On the background of general tensions in Russian-German relations, the spirit for a constructive, mutually beneficial dialogue continues to exist – among those participants who can listen to and hear their partners in conversation. Discussions during the XXV Postdam Meetings, which have taken place in a hybrid format today, on May 18, in Berlin, have demonstrated that.
The topic of the Potsdam Meetings this year was a discussion of prospects of European cooperation between the pandemic and the new political landscape. During the forum, representatives of German and Russian governments, businesses, non-profit organizations and academia discussed the state of Russian-German bilateral relations after the pandemic and prospects of economic cooperation. The event was once again held under the auspices of ministers of foreign affairs of Russia and Germany Sergey Lavrov and Heiko Maas.
"Moscow continues to consider Berlin an important international player and remains open to a dialogue, but the dialogue, which is honest and mutually respectful. We know that there are many people in Germany interested in promoting relations based on principles of equality and respect for each other’s interests. Many of them also agree with us that the policy of sanctions has been a complete fiasco; more than that, it is inflicting serious damage on its own creators. I hope that common sense will prevail and the forces that place national interests above ideological schemes and bloc discipline in the spirit of the Cold War will win", emphasized Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during his address to the participants of the Potsdam Meetings.German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called for cooperation:
Matthias Platzeck, Chairman of the Management Board of the German-Russian Forum, confirmed the statement made by the minister that relations between Russia and the West, Germany and Russia had been experiencing the most serious crisis since 1990, which was demonstrated by strong confrontation and the arms race. According to Platzeck, the countries are in the "escalation spiral", and mistrust on both sides is growing in the course of its development.
"The bigger the challengers, the more there is a need for communication. German-Russian relations are experiencing the most difficult times in the past 30 years. None of the problems facing us can be resolved through silence, and the Potsdam Meetings serve as a bridge during these difficult times", concluded Heiko Maas.
"Now, we are at the point of utmost confrontation, which is similar to the early 1970s during the Cold War, i.e. before the START I Treaty, the Russian-US Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the Helsinki Accords. We should stop pretending the that truth is only on our side and start moving towards each other. We should start our way to the new Helsinki Accords while acknowledging our differences. It means again applying principles of peaceful co-existence if it cannot be done any other way at this point. Red lines should be drawn and beyond them is violation of sovereignty and interference into the national affairs".