09.11.2004
Russia and Germany: The Core Tenet of Cooperation
№4 2004 October/December



 

Never
before in our history have relations between Germany and Russia
been so close and strong as they are today: our positions on issues
of international importance are similar, while Germany is Russia’s
number one economic partner – only last year the volume of
German-Russian trade broke a new record. Cultural exchange programs
between our nations are thriving. Finally, and possibly most
importantly, Germany and Russia are on the threshold of a strategic
partnership for a prosperous Europe and a stable world
order.

 

All of
this was by no means a foregone conclusion. Next year we will
commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II. The
horrors of this terrible war, which affected the citizens of the
former Soviet Union particularly hard, have not been forgotten.
Only 15 years have passed since the historic revolution which put
an end to Germany’s division and mended the rift across Europe. An
awareness of shared interests and values has replaced decades of
ingrained antagonistic thinking and behavior. Today, more than 90
percent of the Russian people have a positive attitude toward
Germany. Europe, Germany and Russia are pursuing the same or
similar central strategic goals – creating a lasting peaceful order
for the whole of Europe, stabilizing our common neighborhood in the
Middle East, combating terrorism and the proliferation of weapons
of mass destruction, and finally, developing an ’effective
multilateralism.’ At the same time, we have the chance to tap the
vast potential of the Eurasian economic zone for our mutual
benefit.

 

However,
we must develop the tools that are necessary for achieving our
common goals. Specifically, this calls for intensified cooperation
at four levels – in our civil societies, in our economic relations,
within Europe and on the international level.

 

CIVIL
SOCIETY PARTNERSHIP

 

As
important as intergovernmental cooperation may be, in the age of
globalization we can make better use of our combined potential if
we establish closer networks between our societies than we did in
the past. We have made respectable progress in this area in recent
years. The parliaments of our two countries, the federal and
regional authorities and institutions maintain close contact. A
large and growing number of sister-city programs unite the citizens
of our respective countries. Special partnership programs exist
between hundreds of schools in Russia and Germany. The
German-Russian Year of Culture (2003-2004) has underlined our
traditional cultural ties.

 

President
Putin and I have coordinated the St. Petersburg Dialog, where civic
representatives from both of our countries meet for in-depth
consultations. Last year, we concluded an agreement on the
simplification of visa procedures that is designed to considerably
broaden travel opportunities for businesspeople, students, cultural
workers and other groups. As a long-term project, Brussels and
Moscow are negotiating plans to abolish the need for visas for
moving between the European Union and Russia.

 

These
achievements are certainly commendable. However, we can still do
more to strengthen ties between our civil societies even further. I
would like to cite three such areas at this time.

 

Exchanges
for young people and schoolchildren. The future of German-Russian
relations is largely in the hands of the younger generation. In
order to secure an awareness of the German-Russian relationship, it
is vital that young Russians and Germans meet, develop an interest
for each other, and learn to understand their foreign counterparts.
For this reason, we have reached a consensus on a new agreement for
exchange programs between adolescents and students.

 

It is our
goal that this program encourages an increasing number of young
Germans and Russians to become better acquainted with the country
and the inhabitants of their counterpart. To this end, our
countries will establish offices in Germany and Russia in order to
promote German-Russian exchange programs, give advice to interested
parties, and organize events where young people and schoolchildren
can get to know each other. The joint sponsorship by the German
federal government, foundations and businesses is a particularly
pioneering approach to getting this program off the
ground.

 

Strategic
cooperation in education and training. In the knowledge society of
the 21st century, education and training opportunities constitute
vital investments in our common future. Russia and Germany,
therefore, are collaborating closely in these areas, as well. Since
1998, for example, more than 2,000 Russian managers have taken part
in internship programs which provide them with an opportunity to
become familiar with German companies from the inside. Our German
dual-training system can provide important inspiration for new
generations of qualified workers in Russia. We therefore intend to
put our cooperation in vocational education and training on a new
strategic footing. President Putin has made educational reform by
2010 one of the priorities of modernizing Russia.

