President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Ms President! Ladies and gentlemen, representatives of the media.
I would like to first of all say that we are very happy to host our respected guest, President of Chile Michelle Bachelet, here in Moscow.
Chile is one of the Russian Federation’s key partners in Latin America, and I count on this visit to give a fresh impetus to our cooperation, and to promote the development of full-scale relations between our two countries.
In recent years, we have been able to develop a fairly good level of dialogue, and today we are trying to look at the same problems from similar angles; as a result, our approaches, our priorities, and the directions of the work we will be doing, are reflected in the joint statement that Ms President and I have just signed.
The results of the visit are the same ones that are always achieved by the different sides, so I will begin by talking about economic ties.
For over five years, or at least, beginning sometime around 2003, the bilateral trade turnover between our countries has been growing steadily: last year, it exceeded 360 million dollars which, as we just remarked in the course of our talks, is not any sort of extraordinary figure, but rather indicates that we have very good prospects for growth. But in order for that growth to occur, we need new projects, and most importantly, we need the will to develop our relations.
A key direction (as Ms President and I were just discussing) is cooperation in the hi-tech sectors, the sectors where we need innovative solutions, solutions that are based on the most advanced technologies. I also think that our lines of cooperation in energy sector, based on both renewable and non-renewable resources, are certainly an important component to our joint work.
Telecommunication is also one of the promising areas of cooperation which, in my view, could gain additional momentum.
In energy sector, we already have a range of fairly good projects. I hope that in the future, projects such as the ones that are being undertaken by our companies (for example, the Energomashexport company, which plans to bring new equipment and power machines to Chile’s hydroelectric stations) may also become one of the most important parts of our joint work.
There is also potential in the transportation sector. Russian manufacturers of aviation and helicopter equipment have begun to enter the Chilean market. There are still some decisions to be made in this area, but it is nevertheless a promising sphere for cooperation.
An opportunity emerged for cooperation in delivery and joint creation of passenger and freight ships, and upgrading of bus and electric bus fleets. It seems to me that this could also be added to our list of business dealings.
In my view, an issue of the utmost importance — and Ms President and I practically started our today’s discussion with that, — is the development of direct relations between entrepreneurs, between businesspeople of our countries. We welcome such contacts and hope that they will develop. A group of Chilean entrepreneurs is currently in Russia. I hope that after getting acquainted with conditions of operating in the Russian market and having established new business contacts, we will be able, even during the most difficult, crisis-filled period, to give an impulse to the development of direct ties between business communities of our countries.
Humanitarian ties are also becoming increasingly substantial. A document was just signed which aims to strengthen the humanitarian component between our countries. Last autumn, a series of successful exhibitions, concerts, and film screenings took place in Santiago within the framework of Russia Day in Latin America. Today, the Chilean President will participate in the opening of Chilean Film Week, which is also a good sign.
We are also ready to facilitate other humanitarian projects, and I think that the issue of education exchanges is extremely important. Just now, during our enlarged talks, we discussed direct contacts between universities and the academies of science of our two countries. Here, we must choose a certain direction or a set of priorities and use it as a platform to build our relations on, especially since we are all responsible for the state of affairs on the planet, for the climate changes that are taking place, and a lot, actually, depends on the positions of our countries.
We also discussed issues of providing regional security, global security, and had a fairly detailed discussion about the results of the meeting in London. Of course, we are assuming that the work which was done at that forum, as well as the efforts of our colleagues who hosted a series of large events in Latin America, will nevertheless help us find a way out of the extremely unpleasant situation in which the global economy is today. And only collective actions and joint decisions will allow us to find a solution for a complicated situation in the area of international finance which, without a doubt, influences both the growth prospects of our economies and the living conditions of people in our countries.
I would like to sincerely thank Ms Bachelet, Ms President, for a constructive and interesting dialogue regarding all issues. I am certain that the direction that we have taken today will contribute to the development of sound relations between our countries. And your visit, Ms President, will be yet another push toward the development of relations between our two countries.
We also recalled today that it has been nearly a century since the diplomatic relations were established between our countries. This is a good date, an anniversary, and I feel that in any case we enter the second century at a very high level of mutual understanding, on a friendly note. I hope that we will continue to further develop our relations along the same lines.
Thank you for your visit.
President of Chile Michelle Bachelet (as translated from Russian): President Medvedev and I had a rather productive meeting, and I would like to say that I fully share and support what was said by the President.
