• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Merkel tells Putin: Give NGOs a chance

The Local · 8 Apr 2013, 07:27

Published: 08 Apr 2013 07:27 GMT+02:00

The two leaders were opening the Hannover industrial trade fair where Russia was the partner country. Dozens of demonstrators protested against Putin's crackdown on NGOs outside the northern German city's convention centre where the opening ceremony was held.

Click here for a photo gallery of the protest (WARNING: NUDITY)

Merkel's statement, made in a much-applauded opening speech, was a direct reference to Russian probes into a number of international NGOs including German think tanks - moves criticized by Moscow's partners.

In an interview with German public television station ARD, broadcast on Sunday, Putin defended the crackdown, arguing that Russians had a right to know which organizations that set up shop in the country were receiving foreign funds "and for what".

In her speech Merkel insisted on the importance of an active civil society in Russia.

"Russia wants to diversify... and we want to help it," she said adding that a key element of the diversification of the economy was innovation.

"We are convinced that this is particularly successful when there is an active civil society," she said.

Outside the Hannover convention centre about 100 demonstrators called on Moscow "to leave the NGOs alone".

The protest was organised by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

Putin earlier praised solid German-Russian trade relations which last year totalled a record €74 billion ($96 billion).

"I'm sure that we will soon reach 100 billion," said Putin.

Merkel, who was to dine with Putin after the opening ceremony, said discussions about the conditions under which civil society must be able to work should be pursued.

Story continues below…

The chancellor had taken Putin to task during a visit to Moscow in November when she criticized the sentencing of two of the members of punk-rock group Pussy Riot to two years in prison camp after they were convicted of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" in a church performance.

Putin was to join former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder for a birthday bash later Sunday.

Schröder, Merkel's immediate predecessor, turned 69 on Sunday and has long been friends with Putin.

AFP/hc

Related links:

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Lion shot dead at Leipzig Zoo after breaking out of cage
Motshegetsi (l) und Majo. Photo: DPA

A young male lion was shot dead at Leipzig Zoo on Thursday afternoon after he broke out of his enclosure.

EU takes Germany to court for 'discriminatory' foreigner toll
A sign that reads "toll" along the Autobahn by Rostock. Photo: DPA.

The European Commission on Thursday said it is taking Germany to the EU Court of Justice because of the country's plan to impose a road toll that would mainly charge foreign drivers.

After 3-year trial, suspected neo-Nazi terrorist speaks out
Beate Zschäpe. Photo: DPA

Beate Zschäpe, the only living member of an underground neo-Nazi cell accused of murdering ten people, has spoken to the court in Munich after three years of silence.

Green party wants only e-cars on Autobahn by 2030
Photo: DPA.

The environmentalist Green party has an ambitious plan for German cars to be petrol- and diesel-free within the next 15 years.

Commerzbank to make one in five staff redundant by 2020
Photo: DPA

Germany's second largest lender Commerzbank said on Thursday it plans to cut 9,600 jobs by 2020 and withhold dividends to pay for a €1.1 billion restructuring.

Germany's favourite smoker wins battle against eviction
Photo: DPA

How a pensioner with a serious smoking habit won a years-long fight for his right to keep his home - and his favourite pastime.

Thousands evacuated after WWII bomb found in Cologne
File photo of a Second World War bomb: DPA

Several thousands people were being evacuated from a district of Cologne just north of the old town on Thursday morning, after a Second World War bomb was found in a parking lot.

Kidnapped German journalist and her baby freed in Syria
File photo of a Syrian soldier: SANA/DPA.

A German woman who was kidnapped in Syria last year while she was pregnant has been freed along with her baby, the German Foreign Office said on Wednesday.

Air Berlin to cut 1,200 jobs and halve airline fleet
Photo: DPA.

Struggling Air Berlin, Germany's second-largest airline, announced on Wednesday a major restructuring plan that shrinks its fleet and cuts 1,200 jobs.

Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
Photo: Thomas Wolf/Wikimedia Commons.

From stunning chalk-white cliffs to fairy tale castles, Germany has some breathtaking sights to see, perfect for social media.

Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Lifestyle
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
Lifestyle
10 German films you have to watch before you die
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
Lifestyle
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
National
Seven great reasons to stay in Germany this September
National
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
National
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
National
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
6,623
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd