President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Ladies and gentlemen!
First and foremost I would like to welcome you all and to say immediately that I will continue to give my full support to the St Petersburg Dialogue public forum in the future. You should have no doubt that we will do so at the level of the Russian government cabinet.
I would also like to say at once that the most extensive contacts between non-governmental organisations, political parties, between our business communities have taken on their own development momentum. To some extent this dynamic is different from the dynamics of relations and their development between states, between state leaders. This is a very good thing. This means that representatives of civil society both in Germany and in the Russian Federation are actively living their own lives and, in a sense, have sufficient autonomy from other decisions that are taken. In addition to foreign policy and economic cooperation, contacts at the level of society represent a solid guarantee for cooperation between states. And your forum plays a key role in generating ideas in this respect.
The main theme of today's meeting is “Russia and Germany in a globalising world. Partnership for the modernisation of society.” These issues are extremely important for formulating joint positions in order to move further ahead. I think that all these issues are in line with the ideas that Madam Federal Chancellor and I share, with the intentions of our countries.
We want to show in practice that relations between Russia and Germany are constructive and contribute to the stability of the entire North Atlantic region. And despite emerging differences, we still understand and take each other’s interests into account. As Mr de Maiziere [Lothar de Maiziere, co-chairman of the German-Russian forum] said, despite the fact that discussions are often very vigorous, afterwards we nevertheless go and eat together in a restaurant. This is a very good rule. It is still too early to have dinner, but we will definitely have lunch.
The new round of Russian-German intergovernmental consultations that will take place today confirms the maturity of Russian-German partnership. I shall repeat that the ability to hear and listen to a partner, to discuss and address differences through dialogue, is more important today than it was before. Both Europe and the world are in quite a difficult situation and countries have to resolve what are in many ways similar problems.
I will list today’s most important problems. Of course, you know them already, but we cannot but mention them again. First of all, the problems caused by the financial crisis. Everything else has been put on the back burner and has left the headlines. Europe and even the entire world are discussing nothing else. What have recent events shown? They have demonstrated that the time in which one economy and one currency dominated the globe is irretrievably gone. And we need collective solutions to resolve the financial crisis brought on by financial selfishness – something that I have already mentioned before in St Petersburg, incidentally.
It is unfortunate that we are becoming aware of this only now. We must work together to design a new and more equitable global financial and economic system that is based on multipolarity, the rule of law and the mutual respect of interests. Recent events have confirmed that no economy, however strong or powerful it may be, can assume the function of super-regulator. And the problems of any one of the largest, key financial players can become the problems of everyone else at any time, so we need new mechanisms for collective decision making and collective responsibility. Naturally, we'll talk about this. Now this topic is being addressed in all arenas: in speeches by ministers and public figures in individual countries and in front of the United Nations.
Second, and what remains directly relevant to the Russian Federation. We are faced with a situation in which the hypocrisy and – let us say frankly – the folly exacerbated by aggressive nationalism are trying to earn points with international opinion. The world is certainly not facing such a deviation for the first time, and it is not the first time that people fall under the spell of this dirty propaganda. As Winston Churchill once said, if the truth is multifaceted, a lie is always polyphonic. And today we need to hear the voice of truth, that’s why our constructive cooperation with Germany, with its public and business communities, is so valuable for us.
It is possible that today some people would like to go back to the primitive division of the world into ours and theirs, right and wrong, but in Russia we are convinced that this time is irretrievably gone. It is impossible to revive the Berlin wall, just as it is impossible to return to the Cold War – there is no reason to do so. The world is moving forward and we must adapt to it, participate in its modernisation rather than cling to the past.
And so the main thing now is to draw a lesson from all this. It will help us find ways to cope with the challenges of globalization – and perhaps incur fewer losses – and to absorb the inevitable conclusion concerning the interdependence of nations and peoples. And this interdependence must not be reduced to a primitive relationship between suppliers and customers. To consider it so is to impoverish the rich palette of international relations, public relations and business ties. This interdependence is much broader: it occurs not only in the economy but also in science, culture and education. And without close, mutually beneficial cooperation in this fields we will not see intellectual development and we will simply jeopardize the survival of humankind in the coming years.
Globalisation has shown the world its priority. What is it? It is what you were talking about, dear colleagues: the value of human capital and innovative knowledge. Therefore we see Russia’s modernisation as taking on innovative characteristics and we believe this is our strategic goal. Regardless of whatever difficulties may now exist in the world, regardless of international crises, Russia will continue to engage in innovative modernisation. In this regard, we believe that our partnership with Germany plays a key role. In fact, my dialogue with Madam Federal Chancellor, when I came to Germany for the first time after being elected President of Russia, started with precisely these issues.
