German Minister Calls for Partnership With Russia | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 05.03.2008
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German Minister Calls for Partnership With Russia

Days before Chancellor Angela Merkel's visit to Moscow, Germany's foreign minister has called on Europe to accept Russian President-elect Dmitry Medvedev's offer of partnership.

Dmitry Medvedev in front of a world map

Russia needs Europe just as much as Europe needs Russia, said Steinmeier

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Tuesday, March 4, reiterated criticism of the opaque circumstances surrounding Sunday's vote in Russia, saying he would have wished for a freer, fairer and more open election.

At the same time, he emphasized the importance of cooperation between Europe and Russia, particularly in areas such as energy security, climate change, armament and counter-terrorism.

Baltic Sea pipeline

Energy security is a key issue in EU-Russian relations

"Russia is and remains an indispensible strategic partner if we want to secure peace in Europe," Steinmeier said. "It's not only we who need Russia -- Russia also needs us."

Still, divisive issues like Russia's withdrawal from the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, which limits military activity between the Atlantic Oceans and the Ural Mountains, and the planned US missile defense shield in Eastern Europe should be discussed openly, the foreign minister added.

Moscow has been sharply opposed to the United States installing portions of a missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, saying it feels threatened by the close proximity.

Proposal for new treaty

Steinmeier pointed out that Russia has a lot of work to do to repair its collapsing infrastructure, attract investment and become less dependent on raw materials exports.

Russian politicians know Europe is an important partner in modernizing their country, Steinmeier said, adding that the bloc should consider a more comprehensive charter with Russia than the current so-called Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, which is automatically renewed each year if neither side withdrawals from it.

Merkel headed to Moscow

Garry Kasparov

Kasparov has been an outspoken critic of Russian politics

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet with the Russian president-elect and current President Vladimir Putin on Saturday in Moscow.

Russian political dissident and former chess champion Garry Kasparov appealed to Merkel to specifically address the suppression of the political opposition during her Moscow trip.

"While the congratulatory telegrams arrive at the Kremlin, Putin and Medvedev's troops are beating up the opposition and locking them away," he told Germany's Focus Online on Wednesday. "Western politicians must clearly express their opinion; otherwise they share the responsibility for what's happening here."

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