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President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Ms Federal Chancellor, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,
I am happy to have this opportunity to meet with you again. Of course, 5:30 a.m. German time is a bit early, but then 7:30 a.m. Moscow time is not that late either. We rarely start our meetings this early.
On the other hand, I think the pleasant weather more than makes up for our early start today: we have all been longing for some cool weather and rain, and we got our wish here in Yekaterinburg. The fact that we have such a representative forum testifies to the strength of the relationship between our business communities and emphasises the positive trends that got the upper hand despite the global economic crisis.
The trade turnover between our countries has grown by 50% since the beginning of the year. Our economies are recovering and, naturally, that is accompanied by a recovery of most trade items. According to our statistics, at the end of March 2010, Germany’s cumulative investment in the Russian economy amounted to nearly $20 billion, which, of course, is very gratifying.
We have complete confidence in our German partners’ reliability. It was during this period that we managed to intensify bilateral cooperation, despite the existing difficulties.
There is one more point I would like make at the beginning. We have complete confidence in our German partners’ reliability. It was during this period that we managed to step up bilateral cooperation, despite the existing difficulties.
It was no accident that in this period we saw the launch of a train between Moscow and St Petersburg, a new high-speed rail service. On the other hand, the production of Volkswagen cars in Kaluga expanded. These were very positive signs.
We have now begun to implement the idea that was formulated with Germany’s participation and which involves the EU as a whole: a partnership for modernisation. This strategy is being actively realised at present and we have launched a pilot project called Yekaterinburg, an Energy Efficient City. Exactly where we are now, and it may be symbolic.
I would also like to mention that the Russian-German Energy Agency has started its operation. We signed an agreement about it some time ago and now it has become reality. The E.ON concern is implementing an ambitious investment programme in the Russian power industry. This is only a part of the activities, but it is a very important part.
We will modernise our economy, and we will do it quite fast. We are expecting to see strong growth in high-tech and innovation industries. And, of course, we very much hope to do it together with German companies, which have vast experience in this field.
I would like to note that the economic modernisation policy the Russian Federation is pursuing was not born out of short-term considerations but out of real necessity. Of course, the economic crisis partly gave us a push in this direction, but we had already realised before that we needed to tackle this issue. All the problems inherent in our economy, structural and infrastructural, became evident during the crisis.
So we will modernise our economy, and we will do it quite fast, I hope. We are expecting to see strong growth in high-tech and innovation industries. And, of course, we very much hope to do it together with German companies, which have vast experience in this field. Considering the strategic partnership between our countries in the field of economic cooperation, I believe that the prospects are very good indeed.
We will be setting up large centres, including the Skolkovo Innovation Centre, which is a major long-term project. The funding for this project is going to be substantial, especially by Russian standards: 170 billion rubles will come from the budget, plus private investment. Therefore, we are talking about billions of euros. Our objective is to create research centres with the participation of major companies such as Siemens, whose CEO, Mr [Peter] Loescher, has joined the Skolkovo Foundation Council. We are very happy about that. That truly is excellent news.
I would like to add that we are counting on German businesses to take part in the modernisation of other companies that may be of interest to them, including in the light of my decision to reduce the number of strategic companies. The Federal Chancellor and I discussed this during dinner yesterday. The number of such companies has been cut in half, which was a very serious decision. Naturally, these companies that were struck off the list of strategic enterprises will function under a different set of rules, which will make it easier to invest in them and to privatise them, if necessary. I believe this opens up excellent new opportunities.
I would like to welcome all of you once again and wish you success in your work.