany, Russia is its most important neighbour in the East. And it will continue to be so. We will try hard so that these relations develop in the same way under the new government.
Vladimir Putin: I thank you for those words. Not long ago I had the opportunity to meet with Angela Merkel in Berlin. It was with satisfaction that I noted that she supports continuing Russia and Germany's strategic relations.
I must say that very recently, only several days ago, I had the opportunity to see you receiving an honourable prize, one that I think is given in the name of Konrad Adenauer. It was with great satisfaction that I noted that during your acceptance speech on this occasion you mentioned Russian-German relations and how much importance German politics gives to relations with Russia. I hope that we will conserve all the positive aspects of the relations that have accumulated over many years.
Helmut Kohl: I am absolutely optimistic on this point. Thank heaven that all of us are able to learn lessons from the past. And of course, since you mentioned Konrad Adenauer, it is also necessary to point out what a great distance we have travelled since his historical visit to your country 50 years ago. I recollect that I was already in politics at the time and I distinctly remember how many disputes and discussions that visit occasioned in Germany. Discussions over whether he should go, whether he should not go, whether he should wait. But today no one has any doubts on this account and it is a source of great happiness for all of us that this occurred. And it seems to me that we can be proud of this. We can be sure that regardless of any number of discussions within German politics we will continue in the same direction. First and foremost, this must be seen as a direct compliment to you.