The board of the German-Russian Forum for Understanding plan to meet in Moscow on Saturday for the first time since the suspension of the Petersburg Dialogue put relations between Berlin and Moscow in the deep freeze.
The Petersburg Dialogue, which was set up 20 years ago by Russian President Vladimir Putin and the then German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder as a forum bringing together NGOs, think tanks and other civil society groups from both countries, was suspended earlier this year after Russia effectively banned three German civil society NGOs in Russia.
The German-Russian Forum for Understanding is a separate Berlin-based non-profit association which aims to promote ties between the two countries.
German participants in the Moscow talks are now hoping for an explanation of the de facto NGO ban. “Cooperation must be a matter of course despite all the clashes of interest,” said Jochen Saathoff, the German government’s envoy to the talks.
Germany has signaled that it will only attend this year’s Petersburg Dialogue – originally planned for mid-October in Kaliningrad – if all organizations are allowed to participate.
Text and photos: Courtesy © dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH