President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Ladies and gentlemen,
As Madam Federal Chancellor very accurately said, these have been two good days for Russian-German cooperation. I was glad to visit Hannover. Incidentally, this city is a landmark for me, too because I first came here as First Deputy Prime Minister. That was when I met Madam Federal Chancellor for the first time and that's when our interaction began.
I believe the results of the 13th round of the interstate consultations speak for themselves. The main part of the news conference took place on the other side of this hall because an unprecedented number of very important documents were signed, very substantial agreements dedicated to our partnership in the sphere of modernisation, bilateral trade and economic cooperation and investment.
Suffice it to say that this year we will most likely reach the pre-crisis level of economic and trade cooperation and reach a peak in the history of our economic ties. Certain industries act as a driving force for our cooperation: I mean energy, transportation engineering, automobile manufacture, building materials and healthcare. We have some good ideas on the development of relations among small and medium-sized businesses.
We had a very productive discussion at the Petersburg Dialogue forum. For the first time the forum was quite informal and highly informative. We talked about everything, from Russian-German economic and energy ties to the rule of law and respect for journalists’ rights. All in all, we discussed the entire range of issues that concern civil society today, and I think that it is in this spirit that this dialogue should be conducted in the future. It became more interesting, and therefore, more meaningful.
”We did not overlook any important subjects. So I think that these consultations were extremely useful and totally frank. ‘
The Year of Russia in Germany and the Year of Germany in Russia lie ahead. I think these will be exciting years in our relations, when a large number of events will be held.
As Ms Merkel just said, we also discussed international cooperation. We talked about ways to overcome the problems created by the situation in Libya. We also talked about Syria and the Middle East, as well as Moldova and Transnistria. We talked about a number of other very complex interstate issues on today's agenda. We discussed the situation in the global economy and finance, the Eurozone and the financial situation in the United States. On the whole, we did not overlook any important subjects. So I think that these consultations were extremely useful and totally frank. Thank you for that.
Question: Mr President, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said that it will be necessary to conduct a political and economic purge after the elections. What does this mean in a country that has seen the cases of Natalia Estemirova and Mikhail Khodorkovsky? Could you please tell me what it will look like?
Dmitry Medvedev: If I understand your question correctly, you are asking about the response that Mr Putin gave about the post-election period. I think he said that there is a need for hygiene products after every election campaign because every campaign is accompanied by an injection of various types of information and different technologies, sometimes not very clean ones. I think this was the point of what he said. But he was talking about personal hygiene. In fact, there is nothing to repeat here. He used an expression, quite a graphic one, in my opinion.
In any case, the elections must be open, honest and in accordance with Russian law. As for the use of different election technologies or polling techniques – these things always happen. The question is that this should be within the limits and in compliance with the current Russian legislation.
I have repeatedly spoken about what I am going to do. I suggest a little more patience, for just a short while longer. I will tell you everything, whether I will run for President or find some other work for myself. I hope that is what your question is about, and my answer will ultimately not disappoint you.
”Petersburg Dialogue forum was quite informal and highly informative. We discussed the entire range of issues that concern civil society today, and I think that it is in this spirit that this dialogue should be conducted in the future.“
I did not want to talk about it but I will also say a few words about the Quadriga prize, even though you have not asked me about it. In truth, it is a German headache, not a Russian one. But I think that any public organisation that awards prizes can choose who will receive the prize and who will not, who it likes and who it does not like.
But when a decision is made it must be executed, otherwise it is simply a manifestation of cowardice and inconsistency. And I think that after a certain decision this award has finished, at least for the international community.
Question: Russia and Germany had a distinct opinion on Resolution No. 1973 of the UN Security Council concerning Libya. You gave Russian diplomats instructions to abstain from voting. What is your assessment of how this resolution is being implemented now? You also said you discussed the situation in Syria during your consultations. Do Russia and Germany have more similarities or differences in their positions on this matter?
