Berlin should press Medvedev on reforms, key German official says
During his visit to Germany, new Russian President Dmitri Medvedev should be pressed on reforms promised in his election campaign, according to a key officialBerlin -- Russian President Dmitri Medvedev arrives in Berlin on Thursday for his first foreign visit in Europe since taking office last month, with a key German official saying he should be taken at his word.
While data released ahead of the visit underscored the strength of economic ties between the two nations, Berlin's coordinator for German-Russian relations Andreas Schockenhoff said in an interview with DPA that Medvedev should be pressed to follow through with the reforms he has signalled.
Even before his election Medvedev made several key speeches noting, among other things, the importance of civil society and the need to step up the fight against bureaucracy and corruption, Schockenhoff said.
"We should now also require action (from him)," said Schockenhoff, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrat-led conservative political bloc.
In addition to Merkel, Medvedev is to hold talks with German President Horst Koehler.
However, a highlight of Medvedev's visit on Thursday is likely to be a major speech setting his foreign affairs' goals.
Schockenhoff said he expects Medvedev to use his trip to Berlin to emphasize the key role played by Germany in his foreign policy.
Indeed, Germany is Russia's leading trade partner and a major foreign investor in Russia.
Oil and gas dominate German imports from Russia, with the two countries constructing a pipeline under the Baltic Sea to deliver gas to Europe.