Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel (as translated into Russian): Ladies and gentlemen,
I am pleased to be able to welcome Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his team to Germany, but most importantly I am pleased to welcome them to one of Germany’s most beautiful castles [Schleissheim Palace]. I am also pleased to welcome him here in his role as President for the third time.
Intergovernmental consultations between Russia and Germany will continue. Today we had very important bilateral talks, as did our respective ministers. The sheer number of agreements that were signed shows what an extensive and stable foundation we have on which to build our relationship. For example, we have already been able to celebrate a success, the joint power agency. We decided to do this more than a year ago and today we have affixed our signatures to the relevant documents. So these were not just empty words, but words that were translated into deeds. We have also signed agreements on cooperation in the field of science. Russia is involved in the construction of XFEL, a huge research centre in Hamburg [the European X-Ray Laser Project].
This means cooperation not only among scientists but also at the basic human level. People will be meeting more often, scientists and researchers will be meeting more and more often. In addition, we signed a very important agreement on credit insurance for bilateral trade that is in excess of 500 million euros. This will give a tremendous boost to our joint trade, especially during this crisis.
Besides, we discussed many foreign policy topics. We had already engaged with these topics [at the G8 summit] in L’Aquila. It is obvious that during the preparation for international meetings Germany and Russia cooperate very closely with one another. In this sense it seems to me that we are clearly on the right track.
At the moment, these German-Russian consultations are taking place in conjunction with the Petersburg Dialogue, which we will also be attending. This is a meeting of both countries’ civil society representatives. And of course today the murder of Russian human rights activist Natalia Estemirova came up in our negotiations. I expressed my shock at this murder, the murder of a courageous woman who was awarded the Robert Schuman Medal by the European Parliament. I also heard Russian President Dmitry Medvedev say very clearly that everything would be done to ensure that this murder is solved. This is the sort of thing that cannot be accepted or tolerated. Since we are talking about more intensive cooperation between the civil societies of our countries, it is precisely now that such a murder must not remain unsolved. I am sure that the Russian side will do its utmost to apprehend the killers and punish them as they deserve.
We also talked about cooperation to help our economies. Of course this crisis brings with it new opportunities, but it has created many complex problems as well. We jointly cooperate with General Motors in respect of the future of Opel. Of course there are still many issues that need to be resolved. But the ideas of Magna International [a Canadian auto supplier] offer some very promising ways of improving Opel’s markets and opportunities, on the one hand, and of building a strategic partnership with Russia, on the other. That is why we are doing everything to ensure that all the questions that remain unresolved are dealt with in the next few days. And we fully expect that Magna will be contributing to this project.
There were a large number of foreign-policy topics discussed — I don’t want to go through them all at the moment. In conclusion I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude once again. Russia and the Federal Republic of Germany are linked by a strategic partnership and our negotiations have been held in a spirit of friendly relations. Where we have differences of opinion, we can talk about them and deal with them. But we have a great many common interests. I think that in general we are on the right track with regard to the intensification of our cooperation, so as to make relations between the Federal Republic of Germany, the largest economy in the European Union, and our neighbour Russia what they should be. We want those areas in which we are interdependent to become win-win situations that benefit both parties. And our consultations have once again shown this clearly.
Once again, welcome to Bavaria.
President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Ms Federal Chancellor, ladies and gentlemen,
As a guest, I would like to thank Ms Angela Merkel and all of our German colleagues for their warm welcome and for the wonderful setting here in this fantastic castle. Indeed, this atmosphere is conducive to our meetings, because it allows us to see elements of a culture that was created several centuries ago, and serves as a reminder of how important it is for us to cooperate in a variety of areas today.
Indeed, we had a very good series of consultations, and we were able to sum up some of the work we’ve been doing recently, in the time since we met at our tenth round of intergovernmental consultations, in St Petersburg. We have taken note of several things.
The first is not a very pleasant thing: all of us are affected by the crisis, and this crisis has affected our economic cooperation. Trade volume has decreased. But now, we are interested in expanding our turnover and our trade relations, and bringing in new elements that could compensate for the losses caused by the crisis.
