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President Vladimir Putin and German Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder answered journalists' questions

January 7, 2001, Moscow

The Russian and German leaders addressed a news conference at Vnukovo-2 Airport before Mr Schroeder’s departure from Moscow.

The President said Mr Schroeder’s informal visit during Russian Orthodox Christmas celebrations had been an unprecedented event.

Their bilateral talks concerned Russian-European relations in the short and long terms.

Mr Putin said Russia would pay the former Soviet Union’s debts. It would earmark 25% of federal expenses for 2001 to pay foreign debt. He also said that Russia would suggest to its partners that they hold an expert discussion of the problem to determine the amount and deadline of payments. The President emphasised that none of Russia’s Western partners would benefit from a poor economy in Russia, which would impede debt payment.

Concerning the Balkan situation, Mr Putin stressed that the use of force was inadmissible in Yugoslavia and the rest of Europe.

Mr Putin said that Russia and Germany would not allow any annoyances to get in the way of their bilateral relations. He added that both countries could attain that goal using only Russian and German legislation. This was in response to a question about the prospects of recovering artefacts of cultural value.

January 7, 2001, Moscow