The Potsdam Meetings. Day 2. Speeches and comments

24 June 2017

Conference “The Potsdam Meetings”, organized by the Alexander Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund and the German-Russian Forum, continued in Berlin on June 23.


It is common knowledge that the G20 summit will take place in German Hamburg. It is expected that right there the first meeting between President of Russia Vladimir Putin and his U.S. colleague Donald Trump will be held. In this regard, participants of the conference discussed world events on the eve of the G20 summit.


Former Counselor for Foreign Policy and Security to the Chancellor of Germany Professor Horst Teltschik believes that the issue of the future of the UN is extremely important. He also drew attention of the audience to a number of global issues: change of climate, terrorism, development of the Middle East and Africa, and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.


Scientific Director of the Valdai International Discussion Club, Chairman of the Presidium of the Council for Foreign and Defense Policy and editor-in-chief of Russia in Global Politics Fedor Lukyanov acknowledged that he had been waiting with horror for consequences of the meeting between Putin and Trump.


We are observing a situation when the U.S. establishment does not care what the rest of the world thinks. They are resolving their national problems. That is why it would be better if the meeting between Putin and Trump does not take place under such circumstances.


According to him, it is hard to see not just any prospects of improving Russian-U.S. relations, but any kind of development at all.


In the course of the discussion, Dr. Josef Braml, who was representing the German Association of Foreign Policy, admitted that the United States had started getting involved in real politics already during the presidency of Barack Obama.


Former Vice President of German Bundestag Antye Follmer, in her turn, noted that the UN had already been replaced by several coalitions. China has been implementing its own policy, introducing a reform “from above” over the past 30 years.


China, according to Follmer, acts carefully, but on a global level. A historical role of Europe is in mediation and keeping balance in the world.


This position was shared by Executive Director of Central & Eastern Europe/Middle East & Africa Schaeffler Technologies AG & Co. KG Professor Dr. Rainer Lindner. He acknowledged that shifting of gravity centers in geopolitics was taking place. However, he hopes that Europe, in particular, Germany will keep an important role in the future politics.


Former Minister President, Chairman of the German-Russian Forum Matthias Platzck suggested discussing whether new talks on disarmament made sense. Executive Director of the Alexander Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund Leonid Drachevsky recognized that there should be mutual trust in the world, and, unfortunately, at the moment we could not speak about that. That trust should be based on understanding of each other, but not on a patronizing tone when someone really wants to teach Russia how to live.


The participants of the Potsdam Meetings could not avoid a discussion of artificial barriers between the nations. According to member of the Management Board of Wintershall Tilo Viland, a visa-free regime, especially for the youth, can significantly simplify the difficult situation in the mutual relations.


A topic of the final session of the conference was “Economy Builds Bridges: Energy – Modernization – Digitalization”. Managing Director of the German Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations Michael Harms served as a moderator of the discussion. He mentioned that the common economic space was the most important factor at present because nothing had to be done there.


Positive feedback regarding prospects of the Russian Federation was given by Counselor to the President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Russia, member of the Management Board of the Gorchakov Fund Georgy Petrov. According to him, national economy was overcoming a recession, which turned out to be not as deep as after the crisis of 1998. Think tanks forecast growth of up to 2.7%. This being said, our business was able to adapt to the new (under sanctions) conditions.


Attendees of the youth forum, which had been held in Moscow in May, actively participated in the discussions. They provided specific proposals on identified topics.

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