Second, we have an entire bundle of new ideas and goals. Incidentally, some of them are related to this crisis, because it requires that we refocus our efforts and come up with new projects. Today, we spent quite a bit of time discussing projects related to Opel and involving Magna and Sberbank. There are still some unresolved issues, but we are viewing this project with interest and optimism. We will try to move forward with its implementation. These are plans for the future, but we also have practical deeds, on-going large-scale projects in which our largest companies are participating. For example, cooperation is progressing between Rosatom and Siemens, between Russian Railways and Deutsche Bahn, between the United Aircraft Corporation and EADS. Some other major projects are also underway, including those that were launched today when we witnessed the signing of the respective documents.
By the way, I think that the new power agency that Ms Federal Chancellor spoke about really is a new element of organisation; we came up with the idea a year ago and we have implemented it by now. I hope our efforts will help the logistics in managing deliveries en route between Europe and Asia, and ensure progress with the renovation and subsequent management of Pulkovo airport [in St Petersburg].
We have created another framework to help our businesses. Not so long ago, I met with representatives the German business community in Berlin, and we talked about how to boost current contacts and projects, and how to design effective financial mechanisms. Indeed, one such mechanism was launched today by the Vnesheconombank and the KfW [Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau] Bank to finance an array of deliveries to the Russian Federation. The mechanism would not cover everything, but it is a good example of cooperation in this area.
We have some very good projects in energy, which we should continue to implement. I am confident that Nord Stream is one such example, as it has strategic significance not only for Russia and Germany, but for all of Europe. Its successful implementation will reinforce energy security all throughout the continent.
We are cooperating well on crisis-related issues in the international arena, and we hold many similar positions. I’d like to point out that overall, Russia supports the idea of a Charter for Sustainable Development, which was suggested by the Federal Chancellor. I believe that now is not the time to shy away from this kind of cooperation, under the assumption that we now see some signs of recovery so we do not need to come up with new rules for regulation. This is simply not the case. First of all, the crisis is not yet over. Second, we will not be able to prevent crises like this in the future if we do not create a normal framework for cooperation and normal rules for regulating the global economy and the global financial system.
And so we discussed these issues. This discussion was essentially a continuation of the one we had in Italy at the G8 summit. We will definitely continue these contacts in our bilateral meetings and then at the G20 in Pittsburgh, USA, because I am sure that such major European states as Germany and Russia should hold similar or identical positions on these issues. This is particularly true given that we are strategic partners, so it is very important for us to overcome this crisis in good shape, rather than weak and depleted, and to defend our values and resolve our nations’ social problems, including the problem of unemployment.
Thus, I think that these consultations have been as fruitful and replete as ever. Even the long list of participating agencies speaks for itself. And in this regard, our cooperation is more active than ever, with regular cooperation by nearly all the key structures within Germany and Russia’s governments, helping us find solutions to the most difficult problems.
Still, the world is not limited only to economic problems. Naturally, we spoke about humanitarian aspects as well, including upcoming anniversaries, such as the end of World War II and the 20-year anniversary of the unification of Germany. These are important dates, which should be observed accordingly.
We also have good examples of cooperation in culture. Today, the German side made a symbolic gesture by returning six fragments from the Marly Palace in Peterhof to the Russian Federation. This may not seem like a big deal, but it is very symbolic, and relations of this kind between our countries help us resolve all sorts of humanitarian challenges.
I would like to thank Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel one more time. I would also like to let you all know that I have invited the Federal Chancellor to visit the Russian Federation this summer, in August. We could enjoy being by the sea in Sochi, and we could perhaps take a walk in the mountains; and we will continue the talks we began today. I think that regular contacts are very important for the relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Russian Federation.
Question: Ms Federal Chancellor, a couple of days ago Nabucco [the projected natural gas pipeline from Erzurum in Turkey to Baumgarten an der March in Austria] was given the green light. Do you think that it is necessary to reduce European dependence on Russian gas supplies?
And my second question: aren’t you afraid that this winter there will be problems with the supply of gas from Russia via Ukraine to Europe?
