On March 1st a roundtable discussion entitled ‘Germany, Russia and Europe:Chances for the Growing Integration’took place at the HSE. The event was organized on the initiative of the ‘Liberal Mission’Foundation with the support of Friedrich Naumann Foundation. Werner Hoyer, Minister of State at the Foreign Office of Germany spoke at the meeting.
Before Werner Hoyer's speech, Evgeniy Yasin, President of the ‘Liberal Mission'Foundation and the HSE Academic Supervisor, introduced the guest - a qualified economist and doctor of political science. Werner Hoyer, former President of the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party and former Deputy Chair of the Free Democratic Party of Germany (FDP) parliamentary group, has been a member of the Bundestag since 1987.
Werner Hoyer opened his speech with a review of current problems in the sphere of universal values. He gave a brief analysis of the current state of Russian-German relations, then moved to pan-European problems. Many topics of his report directly echoed the issues discussed on March 1st by Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the French Republic, and Dmitry Medvedev, Russian President as part of Dmitry Medvedev's official visit to France.
Minister Hoyer said that both Russia and Germany were currently facing new challenges. Both Russian and German leaders have come to the conclusion that many of the important and useful recipes of the past do not work now - and not just because of the financial crisis. Globalization and demographic problems in Russia and Germany pose new questions for the two countries. The fight against terrorism, war in Afghanistan and weapon proliferation problems are also new tasks needing new solutions and approaches.
‘I'm quite happy - W.Hoyer noted - that today I speak in a university which stands for market and democratic reforms. Our Friedrich Naumann Foundation also advocates these fundamental values and a society where in the centre stands a man with opportunities for his development'.
‘I've got the impression that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev thinks - as far as I can judge from his speeches and articles - in the same way. He pointed out both the strong and the weak sides of the development of Russian society, making citizens'interests the cornerstone. We in Germany value freedom, responsibility and justice most of all. Because freedom without responsibility leads to anarchy. Freedom without acceptance of other people's freedom is also wrong behaviour. And an individual who hides from responsibility in his ‘capsule'cannot be useful for society and in the end it may lead to a situation when the government gains control over civic organizations'.
According to the Minister, Russia also needs ‘clever people able to take responsibility'. The country needs a multiparty system, there should be a pluralism which opens new opportunities and a government which respects fundamental human rights and freedoms and defends them. A law-based state is a prerequisite for prosperity and development. As for corruption, it should be fought not only because someone tries to unfairly benefit, but because the fundamental basis of society are ruined by corruption. Finding political solutions according to democratic rules is not a goal in itself;it is a process of searching for the best solutions for the benefit of the whole society. That's why control of government activities is so important, and freedom is a precondition for a strong and sustainable society.
Many Western states have gone through a long process of development before they reached their current condition. This includes Germany, which has experienced some dark events in its past.
Russia and Germany, in the Minister's view, now trust each other. Contacts are blossoming on a social level:many Russian and German cities are ‘twins', thousands of students from both countries visit the other, tourism is actively developing, as well as business ties between the two countries.
Russia and Germany have also become very important trade partners:in 2008 the volume of trade was 70 billion Euros, and today Russia is the largest foreign investor in Germany. Many German enterprises are increasing their activities in Russia. Today Russia remains a favoured market for German companies and goods. And unlike partners and investors from other countries preferring short-term deals, German companies build their policy on the basis of long-term cooperation. The most promising areas of interaction are environment protection, the power industry, medicine, pharmaceutics and telecommunications.
Werner Hoyer expressed satisfaction at Russia's readiness for admission to the World Trade Organization (WTO), which ‘could give a new important impulse for Russian inclusion in the world economy', as well as the change of Russian politics referring to the Energy Charter, which is ‘an important element of discussion with the states of the Treaty of Rome'.
In his speech at the HSE the Minister covered the issues of closer links between Russia and Germany and the European Union. ‘From a long-term perspective, we cannot afford to divide Europe on the principle ‘Europe is here and Russia is there', since we should be together - Russia and Europe. We should ask ourselves a question, where are we, Russia and the EU, how can we strengthen our positions in the globalizing world? Only then will we be able to survive when new poles of world politics and economy are emerging'.
Moving to foreign policy problems, W. Hoyer said that such structures as EU and NATO have a long and successful history, ‘they are rather attractive', and that's why many European countries want to enter these structures. ‘But EU and NATO's openness for new members is not geared against Russia'- Werner Hoyer emphasized. Moreover, in his opinion, the growth of sustainability in new EU and NATO member states is a positive factor for Russia as their neighbour, investor and trade partner. Such tools for strategic dialogue as the Russia-NATO Council and Agreement on Cooperation with the EU are also very important.
The Minister also stressed that he sees the renewed interaction in the framework of the Russia-NATO Council as a very important forum for the realization of such approaches. ‘I think that half a year ago NATO made a mistake by interrupting the work of the Council instead of using this body for the resolution of arguments'.
Speaking about the plans for creating the European ABM (anti-ballistic missile defense), the Minister said that this system aims to confront the threats coming from the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the possessors of these weapons in some regions of the Middle East. These threats also affect Russia, as well as Europe. And to effectively combat this threat and strengthen security, it is necessary to establish closer cooperation between Russia and NATO.
The Minister wondered why we can't think, maybe just as an intellectual exercise, about a situation when Russia suggests entering NATO? What would the NATO administration do in this case? ‘We should overcome clichés and models, - the Minister said - to get rid of the image of enemy in our minds and move to a new stage of historical development'.
Speaking on arms control and disarmament, Werner Hoyer reminded us that the administration of the US President Barack Obama is moving this process forward. It is necessary that Russia supports Obama's efforts, particularly in view of the forthcoming ratification of the START treaty in the US Senate. Speaking about the problem of international treaty verification - on START and the succeeding agreements - W. Hoyer spoke for a ‘decisive loop in the verification technology', since otherwise humanity will not get rid of nuclear weapons. As for Germany, who for a long time has been on the border between two military blocs, this country, ‘involved in the problem of sub-strategic nuclear weapons, will do everything so that nuclear weapons will leave German territory'.
The Minister believes it is necessary to ‘add life'to the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE Treaty) which is, according to him, the only treaty in international law, creating frames for limitation of military presence in Europe, as well as additionly strengthening the strategic partnership with Russia and increasing mutual trust.
Returning to the main topic of the roundtable, W. Hoyer emphasized, that for the integration process it is very important that ‘Russia has settled down to a course of modernization, and President Dmitry Medvedev has included foreign policy in this process, opening in the country a discussion which concerns the basic values of civilization'. ‘Germany and Russia are ready to participate in the discussion and use it for the development of our partnership'- said W. Hoyer.
After his speech the Minister answered numerous questions from the audience.
Nikolay Vukolov, HSE News Service
Photos by Ivan Moryakov