BERLIN, January 15 (Itar-Tass) - Germany’s new coordinator for German-Russian Intersocietal Co-operation, Gernot Erler, urged German Chancellor Angela Merkel to visit the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
This visit would signal Germany’s interest in developing relations with Russia, he told the Stuttgarter Zeitung newspaper on Wednesday.
Noting that it was not a competence of his to give advice to the federal chancellor, Erler said, however, that “such a decision could give a strong and powerful signal that stresses the importance of relations with Russia and Germany’s interest in further talks.”
Erler said he was against boycotting the Sochi Olympic Games.
“If it is confrontation that you want, then, of course one can feel free to act this way,” he said. “But if you want to stay on friendly terms, you should refrain from such things.”
Erler noted that “Russia’s important role in settling international disputes became especially obvious” in 2013, in view of the the conflicts in Syria and Iran. This is the reason why it would be better not to break off talks with Russia, he added.
Chancellor Merkel announced earlier this month she had not decided yet whether she would go to the Olympic Games in Sochi or not.
“Nothing has changed in that respect so far,” Erler said, recalling Merkel’s another statement made in an interview to the German ARD television channel ARD in December 2013.
The federal chancellor said then she had no concrete plans.
“I have been holding the post of the federal chancellor for eight years and I have never attended any Olympic Games,” she said. “Anyway I will give thought to this one more time.