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Putin Tells German Parliament 'Evil Must Be Punished' - 2001-09-25

In a double first Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin became the first Russian leader to address the German Parliament and the first foreign leader to do so in German. Mr. Putin used the occasion to call on the West to include Russia's views in its decision-making.

President Putin was speaking to a packed house in the Reichstag, the German parliament building where Russian soldiers raised the red flag 56 years ago to signal their conquest of Nazi Germany.

He was speaking one day after surprising the world by offering the United States the use of Russian air space for humanitarian aid flights to Afghanistan and allowing Central Asian countries - once part of the Soviet Union to let the United States to use their airfields. He also said Russia would provide help to arm Afghanistan's Northern Alliance, which is fighting the Taleban.

President Putin, who is on a three-day visit to Germany, asked for a greater role for Russia in the councils of the West.

He addressed parliament in fluent German honed as a KGB spy in former Communist East Germany.

Russia is a friendly European country, he said. The Cold War is over, and European countries have to work together for their security. And that, he told the German parliament, meant coordination of policy.

"Of course evil must be punished," Mr. Putin said. "But we must also be aware that reprisals alone cannot replace a complete, focused and well-coordinated battle against terrorism. In that, I am in full agreement with the American President."

But that, said Mr. Putin, is where the problem lies. Despite the positive work that has been done to combat terrorism in the past decades, he said, there is no adequate framework for cooperation.

Russia is not adequately consulted, he said. Sometimes decisions are reached without consulting the Russians at all. Moscow is merely pressed to confirm decisions made in its absence.

And then they talk within NATO, said Mr. Putin, of how nothing can be achieved without Russian cooperation.

"I ask you," he said, "is that normal? Is that genuine partnership?"

The future security of Europe, Mr. Putin said, depends on improving decision-making and taking the whole continent's interests into account. Mr. Putin began his address speaking briefly in Russian to remind his audience of his country's long cultural ties with Germany, then switched to German to speak of the need for greater understanding and greater ties.

Terrorism, he said, had its roots in the failures of politicians, like himself, and like the parliamentarians in his audience, who speak of new friendships but had not learned to trust each other.

He reminded the West that it is not only the United States that has suffered terrorist attacks from Muslim fundamentalists. There have been attacks in Moscow, too, he said, by Muslim fundamentalists from Chechnya where hundreds of people have died.

But, if the world has to work together to beat terrorism, President Putin said, Europeans and Americans must stop considering Russia as a cold war enemy and treat it with the respect it deserves.