The President oversaw the signing of a memorandum of cooperation between Chairman of the Renova Group Board of Directors Viktor Vekselberg and Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger on supporting and preserving the Fort Ross National Park in California. This historic national park is the site of a Russian fortress built in the early nineteenth century by Vologda merchant Ivan Kuskov.
Later in the day Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger hosted a reception in honour of Dmitry and Svetlana Medvedev.
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Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger: First of all, Mr President, let me just say, welcome to California. It is a very special honour for us to have you here, because we know in your trip to the United States you’ve chosen California as your first stop. We are very fortunate that we have many dignitaries coming through California, but your visit means a lot to us. Now we know that you are here because you want to visit some of the high-tech companies in Silicon Valley, and because you want to create, which you have announced in March, a hub outside of Moscow in order to create more diversification in your economy.
So, of course, we have followed your political career, and we know that you are very interested in not only developing your economy and diversifying it, but also you’re very interested in nuclear disarmament, and I want to tell you how much I appreciate that, which is something that Secretary Shultz has been talking about for decades with Henry Kissinger and Sam Nunn. They both were kind of the motivators, and have even done a documentary on that subject.
Tomorrow I will be with you at Cisco, when you visit Cisco, and then you will go on and visit many of the other companies. But I just wanted to let you know as Governor that first of all, I am more than interested to create, to put together a trade delegation and do a trade mission to Russia, and to help in any way possible in order to improve and to build on the already fast-growing economy in Russia, because I think this will be very beneficial for both the state of California and also for Russia.
I just also wanted to tell you that I am a big fan of your weight-lifters over there in Russia. Since I was a fifteen-year-old kid, I’ve admired the great lifters of Russia: Yury Vlasov, Zhabotinsky, Alexeyev. The list goes on and on, and they were motivators for me to be a lifter and to get into weight lifting – Olympic lifting – and bodybuilding. So I’m a big fan of them.
So I’m looking forward to working together with you and being your partner.
President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Mr Governor, American colleagues,
It is with great interest indeed that I begin this visit to the USA with the state of California, with San Francisco. This is my first time here. I had heard a lot about this state, and of course the fact that California is one of the USA’s most economically advanced states has done much to shape its destiny.
Tomorrow we have a busy programme during which we will have the opportunity to learn more about the high-tech companies in Silicon Valley. This will be very useful for us given our plans that you mentioned, Mr Governor, our plans to build a similar centre near Moscow. But this is not a simple excursion. My aim in going there is not simply to see how everything is organised. My hope is that this visit will help to establish full-fledged relations that we can then build up into solid cooperation. In this sense the idea that you put forward looks very attractive indeed, Mr Governor, namely, the proposal to put together a team that would be able to come to us and carry out an ongoing exchange with our companies.
So, we are always happy to see you, always happy to see businesspeople from California, to discuss business matters together. All the more so as you are a very popular figure in our country and much-loved by many of our people who remember you well from your previous career. Of course this makes for interest in you, and in California in general.
I hope that we will have the chance to talk and see everything, and then, enriched by this exchange of experience here in California, I will fly to Washington for my talks with the President of the United States of America.
One last thing, San Francisco is an exceptionally beautiful city. I saw it from above, and it is really amazing. As for the weather, it changes every three minutes, painting a new picture before your very eyes each time. It must be hard to work in such a city where you would always be wanting to look around and relax.
Arnold Schwarzenegger: Thank you. You were talking about the weather. I was in Moscow in 1987, when we filmed part of Red Heat, one of the movies that I did. I have to say that it was a very enjoyable experience, even though there was a lot of snowfall, and we were working in the winter, and we needed the snowfall for the scene. So it was perfect. We had experience of hard working with people in Russia – very efficient. We had a wonderful, wonderful experience filming in your country.
We had a terrific experience there, and I had the chance to meet some of my great heroes – athletic heroes – there also at the same time. So I’m definitely looking forward to coming back, going to visit your wonderful country.
But the thing I’m interested in is, I know that you’re going from here to Washington, just to find out, for all of us, what the big challenge is, that you will have on your trip to Washington and also to Canada, to the G8 meeting, and eventually becoming part of the World Trade Organisation and all of that.
Fort Ross is a former Russian settlement and fort in California that now has the status of state historic park and national historic landmark.
Fort Ross was founded on California’s Pacific coast, around 140 km from San Francisco, by Ivan Kuskov, a merchant from the county town of Totma in Vologda Province of Russia.
Flying above the settlement was the flag of the Russian American Company, which was mostly involved in fur trading. In 1836, Fort Ross had a population of 260 people, engaged in agriculture and hunting fur seals.
Faced with mounting losses in running the settlement, the Russian American Company eventually found itself forced to ask the Russian government to abandon the colony in California. The company’s staff and Fort Ross residents returned home to Russia. When California became part of the United States in 1850 the Russian settlement went with it.
Fort Ross is the venue for a number of annual Russian culture events, the biggest of which is the Days of Living History festival on the last Saturday in July, which the Russian Consulate in San Francisco helps to organize.
The Fort Ross Association is currently preparing for the settlement’s 200th anniversary celebrations in 2012.
Lately, however, the budget crisis in California has placed the site’s very survival under threat. The Congress of Russian Americans, the Fort Ross Interpretive Association and other Russian community groups sent a petition to Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger requesting that Fort Ross be excluded from the list of parks for which financing will be cut.