German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Russia should foster civil society including allowing greater freedom to non-governmental organizations to help spur innovation and wealth.
“We are convinced that this is best achieved when there is an active civil society,” Merkel said today in a speech in Hanover, where she and Russian President Vladimir Putin opened the annual trade fair.
Russia and Germany have already addressed such topics, “and we must intensify this discussion, develop our respective views and give non-governmental organizations in Russia, and the many other groups that we in Germany recognize as drivers of innovation, a decent chance,” Merkel said to applause from the audience.
Relations between the two countries have been strained by Russian raids of German NGOs, including the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, which is affiliated to Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party. Putin stressed in his speech the strong economic ties between Russian and Germany that saw bilateral trade reach a record $74 billion last year.
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