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Economic topics to be central to agenda of German vice chancellor’s visit to Moscow

March 06, 2014, 6:39 UTC+3 BERLIN
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BERLIN, March 06 /ITAR-TASS/. Germany’s Vice Chancellor and Minister for Economy and Energy Sigmar Gabriel on Thursday arrives on a two-day visit to Moscow. It will be his first trip to Russia after the emergence of the Ukrainian crisis that has set Russia and the European Union at odds.

Gabriel’s representatives said on Wednesday evening that the visit’s programme had not yet been finally agreed because the in the light of the current international crisis new context had been added to the planned visit. That is why, Gabriel, who is the leader of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, which along with the Christian Democratic Union and Christian Social Union forms the ruling coalition in Germany, has to coordinate the agenda with the German Chancellor and leader of the Christian Democratic Union, Angela Merkel, and with the Foreign Minister and a member of the Social Democratic Party, Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

This is the reason why the list of Gabriel’s vis-a-vises in Moscow has not yet been made public. So far, the programme of his stay in Russia features “talks with the Russian government.” In the meantime, key topics for discussion are already known. Thus, it is planned that the German minister for economy and energy will express “big concern of German businesses” over the crisis in Ukraine. According to Germany’s industrial union, about 6,200 German companies and enterprises with German capital are active in Russia. Their overall investments in the Russian economy near 20 billion euro, so they are worried that Moscow might take some steps in response should the West impose sanctions against it.

Notably, Chairman of the Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations, Eckhard Cordes, on Wednesday warned against fanning the conflict in Crimea and its impacts on the global economy. He said that should a spiral of mutual economic measures be widened, the European economy would sustain losses in a long-term perspective. In these conditions, he said, Germany had a decisive intermediary role. The German government, in his words, was fully aware of its responsibility.

Another major topic for discussion in Moscow will be energy supplies to Western Europe. Gabriel stressed that Russia had always been a reliable supplier or oil and gas.

On his way back home, the German vice chancellor plans to make a stopover in Kiev to meet with Ukraine’s new authorities on Friday.

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