Dialogue with Moscow is not easy. In a number of international conflicts, cooperation with the Russian Government is proving difficult. For that very reason, it is important to seek an open dialogue. A little over a month ago, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov met in Bonn, where they jointly opened the Petersburg Dialogue, the most important German-Russian discussion forum. Today, they are meeting again in Moscow to discuss issues on which they differ and share common views, as well as specific bilateral cooperation projects. Prior to his departure, Heiko Maas said:
In a number of areas, we currently have fundamentally different views from those of Russia. We need to talk about this, because we can only obtain results on important international topics if we include Russia. For this, we need direct and frank discussions. This holds true for the situation in Syria, security in the Gulf region and the future of international arms control. We especially need constructive cooperation on the part of Russia in eastern Ukraine. There is finally some hope again and light at the end of the tunnel regarding a ceasefire, the disengagement of forces and implementation of the Minsk agreements. All sides must now show they are willing to engage in dialogue and act, or else people will continue to die in this conflict.
Maas also said that, while in Moscow, he will meet with NGOs and representatives of Russian civil society. He went on to point out that, only recently, the Petersburg Dialogue demonstrated how manifold and enriching ties between Germany’s and Russia’s civil societies are. Foreign Minister Maas firmly believes that a strong civil society that can freely express its opinion makes a country stronger. This is one of the things he will be discussing in Moscow.
Meeting with Russian civil society representatives
During his second day in the capital, Heiko Maas will visit an exhibition at the Sakharov Centre. While there, he will hold talks with Russian civil society representatives on the current situation in the country.
Business, science and youth exchange
On Thursday, Maas will also be meeting with business leaders and academic representatives, as well as with German-Russian Youth Forum participants. A network of close cooperation between Germany and Russia has been built in these three areas in particular.
A discussion with German and Russian business leaders will examine ways to expand and create new impulses for cooperation in the already large and vibrant area of economic relations. Furthermore, Maas will meet with German-Russian Youth Forum participants in Moscow’s Fallen Monument Park. The Forum has been bringing together young people from both countries since 2016, with this year’s focus being “the digital transformation”. Maas will also visit the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, where he will talk with young scientific researchers. The institute is a close partner of the German Center for Research and Innovation in Moscow and is participating in the current German-Russian Year of University Collaboration and Research 2018-2020.