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Russia summed up the interim results of the Year of Germany

The coronavirus pandemic has become a serious challenge for the Year of Germany in Russia, which started last fall and, according to initial plans, was to end this summer, in June.However, in order to realize everything conceived, the organizers made an unexpected decision – to extend the events of the Year of Germany until November.German Ambassador Geza Andreas von Geir, Director of the Goethe German Cultural Center in Moscow Heike Uhlig and Chairman of the Board of the Russian-German Chamber of Commerce Matthias Schepp spoke about its interim results in a joint interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

From Arkhangelsk to Vladivostok

Are your expectations from the Year of Germany justified?Did his events resonate with the Russians?Do you regret that this large-scale project fell on the crisis time of the pandemic?

Geza Andreas von Geir: The Year of Germany is in full swing and I am very glad that we managed to extend it.I think that today, summing up the interim results, we can say: so far the Year of Germany has passed somewhat differently than we had planned, and it took a lot of flexibility.But we managed to realize a lot, very much, including thanks to the support of our Russian partners.Much has come true in the virtual, something in the hybrid, but some also in the face-to-face format.We had major projects in Moscow and St. Petersburg, large-scale exhibitions, which were very actively attended.At the same time, we held a huge number of smaller events all over Russia, they were accessible everywhere and aroused interest in Germany in many Russians.The year is a great success precisely because, within the framework of its program, the residents of Russia have had and still have the opportunity to learn more about our country.These events are very multifaceted, they relate not only to culture, but also to science and economics.Some- we will tell you more about them – they became a real surprise and arouse the special curiosity of the public.In my opinion, the Year has shown that many Russians have become more consciously interested in Germany.

And even if during a pandemic, meetings of people in virtual space are different than in reality, nevertheless, they are intense.We feel this in all our projects.As part of the Year, we want to show our country as it is.Not only her ceremonial sides, although, of course, theirs too.We want to showcase the variety of discussions and ideas that are of concern to people in Germany today.Much of this can be done in virtual format as well.These days we remember the 80th anniversary of the attack by Nazi Germany on the Soviet Union.Complex historical topics are also part of the Year’s agenda.I participated in discussions – joint reflections on the Second World War, on the lessons that we learn from it.And I see that in the virtual space it is possible to conduct very intense, interesting, emotional discussions in a good sense of the word.

Heike Uhlig: We really managed to hold events from Arkhangelsk to Vladivostok.We calculated that they were held in 58 cities and regions of Russia.As the Ambassador said, we have learned to organize a lot in a hybrid format.We often had to be very flexible.Often, speakers, artists from Germany connected online to events that were held in person here in Russia.And even though we really miss personal meetings and much more, we must admit that digital, hybrid formats allow us to increase the coverage of events.Thus, we can attract to them people who, perhaps, never had such close contact with Germany, with German culture and with the German language at all.In September 2020, when the Year of Germany just started, we organized the longest digital German lesson.Among the reviews we received was one from Ust-Ilimsk – I even had to specifically look for this city on the map.One participant nI wrote to us that it was a great opportunity for her to participate in the action with such a wonderful atmosphere and to communicate with a large number of people learning German throughout Russia.

Matthias Schepp: It is often said thatcrisis is also a chance.In my opinion, Germans and Russians in the Year of Germany demonstrated that this is not an empty phrase.It attracted more viewers, more listeners, more participants than it could have been without the pandemic.And not only because this Year has been extended by several months.After all, it is typical for the Germans and Russians that in a crisis situation they do not give up, but, on the contrary, are mobilized.We managed to do this in the field of science as well.Russia has developed three coronavirus vaccines at once, and a company in my hometown of Mainz has also developed one vaccine.The pandemic emergency has awakened our creativity.

Perhaps, without the pandemic, the great idea of ​​a virtual Germany Express train, which travels in virtual space across the country with the world’s largest territory, would never have been born.This train is racing right now, and thanks to the online format, everyone can “sit” in one or another thematic carriage and see what unites the peoples of our countries in the field of art, culture, music, theater, sports, public life, civil society and the economy.

And yet it is difficult to imagine the Year of Germany in Russia at all without live contacts between representatives of the two countries.Can businessmen and cultural figures now come to the Russian Federation within the framework of the Year?And what about the Russians’ trips to Germany?Who can qualify for visas?

Geza Andreas von Geir: We are grateful to our Russian partners for the fact that in these difficult times they provided the possibility of issuing visas for projects taking place within the framework of the Year of Germany.At the same time, all countries of the world at different stages of the pandemic have imposed travel restrictions.They are canceled or adapted if an acceptable status of the sanitary and epidemiological situation is established on both sides.Therefore, unfortunately, there is only one answer to your question: everyone needs to work to improve the sanitary and epidemiological situation.If the infection rate is low and the proportion of vaccinated people is high, then this is the best prospect for making travel possible again.

