The Youth Potsdam Meetings: About the role of Russia and Germany in the European space

19 November 2019

On November 19, the 5th Youth Forum of the Potsdam Meetings took place in Moscow. Representatives of the youth from both countries discussed a wide spectrum of issues of the bilateral cooperation the day after the meeting between parliamentarians of Russia and Germany.

The attendees of the forum were welcomed by Executive Director of the Gorchakov Fund Leonid Drachevsky, who mentioned that the day before the conversation was substantial and insightful. He urged the young politicians to take a more active part in such discussions and not to be afraid of expressing their positions and sharing fresh thoughts.

Chairman of the German-Russian Forum Matthias Platzeck agreed with the head of the Gorchakov Fund. According to him, the meeting of the parliamentarians gave many reasons for optimism. To begin with, last year a record volume of direct investments from Germany into the Russian economy was reported.

Matthias Platzeck stated that the two countries very often viewed differently the same reality. “We know our narratives very well. If we limit ourselves by just sharing them with each other, we will not go that far”, said the politician. He urged not to turn, for instance, the status of Crimea into a stumbling block, but resolve other problems – those that affect lives and security of people.

Deputy Director of the Third European Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russian Oleg Krasnitsky welcomed the participants of the event on behalf of the Russian foreign service. According to him, youth ties are one of the most dynamically developing segments of the Russian-German cooperation. Leaders of the youth from the two countries have an opportunity to sit at the same table with well-known politicians and discuss prospects of relations between Moscow and Berlin during an open conversation. The diplomat urged the youth of both countries to actively participate in the bilateral initiatives. He emphasized a creative approach of the Gorchakov Fund, which makes a significant contribution into the youth cooperation.

During panel discussion “The Future of Europe – a Perspective from Russia and Germany”, the attendees discussed the roles played by both countries in the European political and economic space and scenarios of development of the Russian-EU relations. According to Christian Pfeiffer, a graduate student at University of St. Gallen, Germany is interested in getting the Russian-EU relationship back on track and might play an important role in that process.

The participants emphasized important of differentiating between the concepts of “Europe" and “the European Union” as geographically Europe consists of many countries, which are not EU members, including Russia.

Researcher at the Laboratory of International Trends Analysis of MGIMO University Artem Sokolov believes that “relations between Russia and Germany passed a serious stress test in 2014-2015. We managed to keep trade, cultural, and educational relations. At the same time we cannot say that we are using even one-third of the potential of the bilateral cooperation. The main obstacles are the regime of sanctions and the trust crisis.” Improvement of relations between Russia and Germany will promote development of various formats of the bilateral cooperation, increase the number of cultural and educational exchanges as well as cooperation on the level of the civil societies.

The program of the forum continued at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, where a closed meeting with First Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov was held.

At the end of the program, the participants summarized results of the past five youth forums of the Potsdam Meetings, mentioned the progress of the project and identified areas for its future development.