Sergey Lavrov and Sigmar Gabriel gave the press conference in Krasnodar

The Russian Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor, the Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany held the press conference for foreign and Russian media following the opening ceremony of the 14th Conference of Russian and German Partner Cities in Krasnodar. They told about the Russian-German Cross-Year of regional and municipal partnerships in 2017-2018, expressed the position of the two countries on a number of foreign policy issues and assessed current developments on the international scene.

"Despite the fact that we have differences in views on a number of foreign policy issues, our relationship has always been and remains mutually respectful, and we have never stopped the dialogue. There were periods when certain formats for dialogue were frozen by our German colleagues, but they are now resuming their work. We are in favour of such an approach in our relations with any other country. Specifically, different points of view should not be an obstacle to dialogue, open conversation, to hear and listen to each other. If there is a good will to understand the legitimate interests of the partner, I'm convinced that compromises are possible in any situation," said Sergey Lavrov.

The press conference was held in one of halls of Philharmonic of G.F. Ponomarenko. It was attended by journalists from foreign and Russian media, including federal and regional broadcasters.

Sergey Lavrov set the tone for the conversation noting that Sigmar Gabriel had visited Russia for the third time in recent times, including visit in Krasnodar, which is a testimony to the interest of the two parties in working together on the priority areas of cooperation.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation also stressed that the Russian-German dialogue had become constructive, there had been a growth in the trade and economic sphere, and channels of interaction had been established at all levels. The Russian-German Cross-Year of youth exchanges 2016-2017 has successfully passed. A formal closure will take place in Berlin on July 13.

In Krasnodar Foreign Ministers of Russia and Germany announced the launch of the next project, the German-Russian Cross Year of regional and municipal partnerships which will begin this year and take part in 2018.

Sergey Lavrov and Sigmar Gabriel noted that the implementation of this large-scale inter-state project would give impetus to the development of Russian-German relations. It will involve representatives of all Russian regions and federal states of Germany. A detailed program of arrangements has already been prepared. Priority themes are inter-municipal cooperation, exchange of experience in housing and public utilities sphere, architecture and construction, culture, education, sports, tourism, civil society contacts.

"We want a solid foundation in our relations between our countries and for that end people need to know each other better. Today and tomorrow in Moscow, we will talk about how to realize the political, economic and social potential of our bilateral relations, which is far from exhausted. Of course, that process will be facilitated by the Cross Year of regional and municipal partnerships as well as by the Conference of Russian and German Partner Cities in Krasnodar," said Sigmar Gabriel.

Sergey Lavrov and Sigmar Gabriel also responded to journalists' questions. They particularly related to the agenda of the upcoming G20 Summit, which this year will take place from 7 to 8 July in Hamburg, the positions of the two countries on the situation in Ukraine, Syria and other key foreign policy issues.