Comment by the Information and Press Department on Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s talks with Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany Heiko Maas
On August 21, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will hold talks with Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany Heiko Maas who is on a working visit to Russia.
This year, Sergey Lavrov and Heiko Maas have met four times – on January 18 when the German minister visited Moscow, on February 15 in Munich at the 55th Munich Security Conference, on May 16 in Helsinki on the sidelines of the Committee of Foreign Ministers of the Council of Europe meeting, and on July 18 in Bonn on the sidelines of the 18th meeting of the St Petersburg Dialogue Russian-German Public Forum.
During the upcoming talks, the two ministers plan to exchange views on the state and prospects of trade, economic, scientific, educational, cultural and humanitarian cooperation, civil society interaction and youth relations, as well as to discuss a range of pressing international issues, such as Ukraine, the conflicts in Syria and Libya, developments around Iran and arms control issues.
Russia and Germany maintain a regular political dialogue at the top level. President of Russia Vladimir Putin met with Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Osaka on June 29 where they reaffirmed the mutual determination to coordinate actions in international affairs and achieve tangible results in the most important areas of Russian-German cooperation. They also expressed interest in the further deepening of bilateral ties, the development of trade, economic and investment cooperation, the expansion of cultural, people-to-people and civil society dialogue. Meaningful results have been achieved in all these areas in recent years.
Another positive record is the resumption of the High Level Working Group on Security (HLWG) in 2018; three of its subgroups met this year. The next HLWG plenary meeting is scheduled for November 2019 in Moscow.
Russian-German civil society contacts occur frequently. On May 15, the 22nd Potsdam Meetings forum was held in Berlin; on June 25-27, the 15th annual Conference of Russian and German Partner Cities in Aachen and Duren. The 18th meeting of the St Petersburg Dialogue Russian-German Public Forum on July 18-19 in Bonn, in which Sergey Lavrov and Heiko Maas took part, was another significant event in this area.
The 2018-2020 Russian-German Cross Year project for science and education partnerships is definitely enjoying success. The Joint Commission for Science and Technology Cooperation met in Berlin on June 28 to kick-start several important joint research projects under a roadmap for the next ten-year period signed in conjunction with the Cross Year project. Relevant agencies on both sides are continuing preparations for the key Cross Year events.
The traditionally close cultural and humanitarian ties with the Federal Republic of Germany were confirmed by the success of the international Russian Seasons concert programme hosted in Germany in 2019. The closing ceremony of the festival is planned in Hamburg at the Elbphilharmonie concert hall on December 7, where Yury Bashmet and the Moscow Soloists Chamber Orchestra will perform.
Germany remains one of Russia’s most important trade and economic partners with bilateral trade currently reviving and stabilising. In 2018, Russian-German trade increased to $59.6 billion, up 19.3 per cent compared to 2017.
Despite a slight dent in mutual trade in the first half of 2019 (down 13.7 per cent to $ 25.2 billion), the Federal Republic of Germany continues to be one of our main foreign trade partners. After the first two quarters of 2019, its share in Russia’s foreign trade stands at 7.9 per cent (third place after China with 15.8 per cent and the Netherlands with 8.1 per cent). Germany remains the leading investment partner of our country.
An important aspect of cooperation is local deployment of German companies’ high-tech production facilities. On April 3, Mercedes-Benz opened a car factory at the Esipovo industrial park in the Moscow Region, with President of Russia Vladimir Putin attending the opening ceremony. On April 12, Vladimir Putin met in Moscow with Chairman of the Management Board of Volkswagen AG Herbert Diess to discuss the execution of a special investment contract (SPIC) for the production of automobile transmissions.
A significant role in the positive dynamics is played by the Russian–German working group on strategic cooperation in the field of finance and the economy (SWG); its last plenary meeting was held in Moscow on June 5.
A high-profile delegation of German business leaders and politicians, led by Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier, took part in the St Petersburg International Economic Forum on June 6-8. On the sidelines of SPIEF-2019, a Memorandum of Cooperation was signed as part of the Partnership for Efficiency initiative with the aim of further deepening cooperation in a number of promising areas (increasing labour productivity, small and medium-sized enterprises, digitalisation, etc.).
Germany has consistently supported the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline project as a commercial initiative that strengthens Europe’s energy security by diversifying its natural gas supply routes to Europe and minimising transit risks.
As part of its policy of historical reconciliation of the peoples of Russia and Germany, the German Government has adopted a voluntary humanitarian initiative for the survivors of the siege of Leningrad out of a sense of responsibility for the crimes committed by the Nazi regime. The 12 million euro initiative will include the modernisation of the Veterans Hospital, and a Meeting Centre will be established in St Petersburg for the public to meet with survivors of the siege. This new initiative is not intended to replace the proportional individual payments Berlin is expected to make to all the Leningrad siege survivors regardless of nationality; the corresponding consultations should be continued.
Russian-German cooperation also focuses on memorable dates such as the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall (November 9, 2019) and the unification of Germany (October 3, 2020), the 75th anniversary of victory in World War II (May 9, 2020). In this context, work continues on a joint project to digitise the documents of Soviet and German prisoners of war and internees.