Kommersant: The Potsdam Meetings under the cover

05 March 2018

The Alexander Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund published a book dedicated to the Potsdam Meetings – their 20th anniversary meeting. Pavel Aprelev about the book and the Meetings exclusively for St. Petersburg Dialogue – a supplement to Kommersant.

“Even though the name of the hotel where the 20th Potsdam Meetings were taking place was Titanic and it became a joke, when rereading the speeches and the discussion, put together, I cannot help thinking about certain destiny associated with the name of the place. Despite the fact that former Prime Minister Matthias Platzeck and Executive Director of the Gorchakov Fund Leonid Drachevsky tried adding optimism to the exchange of opinions, the participants of the discussion dedicated to the crisis of relations between Europe and Russia were far from always supporting them – it seemed to many of them that the Russian-European relations had already hit the bottom. However, everybody shared an important though: we are arguing today for the sake of achieving understanding and agreement in the future.

The Potsdam Meetings have always been a platform for intellectual interaction. And they started as roundtables of intellectuals from the two countries. The conversation was focused mostly around culture. When speaking about the Potsdam Meetings, we always remember the name of former President of Germany Roman Herzog, who had done a lot so support that forum.

They always talked about things that mattered and what was expecting us in the future. New means of communication, migration, risks associated with aging of the population, architecture of the cities – topics that were of mutual interest. They were not shy of saying nice words while criticizing at the Potsdam Meetings.

“I am amazed by the outstanding quality of the German character to remember and correctly evaluate what others are, at best, trying to forget and at worst – to falsify – acknowledged Leonid Drachevsky. – The Germans do not do that and it includes the whole nation. And this brings respect”.

However, the discussions were extremely sincere, which is evident from the book. In response to accusations during the discussion that Russia wished for breakup of the EU, Director of the Institute of Europe RAS, member of the Academy of Sciences Alexey Gromyko responded with indignation: “Russia wishes for breakup of the EU? But Brexit was not arranged by Russia. It was voted for by subjects of her Majesty the Queen. And millions of Eurosceptics live in the same European Union. If one reads resolutions of the European Parliament, one will understand why many people in Russia consider the European Union as an unfriendly organization. For example, our Russkiy Mir Foundation was mentioned in one of them along with ISIS! However, political leadership of Russia has never said that weakening of the European Union would benefit us. On the contrary, we always say that Moscow needs stable relations”.

A full text of the article in Russian can be found here