Dmitry Medvedev: Ladies and gentlemen! We just finished our talks with Prime Minister of Spain Mr Zapatero. This is our first meeting and, of course, I am very pleased that it is being held in St Petersburg, a city who has traditional ties with many countries, including Spain.
For Russia, Spain is one of its oldest and most reliable European partners. I would like to recall that one of my very earliest activities in my new position was meeting with the King of Spain Juan Carlos I. Our meeting was held in June of this year and was extremely fruitful. My colleague and I discussed in detail and quite carefully various issues concerning bilateral cooperation and, perhaps above all, its economic dimension. We also noted that our successes are obvious: we are witnessing unprecedented growth in trade and hope that this growth will continue. This year the increase amounts to almost 90 per cent. There is a very decent amount of Spanish investments in our country, investments which exceed 800 million dollars. All this represents visible evidence of the development of our trade and economic ties.
Our task today is to preserve this positive momentum and to improve the structure of our trade — there is always something to do in this respect and I hope that the next meeting of the intergovernmental commission, which will be held very soon in Madrid, will give an impetus to all the areas in which we cooperate.When discussing bilateral economic relations, of course we could not but mention the current international economic situation. We talked about the causes and the consequences of the crisis which began in the United States of America and which has, in fact, affected financial systems all over the world and thereby demonstrated the inability of the existing international economic order to provide an effective response to such threats. It is therefore absolutely necessary to work on reforming international financial infrastructure.
We discussed the revitalisation of our relations in the fields of science, education and culture. This is all very topical for our countries. And there is very good potential in this regard.
We also discussed a number of issues on the international agenda, including eliminating the consequences of Georgia’s aggression against South Ossetia, the general prospects for stabilising the situation in the Caucasus, including in the context of relations between Russia and the EU. In particular, we discussed the progress of our joint work with the EU to implement the agreements President Nicolas Sarkozy and I reached.
As you know, at present work to deploy EU observers – European Union military observers of whom there are at least two hundred – in areas adjacent to South Ossetia and Abkhazia has been completed. The EU leadership notified us about this. Accordingly, Russian peacekeepers are beginning to expand their interaction with European Union observers. And in due time, as we agreed, the peacekeepers will be completely withdrawn from Georgian territory.
We reaffirm the importance of Russian-Spanish relations for building close and mutually beneficial relations between Russia and the EU. It is natural that for Russia the European Union is a strategic partner. We are united by history, shared borders and, I hope most importantly, by a vision of a new, great Europe.
In conclusion I would like to once again thank my colleague, the head of the Spanish government, for the good work, for our work together. I am confident that our recent contacts will open a new page in the development of friendly Russian-Spanish relations.
Question: How would you assess the current state of Russian-Spanish relations and are you planning to pay increased attention to any particular aspect of these relations?
Dmitry Medvedev: I could not but agree with what the Prime Minister and my colleague Mr Zapatero said just now about the quality of our relations. They are indeed multifaceted, multidisciplinary and highly developed in all spheres. I am thinking of our economic relations, relations in the cultural and educational spheres, and cooperation in various policy areas, in the international arena on international issues. With regards to improving our relations, there is always the possibility of something better. I think that our last two hours of discussion focused on precisely these issues. We have the opportunity to optimise our trade, increase its volume, conclude a number of major energy projects and begin a series of major transport and infrastructure projects. In this sense our Spanish friends have special skills which we would be happy to benefit from. So there is no limit to the potential of our relations, but I would qualify their current level as very high. We have real partnership relations with one of the key states of Europe.
Question: This question is primarily concerned with the following idea that appeared in some media, that in the event of a Republican victory in the presidential election in November 2008 in the United States, a new Cold War will develop between the United States and Russia. Would you make the same prediction as these media sources, Mr President? I would like to ask another question about the situation in the Caucasus: in accordance with the Medvedev-Sarkozy plan, one of its six points states that Russian troops must leave the territory adjacent to South Ossetia and Abkhazia and be replaced by international observers, including European Union observers. Do you think that Russia has fully complied with the Medvedev-Sarkozy plan?
Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you. Finally, everything is more or less clear.
I will begin with the first part of your question, or your first question.
I do not think the current situation demonstrates any convincing reasons for the emergence of a Cold War. As you know, the Cold War was primarily based on ideological differences between, on the one hand, the Soviet Union and the socialist camp and, on the other, NATO member states. We currently do not have the same ideological differences which could trigger a “cold” or any other war.
If you are simply referring to a general deterioration in the international environment, the deterioration of bilateral relations, then this is certainly possible, and NATO states are in this sense giving us a signal as they scale down cooperation in certain areas. I, for one, am not inclined to dramatize this. Nothing bad has happened – at least not for the Russian Federation. NATO members are even more interested in this cooperation than we are. Secondly, all kinds of restrictive measures tend to result in a situation in which everything is fully restored. Wait and see. And I would not connect this situation with the person who will eventually come to power in the United States. The primary task of whoever is elected is to deal with the state of their economy. This is what must be addressed. Although, of course, it is much easier to engage in polemics on international issues than to take the necessary economic decisions.
Now back to the second part of your question. My short answer is: Russia has done everything it was scheduled to do. And this goes back to the last phase I pronounced in my opening remarks – we will do everything within the allotted time.