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Main | Archive | Issue 2/2008

Germany Is No Strange Country for Russia
Column: Under The Sign Of Mercury

V.V. Danilin, First Deputy Director of the Department of Foreign Economic and International Relations of the City of Moscow, told Diplomat’s Editor in Chief Yu..V. Tavrovsky about the 50-year-long background and the present state of the Russian capital’s ties with German cities and federal states.

Mr. Danilin, Moscow’s trade links with German cities date back to several centuries. Let’s not go down so far, however, but retrace those relations starting, say, with the post-war years.
OK. Let’s then transfer ourselves back into the 1950s when an international movement of twinned cities started off. At that time, Germany was a divided state, that’s why Moscow established, considering historical realities, relations with East Berlin, the capital of the German Democratic Republic. Those ties developed fairly actively, especially from the late 1960s on up to the mid-1980s.

It was essential for us to address, first of all, issues related to the management of a big city using positive foreign experience. At that time, the GDR ranked among the world’s first ten most developed countries. Many Moscow enterprises maintained direct production links with Berlin enterprises. Our scientific, cultural, educational and sport relations also figured prominently on the agenda. Once in about five years, we regularly held events called Days of Moscow in Berlin and Days of Berlin in Moscow.

Incidentally, Moscow never lagged behind in cooperating with West German partners as well. The first such useful contact was established in 1963 when the Düsseldorf-based exhibition and fair company Novea came to us. It was the first foreign partner of both the Soviet and Moscow authorities in the exhibition sector. Quite a few exhibitions held at the Expocenter on Krasnaya Presnya were and are arranged with the help of our old good partner from Düsseldorf. In 1969, a delegation of Moscow led by the city’s senior officials set off on the first-ever visit to Düsseldorf. In the course of the visit, an agreement on cooperation in several areas, primarily, in the economic, exhibition-related and cultural fields, was concluded. Ever since, we had the strongest ties with cities of the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia. After Düsseldorf, the burgomasters (mayors) of Cologne, Essen, and Duisburg followed suit. In 1992, already after the reunification of the two parts of Germany, an official agreement on Moscow-Düsseldorf partnership was concluded.

In the years following the emergence of the new Russia, we have established and are stepping up ties with a number of federal states and cities: with Bavaria since 1991 and Berlin as the capital and a federal state equally since 1991. Contacts with Brandenburg were established in 1993, and from 2002 onward, we have been cooperating pretty forcefully. We built ties with the Federal State of Hesse in 2004. These ties, particularly in the economic area, have become especially tight in the last two years. In 2007, contacts were established with Baden-Württemberg, after which the first visit of the mayor of Moscow took place. We held Days of Moscow there, and now we are awaiting reciprocating events. Furthermore, we maintain direct ties with Frankfurt (Main), although it is part of the Federal State of Hesse. Frankfurt is a major financial center of Germany and Europe as a whole and its experience is essential for Moscow that is striving to become a center of international financial operations. In addition, we have contacts with several other cities and federal states, and, even if they are not covered by agreements on direct partnership relations, such ties are maintained and intensified. For instance, we regularly receive large delegations of entrepreneurs from Lower Saxony, Saxony, and Thuringia. As for Hamburg, it held its first-ever presentation last year.

Mr. Danilin, how does Moscow profit from its economic interaction with Germany?
We can safely say that Germany is Moscow’s key partner in the producing sector. Taking together all of the German federal states and cities, chambers of commerce and industry, and the rest of economic entities we contact with, we will see the largest scope of interaction there. In 2006, the goods turnover amounted to more than €6 billion, or nearly 13 percent of Moscow’s total foreign trade volume. In the 9 months of 2007, the goods turnover rose by 39 percent to €5.8 billion. It should be noted that, owing to our active ties with German partners, the German business community has developed into the single largest expatriate business community in Moscow in the last 15 years: it incorporates more than 900 representative offices of German companies, 707 German-Russian joint ventures and 440 hundred-percent German daughter companies. We closely cooperate with the German Business Association (GBA) and the recently established Russian-German Chamber of Foreign Trade.

It should be observed that the responses and reactions of German entrepreneurs are the most favorable ones. As far as I know, the GBA has regularly polled the Moscow-based German business community since the mid-1990s in order to find out how comfortable the living and business environment here is. The replies revealed that the German entrepreneurs feel at ease in the Russian capital, they quickly find partners, adopt rapidly our customs and our laws, all the more so that our legislation is similar to German legislation by a number of parameters. In the early 1990s when we were working on the Charter of the city of Moscow and were drawing up municipal laws, we closely examined and made use of the German experience in the legislative area. What’s more, we provide administrative support for companies wishing to come to Moscow, invest and make business here. This applies, first and foremost, to small and mid-sized enterprises, because large corporations are in a position to pave the way for themselves on their own. That is why we agreed with our partners that we will hold economic presentations of federal states and cities in Moscow and arrange Moscow presentations in Germany.

