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How Bavarian PM's Moscow Visit Built Bridges Over Merkel's Walls

© AFP 2023 / Tobias SchwarzSeehofer and Merkel
Seehofer and Merkel - Sputnik International
A veteran German politician with a focus on international dialogue told Sputnik that Bavarian premier Seehofer's recent Moscow visit was meant to foster dialogue, not sow a divide within German politics.

While Bavarian Premier Horst Seehofer's visit to Moscow was criticized, the practice itself is pretty ordinary for German regional leaders, according to German diplomacy veteran Horst Teltschik.

Teltschik was foreign policy advisor to former Chancellor Helmut Kohl during a 20-year career with the Christian Democrats (CSU/CDU) and later head of the Munich Security Conference from 1999 to 2008. After leaving party politics in 1991, Teltschik served on the board of BMW and as head of one of its foundations for promoting global dialogue.

"In Germany, there is a good old tradition, in which the premiers of the federal states visit the capitals of countries with which they maintain close and very friendly relations. I remember the premier of North Rhine-Westphalia of the [Social Democratic Party], who even in Soviet times visited Moscow," Teltschik told Sputnik.

Bavarian Prime Minister and head of the Christian Social Union (CSU) Horst Seehofer - Sputnik International
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He added that Bavaria, one of Germany's most industrialized states, has many interests in Russia, which the premier would want to maintain contacts with.

"Germany's largest companies are traditionally in Bavaria. They all have good relations with Russia, they have their branch offices in Russia. Think BMW, Siemens, Allianz - large companies with a good turnover in Russia," he added.

He added that European Union sanctions, which Chancellor Angela Merkel stands behind have hurt both countries' economies.

"Regarding sanctions, the interest of the Bavarian premier, President Putin and other participants of this meeting is to ensure that any possible positive developments in Ukraine increase the chance of lifting the sanctions - if not immediately, then at least gradually. Here, both sides have to try to make the first step," Teltschik told Sputnik.

Building Rapport

According to Teltschi, the key to resolving the crisis in Ukraine is for Western countries, Moscow and especially Ukraine to be able to make a step forward, toward resolving the crisis in an atmosphere of dialogue.

"My experience tells me that the most important thing in a relationship is a continuous dialogue in order to avoid misunderstandings, to clarify the interests of the other party and the establishment of personal relationships. Helmut Kohl had a talent for creating quite friendly relationships, including with his Soviet counterparts Gorbachev and Yeltsin. There are no alternatives to this exchange, this dialogue," Teltschik told Sputnik.

Bavaria State Premier Horst Seehofer arrives to give a news conference on the situation of migrants in Bavariain Munich, southern Germany, on October 9, 2015. - Sputnik International
What's the Bavarian PM's Visit to Moscow All About?
He added that the US and EU wasted time when there was a possibility to talk to Putin about resolving the Syrian crisis from the beginning of the conflict, which led to a large influx of refugees in European countries.

"One million [refugees] came to Germany. This means that we are most interested in resolving this conflict, to ensure that people are no longer leaving their country and could return. And Russia plays a key role, because Syria has for decades been its important strategic partner," he added.

He added that building dialogue is crucial, and the visit, which Merkel agreed on, led to undue criticism over his visit.

Seehofer has repeatedly made critical statements about Merkel's 'open doors' policy on refugees and even announced his intentions to file a lawsuit within Germany's Constitutional Court if Merkel failed to restore order on the German border.

Earlier, Seehofer was accused by his colleagues of playing into Putin's hands after he stressed the negative impact of anti-Russian sanctions on the German economy.

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