 

Research
and academic cooperation. In all of Europe, Germany has established
the closest research relations with Russia. Today, 525 partnerships
between institutes of higher education, and a large number of
initiatives between German and Russian research institutions are
working on joint projects in almost all fields of research and
technology. Germany’s excellent knowledge infrastructure currently
includes around 5,000 Russian researchers and academics.
Altogether, approximately 15,000 students, researchers and
lecturers are profiting from this mutual exchange. We must further
enhance this intricate network and take advantage of the
development possibilities in areas such as basic scientific
research, international research cooperation and academic exchange.
The German Historical Institute in Moscow is also conceived as a
lighthouse project for German-Russian research cooperation. It
should commence operation as soon as possible.

 

Encouraging economic relations. At the beginning of his second
term of office, President Putin announced his intention to double
Russia’s gross domestic product over the next decade. Developments
in recent years show that this ambitious goal is attainable. This
strengthening of the Russian economy is in Germany’s and Europe’s
interests, since a modern, prosperous Russia offers great economic
opportunities for all of Europe. German entrepreneurs have
recognized this and are responding with strategic
investments.

 

The
commitment from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is as
important here as the projects of major German and Russian
corporations. After all, it is the SMEs which are the innovative
and stabilizing part of an economy. Presently, Russia’s small and
medium-sized enterprises employ only around 10 percent of the
workforce. In Germany, on the other hand, this number stands at 70
percent. Therefore, I emphatically support President Putin’s
efforts to promote the SMEs. The German-Russian forum for SMEs in
October of this year is one step in this direction.

 

Russia is
Germany’s most important energy supplier, providing around one
third of our oil and gas. This alone is a crucial reason for future
cooperation in the field of energy. President Putin and I agreed to
further intensify our cooperation in this area at a meeting of
German and Russian industrial leaders in July this year. We want to
help our enterprises establish a broader basis for cooperation,
which to date has mostly been restricted to the level of supplies,
by enabling German companies to participate in the extraction of
natural gas and the planned construction of a gas pipeline under
the Baltic Sea, for example. Germany can use its leading
technological expertise to assist Russia in key areas, the most
important being energy conservation and efficiency and renewable
sources of power.

 

The Kyoto
Protocol on global climate protection affords great opportunities
for modernizing energy supply. It offers targeted incentives to
increase foreign investment in an efficient energy supply
structure, as investors can count reductions in greenhouse gas
emissions obtained abroad toward their national reduction
commitments. Interest in this type of investment is considerable.
Russia would therefore benefit greatly from ratifying the Kyoto
Protocol.

In spite
of the significance of the energy sector, it would be wrong to
limit German-Russian economic relations to oil and gas. We need a
strategy which goes beyond oil. In specific terms this calls for
more cooperation in sectors of the future such as high technology.
Here Russia can also play a valuable role thanks to its advanced
research environment. We should therefore form a German-Russian
technological partnership, focusing on biotechnology,
pharmaceuticals, information technology and telecommunications,
aviation and space travel, as well as the car supply
industry.

 

In future,
the momentum behind German-Russian economic relations will hinge
largely on whether Russia becomes more deeply integrated in the
global economy. That is why Russia’s accession to the WTO is so
significant. The European Union concluded its bilateral
negotiations with the Russian Government in May. My Government
expressed its firm support for this on the European Union panels.
Now bilateral negotiations with the other WTO partners must be
concluded as soon as possible. By joining this international
community with a shared body of rules, Russia will also become an
integral and equal partner of the global economic community. At the
same time membership of the WTO will strengthen Russian civil
society through the positive effect it has on Russia’s economic
system in terms of property protection, transparent competition
regulations and effective legal protection mechanisms. Legal
certainty and a reliable framework are the keys to Russia’s
integration in the global economy.

 

THE
EUROPEAN UNION AND RUSSIA:
A
STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP

 

The end of
the Cold War has given Russia and Europe a historic opportunity to
build their relationship on a durable foundation of increasingly
close partnership and cooperation.

 

Germany is
strongly in favor of a comprehensive partnership. We have come a
long way toward reaching this goal. As early as 1997 in the
Partnership and Cooperation Agreement the European Union and Russia
agreed to persistently strengthen their cooperation with the aim of
establishing a free trade area. At the same time we are maintaining
political dialog on all important European and international issues
via the Permanent Partnership Council established in
2003.

