For the third time, the German-Russian Economic Association has gathered about 200 German and Russian entrepreneurs for its major annual event – Day of Medium-Sized Business.
The event started with the tour of local production facilities followed by a gala reception at the town hall of Lubeck and continued with the forum in Hamburg where 15 speakers delivered their speeches, all of them having a common appeal to cooperation, mutual understanding and closer relationship between Russia and Germany despite the current international position.
The forum opened with Stefan Duerr, President of EkoNiva Group, solemnly accepting an award for outstanding business achievements in the intercountry economic relations. Peter Harry Carstensen, ex-Prime Minister of the state of Schleswig-Holstein, underlined Stefan Duerr’s contribution to the launch of the German-Russian Agrarian and Political Dialogue Project in the 90s in his congratulating speech.
‘Up to this day, it remains BMEL’s (Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture of Germany) official project’, says Harry Carstensen, ‘and an unfailing platform for experience sharing and cooperation in the farming sector between our countries. Stefan Duerr has always advocated fostering mutual understanding between our countries. Likewise, the project activity covers much more than just experience exchange within the associations and between the political committees.’
Peter Harry Carstensen presented the award together with Thomas Overbeck, President of the German-Russian Economic Association.
‘Stefan Duerr embodies the best Russian and German features’, says Thomas Overbeck. ‘He is a businessman and a talented manager, strategically-thinking and socially responsible, for whom Russia is a home, who has embraced Russian mentality and culture. He has the brains and he has the heart to create something magnificent. That is why he has been honoured to become the first recipient of this accolade, thus setting the highest standard for the successors.
Before the ceremony, all the guests had watched a film about EkoNiva.
‘In the film, you saw images of Voronezh land. This land was crossed by the front line 75 years ago, and Wehrmacht soldiers brought a lot of sorrow to the locals,’ says Stefan Duerr. ‘I am a Russian citizen now, but I came to the country as a German, and I am sincerely thankful to the people, who made my business in Russia possible, I am highly honoured to be able to work there.’
In his acceptance speech, Stefan Duerr also mentioned other historic landmarks: cold war, thaw period, which caused a tangible improvement in the relationships, and the crisis of 2014, which ruined a lot of things that had been achieved with so much effort. Stefan Duerr pointed out that German companies had suffered from the embargo more than Russian ones. The Russian government had not left entrepreneurs to the mercy of fate, which helped the business to restore.
‘I appeal to everybody to look into the Russian history, soul and mentality before quoting somebody’s derogatory words about Russia’, emphasised Stefan Duerr.
To conclude, Stefan Duerr stressed that, having a dispute, businessmen look for compromises at a negotiation table instead of imposing sanctions on each other, as compared to politicians.
‘We, business community, cannot stay out of politics, as we bear a great responsibility for our operations, employees and their families’, explained Stefan Duerr. ‘Despite the complicated situation, we can’t stop meeting and sharing economic, cultural and educational experience. I take this award as an impetus to keep on myself and inspire other people to do it.’
As the participants asserted, the Day of Medium-Sized Business is an event aimed at both commercial networking and personal communication, which is equally important.
By Tatiana SIMONENKOVA