Berlin promises to improve ties with Moscow
Germany would like to improve relations with Russia, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said during a press conference in Berlin.
Merkel said she will continue to work on improving relations with Russia, noting that relations between Moscow and EU’s right-wing political parties are a cause for concern .
"We have constantly monitored the very strong support that right-leaning parties have received from Russia in one way or the other. This is a cause for concern," TASS cited Merkel as saying.
The German chancellor also mentioned the scandal regarding the alleged financing of Italy’s Lega party by Russia, noting that the Italian side must investigate the allegations in detail.
Milan’s prosecution launched a case based on the publications on the U.S. BuzzFeed website and in the Italian L’Espresso weekly news magazine shedding light on the alleged financing Lega was receiving from Russia, qualifying the case as international corruption. The main suspect in the case is one of the associates of Italy’s Deputy PM Matteo Salvini, head of th-e Lombardy-Russia Association Gianluca Savoini.
According to the prosecution, his voice can be heard on the BuzzFeed published audio recording of an alleged conversation with Russian entrepreneurs with ties to the Kremlin, during which a possible oil supply contract was discussed. The party could have received the deal dividends amounting to $65 mln. Both Salvini and Savoini have denied the allegations.
Russian president’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said earlier that the Kremlin took notice of the publication of these records, but did not see any proof of the allegations that the Italian party received any financing from Russia.
Director of Institute of Scientific Information on Social Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexei Kuznetsov, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that earlier several Russian experts have proposed to strengthen contacts with the German opposition, so that if not normalize relations with the EU, then at least remind the European Union that there is not only a modern political establishment which has a negative attitude towards modern Russia and its foreign policy.
"In my opinion, it wasn't very reasonable: the authors of the proposal did not take into account that the German far-right are outcasts of the political establishment," the expert pointed out.
"At the same time, however, it should be noted that Merkel is afraid of the Alternative for Germany also because that the AfD plays upon the electorate's discontents, including the dissatisfaction of the Russian-speaking Germans. All this explains, on the one hand, the irritation of the CDU, because Merkel is afraid that the AfD will take the votes of the CDU, while Russia really plays upon the feelings of a pro-Russian electorate. But on the other hand, I would not bet on it. Yes, we must contact all political parties represented in the parliament, but we must also try to re-establish a normal dialogue with the leading parties," Alexey Kuznetsov stressed.
He also expressed doubt that Berlin is now set to a radical improvement in relations, but acknowledged that now the "2015-2016 aggression is slowly moving away."
The senior research fellow at the European Research Centre of the International Relations Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vladimir Olenchenko, noted that Merkel's concern with the right-wing parties is equal to her concern with the left-wing parties. "These are political rivals of the CSU/CDU parties. And the elections held in Germany show that the CSU/CDU are losing popularity among the German electorate. Both wings benefiting from the CSU/CDU weakening are the right and the left. Right-wing radicals are more noticeable, because they are more active and gain popularity faster than others. If 4-5 years ago they were at the zero point, now they already have the level of 10-15%," the expert noted.
"If we talk about relationships, all countries in the world maintain relations with various political organizations in order to have an idea of the situation in the country. But recently, one of Europe’s long-term advisers to Trump, Steve Bannon, spent a lot of time in Europe, where he had active contacts with German, French and Italian rights. Therefore, the claims against Russia are not very reasonable, because practically all countries in the world are in contact with the right-wing party," Vladimir Olenchenko explained.
"As for the combination of these two elements in Merkel's speech, she hints that the CSU/CDU will strive to improve interstate relations, but Russia, in turn, should not show interest in the German right-wing party," the senior research fellow at the European Research Centre of the RAS International Relations Institute pointed out.
He drew attention to the fact that Germany cannot be called a country that is homogeneous in political terms. "Yes, it has political figures, in particular Merkel, she, on the one hand, is interested in developing relations with Russia, on the other hand, she feels the influence of the United States. Therefore, this development is uneven. On the one hand, Germany is developing bilateral relations with Russia, on the other hand, she adheres to the sanctions adopted by the European Union. Therefore, I expect progress in normalizing relations between Germany and Russia, but I do not think it will be very fast and impressive," Vladimir Olenchenko concluded.