Cablegate: Mr. Putin Goes to Bavaria
PP RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHYG
DE RUEHMZ #0767/01 3040830
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 310830Z OCT 06
FM AMCONSUL MUNICH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3620
INFO RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 0304
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUCNMEU/EU INTEREST COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MUNICH 000767
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL GM RS
SUBJECT: MR. PUTIN GOES TO BAVARIA
REF: MUNICH 715
1. The Bavarian government warmly welcomed Russian President
Vladimir Putin during his visit to Munich October 11. Shortly after
Putin's visit, the so-called "Days of Moscow" were opened in the
Bavarian capital marking the visit of Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, to
whom Minister-President Stoiber awarded the Bavarian Order of Merit.
Bavaria was the first German state to open an office in Moscow (in
1991), and values its relationship with Russia. A State Chancery
contact told us that while Stoiber desires to strengthen
Russian-Bavarian relations and create a free trade zone between the
EU and Russia, Stoiber still considers strengthening the
transatlantic partnership to be a priority. End summary.
PUTIN CHOSES MUNICH
2. Bavarian Minister-President Stoiber extended an invitation to
President Putin to visit Bavaria when he traveled to Russia in 2002
as a chancellor candidate. The Bavarian government was pleasantly
surprised when Putin decided not to go to Berlin, Frankfurt or
Duesseldorf during his recent visit to Germany, but to come to
Munich, following his visit with Chancellor Merkel in Dresden.
Michael Hoehenberger, Stoiber's chief of staff at the State
Chancery, said Stoiber had planned a joint meeting with leading
Bavarian businessmen and scientists. Putin's advance team, led by
deputy protocol chief Markov, then decided Putin was mainly
interested in scientific innovation and wanted businessmen
disinvited, but in the end there were two separate meetings with
3. Hoehenberger said hundreds of businessmen were invited to a
dinner hosted by the Munich Chamber of Commerce. In his dinner
speech, Putin offered cooperation on many fields. Currently, about
4,500 German companies invest in Russia, with one third of them
Bavarian. Putin stressed the time was right for Russian investment
in Germany and the rest of Europe -- nobody should be afraid of
Russian dominance or German dependence on Russian oil and gas.
Putin said he did not understand German nervousness, as Russian
partners were no less capitalist than their Western counterparts.
Hoehenberger told us that the businessmen in Putin's delegation
represented billions of dollars in potential investment. The
Russian gas company Gazprom alone had 300 billion dollars in cash
and could buy not only one German soccer club, but the whole soccer
league should they want to.
SKEPTICISM OVER RUSSIA'S INTENSIONS
4. According to Hoehenberger, however, Stoiber is skeptical about a
substantial expansion of Russian interests in Europe. Stoiber
dampened Putin's expectations with regard to a larger share in the
aerospace company EADS (reftel). At the same time, Bavaria
preferred reliance on nuclear power to a disproportionate reliance
on Russian oil and gas supplies. Hoehenberger said Stoiber was
pleased when Putin told him that while many Russians felt the
country should economically orient itself more toward countries like
China and India, he personally believed that a revival of
Russian-European relations was preferable.
EU-RUSSIA FREE TRADE ZONE?
5. Stoiber's suggestion of a free trade zone between the European
Union and Russia acknowledged the special German-Russian
relationship, and was in no way intended to counter a potential free
trade zone between the EU and the U.S, Hoehenberger emphasized.
Bavarian politicians were of the opinion that economic ties would
strengthen Russian democracy, just as economic ties contributed to
the downfall of Communism. Hoehenberger also said that with regard
to German-Russian relations, Stoiber and Merkel were on the same
page; if there was dissonance over Russia within the grand
coalition, it would be due to the SPD.
6. Hoehenberger said human rights had also been a topic of
discussion between Stoiber and Putin. However, Putin described the
murdered journalist Anna Politkovskaya as a person of little
influence. At the same time, he denied allegations that the Russian
government had anything to do with the murder. In fact, such events
MUNICH 00000767 002 OF 002
only damaged the reputation of his government, Putin said -- he
would dedicate all necessary resources to solve this crime. In
contrast to Putin, Hoehenberger said Moscow Mayor Luzhkov did
acknowledge Politkovskaya's influence in Russia.
7. Hoehenberger described Vladimir Putin as a man who came across
as an intelligent and focused conversation partner with a good sense
of humor. Putin also seemed to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of a
local brewery later in the evening, as he stayed two hours longer
than planed - delaying his departure until well after midnight.
"DAYS OF MOSCOW"
8. Shortly after Putin's delegation departed, another delegation
arrived in Munich, headed by Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov. Bavaria has
maintained an office in Moscow, the first representation there by a
German federal state, since 1991. Half of all German enterprises in
Moscow are Bavarian, with Bavarian companies investing Euro 1.5
billion in Russia last year alone. On October 20, Stoiber and
Luzhkov signed a memorandum on an extension of their cooperation.
The so-called "Days of Moscow" included a series of economic and
cultural events and continued through October 27.
9. Previous reporting from Munich is available on our SIPRNET
website at www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/munich/ .