German municipalities came to Kaluga to be friends with their Russian colleagues
The event is dedicated to the development of relations between the municipalities of the two countries. As the German Ambassador to Russia Geza Andreas von Gayr noted in his speech, "while we are talking about global politics, real life takes place at the level of municipalities, it is in them that people live, so the relationship between them is the basis."
Greetings to the Conference were sent by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Head of the Federation Council Valentina Matvienko, Foreign Ministers of Russia and Germany Sergey Lavrov and Heiko Maas and others. As noted in the greeting address of the Russian president, twinning relations connect two hundred cities, regions and municipalities of the two countries.
German Ambassador to the Russian Federation Geza Andreas von Gayr spoke in the same spirit. According to him, "the interaction of civil societies reflects the interest that the peoples of both countries show to each other, and gives the relations between states their true character." Therefore, the diplomat believes, the conference in Kaluga will also have a positive effect on the development of German-Russian relations in the coming years, which gives real grounds to call it a "conference of the future." The number of participants in the event turned out to be fewer than planned, due to the fact that Germany recently decided to tighten entry from Russia due to the tense epidemiological situation, and all arrivals must go on their return to a two-week quarantine. For example, Gerhard Schroeder and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas could not come. But despite this, a representative section of participants nevertheless gathered in Kaluga.
As Mikhail Shvydkoi, the special representative of the President of the Russian Federation for international cultural cooperation, told RG, “this conference is being held in difficult conditions, but I hope that mutual interests will arise during the event. The economy, although it has been subordinated to politics in recent years, has an intrinsic value and self-sufficiency, especially at the city level. Issues of urbanization, urban management and infrastructure – all this makes up the meaning of such forums. At the regional level, sanctions regimes have much less influence, and topics are discussed very serious. It is not by chance that the chairman of the board of the Russian-German Foreign Trade chambers Matthias Schepp and others. This kind of contacts necessarily have an effect, although sometimes not immediately. "
Pavel Zavalny, head of the State Duma's energy committee and head of the group for inter-parliamentary relations with the Bundestag, noted that it is at the municipal level that direct dialogue between people takes place, which is a real "friendship between peoples", while politics is concerned with national interests.
Interestingly, the event, although it is dedicated to relations at the municipal and regional levels, turned out to be highly politicized. At the forum discussion "The Importance of Dialogue between Municipalities and Politics for the Development of German-Russian Relations", in which the German Ambassador to the Russian Federation Geza Andreas von Geir took part, a lively discussion unfolded as to how justified the current Berlin policy towards Russia was. Remarkably, the discussion unfolded between the Germans. After the ambassador said that the German government makes decisions on the basis of the will of the people, questions began to be heard from the audience as to whether this was so. For example, one of the participants from the federal state of Baden-Württemberg said that when he organized a joint event of German and Russian cities, he was told that he supported the annexation of Crimea to Russia, and the police broke into his house. At the same time, the German organization Liberal Modern%BD ", which opposes Nord Stream 2 and the development of relations with the Russian Federation, receives millions of euros from the federal budget. Ambassador von Gayr replied that a huge number of organizations in different directions, and not just Liberal Modern, receive subsidies from the budget. The conclusion about Germany's anti-Russian policy on the basis of this is not worth it. "We support diversity," the German diplomat emphasized.
Meanwhile, in the hall of the building where the conference was held, leaflets from the Russlandbrucke (Bridge with Russia) organization, printed on yellow paper, were lying with an appeal to "end the cold war with Russia." The appeal was signed by seven German-Russian friendship societies and a number of individuals.
Fortunately, politics did not stop there. While at the forum session the pro-Russian citizens of Germany were arguing with Berlin in the person of the ambassador, at other venues it was about the issues of contacts at the municipal and regional levels, that is, about what the event was created for. Thus, at the expert discussion "Investment policy of the regions" the participants discussed what comes first: the investor or the infrastructure. We came to the conclusion that it is desirable to have a ready-made site for the arrival of an investor, although this is a risk for the region, noted the Deputy Governor of the Kaluga Region Vladimir Popov and the Executive Director of the Association of Industrial Parks in the Russian Federation Denis Zhuravsky. By the way, in the Kaluga Region, for every ruble invested in the creation of industrial parks, 14 rubles of investment were received.
According to the UN Goodwill Ambassador Veronica Peshkova, today a foreign investor has an interest in Russian regions, and at the municipal level. And the question here is the completeness of information, including the opinion of local businessmen, because if they work well, then foreigners will probably be fine too.