The German co-chair “Petersburg dialogue” Ronald Pofalla – attempted to invite a forum of Putin and Merkel, visa-free regime for young Russians and political situation in Russia.
It was expected that at the next annual conference of the forum of civil societies of Russia and Germany “Petersburg dialogue”, which opens July 18, near Bonn, after a six year break will again host Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (Angela Merkel).
But the invitation that they sent the co-chair of the forum on the German side, Ronald Pofalla (Ronald Pofalla), they have not accepted. Instead of the first persons on the “Petersburg dialogue” will arrive Ministers for foreign Affairs of two countries Sergey Lavrov and Mas Heiko (Heiko Maas). In an interview with DW Pofalla explained why, from his point of view, in Moscow and Berlin was made the decision, set out its position on Crimea and was optimistic on the prospects for abolition of the visa regime for young Russians.
Deutsche Welle: Mr. Pofalla, the last time the Russian President and German Chancellor attended the “Petersburg dialogue” in 2012. This time you attempted to invite to the forum, Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel. Why they still have not accepted your invitation?
Ronald Pofalla: I am glad that the Russian President and German Chancellor at least asked their foreign Ministers to take part in the Petersburg dialogue forum. Since the annexation of Crimea was no more such political contacts (intergovernmental consultations at the highest level in parallel with the “Petersburg dialogue”. -.), so this fact I think, a very remarkable first step.
– And if the Russian President did, what would you say to him?
– What I always say: we will never accept contrary to international law annexation of Crimea, we will never accept the fact that in the East of Ukraine every week to kill people, we don’t accept the fact that civil society in Russia, NGOs are being repressed.
– You say that the participation of foreign Ministers – Sergei Lavrov and Heiko Masa is a sign of rapprochement of the parties. Isn’t that a contradiction?
I don’t want to even imagine what would have happened if we hadn’t told each other not argue with each other. My experience teaches me that as long as there is a dispute, the dialogue is maintained. And I am sure that, in the end, this dialogue will lead to change.
– But is “Petersburg dialogue” really dialogue? Critics say he has become, rather, monologues, and with the other hand…
– I think that now the “Petersburg dialogue” was a dialogue to a greater extent than ever they were. The reason is that the participation of civil societies of Russia and Germany it was wider than it was six or seven years ago. Now we have completely different opportunities to talk to each other.
– What do you think of this year’s main theme, the main purpose of the conference “St. Petersburg dialogue” on mount Petersberg near Bonn?
At the end of the session “the Petersburg dialogue” we want, in particular, make a statement with a clear statement of our position in favor of the abolition of the visa requirement young Russians wishing to visit Germany. We want to contribute to achieve such a form of visa-free regime.
– The idea of a visa-free regime for young Russians is not new, it’s a couple of years. But the implementation of such proposals have always faced difficulties. Now as to this idea belongs the German government? What is the issue?
– In fact, such a proposal existed for a long time. But today he has another form of support. Earlier the government of Germany had doubts about this, today, I think it is positive to this idea. But there are still partners in the Schengen area, for example, Poland and the Czech Republic, which then still there are concerns. Now our challenge is to convince our Polish and Czech friends of the feasibility of visa-free regime for young Russians.
– And you personally going to do this?
– If the “Petersburg dialogue” take such a statement, I expect the second half of the year negotiations on this subject with the Polish and Czech governments. The youth exchange focused on the future, and it needs to support the abolition of the visa regime.
– You know, of course, that Moscow does not allow independent opposition candidates to the elections to the city Duma. How do you assess this fact and the political situation in Russia overall?
– We are looking from Western Europe, the political situation in Russia is strange. All the polls conducted in Russia show that if Russia held free elections, that President Putin will likely be re-elected would result in the order of 50 percent. Western Democrats in their Western democracies would be such a result very happy. Any form of restriction the parties, organizations that do politics for us is incompatible with the idea of the law state that guarantees the free and secret elections.