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As the Press Mulls Merkel and Putin in Moscow

There's a divide this morning in between the typical western press and the German variants. Germany's Merkel apparently has the pulse of her people, and of her press

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

Earlier this morning, German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Moscow and joined Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

In the western mainstream, the German chancellor’s visit the day after the May 9th Victory Day celebrations is being seen as a conciliatory gesture in between the two countries. Many of the western media sources reporting contend Merkel and Germany felt it necessary to appear out of the heavy weight of obligation her country feels as a result of Nazi aggression during World War II. The “heavy burden of German history” is now a recurrent mainstream media theme used to cement the reasons for Merkel’s departure from the click of western leaders. The Wall Street Journal, for one, pointed to the Mrs. Merkel’s visit as a breakage of “taboo” among her contemporaries in the UK, France, and the United States.

<figcaption>There is a tenderness in this image that is unmistakable (Kremlin)</figcaption>
There is a tenderness in this image that is unmistakable (Kremlin)

In Germany the sense of “making up” was expressed best in the newspaper Tagesschau, where Merkel's trip to Moscow is a "gesture of reconciliation". Likewise the BBC hit on this note of mending fences, as did many other media reports. But of course almost all the reports circle back around to Crimea and the rest of the west being absent from the Victory ceremonies out of protest. CNN’s headline ensures Americans never lose sight of the conflict in Ukraine with “Germany's Merkel visits Moscow amid crisis in Ukraine”

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Putin and Merkel, seemingly impromptu (Kremlin)

Perhaps the best take on the Germany-Russia get-together today comes from Deutsche Welle (DW) , where the report makes no bones about announcing “Merkel in Moscow for 'compromise' WWII commemoration”. If no other explanation or news report suffices, the picture of Merkel with Vladimir Putin today is literally worth 1000 words. Germany and Russia having better relations is not, after all, rocket science. The two leaders answered questions from reporters after the wreath laying ceremony. 

The Kremlin website has the conversation in between Putin, Merkel, and the press that were present here. This excerpt conveys the sentiment I express above: 

Our bilateral trade decreased by 6.5 percent in 2014 – the first drop in the last five years. The drop exceeded 35 percent in the first two months of this year. This situation is not in the interests of either Russia or Germany. In this respect, I must say that the business community in Germany itself would like to see the lifting of these artificial barriers to developing our mutually advantageous trade and economic ties.

Businesspeople are pragmatic by nature. They are therefore not leaving the Russian market and are assessing the current opportunities for doing successful business here. More than 6,000 German companies have a presence in the Russian market, and total accumulated German investment in the Russian economy comes to more than $21 billion.

Mr. Putin went on to offer more positive notes, reminding those present that Germany and Russia have collaborated under far worse condiditons than those present today. Putin said; " times when it seemed that insurmountable ideological barriers divided us, there were plenty of positive examples of cooperation back then. I will not go through them now, I think that you are all familiar with them."

It seems positivity and reconcilliation are in the air. 

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