German messenger

German companies operating in Russia and Russian business in common common problem, and they largely suffer from the pressure of Western sanctions on Moscow. For several years the trade turnover has decreased, the German company left earlier profitable for them the Russian market, and in the end the German economy, according to some estimates, has lost 20 billion euros. Thursday, October 12, representatives of large German businesses gathered at the same table with the Russian President and told about their problems.

At the meeting with Vladimir Putin, organized at the initiative of the Eastern Committee of German economy (the influential organisation, lobbying the interests of companies operating in Eastern Europe), German business was presented by the leaders of the two dozen companies, including Metro, Linde, Knauf and Bauer. The Russian side was attended by Ministers and aides of the President and Chairman of the Board “Gazprom” Alexey Miller. Besides, the meeting almost unexpectedly came the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev. “Thank you that you did not speak German. But it would not understand anything”, — he joked in the beginning of the meeting.

But perhaps the greatest resonance was caused by the participation in the meeting the representative of Siemens. Last summer, the scandal with the supply of four gas turbine units of the company in the Crimea. Because of this the Germans are not agreed, the concern announced that his trust deceived, and threatened to curtail their business in Russia. But in the end not only refused to extreme measures, but expressed its intention to compete for contracts for the modernization of the Russian power plants. Yes, and contracts for the production of modern high-speed trains “Swallow” and “Peregrine” remained in force as well as other agreements in the field of transport, construction and healthcare.

However, without consequences, was not. The group has launched an additional system of control over the movement of their goods, and the Council of the EU extended sanctions list against Moscow three physical and three legal entities.

All this time in the Kremlin commented on the situation with restraint, and in the Russian business community urged not to make a drama out of what is happening. German business, although complained about a trust betrayed, opposed the new U.S. sanctions. The Eastern Committee stated bluntly that Washington under the guise of protecting international law wants to promote its own economic interests.

Selling petrol, more expensive Russian gas, the US is trying to decide the fate of energy supply in Europe. And this, of course, caused outrage in Berlin. Especially given the boom in the German trade with the countries of Eastern Europe in the first five months of the current year its volume jumped by 22 percent (52 billion euros) compared to the same period last year. One of the highest rate is in Russia. And Moscow hopes that German companies will continue to operate in the country.

At a meeting in Bocharov Stream the Russian President stressed that on the background of recovery of economic growth will open new opportunities “for our friends from abroad, from Germany in particular.” According to him, Russia is ready to create all conditions for foreign businessmen felt in our market offer. Putin then listed what the finished Moscow: to improve the laws, to remove excessive administrative barriers, investing in infrastructure and training.

It is not necessary to be limited only to large projects, Putin said. “In Germany the share of small businesses account for more than half of the country’s GDP, we have much less” — declared the Russian President. But Moscow has the task to bring the level of small and medium businesses up to 40 percent. However, to the distant 2030.

“Of course we are curious about what in General makes it difficult yet, if there is one, doing business in Russia”, — he addressed to entrepreneurs.

However, the open part of the meeting the journalists were able to hear only one report of the Chairman of the Eastern Committee Wolfgang Buchele. And his presentation was more introductory in nature. German noted that the meeting takes place in “interesting times”: in Germany it formed the government, and Russia presidential elections are coming. “And we all wonder what that means for our relationship,” said Buchele. According to him, most Germans have no doubt that with Moscow it is necessary to establish communication and to overcome difficulties.

The second topic Buchele identified as an extremely exciting German business — new sanctions against Russia. Anything good in such a policy no restrictive measures only serve to increase uncertainty. But still Germany has a positive attitude to investments in Russia, assured Buchele.

After talking a bit more about the “good news” — the growing trade turnover and joint projects, the German decided that it’s time to congratulate Russian President’s recent birthday.

Not hesitant to remind Putin of his age, he noticed that they are the same age with the Eastern Committee. “It unites us,” said Buchele. But even closer two States will associate the world Cup, which Russia will host in 2018. After winning the last world Cup, the Germans have no doubt that will be the final. Because the Russian team is so sure no one Buchele handed Putin a t-shirt of the German national team with the number 9 and a statue of Soviet goalkeeper Lev Yashin. “Let these two souvenir will bring you luck, — said the Chairman of the Eastern Committee. And then for sure we will meet in the final of the tournament.”

However, such unlimited optimism about the Russian-German partnership Putin, it seems, is not experienced. Asking the media to leave the room, he invited businessmen to speak further. Not already on the record.

Tatyana Melikyan