Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 24

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov wound up a two-day visit to Germany on February 2 during which he held separate talks with both German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer. In his public remarks, Ivanov put a positive spin on the meetings. He suggested that Bonn support the Russian government’s economic policies and that the two countries share common views on some key international problems, including the crisis in Kosovo (Russian agencies, February 1-2).

Ivanov’s talks with Schroeder reportedly focused on the German chancellor’s upcoming February 18-19 visit to Moscow. Ivanov, who said that Moscow seeks “dynamic and constructive cooperation” with Germany, predicted that Schroeder’s Moscow visit would help boost bilateral relations between the two countries. He emphasized that the visit will be particularly important to Moscow because Schroeder will arrive not only as a German leader, but also as chairman of both the European Union and the Group of Seven (G-7) leading industrialized democracies (Russian agencies, Xinhua, February 1).

Germany is Russia’s leading trading partner and foreign lender, and the two countries had built strong bilateral ties in part on the basis of the close personal relationship between Russian President Boris Yeltsin and former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. Schroeder strongly criticized the coziness of that relationship during his successful campaign last year against Kohl. Since then, Moscow has feared that Bonn’s move to depersonalize relations with Russia could be part of a broader effort by Germany’s new leaders to downgrade Russian-German ties.