Putin criticizes Angela Merkel

Nov. 16, 2012 at 3:44 PM

MOSCOW, Nov. 16 (UPI) -- Germany is involved in a "cartel" with other members of the European Union, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday.

Putin made his remarks after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she consults other members of the union before Germany takes a stand, RIA Novosti reported. Merkel was in Moscow for a forum on trade relations.

"Note what the federal chancellor said. She said they first consult with 26 countries and then state their common position. In the economics, it is called cartel," Putin said. "They should have a position of their own."

Putin also slammed Merkel for criticizing the trial and conviction of the rock group Pussy Riot, RIA Novosti said.

RIA Novosti columnist Fyodor Lukyanov, writing before the meeting, described the long-frosty Merkel-Putin relationship as being in a "political ice age."

"Vladimir Putin believes that economic considerations will outweigh ideology, just as they did 60, 40 or 25 years ago," Lukyanov said.

Putin himself said Russian officials are convinced the European Union and the euro will survive.

"Otherwise, we would not hold 40 percent of our gold and foreign currency reserves, which are the world's third largest, in euros," he told reporters. "We are convinced difficulties will be overcome."

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