By the way, your colleague, the Italian Ambassador to Moscow, Pasquale Terracciano, said back in January,that was vaccinated with the Russian vaccine “Sputnik V” .Did you happen to follow his example?

Geza Andreas von Geir: I have already been vaccinated with a vaccine certified in the European Union.The main thing is vaccination itself.This is the key to ending the pandemic.

Matthias Schepp: As Ambassador von Geir quite rightly says, the virus does not recognize borders.And the virus does not care which vaccine will be used to fight it – German, Russian, Chinese or American.Science has presented to all mankind a great and unexpected gift: all over the world in less than a year we have received more than a dozen suitable vaccines.And the economies in Germany and Russia have demonstrated that in factories and offices, they generally met this challenge with dignity.There, in both of our countries, a minimum number of people were infected.Now the ball is on the side of the field of society and politicians.People must be vaccinated, and on a much larger scale than has happened so far.And politicians should, on the basis of the “chance of chance” created by science, to realize this “penalty”.

From an economic point of view, it would be desirable for us around the world to come to a decision as simple as it is important: everyone who has enough antibodies (because they have been vaccinated or have been ill) should be able to move and travel freely.Perhaps in certain places and at certain events – subject to the presentation of a negative PCR test result.

What is Pop-Up?

Mrs. Uhlig, the Years of Germany are very popular among cultural eventsPop-Up festivals held in different cities of Russia.Why are they called that?What is this format that, as I understand it, you came up with your Russian colleagues?

Heike Uhlig: Pop-up can be translated as “pop-up”.Pop-Up festivals are held at temporary venues and usually last from one to three weeks.We present a wide cultural program there, including activities for German language learners.To hold such festivals, we deliberately chose four Russian cities in which the Goethe Institute does not have permanent representations.These are Kazan, Krasnodar, Vladivostok, and soon Kaliningrad will be added to them.Moreover, in each of these cities there is a wide network of partners with whom we have cooperated before, and now have developed a program specially adapted to the local flavor.In Kazan, we worked together with the center of contemporary culture “Smena”, and electronic music became the central theme of the Pop-Up festival.In Krasnodar, they focused on the fine arts, and our partner was the “Typography” center.Finally, we did something special in Vladivostok.

Vladivostok had an advantage – more time to adapt to the conditions of the pandemic.After all, not everything had to take place online; there had to be an opportunity to hold face-to-face events.The local team of young artists and architects “Start” and their like-minded people from the Berlin architectural firm Raumlabor came up with a pavilion, which was installed in the port.In three weeks, 80 events were held there for a wide variety of audiences.

Within the framework of the Year, film screenings, lessons of first acquaintance with the German language, exhibitions were held.It is important that German and Russian artists who worked together on projects were often not present at all, but met each other in the digital space.So we represented Germany in a concentrated form in new places and conveyed our ideas to new target groups and many people who had no idea what the Year of Germany was and why it was needed before.I think Pop-Up festivals did a great job of this.

I’ll tell you a little more about the virtual train “Germany-Express” (online festival, which runs until the end of June – approx. “RG”).You can “sit” in it at any time and visit any carriage.There is a movie car, there is a business car, there is even a restaurant car with recipes for German cuisine.Unfortunately, we had to cancel the planned summer holiday of the Year of Germany in the park, but we managed to transfer it to our virtual train.All events (among them there was even a master class on hip-hop) are not only available live, but are also archived, so you can always return to them if you wish.

The exhibitions “The Iron Age: Europe Without Borders” (migrated from the Hermitage to the Historical Museum) and “Dreams of Freedom. Romanticism in Russia and Germany” at the New Tretyakov Gallery became the most important events not only of the German Year, but of the cultural life of St. Petersburg in generaland Moscow.Dozens of museums and archives of our countries have provided their collections for them.”Romanticism” was carried over three times.How did you manage to carry out such large-scale exhibition projects during a pandemic, to bring collections to Russia?

Heike Uhlig: I would very much like to recommend to the readers of “RG” both of these exhibitions, which can really be called outstanding.They began to be planned very well in advance.And I know, for example, that the opening of an exhibition on romanticism was preceded by three intense years of collaboration and negotiations between curators, galleries and museums.And only thanks to the flexibility shown on both sides, thanks to the mutual desire to adapt to new conditions and, of course, thanks to the support of the Russian side in obtaining visas, these collections were able to come here.

Geza Andreas von Gaire: Indeed, both of these large-scale exhibitions demonstrate a high level of professionalism and mutual trust of both museum workers and cultural politicians on both sides – Russian and German.As part of the Year of Germany, we are planning a third major exhibition that will come to Moscow this fall.It is called “Diversity. Unity” and is dedicated to contemporary art in Europe.It is attended by many famous artists, including German and Russian.Most recently, it opened in Berlin, then it will come to Moscow, and then it will go to Paris.And I would very much like to recommend it to the guests of the Year of Germany.

