Russian-German Raw Materials Dialogue: final word of the experts
It is the opinion of the event’s participants that for effective development of our countries’ economies we need to increase the level of trust between our states and at the same time introduce environmentally-friendly technologies. German representatives also stated the need for increasing export volumes of Russian gas to Europe.
XI Russian-German Raw Materials Dialogue came to its end on the 8th of November. During the event, which was held in Potsdam, numerous issues were discussed. Politics, businessmen, scientists – they all came to participate in this conference and have a talk about development of environmentally-friendly energy systems, technological cooperation in the mining sector, economy growth of commodity regions. However, the main idea is that we need to return to the former relationship of trust. If there is no trust, it is impossible to develop cooperation.
According to Pavel Zavalny, the Head of the Committee on Energy in the State Duma of the Russian Federation, "In order for this trust to arise, we need mutual understanding and we need to have a dialogue. So far, we have no dialogue. As you know, Russian politicians are deprived of the right to vote in the PACE, nor that we may fully operate in the Council of Europe or in the European Parliament. Thus, at the policy level the dialogue is non-existent. Due to this state of affairs, it would be difficult to overestimate the role of the Dialogue. Both sides need it".
Mikhail Shvydkoy, Special Representative of the President of Russia in International Cultural Cooperation, recalls that "11 years ago, at the time when the first Russian-German Raw Materials Dialogue was held, relations among our states were quite different." In the opinion of the former Russian Minister of Culture, cooling in our relations is caused by artificial factors.
As he adds, "We have all heard today a very important figure – 80% of German citizens believe that Russia is an important partner for Germany and relations with our country should be a priority for German politicians. However, the vast majority of the nation’s media have fallen into frenzy about Russia. There is a huge paradox here. I believe, though, that despite we are facing quite a complex political situation, there are still fine prospects for regaining so necessary to our economic relations trust".
German participants tend to agree with their Russian colleagues. For instance, the Minister-President of Brandenburg, Dietmar Woidke believes that the dialogue is very important, as "our discussions with Russian friends and partners" help us understand the way to ensure "we have enough energy supply in the future". Associate Chairman of the Dialogue Klaus Töpfer has a similar opinion. He thinks that "power supply continuity is a basis for peaceful existence. What we need now is to agree on how to achieve it."
Gas supplies to Europe were one of the central topics at the forum, and both Russian and German participants shared an undivided opinion. Despite the sanctions, growth in exports of natural gas from Russia and, in particular, Nord Stream 2 pipeline construction are economically viable to both our countries. As Peter Altmaier, the Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy of Germany, noted, implementation of this project is a "right and necessary action".
As per him, "Russia is an important gas supplier to us, because our country is destined to import almost all resources. This state of affairs is unlikely to change in the coming years, as gas reserves in the Nordic countries are about to decline and renewable energy sources have not yet become efficient enough."
В том, что Nord Stream 2 будет построен, несмотря на противодействие американцев, уверен и исполнительный директор компании Falk Beratung BmbH Томас Фальк. Ведь газ сегодня - наиболее востребованный в ФРГ энергоресурс.
An Executive Director of Falk Beratung GmbH Thomas Falk is sure that Nord Stream 2 project will be finalized despite the countermeasures of Americans. After all, gas is still the most popular energy source in Germany. As he says, "There is a growing consumer and business demand for gas in Germany. Our Russian partners are offering us a profitable and rational solution, while the Americans have not yet been able to prove that they can supply Europe with LNG at the prices comparable to Russian ones".
German politicians and businessmen tried as well to emphasize the fact that, apart from the natural gas supplies, they have other points of interest for partnering with Russia. For instance, one of the areas for further cooperation is development of environmentally-friendly energy systems.
As Matthias Platzeck, a former Minister President of Brandenburg, noted, "Such forums are extremely valuable today. They can help us develop a common approach to solving existing problems, such as, for example, provide a ground for discussion on the matters related to implementation of the Paris climate agreement. There is no doubt that meeting the stated goals is possible only if we work together. Otherwise, it is not real".
He recalls that signing the Paris Agreement in 2015 led to a burst of optimism among the European public. However, there is "nothing left of those hopes" today, and the text of the agreement "looks a lot more like a fairy tale". Klaus Töpfer is the one who is also sure that enhanced cooperation with Russia may cause the change in a situation.
In his words, "We need to make an effort to develop cooperation in environmental problem solving. It is already happening. This March, Gazprom signed guidelines for reducing methane emissions. Thus, the Russian side is ready to make efforts to lower air pollution. Here, at the Dialogue, we can discuss these issues and create a common vision on how to preserve the environment".
One of the panel discussions of this forum was devoted to structural changes in economy development of commodity regions. The participants of the event noted that the problem of so-called single-industry towns is still of critical importance to Russia, as these monotowns heavily depend on raw materials sector.
In her speech, the Governor of Khanty–Mansi Autonomous Okrug Natalya Komarova pointed out that even by the most pessimistic forecasts demand growth for hydrocarbons is expected to continue at the very least until 2040. The Governor also added that "the region will continue developing oil and gas industry, in the meantime diversifying it in several ways."
Vice-Governor of Saint Petersburg Igor Albin told that as much as 710 German companies are currently operating in the city, and some 500 million US dollars have been invested in those companies. In his opinion, "Economy, Finance, tourism, cultural exchanges and educational programs are only a few of the areas for mutual cooperation. It is hard to underestimate the importance of this event in times of a difficult political situation. Thanks to the platforms, such as the Russian-German Raw Materials Dialogue, we are strengthening ties between our countries and our regions".
ВThe end of the event was marked by a get-acquainted session. The event’s participants had a chance to familiarize themselves with the work of leading German energy companies and research institutions, such as Lausitz Energie Bergbau AG, Helmholtz research Center, potash plant Zielitz, K+SKALI GmbH and a few others.