Germans want to teach Russia
The Petersburg Dialogue, as a forum of civil societies in Russia and Germany, was created at the initiative of the leaders of the two countries, Vladimir Putin and Gerhard Schröder. The first meeting took place in St. Petersburg in the spring of 2001. Since then, such events have been held annually, alternately in Russia and Germany. From the Russian side, the organizing committee was headed by Viktor Zubkov, Special Representative of the President of Russia for Cooperation with the Gas Exporting Countries Forum, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Gazprom, former Prime Minister of the GDR, Lothar de Mezieres, from the German side.
Each year, the Petersburg Dialogue gathered more than 200 representatives from Russia and Germany. Combined into eight thematic working groups, they discussed current issues and problems in bilateral relations. The forum included intergovernmental Russian-German consultations with the participation of the leaders of the countries, which gave the event not only high status, but also made it a bridge for promoting mutually beneficial economic cooperation, and contributed to a better mutual understanding between Germany and Russia.
It was during this period that the commodity exchange of countries sharply increased, and Germany took a leading position in the trade relations of Russia and the West. With the coming to power of Merkel, the situation gradually began to change. There were notes of instructiveness in it. At the initiative of the German side, a discussion of the situation in Russia with human rights, the situation around the scandalous Pussy Riot and other unilateral themes was introduced into the dialogue.
Last fall, Merkel interrupted this productive communication in the past. In connection with the crisis in Ukraine, in which the chancellor directly accused Russia, she canceled the St. Petersburg Dialogue events already scheduled for autumn in Sochi.
Against this decision, the co-chairman of the forum from the German side, Lothard de Maiziere, actively spoke out. I must say that he is not a stranger to Angela Merkel. In 1990, de Mezieres headed the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the government of the GDR. At that time, Frau Merkel was a member of De Maisiere’s closest associates and was even his press secretary. After the unification of Germany, the all-German CDU congress took place, according to the results of which the western and eastern parties merged into one, and Lothard de Mezieres took the post of deputy chairman of the united CDU.
Soon, the Germans thoroughly tingled the former prime minister of the GDR for his links with the East German Ministry of Security (Stasi). De Maiziere retired from politics and practiced law. Merkel distanced herself from the former patron, moving under the wing of the then chairman of the CDU, Federal Chancellor of Germany Helmut Kohl. Therefore, now listen to the criticism of Lothar de Meziere, who was introduced into the governing bodies of the Petersburg Dialogue by the former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Merkel had no reason.
Lothar de Maiziere, meanwhile, did not let up. He made public statements, gave interviews to the German media. For example, the newspaper Tagesspiegel de Mezieres said that the West made serious mistakes in the Ukrainian crisis, putting “Ukraine before a choice: we or they, Europe or Russia. However, instead, Ukraine should have a binding function. ” The same mistake of Chancellor Merkel he called the abolition of meetings of the Petersburg Dialogue in Sochi. According to de Meziere, this action "was deeply insulted" Russia. Excluding her from the dialogue partners was a serious political miscalculation.
Moreover, Lothar de Mezieres publicly supported the well-known German politician, the Bundestag deputy from the SPD Egon Bar, who proposed to adopt the same model for the Crimea as the FRG applied to the GDR, which she did not recognize, to which Bonn nevertheless treated with respect . “Germany will have no choice but to treat the annexation of the Crimea with respect,” de Maiziere agreed.
The activity of Lothar de Maiziere cost him the chairs of the co-chairman of the Petersburg Dialogue Forum. This spring, Angela Merkel replaced the former head of the Federal Chancellor and Federal Minister for Special Assignments Ronald Pofall to replace her long-time patron. He was instructed to thoroughly “reformat” the German part of the coordination council of the Petersburg Dialogue, to give it a new thematic vector.
Pussy Riot takes the place of non-governmental organizations in Russia
How the new appointee managed his role was already apparent from the stated agenda of the forum in Potsdam. Here is how Ronald Pofalla himself formulated it: “quite openly” to discuss such issues as “the annexation of the Crimea, the war in Ukraine, the critical situation of non-governmental organizations in Russia”. The fact that the stated agenda went beyond the discussion of bilateral relations was not embarrassed by the new co-chair of the dialogue.
However, even such a miserable, one-sided approach to Russian-German cooperation did not prevent the forum participants from a generally restrained position. He passed in a businesslike way, without any extra emotions. The parties repeated the already known positions on the issues discussed. They recorded their discrepancy and stated that the result of a two-day conference can only be considered the fact of its holding.
Passions inflamed at the final meeting of the meeting. It discussed the topic of "Modernization, as a chance to create a common European home." Germany was represented on the podium by the deputy of the Bundestag from the opposition party “Union 90” / “Green” Mariluise Beck and deputy chairman of the ruling Christian Democratic Union Armin Lashhet, Russia - co-chairman of the working group “Politika”, State Duma deputy from “United Russia” Vyacheslav Nikonov and head of the presidential Human Rights Council, Mikhail Fedotov.