I was impressed by the immersive performance “Red Tungsten” – a historical walk through the Electrozavod, where the events and heroes of the New Economic Policy come to life, including German engineers who came to Moscow at the dawn of the USSR.What other cultural projects have you personally inspired?

Heike Uhlig: I must admit that Red Tungsten impressed me a lot too.I am also very glad that we managed to organize Cinemobil, the festival of children’s and youth cinema in Russian regions, to the delight of many young viewers.We showed new films for children, for young people, held master classes on them, talked about how cinema is made in general.With this festival we traveled from Moscow to Yakutsk.

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Matthias Schepp: Of the hundreds of wonderful projects of the Year, I especially remember the performance at which we were together with Herr von Gaire…It combines two one-act operas – The Diary of Anne Frank by Grigory Fried and The White Rose by the Dresden composer Udo Zimmermann.The latter was first performed here in Moscow, on the Bolshoi Theater Chamber Stage.The main message of the action can be formulated very succinctly and succinctly: it is a manifesto against fascism, dictatorship and oppression.It makes a strong impression.

The program of the Year has a lot of events dedicated to the German language: festivals, lessons, dictations.And what about its study in Russia in general?

Heike Uhlig: German is recognized as the second most popular foreign language after English.And Russia takes the leading place in the number of students studying the “Schiller and Goethe language” at school.That’s 2.2 million children.Moreover, in the last academic year alone, the number of students increased by about 250 thousand, that is, by 12 percent!Of course, we cannot but rejoice at these statistics.Firstly, it testifies to the attractiveness of the German language for Russians, to the interest in German culture and Germany in general.Many schoolchildren, as well as students studying German at our Goethe Institute, believe that this knowledge will help them achieve success in their professional careers.Secondly, this picture suggests that teachers of the German language in Russia (most often they are women) are very good at teaching.After all, schoolchildren often choose a foreign language according to the principle: “Oh, this teacher is interesting in the classroom! I will go to her.”This means that Russian teachers are doing well.And of course we are in GethThe e-Institute is trying to support them by offering numerous continuing education programs.Again, the pandemic has unexpectedly given us the opportunity to bring our programs to an even wider audience of educators.We quickly redirected resources to digital activities so that teachers can share experiences on how to better educate children from home.I must say that we receive a lot of positive feedback from them.

Crisis as a chance

Mr. Schepp, what happens to German investments in the Russian economy against the backdrop of a pandemic?What is the general business climate like now?

Matthias Schepp: Much of the good that connects the German and Russian economies has intensified thanks to the Year of Germany.I will give an example in the field of dual education.It is a successful model in Germany and one of the most popular German export items.The dual education system links practice and theory so well that many countries around the world envy us.In the Year of Germany, the Russian-German Chamber of Commerce succeeded, in cooperation with German ministries and the German Embassy, ​​in presenting in Russia three new professions in which dual education programs are being implemented.They are a technologist for working with waste (the program is designed to help overcome the most difficult task of the waste management reform in Russia), as well as specialists in warehouse logistics and organization of transportation.Thanks to this, we managed to captivate many German companies operating in Russia with the idea of ​​dual education.

Germans and Russians are ideal partners in the field of IT technologies.Germany is a leader in “Industry 4.0” (digital economy – approx. “RG”).If we talk about the abilities of IT engineers who develop software, then the leader here is Russia.In order to combine these two strengths, the German-Russian Initiative for the digitalization of the economy was previously launched.In the Russian-German Chamber of Commerce and in the Representative Office of the German Economy, we are very pleased with the fact that over the past two years there has been less discussion at conferences, but company representatives have met to jointly implement successful specific projects.From small start-ups developing solutions for large German corporations to cooperation between giants.

Regarding the business climate, our current survey of thousands of companies in the Chamber of Commerce, published at the end of June, produced sensational results.I would say the best in years.As for their own profits and their own turnover, 95 percent of the respondents expect a very good or at least satisfactory development of the situation, and only 5 percent proceed from a bad scenario.

Finally, only 3 percent of our companies are going to lay off employees in the next 12 months.Only 3 percent!And 52 percent, on the other hand, are going to hire new people.This is the best indicator in many years.Another interesting question that we asked colleagues was formulated as follows: how do enterprises assess the value of Russia for their company in the long term?Only 10 percent answered that this value will decrease, and 54 percent said that it will increase or significantly increase.

Sustainable development, climate protection, “green” energy – how our countries succeedcooperate in practice in these areas?

