Recently elected German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, visiting Russia for the first time in that capacity, made clear yesterday that Bonn is both already looking beyond the Yeltsin era and intent on widening political contacts between the two countries. Schroeder, who held talks upon his arrival in Moscow with Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, underscored that point by meeting yesterday evening at the German embassy with a number of leading Russian politicians. The group included First Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Maslyukov, Duma First Deputy Speaker Vladimir Ryzhkov, Central Bank Chairman Viktor Gerashchenko, Krasnoyarsk region Governor Aleksandr Lebed, Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky and the leader of Russia’s Communist Party, Gennady Zyuganov. Schroeder is scheduled to meet today with Russian President Boris Yeltsin, but will subsequently hold talks with the speakers of Russia’s two houses of parliament, Gennady Seleznev and Yegor Stroev (Reuters, Russian agencies, November 16).
Schroeder’s predecessor as German chancellor, Helmut Kohl, had built a close personal friendship with Yeltsin, and had been criticized by Schroeder during the recent German election campaign for failing to develop contacts with a broader section of Russia’s political elite. The new German chancellor made clear that he will not follow the same policy. In an interview with Russian television, Schroeder suggested that the close relations between Kohl and Yeltsin had served their purpose but were now only a relic. Schroeder said he was looking forward to his talks with Yeltsin, but emphasized that he wanted to acquaint himself not only with the Russian government as a whole, but also to get to know parliamentary and regional leaders on an individual basis (NTV, November 16).
…GERMAN-RUSSIAN RELATIONS TO REMAIN A PRIORITY DESPITE CHANGES.