“The German-Russian Modernization Partnership” - Federal Foreign Minister Westerwelle and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the FAZ

31.05.2010 - Interview

“Auf dem europäischen Kontinent wollen wir einen Raum der Stabilität und Sicherheit ohne Trennlinien und Abgrenzungen schaffen. Es gilt, das enorme Potential einer engen deutsch-russischen Zusammenarbeit bestmöglich zu nutzen.” - Außenminister Guido Westerwelle und der russische Außenminister Sergej Lawrow in der FAZ

There is hardly a history of two nations in the world that is so long, arduous and full of contradictions as that of the German and Russian peoples. Our history is marked by highs and lows and testifies to both fruitful cooperation and unmitigated disasters. Our historic reconciliation represents both a high point and monumental achievement in a process where the fates of our countries have been so closely intertwined. The significance of this for the future of our countries and the whole of Europe cannot be overestimated.

Our nations have managed to learn lessons from the dark chapters of our common past. Today our relations rest on a solid and broad foundation: our economic ties have acquired an intensity unknown in earlier times. The cultural exchanges, the intensive political dialogue and, not least, the numerous contact points in civil society bear witness to close relations based on a spirit of trust. The fundamental importance of these elements for our countries and the whole of Europe is reflected in the development of a strategic partnership. Such a partnership means being able, not least, to deal with differences of opinion in a frank way.

Germany and Russia work closely together on global security issues. Comprehensive, indivisible and cooperative security, stability and prosperity are amongst our common aims.

We want to create on the European continent an area of stability and security without division and delimitation. The Russian initiative with respect to the conclusion of a treaty on European security contributed significantly to the start of a dialogue on this issue. We are agreed that the security of one nation cannot be guaranteed at the expense of another. Rather, one nation’s security is dependent on its neighbours being able to enjoy the highest possible level of security. For this reason we want to see a broad common dialogue on European security, where we need to understand better our differences of opinion and overcome conflict. This is also where confidence-building measures, in particular, come in, together with initiatives directed towards disarmament, arms control and conflict resolution.

Globalization confronts Germany and Russia alike with a whole range of economic, social and political challenges, but also with new opportunities. As never before, today’s knowledge-based society requires openness, autonomy and freedom for the development of both the individual and the whole of society. Cooperation and increasingly close ties between our nations can make a key contribution in this regard. It was with this in mind that we established the German-Russian Modernization Partnership. The enormous potential of close German-Russian cooperation should be exploited to the full.

We are already seeing the first fruits of this partnership. In terms of energy relations – of enormous importance to the economies of both countries – we have founded the Russian-German Energy Agency (RUDEA), with responsibility for energy efficiency and innovative energy supply. German and Russian scientists and practitioners are working closely together on health policy and on issues related to demographics, the law and logistics. We intend to deepen the links between these areas still further and increase the level of scientific exchange with the support of a German Science and Innovation Forum in Moscow (DWIH). German companies have, moreover, been operating for years in Russia, while Russian firms are increasingly choosing to invest in Germany.

We are planning an expansion of our Modernization Partnership at governmental level, too. We see economic and administrative law and also the fight against corruption as potentially useful topics for German-Russian dialogue. Looking at making travel easier between Germany and Russia in the future is another important strand in the development of close links and exchanges between our countries and this would be embedded within a European framework.

The modernization partnership currently being built by the European Union and Russia follows the German-Russian model. Our bilateral experiences will benefit the European-Russian project. The EU and Russia intend to agree on the first concrete projects at the EU-Russia Summit from 31 May to 1 June in Rostov-on-Don.

The Modernization Partnership is not, however, an end in itself. It serves a Europe founded on broad-based cooperation without divides, a community of democratic societies based on the rule of law with diverse market economies as well as a high standard of living. Germany and Russia can play a major role in this community. We are, therefore, firmly resolved to continue and expand our cooperation.

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