Matthias Schepp: An agreement in this area was concluded between the ministries of economy of our countries.I can say that the German companies represented here are very pleased that over the past months in Russia – both in the economy and in politics – there has been a significant rethinking of issues related to the danger of climate change and the importance of jointly combating it.What Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the climate summit, organized at the end of April at the initiative of US President Joe Biden, and what Putin said in his speech at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, many experts called nothing but a “green revolution”…For example, the President of the Russian Federation instructed his government to develop a program providing for the achievement of climate protection goals in Russia 5 years earlier than they are achieved in the EU.We German business welcome it if all this is done.

Geza Andreas von Geir: Watching the debates over the past months, it seems to me that one can state that climate and energy policies are increasingly becoming inextricably linked.This connection is critical.This worldview approach gives us great potential.Germany, Russia, Europe can build together the energy cooperation of the future, taking into account the aspect of climate protection.It cannot happen with a wave of the hand.The discussion is evolving, science is evolving, as are the different approaches.It is in such a specific area of ​​cooperation as hydrogen energy that we are drawing closer together.And I hope that here a good, stable dialogue will develop between our governments, between scientists and in business, which together will give the desired result.Since this is a very important, long-term topic for the future.

As you know, inside Germany itself, where elections are coming soon, the “green” agenda is especially relevant.At the same time, its supporters are very critical of the Nord Stream 2 project.Do you see a threat to its implementation after the elections to the Bundestag?

Matthias Schepp: I’ll put it this way.Even the Greens, whether they get into the government or not, may like the idea that perhaps someday green hydrogen will flow through this controversial pipeline.

One of the most unusual projects of AHK is the traveling exhibition Russlandmeister (“Masters of Russia: Made in German”), which tells about the history of German companies in Russia.How will it go?

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Time to build bridges

The Year of Germany will end in November at the IX St. Petersburg International Cultural Forum, where Germany has been invited as a special guest.Do you already have any idea about which program you will go to the forum with?

Heike Uhlig: We were very pleased to receive this honorary status.We are glad that we will be able to participate in the St. Petersburg Cultural Forum in a special format.First, we want to conduct a series of panel discussions with Russian and German guests.For example, talk about how to make an international cultural exchange successful.Our experience of working during a pandemic will help us in this.Among other topics – digitalization, the idea of ​​a “new European Bauhaus” (eco-projects in the field of architecture and design – approx. “RG”).

And the second direction is, of course, the widest possible cultural program, open to all guests of St. Petersburg.There will be a lot of music, a lot of literature.We are in no hurry to name specific names yet.Let it remain a surprise, but I can assure you that we will bring a wonderful and large-scale program to St. Petersburg.

However, even before that, we are preparing a lot of interesting things.On the days immediately before the cultural forum here in Moscow, the Munich Chamber Drama Theater will present the play “Three Sisters” as part of the NET festival.In September, St. Petersburg will host a tour of the dance theater Pina Bausch from Wuppertal with the performance “Full Moon”, and the very famous Berlin chamber music ensemble United Berlin will come to Novosibirsk, performing contemporary musical works.Well, most of all, I would like to see us finally be able to demonstrate in the Russian capital a light installation specially created for the Year of Germany by the Berlin artist Lillevan and the studio SILA SVETA from Moscow.

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D0% B2 +% D1% 80% D0% B0% D0% BC% D0% BA% D0% B0% D1% 85 +% D0% 93% D0% BE% D0% B4% D0% B0 +% D0% 93% D0% B5% D1% 80% D0%BC% D0% B0% D0% BD% D0% B8% D0% B8 + – +% D0% BF% D1% 80% D0% B5% D0% B4% D0% BE% D1% 81% D1% 82% D0%B0% D0% B2% D0% B8% D1% 82 + 1000 +% D0% BC% D0% B5% D1% 81% D1% 82 +% D0% B2 +% D0% BD% D0% B5% D0% BC%D0% B5% D1% 86% D0% BA% D0% B8% D1% 85 +% D0% BA% D0% BE% D0% BC% D0% BF% D0% B0% D0% BD% D0% B8% D1% 8F% D1% 85 +% D0% B2 +% D0% A0% D0% BE% D1% 81% D1% 81% D0% B8% D0% B8 +% D0% B4% D0% BB% D1% 8F +% D1%81% D1% 82% D0% B0% D0% B6% D0% B8% D1% 80% D0% BE% D0% B2% D0% BA% D0% B8 +% D0% BC% D0% BE% D0% BB%D0% BE% D0% B4% D1% 8B% D0% BC +% D1% 80% D0% BE% D1% 81% D1% 81% D0% B8% D1% 8F% D0% BD% D0% B0% D0%BC. +% D0% 94%D1�may, this will be an impressive contribution to our interaction from the German economy.

I am convinced that the Year of Germany will contribute to ensuring that representatives of the German economy, culture and science in the Russian Federation continue to closely interact with our Russian partners and withinteresting, strong Russian civil society.