Question: Mr Putin, Russia and Germany have lately been intensifying their contacts. To what do we owe such rapid progress?
Vladimir Putin: It is due to the Federal Chancellor’s experience in politics. As we know, the preceding 18 months saw a pronounced decline in Russian-German relations. I ascribe it mostly to Russian economic hardships. Now, the Russian economy is growing again, and we expect a considerable increase even this year. Naturally, Germany, as our principal creditor and one of our biggest partners, cannot and must not stand aside.
Good prospects appeared on many issues after my first official visit to Berlin. I regard Mr Schroeder’s visit to Moscow as a testimony to the improving quality of our relations.
The talks we have held have the potential to yield major practical results for our bilateral contacts in the economy, energy and high technologies, and in coordinated efforts on the international stage.
The European energy crisis was one of the problems we discussed today. Russia can do a lot to help solve it if we conscientiously build our long-term contacts. We are ready to do that, and we are willing to step up such cooperation. It is of great importance to Russia and all of Europe—and surely also to closer Russian-German ties.