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14 September 201820:32

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's remarks at the closing ceremony of the Cross Year of Regional and Municipal Partnerships, Berlin, September 14, 2018


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Mr Minister, dear Heiko,

Mr Platzeck, dear Matthias,

We have gathered here for a momentous event. To begin with, I would like to express heartfelt gratitude to the organisers of this outstanding Cross Year and to those who contributed to achieving remarkable results at the level of civil society, municipalities and regions.

I would like to fully support what my friend German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said about Mr Platzeck and his efforts to preserve everything useful that had been achieved in the Russia-Germany relations, and to multiply those achievements. We are sincerely appreciative of these efforts. We know that Germany has many advocates of promoting relations between our countries. This is why we want to thank all our Russian friends and compatriots, represented by you, who make an equally invaluable contribution to all this work.

I would like to thank German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas for the invitation to visit Berlin today to attend this event – the closing of the Cross Year of Regional and Municipal Partnerships and summing up its results. It started in Krasnodar back in June 2017 at the 14th Conference of Partner Cities, which was also attended by Foreign Ministers of Russia and Germany.  

It is safe to say that the Year has been a success and has enriched inter-regional cooperation, which is certainly an important component of our bilateral dialogue. The Year has made a considerable contribution to advancing people’s diplomacy and maintaining the atmosphere of trust and neighbourliness between our nations. A new very bright and humane page has been added to the centuries-old chronicle of Russian-German relations.

Our most sincere gratitude goes to the Year’s operators – the Union of Russian Cities and the German-Russian Forum. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the German-Russian Forum on its 25th anniversary and to again underscore the efforts of Chairman of the Board Matthias Platzeck and his colleagues to step up interaction between our societies and promote rapport between our people.

A number of interesting, landmark initiatives have been launched within the vast and eventful programme of the Year. I would like to note a contest of the best regional cooperation projects between Russia’s and Germany’s municipalities. The highly demanding jury considered numerous initiatives, each of which deserved high praise. It was agreed to distinguish only 30 pairs of cities and municipalities in Russia and Germany. We will congratulate them on this result today.

It is crucial that an extra boost was given to municipal cooperation, twin-city movement. Moscow and Düsseldorf, St Petersburg and Hamburg, Rostov-on-Don and Dortmund, Veliky Novgorod and Bielefeld have marked anniversaries of establishing partnership relations. In just a few minutes we will witness a signing of partnership agreements between new pairs of Russian and German cities: Vyborg – Greifswald, Tuapse – Schwedt and Zvenigorod – Lahr. I wish them great success in all their undertakings. 

I am confident that nobody wants to stop at what has been achieved. I am sure that we will learn about new practical agreements already at the 15th conference of Russian and German partner cities scheduled to be held in North Rhine-Westphalia in 2019.

Dialogue between young people has become stronger. In two weeks Hamburg will host the second Twin Cities Youth Forum, which will be a logical sequence of the completed Cross Year of youth exchanges that ended in 2017. 

Consecutive thematic cross years, which have become a brand of bilateral interaction, greatly encourage cooperation in various fields. I hope that the new Cross Year of Research and Educational Partnerships to be launched shortly will be held under my and Mr Heiko Maas’s patronage just like the outgoing Cross Year of Regional and Municipal Partnerships. 

Efforts to support trust and mutual understanding between our nations are especially needed in the current situation in Europe. We can only rejoice that both Russia and Germany have obvious interest in overcoming the current complicated period in bilateral relations. Our leaders during their talks in Sochi in May and Meseberg in August spoke about the importance of maintaining a mutually respectful dialogue and fruitful joint efforts to find effective solutions to the most important current problems.

I hope that the rich history of multifaceted Russian-German cooperation, intense business and humanitarian exchanges and contacts between people will help to settle existing disagreements and will not let divergences in Moscow’s and Berlin’s positions regarding a particular issue rule over the whole set of bilateral relations.

I am sure that historical reconciliation between Russia and Germany as well as our country’s role in the unification of Germany is an outstanding achievement made not only by our countries and peoples but, without exaggeration, by all of Europe. We must cherish this invaluable achievement. 

Strategically, there is simply no alternative to relations of broad productive partnership. We will keep up the efforts to improve the quality of bilateral interaction for the benefit of the peoples of Russia and Germany and in the name of peace, stability and prosperity on our continent and in the whole world. 

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