Russia and Germany confirm common goals
German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed the increased level of co-operation between the two nations, particularly in the areas of manufacturing and research.
“We have consulted the Ministers from both Russian and German governments and this showed that there is a deep co-operation between the two countries in many fields. There is an increase in mutual trade. We were able co conclude several important agreements, which prove that the structure of our connections develops and becomes wider. And now we are going to increase the co-operation in automobile industry in order to provide new quality to it. Important steps were also taken in the field of research. And there are some initiatives in the field of airplane production,” Angela Merkel said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin echoed his German counterpart, pointing to a huge increase in trade between the two countries.
“Russia and Germany set a good example of mutually advantageous large scale trade and economic co-operation. I draw your attention to the fact that in the first half of this year the trade turnover as compared to the similar period of 2006 has increased by 13.5 per cent and comes to almost $US 23 BLN. German investments in Russian economy are growing, including the energy sector”.
On international issues, Mr Putin earlier told a civic forum that Russia and Germany share many of the same goals, but sometimes differ on the best way of reaching them.
“Russia and Germany are probably closer than ever in their views on the way Europe should develop.
Naturally, we still have – and will have – differences of opinion on the present situation, in our approaches to various problems. But it is crystal clear that we both are willing to work on these problems. It's not a matter of whether we are willing to solve them; we are willing. The only difference we may have is in the way we reach our goals – while the goals we pursue are the same,” the Russian leader noted.
The German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed with Putin, adding that the annual summit was now a well-established forum for the exchange of views.
“Petersburg Dialogue is a part of the civil society. It has become a well-trodden route for our ongoing co-operation in various areas like problems with raw materials or freedom of speech issues. We exchange our views, and this helps us understand each other,” the German Chancellor pointed out.
Responding to a question about a bill regulating non-governmental organisations in Russia, Mr Putin said the new law did not prevent NGOs from operating normally in Russia.
“As far as I know, after Russia adopted a new bill on NGOs, nothing terrible happened despite the expectations of some. Whoever wanted to get registered was able to do so. Yes, they have to submit financial reports and activity reports, but this does not create a difficulty that can prevent them from getting registered and from operating. Perhaps, there does exist some red tape there, and we may do something to facilitate the process”.
Germany remains one of Russia's largest and most important trade partners. But Putin said there needed to be a level playing field in terms of investment if business was to flourish.
“I realise that the government should provide a most liberal mode of operation for small, medium and large businesses. I only wish it could be liberal on both sides. I wish government and independent agencies did not frighten German or Russian businessmen with supposedly coming prohibitions. The doors of economy should be wide open,” Vladimir Putin stated.
RT’s political commentator Peter Lavelle says the forum is more than a talking shop for Russian and German politicians.
“It is about pushing the civil society and pulling them together for the two countries, which is very important for Russia as it engages Europe – and Europe as it engages Russia. And I cannot think of a better example than we have with Germany – Russia’s most important, I would even say, ally in the EU,” Mr Lavelle stressed.
Iran's controversial nuclear programme and the future status of Serbia's breakaway province of Kosovo were among the thorny international discussed at the summit.
Also on the agenda were U.S. plans to deploy an anti-missile defence shield in Europe and Russia's threat to leave the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty.