President Vladimir Putin: I will not repeat the Federal Chancellor’s words or go over all the subjects that were looked at, raised and discussed.
Mr de Maiziere said just now that the Russian Orthodox Church’s views differ in some respects from Catholic and Protestant views. This is probably true, but the fundamentals, the basic values, as I see them, especially after meeting with the Pope and with our Patriarch, fully coincide. I have not seen any difference in position regarding the moral values of Christianity, and this is a foundation that could provide a good platform for joint discussion.
As far as civil society is concerned, a concrete issue was raised here, and I can say that we will come back to this and will look at the legislation currently in force. If there is a need to make amendments this can probably be done and we will turn to the State Duma. As far as I understand the situation, none of the disasters that some feared have taken place since Russia passed the law on non-governmental organisations. The organisations that wished to register have done so. Of course, organisations are required to submit documents on their finances and charter, but this is not an insurmountable obstacle for getting registered and continuing work. Perhaps there is bit too much red tape; we would have to look at the situation and make adjustments if needed. But as far as I know, there have been no mass refusals or re-registration procedures. There have been only isolated cases in which organisations have been asked to correct documents presented. That is all. But as I said, we can examine the state of affairs again – I do not see any problems here.
The discussion on education was very important. The Federal Chancellor showed me some of the comments made by Russia’s representatives on cooperation in education. I think there is some kind of misunderstanding here. Of course, we want to develop cooperation in education as actively as possible. I fully agree with the speaker who said that education is absolutely vital if we want to achieve long-term stability. Education is really the biggest key to success and mutual understanding in the long term, and not just today. We can resolve some of the problems that arise today with the help of politicians, but if we want to make sure these problems do not arise in the future, we need to work today on education.
Regarding the economy, I naturally share Mr Mangold’s optimism. We have known each other for a long time now and I have great respect for him. He is doing much indeed to develop economic ties between our two countries and I would like to thank him for this. He spoke about big amounts of investment and gave a figure – what was the figure you named?
Response: We are looking at a figure of $7 billion this year.
Vladimir Putin: At the economic forum in Sochi (Mr Mangold also mentioned this forum), we heard that one Italian company has already invested 6 billion, I do not recall if it was dollars or euros, in the electricity sector in Russia and plans to invest another 3 billion. So, Mr Mangold, there is nothing much to boast about – this is not such a big amount. I realise that countries should try to put in place as liberal a regime as possible for the work of all businesses, big and small. I would very much like to see an equally liberal regime on both sides and hope that neither state nor civic organisations will frighten away businesspeople, whether from Russia or Germany, with talk of bans and closures. We need to open the doors of our economies wider to each other so that we can all find joy in achieving good results.
Thank you very much for your attention.