Schroeder seeks to mendEU's fences with Putin

17th December 2004, Comments 0 comments

20 December 2004 , BERLIN - Germany's Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is expected to lead EU efforts to reconcile with Russia's President Vladimir Putin after the two sides disagreed sharply over the political crisis in Ukraine. Putin is due to arrive on Monday evening in the north German port city of Hamburg and continue talks the next morning on the Baltic coast before wrapping up the summit with a joint news conference with Schroeder. Senior ministers from the two nations will also take part in the inter-g

20 December 2004

BERLIN - Germany's Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is expected to lead EU efforts to reconcile with Russia's President Vladimir Putin after the two sides disagreed sharply over the political crisis in Ukraine.

Putin is due to arrive on Monday evening in the north German port city of Hamburg and continue talks the next morning on the Baltic coast before wrapping up the summit with a joint news conference with Schroeder.

Senior ministers from the two nations will also take part in the inter-government consultations, and top companies will sign major contracts in the presence of the two leaders.

Putin openly campaigned for Ukrainian Prime Minister Yanukovich in the recent presidential election and dismissed opposition leader Viktor Yuschenko's claims of fraud before the Ukrainian supreme court ordered a re-run of the vote on 26 December. The EU backed the fraud claims.

Political analysts say Russia and EU have both indicated they want to move on after the disagreement, and Schroeder, who is good friends with Putin and does not criticize him in public, is the ideal EU figure to smooth things over.

An agreement on stepping up youth exchanges will be signed on Tuesday in a stateroom at Gottorf Castle in the northern port town of Schleswig, with Russia hoping young Germans will once again flock to Moscow.

Russian studies used to be compulsory in East German schools, but with the end of communism, interest in Russia quickly evaporated there and eastern Germans focussed on the West. Putin, once a Soviet intelligence officer in East Germany, speaks fluent German.

Another agreement up for signing next week provides for a German astronaut to join an upcoming Russian space mission.

Russian Railways is to sign a contract with Deutsche Bahn, the German rail operator, and engineering group Siemens.

Volkswagen will issue a declaration of intent to build a car assembly plant near Moscow for VW-brand cars and European aerospace group EADS will sign up for closer cooperation with Irkut, the Russian manufacturer of fighter jets.

German Finance Minister Hans Eichel and Russian counterpart Alexei Kudrin will meanwhile discuss Moscow's desire to pay off debt to Germany faster than planned. Club of Paris figures show EUR 21 billion of sovereign debt outstanding and Moscow says that its high current income from oil exports means it prefers to pay it down now.

German diplomatic sources indicated Berlin would not be bringing up the fate of Yukos, the tottering Russian oil group.

Other western nations have criticised Moscow's plans to break it up. Deutsche Bank of Germany reportedly heads a banking consortium financing a bid from natural gas group Gasprom.

Summits between Germany and Russia take place regularly. This week's meeting was originally scheduled for September, but had to be called off because of the Beslan hostage-taking crisis in southern Russia.

DPA

Subject: German news

 

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