OREANDA-NEWS. Late last night, Vladimir Putin met with Helmut Schmidt, a German statesman and the fifth chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany from 1974 to 1982.

PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Mr Chancellor, please allow me to warmly welcome you.

It is a great pleasure and honour for me to meet with you in Moscow, for you are not only the patriarch of European politics but of global politics as well.

You have done a great deal for the development of the Federal Republic and Europe, but you have also made significant contribution to the development of Russian-German relations. The decision on the “gas for pipe” contract was made while you were a member of the Government. In one of your articles I read that at that time, after the war, no hatred remained between the Germans and the Russians toward one another, and this was very good.

I want to tell you that we have made a great deal of progress in developing our relations. Today, Germany is one of our leading trade and economic partners. This year, I believe we will cross the threshold of USD 75 billion in trade. Some two thousand German companies are operating in Russia, there is a large volume of mutual investment, and all this is developing. We are carrying out large-scale joint projects, working not only at the ministerial level, but the regional level as well.

We are broadening contacts between civil societies and people, which is probably more important than anything.

I am very happy to see you. Welcome, Mr Chancellor.