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Germany’s foreign minister to discuss in Moscow bilateral relations

February 13, 2014, 2:38 UTC+3 BERLIN

It will be the first visit of Germany’s foreign minister to Russia after Germany had formed a new government

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BERLIN, February 13, 2:05 /ITAR-TASS/. Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is arriving in Moscow on Thursday to discuss bilateral relations and current international problems. It will be the first visit of Germany’s foreign minister to Russia after Germany had formed a new government after the elections on September 22.

The incumbent foreign minister used to be head of the diplomatic service in the times of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in 2005-2009 and knows very well both the subject of the upcoming discussions and the Russian counterparts.

The German foreign ministry reports the visit’s programme will include talks with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, which will be devoted to bilateral relations, as well as the situations in Ukraine and in Syria.

Germany pays special attention to cooperation between Moscow and Berlin. This is clear from the coalition agreement of the new German government, where the relations take the biggest chapter. The chapter’s title speaks for itself: “Open dialogue and wide cooperation.”

Frank-Walter Steinmeier supports the approach. In his article on the eve of the international Munich security conference /January 31 - February 2/ he wrote: “It is impossible to do without Russia. We require Russia to settle practically all current crises and conflicts in security.”

“However, mere indignation /with Russia’s actions/ is not foreign policy and very often cannot result in a success,” the minister said. “Sometimes, it may be even harmful.”

The German government’s coordinator for the Russian-Germany inter-societal cooperation Gernot Erler, a recognised expert in Russia, has a similar view. Recently, while talking to foreign reporters he spoke for “gradual development of relations” between the two countries. The coordinator stressed he hoped for “continuing relations” and “fair relations with the counterpart” in development of the relations between Moscow and Berlin. In his opinion, it is also very important “to realise reasons of the vis-а- vis,” to “establish the atmosphere of trust.”

Gernot Erler spoke positively about the Partnership for Modernisation programme between Russia and the European Union. He stressed “its basic idea is correct,” and the cooperation of the kind should continue. The politician regretted “little from the programme has been accomplished.” “We are interested in development of relations with Russia,” he said adding the bilateral relations also have “moments of tension,” and on some issues the two countries “continue discussions.”

The social democrat spoke positively about “reliable gas supplies” from Russia to Germany and to the European Union, stressing in that issue the Russian Federation and the European Union depended on each other. He continued saying the Russian supplies of the natural gas had been guaranteed also during the “cold war” time.

The Russian foreign ministry, in its turn, says the upcoming negotiations will “focus on preparations for anther Russian-German intergovernmental consultations at the top level, which are due in Germany this spring.” “The foreign ministers will discuss the situation in the Syrian settlement, in the Iranian nuclear programme, in Afghanistan, the situation in the Middle East,” the foreign ministry said.

Priority tasks include also “further development of relations between Russia and the European Union, development of the visa liberation dialogue, issues of strategic stability, new architecture of the Euro-Atlantic security, disarmament and non-proliferation of the mass destruction weapons, and fighting international terrorism.”

Moscow stresses the progressive development of the Russian-German relations in main directions. “The main objectives are in expanding of cooperation on innovation projects, further industrial cooperation between Russian and German companies, active involvement into the orbit of cooperation of small and medium businesses of both countries,” the foreign ministry said.

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