Goodwill is the Key to Restoring Confidence
- By Rüdiger Freiherr von Fritsch
- Oct. 01 2014 00:00
The German Ambassador to the Russian Federation, Rüdiger Freiherr von Fritsch, writes that the current political situation is a challenge for both countries.
Germany and Russia have a long-standing and close relationship. Economic exchange plays a special role. Our economy needs fossil fuels, the noble and non-ferrous metals, as well as rare earth elements, which Russia has in such abundance. German companies offer a superb opportunity for innovation and investment in Russia at almost all stages of the value chain.
About six thousand German companies and companies with German capital were operating in the Russian Federation at the end of last year. They provide jobs for almost 300,000 employees; in financial terms their turnover amounted to approximately 40 billion euros. At the same time, Russian companies are investing more and more in Germany.
We want to awaken interest in a good and close relationship especially among young people in our countries. Here is one example: the German Embassy, our Chamber of Commerce, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Higher School of Economics in Moscow jointly developed a program that allows students from Germany to gain experience with German companies in Russia. Another example: to counter the increasing lack of qualified specialists in Russia, there are plans to introduce a dual system of education according to the German example.
These examples demonstrate that our countries are willing to cooperate, and the will to learn from each other remains consistently high.
The challenge for relations between our two countries is the current political situation, which is a consequence of actions contrary to international law, namely the annexation of the Crimea and Russia's actions in the conflict in Ukraine.
The loss of confidence, which has arisen in connection with the violation of the fundamental principles of co-existence, is real. Germany and its partners have responded to this in order to limit these effects and to return to rule-based coexistence.
The tangible result of these developments has been the deterioration of the political framework for German-Russian economic relations and Russia's international economic relations in general. Many companies are wondering what will happen next and how to prepare. They are rethinking their actions, and are slower to decide on new investments.
Economics and politics are closely entwined with each other. The economy depends on a certain minimum level of legal security and trust, which politics should ensure. It should provide stability and transparency in the economy.† Honest and open dialogue is a prerequisite. Germany has always considered this exchange important and necessary, and stands ready to continue it.
Two million people in Russia are learning German and thus also showing an interest in our culture and our country. We are pleased with this. We not only want to save the bridge, but also to expand it. Therefore, a few days ago in Moscow there opened the "Year of the German language and literature," a series of different events throughout Russia. We want, together with the Goethe Institut, to show why you should learn German, and what riches the German language and literature contains. In parallel, in Germany we are celebrating the Year of Russian language and literature, which has given so much to our own literature. In this way we promote exchange and dialogue and awaken interest in each other.
A short time ago, probably no one expected that peaceful coexistence in Europe could be subjected to such a shock. It seemed that the post-war period and the Cold War had already passed, and the partnership between Russia and Germany could not be overshadowed. This partnership is currently undergoing a test of its durability.
But we continue to believe that we will be able to return to trusted and stable relations between our countries, if there is the goodwill to renegotiate the hard rules of coexistence and thereby restore confidence. In the long term there is no alternative to good German-Russian relations. We can only win from them.