We have heard that, in the opinion of the [human rights] society Memorial, blame for the murder of Natalia Estemirova in Chechnya rests with Ramzan Kadyrov, the President of the Chechen Republic. Do you think that the investigation must also take that direction?
Dmitry Medvedev: Since the question is in Russian, it must be addressed to me, because you’re not asking …
Reply: Yes, this question is for the President of the Russian Federation.
Angela Merkel: With regards to my question, I would like to say that once again today we talked about how the Nord Stream Gas Pipeline is of the utmost importance, and about how both Germany and of course Russia need to ensure that the permits required are issued, because we believe that this project is necessary and strategically important. We have always said the same thing in this regard, and now it is important to make it a reality. I am one of those who don’t spend a lot of time worrying about the controversy surrounding pipelines. Nabucco is one project and Nord Stream is a different one. And if you look at the demand for gas in Europe over the next decade, there are many opportunities for trade between Russia and Europe, Russia and Germany. So there’s no need to look at this as in contradiction with or in opposition to other pipelines.
We will participate in the construction of Nabucco, but I see this as a means of ensuring our security in terms of natural gas supplies.
In regard to the need for transit through Ukraine, not all the stumbling blocks have been removed. We will need to continue working on this. First and foremost we need to be sure – and we have discussed this with the International Monetary Fund – that Ukraine has embarked on a path that will enable it to meet its financial obligations. And of course – I am trying to speak carefully here – the political viability of Ukraine must also be reinforced in the near future.
Dmitry Medvedev: The murder of Russia’s human rights activist Ms Estemirova is of course a very sad event, one that must be addressed unambiguously. Perhaps unlike other incidents, which have unfortunately occurred in the Russian Federation, for me it is obvious that this murder is connected with her professional activities. Those professional activities are crucial for the proper functioning of any normal state. She did very useful things, she told the truth, she openly and sometimes perhaps forcefully spoke her mind on some of the things that occurred in our country. Once again this is the point of defending human rights, even if the results are inconvenient or unpleasant for those in power. That is the first thing.
Second, of course this kind of crime must not go unpunished. This crime will be investigated thoroughly. Yesterday, I immediately instructed Mr Bastrykin, the Chairman of the [Prosecutor General's Office] Investigative Committee, to take personal control of the case. Today, Mr Bastrykin has already visited the scene of the crime and taken charge personally. The issue is also being dealt with by the Prosecutor General’s Office in our country and I am sure that the killers will be found.
As for a rationale for the crime, I think that those who committed this atrocity, this crime, were counting on its being seen in the most primitive light and interpreted in the most unacceptable for the authorities way. That is why in my opinion such crimes are committed to coincide with some important events in the first place. It’s a deliberate provocation, if you like. I am sure that this crime will be solved and the people who committed it will be punished in accordance with Russia’s criminal law.
Just a couple of words, if I may, on another topic, the one that my colleague was just discussing, I mean energy issues. I would just say that naturally we also see Nord Stream as a very important project and are working towards its joint implementation in conjunction with our German partners and our partners from other countries. But just to be clear, we are not jealous of Nabucco in any way, and by all means let it go ahead. If gas arrives as a result of Nabucco then obviously someone needs it. But so far no one has been able to explain to me where the gas is coming from, even though a respective document was signed just a few days ago.
So our position is that energy supplies should be secure and diversified. However, these supplies must be based on existing contracts. But everything that is done for Europe is a good thing. We are Europeans too.
Question: I have a question for both leaders. We know that in the year since you met in this forum there has been a noticeable cooling between Russia and the West. Now the situation is more favourable. In this context, what are the new challenges and tasks facing our countries, and what genuine breakthroughs are possible? For example, we know that our diplomats are now able to travel without visas. But when will ordinary citizens enjoy the same opportunity?
One more thing: since we are here in Bavaria, I would like to hear the views of both leaders on heavy, appetising Bavarian food, which simply cannot be consumed without beer.
Dmitry Medvedev: Of course. Let me go first then.
