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German Foreign Minister Upbeat About Russia Partnership

DW staff (th)May 16, 2008

Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier ended a four-day trip to Russia by emphasizing Germany’s willingness to help Russia modernize.

Steinmeier, right, with St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matviyenko
Steinmeier met St. Petersburg Governor Valentina MatviyenkoImage: AP

Steinmeier wrapped up a trip to Russia on Friday, May 16 by re-emphasizing Germany's eagerness to help Russia as it strives to modernize its economy. Steinmeier said his calls for a modernization partnership were “met with open ears.”

Steinmeier said he “received a lot of support” for help in the health care and energy sectors. Steinmeier said he expects concrete cooperation proposals to be forthcoming.

Reforms key to economic success

Steinmeier also didn't stray from the message he's been delivering all week: that Russia needs to show its commitment to the rule of law and to governmental reform.

Steinmeier said Friday he got the impression that Russia wants to strengthen its rule of law and create the legal and governmental frameworks needed for sustainable economic growth. Without democratic reforms and a safe environment for investors, Russia will not be able to reach its economic goals, Steinmeier said.

Steinmeier ended his trip by meeting with top officials in St. Petersburg on Friday, including the influential governor Valentina Matviyenko. The St. Petersburg region, which stretches to Finland and Estonia, is the second most important economic area in Russia after Moscow. The region has traditionally had strong trade ties to Germany and approximately 400 German companies are active there.

Steinmeier wants speedy negotiations

Steinmeier's trip included meeting with newly-elected Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. He is the first western minister to visit Russia since Medvedev was inaugurated last week. Medvedev announced he will visit Germany in June, his first trip as president to a European country.

The trip took on new significance after Lithuania gave a green light on Sunday to begin negotiations on a new EU partnership treaty with Russia. Lithuania had blocked negotiations over concerns about Russian energy and foreign policy.

Steinmeier called for speedy negotiations on the EU partnership treaty, pointing out that Europe and Russia need each other when it comes to energy security, weapons control, the fight against terrorism and climate protection.