Dmitry Medvedev: My position on Libya has not changed. I believe that in and of itself, the resolution is not at fault. Both resolutions, No. 1970 and No. 1973, are quite normal, but we voted for the first one and not for the second. Nevertheless, we presumed that the resolution would be fulfilled in accordance with its text. And if it talks about “closing airspace,” that does not mean it is a war. But in truth, instead of simply closing the airspace, an active phase of civil war was begun. At the same time, certain forces are supporting conflicting sides. This is not very good; or, to be more precise, it is exceptionally bad for Libya itself.
Thus, I am sure we must continue searching for opportunities to resolve this situation peacefully, involving any available mediators and any possibilities, because the Libyan problem cannot be resolved by military means. Russia is making its input; my special representative is visiting various nations and I think his work is helpful. We will continue seeking a compromise. I am confident that it is possible to reach a compromise between Benghazi and Tripoli, between the rebels and Gaddafi’s supporters.
As for relations with Gaddafi himself, we hold the same position; it is reflected in the Deauville Declaration, which was issued by the G8.
Concerning Syria. We really wouldn’t want the events in Syria to develop in the same way as in Libya. That is precisely why Russia’s position is very measured. We would not want to see a resolution that is subsequently manipulated, waved around while saying ‘We have a resolution, it says that Assad is bad so we are going to close the sky’, and the closing of the airspace would be followed by military action, or something else. So our position is measured.
Yesterday, in a very productive exchange of views with Angela, we grappled for possible options to send the right signal to President Assad, so that he makes reforms and refrains from the use of force in his country, while simultaneously sending a message to the opposition that they should not just protest, but also propose some constructive ideas. Now it is up to our foreign ministers and other assistants to agree on how to do that.
”New phase of state property sales is underway in Russia, including a whole variety of very attractive assets. And if our German partners are interested, we await German investments in this regard.“
We could also take advantage of Germany’s presidency of the United Nations Security Council.
Question: You said you spoke about the euro zone crisis, so if I may, Mr President, I would like to ask you: German industry is most interested in a partnership involving Russia’s resources, in addition to natural gas and oil. Do you support this initiative, particularly a company supplying rare-earth metals?
Dmitry Medvedev: I will make several comments. With regard to the euro, I am a reserved optimist. First of all, the euro is a young currency, but a very promising one. And although this is the second time Angela and I are discussing the euro situation at a press conference (we also discussed it in Meseberg), I nevertheless believe it’s not a matter of defects in the idea of the euro itself, but rather, an unfavourable set of circumstances that was ultimately tied to the financial and economic crisis, the global financial crisis. But that does not mean nothing needs to be done. I think our partners understand what they must do.
For Russia, it’s not an idle question, since we have trade transactions, as well as significant gold and currency reserves, in euro. Thus, I hope all necessary agreements will be reached, and the nations currently facing difficult situations will exercise the full measure of responsible behaviour.
The key problem is that the euro, a strong and solid currency, is presently serving states with very different economic levels, as we have never seen this in the history of humankind. And the thorny path being taken by the euro as a universal means of payment and settlement shows that such universal currencies can exist. We believe that in the future, we should have an increase in the number of universal reserve currencies.
”I have repeatedly spoken about what I am going to do. I suggest a little more patience, for just a short while longer. I will tell you everything, whether I will run for President or find some other work for myself.“
Thus, I hope our partners will be successful. We count on agreements to be reached, without damaging the interests of any countries, but rather, manifesting a consolidated and responsible position on the part of all states composing the euro zone. We wish our partners success in this, and I personally wish Angela Merkel success.
Question: And the question about industry.
Dmitry Medvedev: The fact is, we are ready to develop a variety of relations with our German friends pertaining to the rare-earth metals sector as well as other projects pertaining to the extraction, processing and use of mineral resources. In this regard, the list of projects can be endlessly broad.
Moreover, I would like to draw everyone’s attention to the fact that a new phase of state property sales is underway in Russia, including a whole variety of very attractive assets. And if our German partners are interested, we will give them the corresponding information. We expect that they will also participate in the respective procedures pertaining to the sale of these assets. So we await German investments in this regard.
Thank you, everyone.