With regard to what has happened in the past year, I have already talked a bit about this. Last year was difficult, and we were all faced with a number of tests. But the most important thing is that we have been able to come up with responses to these challenges. As a matter of fact, never before in recent times – in the entire postwar era in my view – have Europeans and all of the humankind shown so much solidarity in confronting a major threat like the financial crisis. Therefore in this sense I think that over the past year we have significantly increased the level of our cooperation, including Russian-German understanding, friendship and partnership. That is the first thing.
Second, unfortunately the world has not become a safer place in a global sense or in terms of weapons. Today we are all faced with the same set of problems and these are problems that require a concerted response. I am referring to the problem of proliferation and the emergence of new players, countries that are dreaming of creating their own nuclear weapons. This is a very dangerous issue. We are tackling it in conjunction with the United States of America and with our European partners. And we would like to be sure that we fully understand each other. In this sense our position is absolutely crystal clear now, as the last G8 showed. In confronting these threats we stand together. Then there is the problem of reducing nuclear arsenals. We are also engaged in this and we will be doing more in this regard.
So I believe that over the past year, despite all the contradictions and difficulties in terms of mutual understanding, the world has moved forward as the result of the consolidated efforts of all nations. This is a very positive sign. Let's hope that as a result we can achieve the desired outcome.
To respond to the main part of your question concerning Bavarian cuisine, I would say that of course Bavarian cuisine is excellent, very tasty indeed, very nourishing. Therefore for normal spiritual sustenance one can confine oneself to eating and drinking beer just once in Bavaria, and opting out of eating the next day, which is probably what we’ll be doing.
Angela Merkel: There will be a chance to have a light lunch today.
Concerning a breakthrough in the recent past, for my part I would like to reiterate two key points that I mentioned at the beginning.
First, the very intensive cooperation in the preparation of international conferences like the G8 and the G20. This has been extremely important and very helpful.
Second, by virtue of a large number of specific agreements we have developed extremely close relations at the ministry level, young people’s exchanges and so on. That is, we have working groups that are cooperating very closely in the field of art, particularly art captured in the war, and cooperation in this area has been very broad-based, very extensive. And all these ministers are very ambitious: they’re not just blowing soap bubbles and emitting empty phrases; they’re interested in coming up with quite specific solutions and in implementing them.
I haven’t even talked about what Mr Medvedev was mentioning. Whether it’s the expansion of an airport [in St Petersburg], in which Fraport is playing a role, or cooperation between our railways, this is strategic collaboration, and you are making your mark in the history of cooperation. So I think we are absolutely on the right track.
Question (as translated into Russian): Mr President, last year here in Berlin you brought up the idea of European security. It has been widely discussed. Are you satisfied by the pace at which this discussion has gone, or does it seem too slow to you? In fact, there have been criticisms on the part of NATO that perhaps this proposal is Russia’s attempt to keep America at a distance.
And, Madam Federal Chancellor, you mentioned that there are still matters to be resolved concerning Opel, and in Mecklenburg, where you’re from, there have been questions about what is going to happen to the Wadan shipyards, and there are rumours about a Russian company’s involvement there. Did you discuss this, and is there any truth to these rumours?
And have you invited the President to come to Germany on November 9 [to celebrate German unification anniversary], or is Mr Gorbachev the only one to come from Russia?
Dmitry Medvedev: First on the question of European security and the idea of a treaty. You know, I had no illusions when I formulated the idea of a new treaty on European security that we would be preparing and signing it in a month or so. If I were so idealistic, my current job would be very difficult indeed.
As far as its discussion is concerned, of course that discussion is ongoing. I am grateful to our European partners. I am grateful to Angela Merkel for enabling us to discuss this issue in a variety of formats. By the way, we began doing so as early as August last year, and then we talked about this in September, and then during our meeting in Berlin [in March 2009]. We are discussing it in a variety of formats,
What can I say? No one can reject such an idea out of hand by saying “Nobody needs this” or “This is the Devil’s work.” That said, there are really two main points of view.
The first view says that yes, perhaps it’s not a bad idea. But it’s not appropriate now, because we have other institutions charged with European security. I would like to say that we don’t agree with this view. Why? Because European security has not yet been fully achieved and there are a large number of examples, including some as recent as last year, a very dramatic example indeed. Therefore we need a new framework for European security. And the discussion on this topic will continue.
