In official reporting, there was nothing unusual about President, Dmitry Medvedev’s, working visit to Germany last weekend, except perhaps the rather short notice.
Germany is certainly second to none in the scope of bilateral ties, but Medvedev has found that Merkel is actually not that keen to cultivate it, as her domestic political troubles deepen in parallel with the Greek fiscal disaster. It is only rational that investors do not take Medvedev’s word that the Skolkovo “wonder-village” will prove to be a “safe haven” for their money, but what is “strictly business” for them is very personal in high-level political dialogue. Many European leaders have been inclined to give Medvedev every benefit of the doubt, and Merkel has clearly preferred to do business with him rather than with his mentor Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, who for her is too much of a Stasi character. The expectation was that Medvedev would gradually grow into the job and develop a taste for decision-making, and the modernization discourse that he has introduced is indeed changing the content of public debates in Russia. Opinion polls show that Russians are taking the president more seriously, but among the political and business elites the evaluations are changing in the opposite direction (Levada Center, May 27). Putin has asserted his power to keep loyal cadre in key positions, to manage cash flows and to crush discontent as he sees fit, so for Western leaders it makes only so much sense to discuss with Medvedev his grand ideas about a new security architecture.