As you know, Chile is a democratic country, open to the entire world, and since 1990, a participant in the globalisation process, which we use in the interests of our development. Our model was conducive to opening our country to the world, and allowed us to ensure high growth rates. We opened our market, we tried to fight cyclicality, and we developed our production.
It is commonly recognised that Chile is among the countries that are able to most effectively counteract the crisis. Thanks to our policy of facilitating economic growth, we were able to achieve a significant drop in the poverty level and our GDP has reached about 11 thousand dollars per capita. Chile is also an active participant in international and regional politics. We signed free trade agreements with 56 countries (which account for 90 percent of the world GDP and about 60 percent of the world population). What does all this mean? It means that our chosen model allows Chile to grow and strengthen relations with other states, which is what we have been aiming for during the last several years. We also believe that we can achieve even greater results.
Bilateral relations between countries are a serious harmonising factor and, as I have already said, we can expand and develop our relations. It would be desirable to use this visit to further transform our current good relations, to give them new momentum to achieve new concrete results, which would allow us to enter new markets, attract new investments, and create new jobs in our countries.
As for politics, Chile would like to develop its dialogue with Russia. Chile is convinced that the globalisation which has taken place up to now is primarily a positive occurrence, allowing for continuous economic growth within the world economy. However, it also has certain negative repercussions: the financial and economic crisis that has developed recently, as well as global warming. This has, without doubt, affected unemployment, poverty, and security issues, and we must promptly coordinate our activities in the international arena in order to sign fair global agreements that may allow us to overcome the negative effects of globalisation.
President Medvedev and I have exchanged views regarding the international situation and we agree that it is imperative to work diligently in order to build a multi-polar, safer, better-regulated and fairer world.
We spoke about the G20. I feel that the results which were achieved there are a first step toward resolving global problems that will require multilateral and global solutions.
This crisis presents us with the opportunity to re-evaluate the global financial and economic architecture and to find solutions that may allow us to develop a “green” economy, which favours economic development, but which would not lead to social tensions and serious climatic changes.
I think that this work was extremely important in the search for global solutions that will allow us to regain growth in the world economy and, as the President said, to resolve the problem of protectionism, which only exacerbates the crisis, but at the same time, will help to begin a serious reform of global financial organisations and institutions.
We also spoke about something that was discussed just recently at the Vina del Mar summit. We spoke about the need for a “green” recovery, because the international community is beginning to understand ever more clearly that the crisis opens up an opportunity to invest the large resources we have into clean technologies. In our relations with Russia we have come to the common grounds on the subject.
I feel that IMF resources, as well as other resources that are designated to support international trade, will also become important instruments in this regard. But we can and should do more. It is imperative to reach further agreements within the framework of the WTO, to deal with the Millennium Development Goals, to not allow the crisis to strike developing countries and states that are only just entering the international arena. We touched on the Latin American issues, and I confirmed to the President that Chile will speak out in favour of strengthening relations between Russia and our region.
As for economic issues, we would like to give new momentum to our trade and economic relations, and Mr President has spoken about this. I would like to confirm that our turnover and our cooperation are growing, but perhaps, not quite as quickly as we would like, and this growth may not correspond to the capabilities of our economies. This is not a problem but a statement of fact: we have significant potential for growth. That is why we have come here with such a large delegation: in order to establish new contacts, and to get better acquainted. This visit opens up new prospects for our cooperation with Russia and creates the opportunity to invoke new mechanisms in areas that are crucial for us. I will not repeat the President, but I can say with certainty that these include energy, science, technology, etc.
Of course, we also spoke about the necessity to develop our cooperation in Antarctica (although our ties there are already great), to promote cooperation between our scientists in studying how climate change affects the ice sheets of Antarctica. And we also hope that at the next World Glaciology Congress, which will take place in Chile late this year, we will also see a large Russian delegation.
Culture, certainly, is another important topic, as it reflects who we are, what our country is, and it brings diversity into the world around us. We Chileans, of course, are quite familiar with Dostoyevsky. And I know that people in Russia are still reading Pablo Neruda. And that is why we have signed a framework convention on cooperation between our ministries of culture through 2011, and we hope that we will move forward in cooperation within the audiovisual sphere, because we would like to better know one another’s cultures and develop cultural ties.
As we have already said, we are strengthening our ties in defence, and the convention that we signed will become an important instrument in developing cooperation in this field.
And finally, I would like to thank President Medvedev for the attention that has been granted to me and our whole delegation during our entire stay in Russia.