During the discussion of the topic, Vyacheslav Nikonov was surprised to note that the German media did not give any information about the meeting of the Valdai Club held the day before in Sochi. There, President Vladimir Putin quite clearly and in detail explained the position of Russia on all key issues of our time, including the Ukrainian crisis. It turns out, “The opinion of the Russian side is not interesting for our western partners,” Nikonov noted.
The Germans languidly justified. Our compatriots, in particular, Svetlana Gannushkina, Chairman of the Civic Assistance Committee, Council Member and Head of the Migration and Law Network of the Memorial Human Rights Center, and Andrei Babushkin, the Committee for Civil Rights, actively joined in.
They began to interrupt Vyacheslav Nikonov's speech with cries of “Lies!”, “Not true!”. Although the Russian representative talked about quite obvious things. For example, that the Law of the Russian Federation on Non-Profit Organizations (NPO) is a direct copy of a similar normative act in force in the United States. It is directed against those NGOs that, in Nikonov’s opinion, want “regime change”. "We will not create comfortable conditions for the work of the CIA in our country", - quotes the Russian deputy "Deutsche Welle".
The Germans indulgently watched the hassle of guests. The owners have already received from Nikonov, when at a meeting of the Politika group he criticized Europe for its policy in Ukraine. Here, the actions of the European Union crossed out the principles laid down in the 1975 Helsinki Accords of the year, on which the security of the continent rested. “We don’t want to be a part of Europe that has lost its attractiveness,” the German media would later quote the words of the Russian representative.
The Germans will recoup during the final presentation of the co-chairman of the Petersburg Dialogue from the Russian side, Viktor Zubkov. This time, it will not be interrupted by notebooks of domestic human rights activists, but by local journalists. They were not satisfied with the assessment of Zubkov, that the German media were primarily to blame for the tense German-Russian relations. As an example, he cited the coverage of the Ukrainian crisis in Germany. After all, there are practically no press reports about the “crimes of the Ukrainian army” in the Donbass.
The tough conclusion of the forum’s discussions only confirmed the sad fact: before mutual understanding, the leaders of the public sentiment of the two countries have to go a long and difficult way - perhaps from the start from which the Petersburg Dialogue began. This was stated in a closing speech by the German co-chairman Ronald Pofalla. According to him: "We need to develop cooperation, but keep the sanctions."
Merkel makes curtsy Ukraine
The conference in Potsdam looked more like a school class without a teacher. Maybe that's why it ended almost scandalously. Usually the central event of the Petersburg Dialogue was intergovernmental consultations with the participation of the leaders of the two states. This time, the “teachers” ignored the forum and went about their business. Vladimir Putin in Sochi met with members of the international Valdai Club. Angela Merkel received the Ukrainian delegation in the German capital led by Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
The German-Ukrainian Economic Conference took place in Berlin on Friday. Opening it, the Federal Chancellor of Germany made guests a luxurious curtsy. According to the DRA agency, Merkel acknowledged that Ukraine is pursuing a course of reform, and now “German companies expect transparency and an equal approach from relations with Ukrainian partners.” In this case, the Chancellor said that Germany is a "reliable partner", which is on the side of Kiev. Merkel's words, as well as the entire economic conference, were dedicated to one important event: January 1 The 2016 Agreement will enter into force on the Free Trade Zone between the EU and Ukraine. The Germans began to seriously prepare for it.
On the opening day of the conference in Berlin, representatives of Germany and Ukraine signed an agreement on the creation of the German-Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce. State Secretary of the Ministry of Economics of Germany Matthias Mahnig remarked on this issue: “Germany supports Ukraine on its path to political and economic stabilization. We would like to expand these efforts by deepening bilateral economic relations. ”
I do not know why the secretary of state needed such a tricky turnover. It was more usual to say bilateral, but something kept the Berlin official from simplifying the situation. It is possible that the Germans ’demand for Ukraine“ to continue to follow the path of reform consistently ”gives out a certain subordination of Germany’s new partners. After all, even the goal of creating a joint chamber was presented in Berlin as support to Ukrainian companies for their adaptation in free trade with Europe.
Meanwhile, the trade turnover of Germany with Ukraine last year amounted to $ 5 billion. With Russia - $ 70 billion, although it fell by 12 percent. It is clear that Ukrainians will not block the losses caused by the sanctions. Therefore, the Germans have to act with caution. At the conference, Chancellor Merkel emphasized that the agreement with Ukraine was not directed against Russia.
... Today Germany is not ready to do without economic ties with the Russian Federation. She is not ready for a full-fledged partnership and a serious discussion of the problems of bilateral relations. This was clearly shown by the failed attempt by the Germans to return to the Petersburg Dialogue.