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German Chancellor Becomes Honorary Doctor of St Petersburg University

German Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder hopes to earn enough money so as not to apply to the St Petersburg University for the 300 euro pension he is entitled to being the university's honorary doctor. It was a joke the Chancellor made speaking at the university's law department where he was granted Honorary Doctor of Law degree of an oldest Russian university.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Jacques Chirac attended the ceremony of presenting Chancellor Schroeder with the doctoral paraphernalia including a gown with a band, a hat and a breast badge.

According to the Chancellor, who is a lawyer, he praises the privilege awarded him. It encourages him to further consolidate Russian-German relations, which have been, as Schroeder put it, "at their best" for the last hundred years.

The Russia-EU summit scheduled to take place late this May in St Petersburg will be a good occasion to intensify European cooperation, Gerhard Schroeder said. "Maybe one day we will cancel visas between Russia and the European Union, as Russia suggests," the Chancellor said.

According to him, the visa-free regime will, first of all, help students get to know each other better. Yesterday the Chancellor and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke on how to intensify youth exchange, Gerhard Schroeder said.

The German Chancellor also said he loved St Petersburg where he felt "at home." Russia has the right to be proud of St Petersburg, which for centuries served as a bridge between Russia and Europe, Schroeder said. Germany will set up a language laboratory at St Petersburg University's law department with books in German, the Chancellor said.

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