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18 May 202111:15

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s address to organisers and participants of the Potsdam Meetings, May 18, 2021

960-18-05-2021

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Mr Matthias Platzeck,

Colleagues, friends,

I am delighted to welcome the organisers and participants of the anniversary, 25th session of the Potsdam Meetings.

Your forum has become a respected dialogue platform for open and free discussions on the main bilateral and international issues. Of course, its success has been ensured, in a large measure, by the energetic participation of prominent political and public figures, business leaders and experts in our countries.

The theme of our meeting today is Partners in Difficult Times: Russia and Germany in the Post-Coronavirus Era. This is a very topical theme. Although the pandemic is not over yet, there is no doubt that it has become a huge challenge to the entire humanity, and we will feel its negative consequences for the global economy and politics, let alone everyday lives of people, for a long time yet.

Regrettably, this shared trouble has not brought the international community together. We are also at a difficult period in Russian-German relations. We have to say that Berlin has intensified its policy of system-wide containment of Russia. Highly placed officials regularly present Russia as almost a threat to European security. Unsubstantiated and, increasingly often, absurd accusations are being made against Russia. The anti-Russia sentiments of some German media outlets have risen to a fever pitch. This is eroding mutual confidence and the very foundations of our relationship.

I would like to assure you once again that Russia is not interested in confrontation. While taking the necessary measures to protect our national interests, we also call for developing a positive Russian-German agenda on a wide range of issues. One of the most stable and pragmatic spheres is trade and investment cooperation. There is a positive outlook in such spheres as energy, technology transfer, digitalisation and the localisation of German producers in Russia.

It is notable that German business leaders invariably reaffirm their commitment to carry on mutually beneficial cooperation with their Russian partners. We will continue to support their activities, including within the framework of the Russian-German Economic Council, which was established in December 2020 at the initiative of the Russian Government and the Eastern Committee of German Economy.

Russian-German cross initiatives have proved their worth. The Russian-German Year of Scientific and Educational Partnerships 2018-2020 has been a great success. We are implementing the next joint initiative now, the Year of Economy and Sustainable Development 2020‑2022.

We are ready to increase the scope of interregional and inter-municipal exchanges. Of course, we still need to combine our efforts against the coronavirus infection.

Colleagues,

Moscow continues to regard Berlin as an important international player and remains open to dialogue, but a dialogue that is honest and mutually respectful. We know that in Germany, too, there are many of those interested in promoting relations based on the principles of equality and regard for each other’s interests. I am referring to prominent German politicians, parliamentarians and representatives of business and expert circles.  Many of them also agree with us that the policy of sanctions has been a complete fiasco; more than that, it is inflicting serious damage on its own originators. I hope that common sense will prevail and that the forces that put national interests above ideological schemes and bloc discipline in the spirit of the Cold War will gain the upper hand.

Coming to the fore today are some truly large-scale tasks involved in overcoming the economic recession and achieving a post-COVID revival. I am confident that a successful solution to these problems would be promoted by joining the potentials of various integration projects that are being carried out on our shared continent, Eurasia. This is the ultimate goal of President Vladimir Putin’s initiative to form a Greater Eurasian Partnership based on the principles of international law and transparency and open to all countries in Europe and Asia without exception. Work is underway in this direction, primarily by way of aligning the development plans of the Eurasian Economic Union and China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Ties in the EAEU-SCO-ASEAN triangle are developing and growing increasingly detailed. I think that our German colleagues, as well as other EU members, will only profit by joining the efforts that are being undertaken.  A start could be made by establishing stable contacts between the Eurasian Economic Commission and the European Commission.

Friends,

Today, the existing mechanisms of Russian-German society-to-society dialogue have a special role to play in the matter of preserving the positive, unifying principles in bilateral affairs.  After all, they have been originally created as  “all-weather” arrangements independent of the changeable political situation.  These include, among others, such a prestigious venue as Potsdam Meetings.

I am confident that this time as always your meeting will be constructive, contribute to greater mutual understanding, and make it possible to identify new points of contact.

I wish you fruitful discussions and all the best.

 

 

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