But anyone who sees this proposal as part of a Russian intrigue or a desire to create an anti-NATO pact is of course wrong, because from the very beginning, when I first put forward this idea in Berlin last year, I said that it must be a document that included all European institutions: NATO and the European Union and the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, all the other structures, and, of course, the OSCE [Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe] as well. In this way it would not be something fragmentary but rather constitute a comprehensive approach to security. If we approach the document this way, we will achieve success.
Angela Merkel: In addition to the subject of Opel we did talk about the shipyards. This is a private economic investment: that is, it involves the private sector on the Russian side. We agreed to stay in contact with each other in the days ahead. We need to consider all the facts before talking about the possibility of government aid, because of course these are private businesses that have to negotiate with each other first. But if there is an opportunity to help, then we are involved in a very good, very genial conversation and will do everything possible to help these shipyards. They do superb, high-quality work, but have found themselves in a difficult position as a result of the crisis. This is an opportunity for German-Russian cooperation. But whether the state will help will be decided in the days to come.
As for November 9, we didn’t get a chance to talk about it today. I can only say that we are in the planning stages: either we will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall or of German Unity. Russia will be taking part in these celebrations, along with our other partners. There is no way that Russia could be left out because we know what an important role it played when Germany was reunited.
Question: Another question for both leaders concerning priority projects. Madam Federal Chancellor responded positively to the idea of the Sberbank consortium buying shares in Opel. Could you please tell me if you are ready to support this consortium’s bid in the sort of full-fledged competition that would result from the emergence of other bidders?
And on another landmark project, Nord Stream: did you discuss today how the governments of your two countries can cooperate in dealing with the problems posed by third countries? I’m thinking of problems with Denmark, Sweden and in part with Finland. Is there a role to be played here by the governments of Russia and Germany?
Angela Merkel: I will talk about Nord Stream. Of course during our conversations we talked about joint action in relation to those countries that would also need to issue permits. We are in agreement in so far as Finland is concerned. We still need to clarify what the situation with Swedish permits will be. And when we meet with representatives of the governments concerned, we are discussing precisely that. But of course besides this there is the usual permit process on which governments have a lot of influence. Of course we believe that this is a strategic project.
Dmitry Medvedev: As a matter of fact, everything that we discussed involved priority projects. In any event, leaders shouldn’t have to get involved in minor projects. So of course our discussions focussed on the Opel project you mentioned, the one that involved the Sberbank/Magna consortium, and a number of other projects.
We have already commented on the Opel situation. I believe the list of priority projects should also include cooperation in the field of IT, because in any case this is of great interest for Russia. And there is no doubt that it is of interest for Germany as well. In general the new economy is where our future lies. For our country it is vital now to build up our reserves in this area. Russia has traditionally been interested in infrastructure projects that feature different sorts of transport: highways, railroads, air traffic, airports. All this can be and already is the object of our joint ventures.
The Nord Stream project is a bit of a different case. It’s not a Russian-German project, but one that involves the whole of Europe. Here our positions are absolutely identical: we are partners with our German friends. In so far as this project is concerned, there really are those who have helped and contributed to it and those who don’t believe in it. Of course it’s a big project, and naturally there are concerns for a number of countries about lost income associated with the creation of new means for transporting gas. These fears are understandable but should not be overdramatised. We would like those nations that have doubts to assess the situation more realistically and listen to our reasoning.
Incidentally, there has been some progress in this area. I would like to thank the leaders of the Republic of Finland, because they have already completed the first phase and issued a positive decision on a study done by environment experts. The environmental study was in general quite favourable. I hope that this example will inspire our other partners.
With regard to the position of Sweden, we know what their position is and we have to treat it with respect. At the same time we believe that there are additional explanations that can make a difference, and given the fact that Sweden currently holds the presidency of the EU, it has a great opportunity to contribute to the energy security of Europe. We expect that this is what will happen.
Okay. Thank you.
Angela Merkel: Thank you very much.
Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you very much.