President Vladimir Putin: Mr Minister!
Good afternoon! I am pleased to welcome you to Moscow.
Germany is carrying a double burden and double responsibility in 2007 as head of the European Union and of the G8. If we are able to lend a hand and provide support then we will be very glad to do so. Especially since we really are in the final stages of preparing for a Russia-European Union summit and that you are very busy preparing the G8 summit.
Two days ago I had the opportunity and the pleasure of talking on the telephone with Madam Federal Chancellor. We were once again able to ascertain that our bilateral relations are very close and developing very intensively. Dear Mr Minister, we are ready to talk about our bilateral relations and about international affairs that interest both Russia and Germany and, therefore, Russia and the European Union.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier: Mr President, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks for the welcome we have received.
I know that your day is full of foreign visitors. We are all the more grateful to you for finding time to meet with us on the eve of the EU-Russia summit. Mr President, I know that in 2001 you said that you do not only support European integration but that you are also hopeful about this process. And in addition to this you said something else that I cannot quote but that I can paraphrase: you said that we are still very closely tied to our traditional thinking patterns and that when we talk about partnership we are, at times, not trusting enough.
Your two statements proved correct but in cases where there is not enough trust we must not assume a position of expectation and waiting, and we must not remain silent when treating areas in which we have a conflict of interests.
I could also say that I believe that both parties at this table are interested in overcoming our differences of interest – sometimes even conflicts of interest – and preventing them from becoming major political conflicts. That is yet another reason why I am here today: to look for opportunities that would allow us to overcome our differences of opinion before the next summit and perhaps put an end to them in the coming weeks.
Vladimir Putin: I think that, thank God, we do not have any conflicts yet. We have different opinions about how to solve certain problems but both parties have the desire to see these problems resolved. In my opinion, this is already quite positive.