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PRESS RELEASES AND NEWS

29.06.2017

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at the opening ceremony of the 14th Conference of Russian and German Partner Cities, Krasnodar, June 28, 2017

Mr Minister,

Mr Kondratyev,

Mr Pervyshov,

Colleagues, friends,

First of all, I would like to thank the Krasnodar Territory authorities for the hospitality and warm welcome they have accorded us. I am pleased at this opportunity, together with the leadership of this territory and this city, to welcome my German colleague Sigmar Gabriel.

I am greatly honoured to take part in the opening ceremony of the 14th Conference of Russian and German Partner Cities. This forum, which took over from Karlsruhe, is an important event in the vast array of bilateral interregional and people-to-people contacts. Considering the current situation in Europe, when relations between our states – to put it bluntly – are going through hard times, such depoliticised cooperation is an important element in fostering an atmosphere of trust and mutual understanding between nations and countries. Taking advantage of this opportunity, I would particularly like to note the contribution made by the Sister Cities international association to preparing this event and fostering Russian-German cooperation in general.

We have always sought and will continue to seek to build our relations with Germany on the basis of equality and consideration for each other’s interests. History and recent experience show that deviating from these principles causes serious damage to both our countries and the stable development of the European continent as a whole. We are still open to close coordination of efforts in the interest of strengthening European security, for which our countries bear special responsibility, and we are ready to work together to counter global threats and challenges, primarily international terrorism and extremism.

Lately, our ties have acquired a more constructive and pragmatic nature. The top-level dialogue is moving forward. On May 2, President Vladimir Putin had talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Sochi. We will be happy to host the German president in Russia.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier has received an invitation. Interparliamentary and interministerial exchanges continue, including between our diplomatic services. The high-level working group on security issues is resuming full-scale activity.

We welcome the positive trends in the trade and economic sphere. In the first quarter of this year, trade was up by one-third, year on year. A lot was said recently at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, in which our German partners took a very active part, about the interest of German business circles in expanding their operations in Russia. Major joint projects are under way and mutual investment activity is expanding. The interagency working group on strategic cooperation in the economic and financial sphere, which will next meet in July, makes a valuable contribution to efforts in this area.

Cultural, humanitarian, scientific and educational cooperation, as well as cooperation in historical and memorial activities, is expanding. Contacts between civil societies, including as part of such influential discussion forums as the St Petersburg Dialogue and Potsdam Meetings, are as relevant as ever. The bilateral year of youth exchanges was a great success. Mr Gabriel and I plan to attend its closing ceremony in Berlin on July 13.

Today, my colleague and I are giving the go-ahead to a new joint initiative – the bilateral year of regional and municipal partnerships, which will be held under our patronage. Its extensive programme in Russian regions and German federal lands includes numerous activities in various fields – from the economy and business to culture and sport. I am inviting the heads of Russian and German regions and cities to take an active part in it. We will mark the anniversaries of the establishment of ties between Moscow and Düsseldorf, St Petersburg and Hamburg, and other cities and regions.

Overall, we have many positive examples of joint efforts. They should lay the groundwork for a new unifying, forward-looking bilateral agenda, which would not depend on the political situation of the moment, and for returning our relations back to the path of strategic partnership for the good of our nations, Europe and the world as a whole.

Obviously, Russians and Germans must not be allowed to become alienated from each other. The path of postwar reconciliation and subsequent rapprochement was far too long and hard. It may be recalled that many prominent statesman have consistently advocated for friendship and neighbourliness between Russia and Germany, including such an influential, thoughtful and farsighted politician as Helmut Kohl, who, unfortunately, died recently. President Vladimir Putin recalled his meetings with Mr Kohl, stressing that he had urged everyone to renounce phobias and look to the future.

I would like to wish the conference organisers and participants success in your important and much-needed work.




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