Russia's new president arrives in Berlin Thursday for his first official visit to the West.
Berlin and Moscow
In his first visit to the West as Russian president, Dmitri Medvedev arrives in Berlin Thursday for a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. While his one-day stay isn't expected to allow for substantive progress on key issues, Mr. Medvedev's decision to make Germany his first Western stop holds promise of warmer ties between Moscow and Berlin.
In Germany, the traditional link between Europe and Russia, hopes are high that the visit signals the beginning of a new era of Russia's ties with the West, which were badly strained during the final years of Vladimir Putin's rule, and the first step toward common ground on issues such as energy policy, human rights, and Kosovo.
"There are hopes that Russia will become more open to our values – human rights, democracy and rule of law – and that this very raw and aggressive stance toward Europe and the United States [under Mr. Putin] will get softer," says Stefan Meister, Russia program officer of the German Council on Foreign Relations, an independent advisory body. "This would obviously make it easier to cooperate with Russia."