Speech at a Plenary Meeting of Russian-German Intergovernmental Consultations 2002-04-10 00:00:00 Weimar Vladimir Putin: All in all, in my view, we can give high marks for the summit. A great deal has been done in two days’ time. We have made substantial headway on international politics – the German Foreign Minister reported to you about the joint work with the Russian Foreign Minister. I wish to assure you that I feel the same. I am concerned with this practically every day and feel the results of international cooperation between Russia and Germany. It is a substantial factor acting on international affairs, in conflict areas in particular. Today the Interior Minister told us about Afghanistan’s problems. A total of 80% of heroin from Afghanistan goes to Europe, to Germany. And it is our common objective to block this flow. Imagine, 80% from Afghanistan! The things we are doing on an international plane or by coordinating the actions of our secrets services and interior ministries are not some amorphous or mythical things. They all are of practical value for our countries, for our states, for the people living there. It seems to me we have also done well on the issues of security and regional matters. In this context I would like to draw your attention to what was said here about the problem of Kaliningrad. I would like to note that there is going to be an enlargement of the European Union soon, and it will be not only our problem, but also the problem of the Union. The Kaliningrad Region has a population of 1,300,000. How will they network with neighbours? How will they network with the other part of Russia? And how will Russian citizens living in the other part of the Russian Federation network with their relatives and friends in Kaliningrad and the surrounding region? I do not think this will be an intractable technical problem to seal carriage doors and post border guards outside. If it is not enough to have them from one side, let us have them from both sides and ensure visa-free travel and communication between Kaliningrad and other parts of Russia. I do not think that is an intractable problem. Today EU experts are saying they fear trains will be stopped and some people will jump out. Well, how many will jump out? One person? Five, ten … a hundred? Is that a problem? I do not think there will be a mass exodus. At any rate, we should give thought to that now. If we fail to resolve it today, tomorrow it will also be your problem. We have mutual understanding and have also progressed in economics and finance. The fact that German specialists have found it possible to work through Hermes not only under sovereign government guarantees, but also under guarantees of commercial banks seems to me a good signal. It is a good sign, an understanding of the fact that the Russian economy is undergoing positive processes. I am sure that if that were not the case, the German colleagues would not find the reliability level of commercial bank guarantees sufficient. At the same time I believe that the periods concerned can be lengthened: to at least two years as a minimum. That is to say, with an eye to the calendar of political news it could be possible to issue credits for two years. And the number of the banks could, of course, be expanded. But I think all that is still ahead. I believe our German colleagues will be more pro-active in this direction. What is important now is to maintain the positive momentum of Russian-German coordination. It is working for the benefit of both our country and the Greater Europe. In this connection I warmly endorse the initiative to coordinate our cultural exchanges. I am grateful to colleagues for their attention to the celebration of the 300th anniversary of St Petersburg. The Federal Chancellor knows that on the initiative of the Prime Minister of Luxembourg (he expressed that initiative at a summit in Stockholm, where I was invited as a guest) we intend to invite European heads of state and government to this celebration. We would like to hold a working summit, but in expanded format involving not only Russia and the EU troika, but Russia and the European Union heads of state and government. I think we could draw up a good programme to celebrate the 300th anniversary – both working and festive events. And of course, I would very much like to demonstrate with our German friends for the whole of Europe the level and character of cooperation between each other in historical terms. St Petersburg is a good venue to make it a glorious occasion. In conclusion, I would like once more to thank our German friends for their cordial reception and for a very warm and friendly atmosphere. We are looking forward to the next time in Russia.