I must say that in the course of such presentations, fairly large lineups of businessmen, apart from the prime minister and a small political delegation of the federal state concerned, attend such events. 60 to 80 business leaders representing various economic sectors arrive, for example, from Bavaria. Consequently, these political meetings at the level of the mayor of Moscow, prime minister or burgomaster of the relevant German partner, which are attended by the entire economic delegation, make it possible to quickly find potential partners in Moscow.

The same thing happens whenever we hold economic presentations in German cities and federal states. A Moscow economic delegation includes the CEOs of our enterprises, research institutions, several agencies and enterprises of the Moscow municipal utilities, and they directly network with their German partners in much the same way. In 1999, our Bavarian counterparts and we came up with an interesting initiative that has now spread to virtually all federal states and cities with which we maintain contacts. The so-called “Atlas of Technologies” was created in the Internet where the two sides post information about the latest achievements in science and technologies. Interested companies will be able to quickly get in touch with each other and, taking account of the usefulness of particular scientific developments, to introduce these into production. The “Atlas of Technologies” currently lists up to 300 projects..

I would like to discuss now some vital projects being implemented with German participation. Everybody is aware of the importance of coping with traffic issues in cities. This problem is, in particular, dealt with by a medium-sized company from Baden-Württemberg, Herren-Knecht, that manufactures tunneling equipment. Using this equipment, the Lefortovo tunnel on the Moscow Third Ring Road was built. In late December, yet another new tunnel in Serebryany Bor was put into operation. There a shield was used that allowed to build three tiers. The middle tier is cars moving on three lanes. The lower tier is a metro line, and the upper tier is designed for installing service lines. Nearby is a second tunnel where traffic moves in the reverse direction. We leased that shield, and recently, Mayor Yury Luzhkov proposed to the German side to build a shied of a larger diameter, about 18-19 meters, that will make it possible to bore tunnels with four-lane vehicular traffic. Moscow needs this kind of tunnels badly.

I would also like to point out that the system of middle vocational schools that were earlier called PTUs, is being restored also with German involvement. In the 1990s, that system suffered a failure, but at present, the Moscow budget allocates the needed funds for re-establishing the network of vocational training establishments that are now termed “colleges.” Although these schools kept the material facilities intact, their teaching methods are inadequate and in need of an overhaul. Germany is noted exactly for a traditionally strong master-trainee interaction. Using German companies working in different business sectors, we blend German training expertise with our own material facilities. German companies will gladly employ graduates of such colleges and pay them decent wages. The whole of Moscow needs skilled workers versed in present-day technologies.

What does the calendar of contacts with Moscow’s German counterparts envisage for the year 2008?
Our plans are far-reaching. They include the holding of the next Düsseldorf Economy Days in Moscow in May, among other things. In July, Days of the Bavarian Economy are due to open. The event will be attended by Mrs.. Müller, the new Economics Minister of Bavaria. At the end of April, an economic presentation of Berlin, the biggest event in years, will be held for the first time. September will see the holding of Days of the Hesse Economy, and in November, the reciprocating event, Days of Baden-Württemberg, is scheduled to take place in Moscow.

Moscow, for its part, will organize its Economy Days in Düsseldorf in September. In October, there will be Moscow Economy Days in Bavaria. This event will coincide with a large-scale investment exhibition, “Expo Real..” Moscow Economy Days are to take place in Hesse in late November.

I should also like to say that the last years, Moscow has been increasingly involved in the work of non-governmental organizations. Mayor of Moscow Yury Luzhkov energetically supports this area of activities. A Moscow Friendship Societies’ Union was set up: it comprises many grassroots organizations that are eager to maintain ties with foreign countries, cities and regions. As for Germany, it must be noted that a Moscow regional chapter of the Russia-German Friendship Society was brought into being two years ago. Being the head of that affiliate, I was happy to recently attend a nation-wide meeting of this Friendship Society. Academician Yu..A. Osipyan, who was at the helm of the Russian-German Friendship Society for more than 20 years, was elected honorary president. Yu.V. Roslyak, First Deputy Mayor of Moscow, was elected the Society’s president.

As you see, the Moscow City Government is expanding ties with Germany at different levels and in different areas. Germany is not a strange country for us now.

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Êîïèðàéò-áëîê, 2006