We are firmly committed to creating favourable conditions for small and medium enterprises, establishing an attractive environment for investments, and ensuring the reliable protection of property rights as soon as possible. I have said all this repeatedly. And we see global economic problems, the current recession in the world economy, not only as a challenge but also as a chance to give new momentum to our economic policies.
Here at the forum I would like to say something about the special role the media plays in this process: publishers, editors-in-chief and journalists. And I believe that the more the citizens of our countries hear about the successful examples of Russian-German cooperation, the stronger our ties and our levels of trust will be. We have excellent successful projects in energy, in the automobile industry, in the development of transport infrastructure, and in the high-tech sector. Our colleagues just mentioned that today topics such as cooperation in health care and in improving energy efficiency are our priorities. And this is a very good field. And finally, one other very important area of our relations is that of contacts between youth. In this regard I would note the beneficial role of the youth parliament of Russia and Germany, whose third meeting is taking place today in St Petersburg.
Dear friends! Tomorrow our German colleagues celebrate an important holiday, the Day of German Unity. And, as you know, our country was also one of the sources of the German reunification process. Over the past few years and despite various difficulties, we were able to smoothly build our partnership and develop the best of traditions of the former Federal Republic of Germany and the former GDR.
The partnership between Russia and Germany is based on the solid foundation of historical reconciliation, on societal agreement, and on our mutual attraction to one another. We are confident that no one will be able to prevent further convergence, and perhaps above all because our countries see this convergence as a priority and make every effort to strengthen our multifaceted ties. Your forum acts as vivid proof of this. I wish you fruitful work, interesting discussions, a successful conclusion of the forum and all the best.
Dmitry Medvedev (addressing participants in the Russian-German youth parliament): If possible I would like to ask you a question.
You worked on various issues: which one caused you to have the most heated discussions? Which issues were the most disputed ones? Or were you united on all issues as you were just now when you in chorus sang for us?
Artur Kushtanov (PERM, RUSSIA): Actually we worked in four different committees so I can only answer for my committee. The issue of developing the non-profit sector in both Russia and Germany resulted in a great debate among both German and Russian youth because they had different views of the functions of non-profit organisations in civil society. But during this discussion we were able to work out some general principles and find common ground.
Markus Meyer (ULM, GERMANY): He said everything.
Dmitry Medvedev: Good.
Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel: Can I ask about what you disagreed on in the beginning and what your common approach consists in?
Markus Meyer: We really did have different views on certain issues because reporting in our media has given us different perceptions on this issue. But as a result of direct contact between young people from our countries, our opinions changed and we agreed that nobody and nothing could destroy our friendship.
Dmitry Medvedev: Well done! Clearly it's just a misunderstanding that is linked with the media.
Question: We talked about a very fashionable topic — innovation and high technology. But we understand that we cannot pass the recommendations that we developed on to anyone.
Dmitry Anatolyevich, who in our state is currently responsible for innovation and high technology?
Dmitry Medvedev: If you cannot pass them on to anyone then it means that I am responsible, so I will take care of it. Give them here.
Question: I would like to ask: what role protecting the climate plays in German-Russian relations? And what portion of your negotiations – if we take into account the second phase of the Kyoto Protocol, the negotiations in Copenhagen and economic talks — then to what extent are conserving electricity and energy efficiency an important basis for your cooperation in the energy sector? How important is renewable energy for you?
Dmitry Medvedev: This topic is very important for Russia, for Germany, for Europe, and perhaps today it is clear that it is important for the whole world. In my view the main problem is that states still have not found adequate forms to govern their cooperation. If we talk about the post-Kyoto period then for us – for the Russian Federation anyways – it is obvious that there should be a global agreement which should involve everyone, including those states who did not join the Kyoto process. We participated, though we paid a definite price and had to take difficult decisions, but there are very big states which did not and unless they sign then it is meaningless to negotiate. But the last G8 summit in Toyako in Japan convinced me that everyone is concerned about this today, even those who look at this problem from a somewhat different perspective. There were frank talks, but so far it was only talk. We need to move forward. For Russia this is a priority topic and in a global sense it is simply vital.
As to our relations, relations between Russia and Germany, then I certainly think that things are constructive and proceeding well. We have a mutual desire to develop cooperation in this sphere as well as in energy efficiency – as Madam Federal Chancellor and I already mentioned – and to carry out energy dialogue in different areas. Even though the foundations of our energy resources are slightly different: we actively use nuclear energy while Germany does not. Nevertheless, we believe that we need to engage in dialogue in this field because, as we saw at the G8 summit, alternative forms of energy have not yet been established so we need to think about the rational and prudent use of fossil energy, fossil fuels, about the judicious use of nuclear technology and, of course, look to the future when thinking about the development of electricity and energy more generally.