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Main | Archive | Issue 1/2007

Mutual Readiness to Consider the Partners Interests
Column: Russia - Germany

Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia V.G. Titov granted an interview to the magazine Diplomat.

Mr. Titov, Russian and German diplomacy has gained a wealth of experience in interacting. Will Germanys EU presidency in the first half of 2007 have a positive impact on Russia-EU relations?

Our cooperation with Germany is indeed multifaceted and unique in many respects. In a number of areas it is developing at such a rapid rate that it prompts optimal mechanisms for mutual relations in multilateral formats. It is therefore logical that the German side made further developing relations between Russia and the EU one of the priorities of its forthcoming EU presidency. As we understand it, it is a matter of making the Russia-EU partnership irreversible and that will make for still closer reciprocal integration. It is obvious that the Russia-EU dialog, which has become far more substantive the last few years, should be further adapted to the new realities and that clear-cut goals for our strategic partnership should be set. That was the subject of a detailed talk during the recent Moscow visit of German Foreign Minister F-W. Steinmeier.

The principal ways of reaching a new level of interaction are known. They are as follows: conclusion of the Russia-EU Agreement on Strategic Partnership; successful implementation of the road maps for the four common Russia-EU spaces; wide integration in science, education and culture; more contacts between people; searching for ways of taking advantage of opportunities for still closer coordination of foreign policy.

In view of the German presidency, we also count on painstaking work within the framework of the Russia-EU energy dialog. In Germany, a country that is a major importer and distributor of Russian energy resources, there is an awareness of the need for a mutually advantageous and equal long-time energy strategy between Russia and the EU.

The success of efforts to build our common future will depend on many factors. We consider the mutual readiness to take the partners basic interests into account to be the main one. If the parties are willing to meet each other halfway, reasonable solutions will be found. This also implies a lot of homework to get over a disparity of opinions inside the EU itself that is prompted by the desire of individual members to make strategic issues of the development of Russia-EU relations hostage to their escapades.

Simultaneously with the EU presidency, it is Germanys turn to chair the G8. What does Moscow expect from the agenda of the year proposed by Berlin?

Our German partners set the parameters of an ambitious G8 presidency program with the motto Growth and Responsibility. Like in a relay, the program reflected many cross-sections of the world issues that Russia focused on during its own presidency: first of all, energy saving and energy security in the spirit of the implementation of the St. Petersburg document; pressing problems of the world economy, of helping to the most destitute countries and of better healthcare; strengthening the regime of non-proliferation of WMD; and defusing crises in the world. Moscow naturally proceeds from the assumption that the G8 will remain focused on such an acute and topical issue as fighting terrorism and counteracting organized crime and drug trafficking.

Just as in Germany, we consider this forum an important tool for increasing not only the manageability of world development, but also the potential of multilateral cooperation to effectively meet global challenges and to avert threats. We also see the intention of the German chairmanship to focus on issues of international economic cooperation such as the transparency of financial markets as well as on climate change and sustained development as very positive. Now with the wide-reaching potentialities of Russia and its growing and strengthening economic and financial base, we are ready to make our contribution to their in-depth study.

Mr. Titov, how do you assess the state of Russian-German relations now with the new government in Germany?

Russian-German cooperation has not undergone any basic changes since the big coalition government headed by Federal Chancellor A. Merkel came to power in Berlin in the fall of 2005. There has been uninterrupted continuity. We continue, through joint efforts, to intensify and add substance to our strategic partnership so that it encompasses ever new fields and involves additional human resources.

The spirit of mutual confidence, equality, and a respectful approach to each others interests contributes to the climate of Russian-German relations. These relations are characterized by transparency and the realization of the growing interdependence of everything that makes up the fabric of international relations in the globalizing world.

The necessary impetus is given to our dialog by the intense and substantive contacts of the leaders of the two countries who met in different formats six times in 2006 alone. Russian-German summits characteristically orient on strategic prospects prompted by the international responsibility of our two major European powers as well as on concrete practical matters and the interests of Russian and German citizens. A fresh series of such meetings are envisaged in 2007.

Dynamic trade and economic cooperation is at the core of our bilateral relations. The Federal Republic of Germany is our leading partner in this sphere: the mutual goods turnover is increasing at a rapid pace and will, according to estimates, total more than $40 billion in 2006, a 30 percent increase over 2005. It goes without saying that these figures also include the sustained growth of the Russian economy as an important integral part of world economic development. This growth has a positive impact on the well-being of the integrating Wider Europe where national economies are increasingly becoming mutually supplementary. The significance of this factor will increase with the formation of the common European economic space between Russia and the European Union.

Photos by ITAR-TASS and Alexander Bibik.


-, 2006