Russian President Vladimir Putin said he considered German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder his friend and one who thinks on similar lines with him on many issues.
"With Gerhard Schroeder I have truly friendly relations. I think that everybody also knows that on many issues we share the same views. Thus, we consider it our common task to help eliminate the negative encrusted layers of the past in Russian-German relations, and to heal the wounds left by the war," the Russian president said in a joint interview with the German chancellor to the newspaper Bild. On Friday it was posted on the Russian president's web site www.kremlin.ru.
Putin said, "we are united in thinking that the lessons of those events should serve to bring together the international community in the struggle against 21st century global threats, to strengthen stability and security in Europe and the world. We are also perfectly aware how important it is to counter through joint efforts the activity of extremist organizations that parasitize on the ideology of national and racial intolerance, and try to justify the crimes by Nazis and their collaborating accomplices."
According to him, "the ideology of such organizations is largely similar to the anti-humane ideology of terrorists who negate the values of democracy, of human life itself, civil rights and freedoms, and use crude nationalism and xenophobia in their propaganda."
"We consider development of international humanitarian cooperation to be one of the major areas of our work. Familiarization with the cultural and humanistic legacy of countries and peoples, joint education and science projects, and youth exchanges bring people closer together, and help better to understand each other, enrich them spiritually," Putin said.
He emphasized that "on the whole Russian-German 'agenda' is undoubtedly turned to the future and is not only pragmatic, but above all constructive in nature."
For his part Chancellor Schroeder remarked that he discusses with Putin all aspects of German-Russian relations, including the "dark pages, because only those who analyze history are able to avoid a repeat of past mistakes."