“Not to allow further erosion of relations”. The first day of the Potsdam Meetings

17 May 2018

On May 17, the 21st Potsdam Meetings opened in Berlin. This year the discussion topic of the traditional conference is dedicated to finding ways to mutual understanding in politics and economy at a time of new governments in Russia and Germany.

The attendees were welcomed by Executive Director of the Alexander Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund Leonid Drachevsky. He mentioned representative composition of the meeting and new faces in the audience.

According to Leonid Drachevsky, a group of the youth Potsdam Meetings gathered together before that meeting. They have been held in such a format for already two years.

“Youth has things to say. They think a little bit differently than we do, they are concerned in what world and how they are going to live”, stressed the head of the Gorchakov Fund.

He stated that presently the world was in the most difficult situation, and relations between our countries were in the most difficult situation as well. Nevertheless, the goal remains the same – to do something in order to find a solution to the problem. Even if it does not happen right away, one should not think that every Potsdam Meetings will necessarily provide an instant result. That is why continuous work to improve the relations is needed.

“Sometimes relations hit a dead-end – on a political level. Today the global trend – to impose one’s will onto others, to communicate in such a way as if one does not hear and see the other party – is wrong. In this regard, the Potsdam Meetings provide a window, an open door for achieving mutual understanding”, summarized Leonid Drachevsky.

In his turn, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Russia to Germany Sergey Nechayev mentioned that the Potsdam Meetings did not present a competing platform to the Petersburg Dialogue, but rather a significant addition. They allow more and more Russians and Germans to engage into unofficial human interaction.

“We can see that the number of people, who sympathize with these meetings, is growing. Today, among us, there are many parliamentarians representing both Bundestag and the State Duma. There are many representatives of business and political communities. Today, a part of our elite gathered together because there is a concern. What should be done next? How should we move forward in the world?” – said the diplomat.

According to him, both in Moscow and Berlin they believe that no further erosion of the bilateral relations should be allowed, of something that was accumulated as a result of diligent and sometimes enduring work after World War II. We should prevent estrangement, which was repeatedly mentioned by President of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

“This is something that the Potsdam Meeting target. The more often they are organized, the more participants will attend them, the more people will sympathize with them. The faster we will be able to restore the strategic partnership, which was in the interests of both nations and all Europe. Indeed, Moscow and Berlin are responsible for the climate on the continent”, stressed Sergey Nechayev.

Chairman of the Management Board of the German-Russian Forum Matthias Platzeck, Special Presidential Envoy for International Cultural Cooperation Mikhail Shvydkoy and representative of large German business Reiner Lindner also addressed the participants of the forum.

Read more in Russian here