The President said that contacts between NGOs, educational establishments and the business communities form the foundation of modern relations between countries.
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President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Mr President Lee Myung-bak, friends,
I was thinking of the great distance we have travelled over these last 20 years and wanted to begin with these words, but after listening to the co-chairs I realised that the work is only just beginning and that we still have much to do.
No matter what the sectors our colleagues name we see that there is work to do and room for improvement. This is a good thing. I am pleased that the idea for this forum has become reality and that you are meeting here in Seoul and showing your effectiveness.
All of the topics you have raised are very relevant and many of them were the subject of discussions at the talks the President and I held, today and on past occasions.
We met not so long ago in Yaroslavl, in the Russian Federation, and we meet regularly at international summits, one of which will take place tomorrow in Seoul. We began our personal contacts in 2008, with the South Korean president’s first official visit to our country.
I would like to see the wishes expressed here become reality as rapidly as possible. Of course, some of these ideas require more thorough reflection. Things are simpler no doubt with business projects which only require political will and the necessary financial instruments.
We discussed our economic relations today. Before meeting the President I had a meeting with business community representatives. We are happy overall with our business ties’ progress. We note too that our bilateral trade has returned to its pre-crisis level.
But at the same time, we have reason for discontent, because if we compare our bilateral trade with the Republic of Korea to the Republic of Korea’s bilateral trade with China, the USA, and Japan, there is a very big difference in the figures. But it is in our own hands to change this.
We can develop our cooperation, and we can expand our economic ties, and not only through the traditional means of energy sector cooperation. Nobody denies this.
Indeed, we discussed a whole number of new projects today, bilateral and trilateral projects. We unquestionably want to diversify the economic cooperation between Russia and the Republic of Korea.
What do we need to do to achieve this? We should develop the high-technology segment of our cooperation. We are in the process of modernising Russia and building a new economy. Our Korean friends have outstanding experience in this area and are gifted indeed when it comes to commercialising modern research and new technology. This creates great opportunities for cooperation.
I am glad to again inform you that we signed a special memorandum today on cooperation in the high-tech sector. I think this is no less important than developing our energy sector cooperation. This is the way of the future, and I am sure that the future is in our hands.
Our political contacts and contacts between our civil societies should remain a focus of our attention of course. No doubt we need to get to know each other better and get a clearer picture of each other’s lives. I remember the first reports from South Korea on Soviet TV back when we had not yet established diplomatic relations. They showed the Seoul Olympics and various other events. Now two decades have passed since our countries have diplomatic relations, and this has certainly borne fruit.
Our civil societies can and should play their part in developing the relations between our countries. You have to help the politicians, because ties between non-governmental organisations, business ties, and ties between universities, such as those between Koryo University and St Petersburg University, form the very fabric of relations between countries today.
I hope that this first forum between our two countries’ civil societies will set an inspiring example for further cooperation. President Lee and I will do all that we can to help.