(Itar-Tass) - The participation of Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the sixth session of the St. Petersburg Dialogue public forum in Dresden culminated the forum's work, reports Trend.
Your presence is a great honour for all of us and we regard it as a kind of assessment of our work, the German co-chairman of the St. Petersburg Dialogue Lotar de Mezier said.
He stressed the importance of developing broad cooperation in a Europe stretching to the Urals. He said he was sure the development of political and economic relations between the two countries had a lot of untapped potential. The St. Petersburg Dialogue forum should be central to developing civil society in Russia and Germany, Lotar de Mezier went on to say.
According to the Russian co-chairman of the St. Petersburg Dialogue forum Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet president, the presence of the Russian and German leaders made a vital contribution to the fact that the forum was held. He said the discussions at the forum were open and straightforward.
We spoke like friends and partners who don't have secrets, who have a common fate, Gorbachev went on to say. He noted that people had come to understand each other better. Gorbachev lauded the press for its coverage of the forum's work.
The former Soviet president called for intensifying integration processes in Europe.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave an interview to German television. The two leaders answered questions on bilateral relations, international issues, including the situation in Iraq and the North Korean nuclear program, economic cooperation and the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya.
President Vladimir Putin said the murderers of Anna Politkovskaya wanted to create a wave of anti-Russian feelings in the world by sacrificing the journalist's life.
He repeated that the fact of Politkovskaya's killing was much more harmful for the Russian authorities than her journalistic publications.
We have authentic information that many fugitives from Russian justice have been hatching an idea to immolate someone to create a wave of anti-Russian feelings in the world, Putin told the Petersburg Dialogue forum.
I don't know who committed this crime. But they are criminals who have to be found and punished, the president emphasized. He promised the Russian authorities would exert every effort to clear up the crime.
In another interview given to the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, President Putin said his successor was unlikely to change the current trend in the solution of Russia's social, economic and defence problems.
Putin mentioned the main achievements and vectors of national development during his two terms in office. He expressed the hope that what he had started would be continued after 2008.
The president said his social and economic policies had broad public support and that any successor would have to take account of the population's sentiment.
He will have to go ahead with these projects whether he wants it or not, Putin said.