AFP 2016/ PHILIPP GUELLAND
MUNICH (Sputnik) — Earlier in the day, the Russia-Germany Petersburg Dialogue semi-annual public forum opened in the city of Munich with an aim to strengthen ties between the two countries, bringing together politicians, business leaders, and various experts from both counties.
“From the point of view of the Bavarian government, contact and dialogue is necessary and inseparable. Despite having been regularly criticized for that in Germany, I believe that we, as the Bavarian government, should negotiate with Ronald Pofalla [the co-chair of the forum, former head of the chancellery] and other stakeholders to stop this spiral and return to diplomatic negotiations and honest dialogue,” Horst Seehofer said at the opening of the forum.
AP Photo/ Hassan Ammar
Since the German reunification, dialogue and personal contact between Berlin and Moscow have “never been as important as of today,” Seehofer said.
He also criticized the Western sanctions imposed on Russia and recalled that certain areas of the Bavarian economy alone had declined 40 percent due to the restrictive measures.
Russia’s relations with the West deteriorated following the beginning of Kiev’s military campaign in spring 2014. The Kiev government and the West, on which Kiev increasingly relies, blame Russia for interfering with Ukraine’s internal affairs and, as a punitive measure, imposed several rounds of sanctions against Moscow. Russia has firmly denied the accusations, underscoring that sanctions are counterproductive and hurt both sides.
Before the sanctions were imposed, Germany was one of the major trade partners of Russia, but the two countries’ trade turnover in 2015 decreased by about a third, and continued to decline in 2016.