On 7 and 8 September, Andreas Peschke, the Director for Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia, was in Moscow for talks for the first time. There he stressed that the dialogue between Russia and Germany also had to take place in times of crisis. Shortly before his trip, Peschke met the Russian Ambassador to Germany, Vladimir Grinin.
Stabilising the ceasefire
The consultations in the Russian Foreign Ministry focused on bilateral relations and the conflict in Ukraine. Peschke stated that the German Government was hoping that the ceasefire could be stabilised. It was especially important, he went on to say, that a durable agreement on the withdrawal of light weapons was finally reached and that the existing obligations on the withdrawal of heavy weapons and tanks were finally verifiably implemented. Measures on reconstructing the railway network and the water supply were also urgently needed. And, not least, stated Peschke, humanitarian aid agencies had to be granted access to people in need in the areas of the Donbas currently controlled by separatists.
Impetus for civil society
In addition to his political talks, the Director for Eastern Europe also met representatives of civil society. The focus of his visit to the human rights organisation “Memorial” was the increasingly difficult working conditions for civil society organisations in Russia, especially after the enactment of the law on mandatory registration for all organisations which receive support from abroad. Peschke stressed during his talks that the forthcoming Petersburg dialogue should provide impetus for cooperation between the civil societies of Russia and Germany.
Exchange of young German and Russian researchers
The Year of German Language and Literature which has just ended in Russia and the corresponding Year of Russian Language and Literature in Germany were praised by both sides. Next year, the focus is to be on youth exchange. Each year, approximately 17,000 young people from Russia and Germany take part in exchange programmes between the two countries. At present, 11,000 Russian students are studying in Germany and the DAAD awards some 700 scholarships to young Russians. Around 1.5 million people are learning German in Russia.
To mark the German-Russian Week of the Young Researcher, Peschke met German and Russian researchers at a reception at the German Ambassador’s residence: this project is intended to open up new opportunities for higher education cooperation.