Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is in Munich for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and he may be bracing himself for some tough questioning on human rights in Russia at their joint press conference later.
Before then the pair have a number of issues to discuss in private. Medvedev will defend the proposed takeover of carmaker Opel by a Canadian-Russian joint venture, and seek to reverse a business slump. Germany is Russia’s leading trade partner, but trade halved in the first quarter of this year. Another issue is the Nord Stream gas pipeline project, and Russia will be seeking a greater German involvement. The project is struggling to overcome criticisms it will make Europe even more dependent on Russian energy, and objections voiced by Finland, Sweden and Denmark that the underwater pipeline could damage the fragile Baltic Sea environment. Although the Russians say the Finns are being won round, Sweden and Denmark are far less willing to take risks with the Baltic ecology.