Germany to strengthen links with Russia and Medvedev

The German politician responsible for diplomatic relations with Moscow has given another indication his country is willing to strengthen ties with Russia. Speaking ahead of the newly elected Russian President's first vis

While Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s trip to China was seen as laying a new foundation, his visit to Germany is viewed as cementing the old.

Leaders of the two countries have always had a very good personal relationship. Helmut Kohl and Boris Yeltsin, Vladimir Putin and Gerhard Schroeder, they were all on the same wavelength. 

But will Russia's new leader reach similar understanding with Angela Merkel, known as Germany's Iron Lady? Political analyst Alexander Rahr believes Merkel’s recent visit to Russia is a promising sign.
“I think it is very important that Ms Merkel was the first foreign leader to visit Russia after Medvedev was elected. She tried to pick him up on things he said about strengthening civil society, the Russian legal system, democratic institutions and the right of investors on the Russian market,” he said. 

The two leaders certainly have all the necessary ingredients for a prosperous union. Germany is Russia's leading economic partner, with trade turnover at 50 billion euros. The energy in this relationship is also a crucial factor and Germany is seen in Russia as a mediator in communicating with the West.

Rahr added: “From Putin’s and Medvedev’s point of view Germany has been and will continue to be Russia’s advocate in the West – in the G8, the EU, and even NATO. It’s no secret that Germany was the main country that spoke out at the last NATO summit in Bucharest – to put on hold NATO expansion to Georgia and Ukraine.”

The German business community was fearful Angela Merkel's tough talk with Russia on human and legal rights could damage relations. But it seems legally-trained Medvedev clearly understands exactly what Ms Merkel is trying to say.

A change of leadership often means change of policies. But when taking office, Dmitry Medvedev spoke of continuity and maintaining priorities, which suggests that further expansion of ties between Russia and Germany is likely.