We have invited President Medvedev to our country. I hope that his busy schedule will allow him to visit us, and perhaps, together, we can visit Antarctica. My colleague, President Medvedev, is interested in this possibility.
Despite the geographical distance of our countries, Russia has now become much closer to Chile, and Chile has become much closer to Russia.
Thank you very much.
Question: Good afternoon, Mr Medvedev, Ms Bachelet,
We in South America have great expectations regarding Chile’s role in the region. Chile is one of the most open economies in the area and has negotiated 56 free trade agreements. There have been difficulties with regards to an international treaty on trade transparency. However, Chile has made progress here as well.
Is it possible that Chile and Russia could sign a free trade agreement? This is a question for both Mr Medvedev and Ms Bachelet. The objectives of this visit were to demonstrate that Chile can offer a variety of services and to consolidate business ties. Were you able to achieve these goals? Could you talk to us briefly about this?
Dmitry Medvedev: Today we began our talks with Ms Bachelet with the topic of how to better structure economic relations between our two countries and we came to a simple conclusion. It's not the size of the markets, but rather the extent to which entrepreneurs from our countries are represented there, the level of the markets infrastructure development, and the ways to promote economic projects. Given the current situation and Chile’s role in the region, I think the opportunities opening up for business are truly unique.
You mentioned 56 bilateral free trade agreements. Such an agreement may in fact enable Russian companies and Russian business, by making skilful use of Chile’s economic infrastructure, to gain an effective springboard for entry into new markets. Why is this important now?
This is important because we really do want to construct an active and fulfilling relationship with Chile, to implement a significant number of major projects, to ensure that our small and medium business are in constant dialogue, and to implement small-scale projects. But our joint work is equally important. And in this sense I would say that Russia has taken a conscious decision to substantially intensify our relations with Latin America.
Last year, I was able to visit four Latin American nations in person and, both this year and last, colleagues from Latin America have visited Russia. Now the President of Chile is here. This means that we have consciously decided to develop our contacts with Latin American countries in every respect.
Today during our talks I said that we are not discussing restoring our relations to a certain level, because though this may be the case in some fields, in others we are simply creating them from scratch. We certainly do not have full representation in all countries, and our relations have gone through different stages. And now we are striving to establish full-fledged, deep and mutually beneficial business relations with the countries of Latin America. In this regard, I believe that we can use our relations with Chile as an additional opportunity – as the President of Chile has said — as a platform on which to build relations with other states.
With regard to the specific treaty you mentioned, we will certainly look into the matter and see whether it is consistent with our current legal framework. But of course I am not excluding anything in the future.
Michelle Bachelet (as translated in Russian): I would say that my impression of the talks results is most positive. First of all, since last September last year we have been actively promoting our bilateral trade.
Regarding institutional ties, we have intensified the work of our intergovernmental committees and our trade and economic contacts, all of which were instrumental in enabling a representative delegation of Russian business people to visit Chile in November of last year and to assess the opportunities available there. We held bilateral meetings in which Chilean and Russian delegations participated actively, and we expressed our desire to move forward and make it easier for Chilean businesses to come to Russia. Through two business seminars, we were able to achieve our two priority objectives: networking to establish direct contacts in order to identify various opportunities, and performing an analysis of the prospects and of the obstacles to be overcome and eliminated.
Everything was resolved in those discussions, in which businessmen of the two countries took part. We discussed mechanisms that would enable Russia and Chile to promote trade and economic exchange. We talked about reciprocal investment and about Chile’s role as a platform for the Russian business. I think that our Chilean colleagues’ presentations made clear to their Russian counterparts and the Russian government cabinet –and this is worth reiterating — how important Chile is as a partner, a serious trading partner and a business partner, but also as a platform and as a means of entering the Latin American market more generally.
Also, we are attractive in terms of time zones, that is in terms of the time difference. Chile gives to a range of different companies access to a number of regions. But apart from everything else there is also the opportunity to use the extensive network of free trade agreements that we have signed. Of course to do this you have to agree to certain conditions, for example, the identification of country of origin, but such conditions apply to other countries as well.
I think that we have worked all this out. Mr President and I talked about how this work must continue so that all of the challenges that we have set ourselves are actually met, so that we can resolve this crisis, replenish financial resources, establish links between the banking sectors of Russia and Chile, and come up with the means by which lines of credit can be developed – in short, how we must create results from this positive political will, concrete results in the private sector from this political will. I believe that the results have been positive.
