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ST PETERSBURG, June 17. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin says that his acquaintance with Germany’s ex-Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who died on Friday, changed his views on relations between Russia and Europe.
"I knew him since the early 1990s and was present all the way through during his talk with St Petersburg Mayor Anatoly Sobchak. He asked me to visit his residence, as the government of the Federative Republic of Germany was located in Bonn then. A few more meetings followed. We met more than once in different capacities. The first meeting made a strong impression, a very strong impression on me," Putin told reporters.
"I saw a man of great depth, a profound thinker who did not live from election to election, although it was of some importance to him. But he thought about a prospect quite far ahead, moreover, he thought very substantially, profoundly, basing on knowledge and his personal expertise of a statesman in one of the largest European counties," he added.
Kohl’s views on the future relations between Russia and Germany had a vast influence on the Russian president.
"They did not only had an enormous influence on me, but somehow, to a considerable degree changed my personal stance on these processes," he said. "I saw a man of great depth and of substantial assertion."
Putin added that Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl was not mistaken believing that the Cold War had ended and after the current rift Russia and the West will inevitable join efforts.
"No, he was not mistaken. We have always had processes that unfold like a pendulum swinging forward and back," Putin said, answering a reporter’s question whether Helmut Kohl made a mistake believing that he and Mikhail Gorbachev stopped the Cold War between the West and Soviet Union.
"Now the pendulum has swung a bit back towards frost, but I am convinced that it will inevitably find the right balance and we will be joining efforts to face today’s challenges. We will be able to overcome them so and in no other way," he said.
"Unfortunately, not everything from the dreams, we used to dream and talk about, is being implemented. However, I am convinced that his analysis is correct and those positive processes, without which neither Europe nor Russia has any future, will be developing in the European and, I can say, Eurasian continent," the president said.
Koul would say "if we want to preserve our civilization in this turbulent and rapidly changing world with growing centers of power, most notably not just military power, but also economic and cultural one, Europe and Russia should definitely stay together," Putin added.
"I absolutely agree with him. You know our stance that implies we are ready for it. Our partners need to be ready as well and should get rid of phobias of the past," Putin emphasized, reminding that Helmut Kohl urged to brush off those phobias and look forward to the future.
Germany’s ex-Chancellor Helmut Kohl, known as Germany’s reunification architect, died at his house in Ludwigshafen on Friday morning. He was at the helm of Germany for 16 years, between 1982 and 1998.