 

This
dialog is revealing a striking number of converging interests. Last
year the European Union and Russia agreed to implement the vision
of the four common spaces at the St. Petersburg summit.

 

We would
be well advised to swiftly breathe life into these four spaces – a
common economic space, a common space of freedom, security and
justice, a space of cooperation in the field of external security
and a space of research and education, including culture.
Establishing a common economic space requires us to further
intensify our successful economic cooperation and seize the
opportunities a common infrastructure in the areas of energy,
communication and transport would bring. To strengthen domestic
security we intend to wage a joint war against cross-border crime
and terrorism, and in the space of freedom we aim to improve travel
opportunities by further relaxing visa regulations. We plan to
cooperate closely in the area of external security to establish a
more stable peaceful order throughout Europe, but especially among
our mutual neighbors, and we will liaise on all international
issues. In the common space of research and education we will
concentrate on cultivating the outstanding intellectual and
cultural potential of our relations more effectively than we have
done to date.

 

SHARED
RESPONSIBILITY
OF EFFECTIVE
MULTILATERALISM

 

Germany
and Russia bear a particular responsibility for creating a world
order of equality, multipolarity and cooperation. This requires us
to join forces to combat global and regional threats to security
and stability, not only in the fight against international
terrorism. It also applies to conflicts in our common neighborhood.
Stabilizing the Broader Middle East is the top priority here. As
long as this region is plagued by crises, violent clashes and
fundamentalism, it will pose a threat to regional and global
security. Joint German, EU and Russian efforts to improve stability
in the western Balkans will continue to play a vital role in
future. Furthermore, we should consider what we can do to foster
positive development in the countries of Transcaucasia and Central
Asia.

The goal
of a cooperative world order demands effective multilateralism, for
only multilateral action anchored in shared values and principles
promises sustainable and successful resolution of regional
conflicts and global problems. Germany and Russia agree that a
United Nations with the capability to act is essential to effective
multilateralism. However, the entire institution, including the
United Nations Security Council, is in need of radical reform. Its
decisions will only be universally recognized and implemented if
their legitimacy is beyond doubt. Its composition must be more
representative to reflect the reality of the 21st century. Germany
is therefore strongly advocating reform and expansion of the
Security Council.

 

Germany is
prepared to assume the greater responsibility as a permanent member
of the Security Council which such reforms could entail. Russia
supports this reform proposal and Germany’s request.

 

An
effective multilateralism also demands close cooperation between
the major industrial nations and Russia within the G-8. Of
particular relevance is the Global Partnership Against the Spread
of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction program. This will
cost 20 billion U.S. dollars in total up to 2012. Germany alone has
earmarked up to 1.5 billion U.S. dollars for the scheme. Three
major German-Russian projects have already been launched –
destruction of chemical weapons, disposal of old nuclear submarines
and protection of nuclear plants in Russia.

 

The
important multilateral tools also include NATO. Relations between
Russia and NATO have improved considerably since the creation of
the NATO-Russia Council two years ago. Like the other NATO member
states, Germany is keen to build on this collaboration. Possible
areas of cooperation could be the war on terrorism and the fight
against the spread of weapons of mass destruction. We should also
consider improving the interoperability of our armed forces and
even entertain the idea of joint peacekeeping missions.

 

SUPPORTING
RUSSIA’S MODERNIZATION

 

Russia is
currently in the throes of a difficult phase of social and economic
transition. Germany and the European Union will continue to support
Russia in this process. However, Russia has to develop its own
models which allow its traditions to embrace the values which unite
us today – freedom, the rule of law, democracy and market
economy.

 

We desire
a stable Russia as a partner. European experience has shown that
stability depends on sound democratic institutions which ensure
that decisions taken by policymakers have public
backing.

 

This, in
turn, demands ongoing political feedback within a confident
parliament and an active civil society. In the long term, free
competition of ideas guarantees that the best solutions
win.

 

The core
tenet of President Putin’s Statement was “a free Russia of free
citizens.” Germany will be a close, trustworthy partner for Russia
as it strives to make this vision a reality.