Of course this has been a difficult year, but the President and I have the same point of view, a shared point of view, namely that the crisis should not get in the way of these important processes. It is not trade that got us into the crisis; on the contrary, trade is a way of resolving the crisis. We have to work out mechanisms that will enable us to put all of this into practice. A lot of business ties have been established, but first and foremost we have a better idea of the concerted efforts that will be required of both governments and business circles in Russia and Chile if we are to move forward in this area.
Question: Good afternoon, I have a question for both presidents.
During your talks did you discuss the possibility of Russia’s joining the WTO? We know that the Chilean side supports such an initiative. But do you, Mr Medvedev, think that in the current circumstances this is a relevant issue? And does Russia want to do this as soon as possible?
Ms Bachelet, I know you exchanged views concerning the outcome of the G20 summit. Does Chile support Russia’s initiative to strengthen new regional reserve currencies?
Dmitry Medvedev: Our position concerning joining the WTO remains the same, it has not changed. Russia is ready to join the World Trade Organisation, ready to meet any non-discriminatory, normal, non-humiliating conditions, as they say. We have done everything required of us in this regard by significantly amending national legislation. In some cases such amendments required a considerable effort and a lot of self-restraint.
Nevertheless, this process has dragged on. We are annoyed about this as we believe that all the procedures should have been implemented long ago. However, I still believe that we can make progress in this area.
We are ready to cooperate with our partners on this issue. Ultimately the question involves getting to the end of the road fairly rapidly and arriving at a definitive result.
We certainly do not want to make a tragedy out of the fact that the process has taken so much time, because joining the WTO cuts both ways.
Yet I should reiterate again that if the World Trade Organisation and other nations want Russia to join the ranks of the WTO, they should make a definitive decision to this effect.
Ms President and I did not discuss this matter because as far as I know there is no disagreement between us. But it seems to me that today certain countries are just as interested in Russia’s membership in the World Trade Organisation as Russia itself is interested in joining this esteemed organisation. This process requires efforts on both sides, and the main thing is not letting it become a never-ending story.
Michelle Bachelet: As the President has just said so eloquently, we did not discuss this topic, but he knows that Chile supports Russia’s WTO candidature.
With regard to the G20, I should say that we expressed Chile’s position. First we urgently need to address the crisis. We have to guarantee financial stability and the flow of financial resources between countries, especially to new developing countries. And it seems to me that we should follow up on the G20’s decision in this sense, both in terms of recapitalising the IMF and of the funding and financial support for international trade. The idea of an environmentally friendly economic recovery is also important.
I would also like to emphasise that we talked about initiatives that are being developed in Chile. Chile is a country that is constantly experiencing the effects of natural disasters, in our case earthquakes. Every government has had to deal with the consequences of such disasters. Earthquakes destroy infrastructure, buildings, everything. And the first thing rescuers have to do is to save the lives of people trapped beneath the rubble, and then initiate a discussion of the problem.
We must get on with resolving the problem but we must also look to the future. What kind of system we want to build? What kind of alternatives do we want? Which institutions do we need? Which institutions have failed to deliver at the international level? Of course the Bretton Woods structure, for example, is a legacy of the Second World War. For many years, long before the crisis, we talked about how the world had changed: it is not the same as it was, it is not the world of the Cold War. And power in this world has shifted. There are new states, new economies, ones that have built up substantial reserves, and they should play an important role in current efforts to recapitalise the financial system, they should be represented in various international institutions.
We have identified the need to reform the financial structure, on the one hand; we also need to re-evaluate all of the mechanisms that might enable us to avoid the recurrence of such crises, on the other. We need to talk about early warning systems, as my colleague has been saying for many years now, and as we have pointed out as well. All these arrangements should be based on this approach. The second element involves the financial architecture that we see in today's world. We need to continue our work in these two areas, to continue discussions about a reserve currency, and to talk about the means by which we can guarantee the permanent stability of financial institutions.
Mr President and I discussed various topics, but we did not go into detail on the issue of currency. Nevertheless, we believe that we must come out of this crisis armed with a new global financial system. In many areas a great deal needs to be changed.
Of course it can sound melodramatic to put it this way, but we need a new economic order, new financial architecture, new sorts of regulation and new rules, ones that everyone will respect. We must emerge from the crisis by strengthening multilateralism.
And, of course, this discussion must be seen as the first step towards the creation of the tools that will enable us to resolve these problems. I think this is the only thing we can do today, so we must continue to work, continue to discuss these issues and continue to analyse the need for reform throughout the system.