President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Ladies and gentlemen, representatives of the media,
I would like to begin by summing up the results of the Russia-EU summit that has just ended. First of all, I think that the choice of venue, so far from central Europe, created a unique and special atmosphere that our European friends will remember, I hope. I think that this atmosphere helped us to discuss openly and constructively all of the different areas of Russian-European cooperation: issues on which we share one and the same position, and issues on which our views differ. At any rate, I think that we will continue to choose different regions as venues for our summits. I think that this is a very productive practice and I hope it will continue. Russia is a big country and has even more remote and hard-to-reach corners.
We discussed all the current issues on the global agenda today. We began with the financial crisis over dinner last night, discussed the measures our countries are taking. It seems to us quite evident that, unfortunately, no one has a full understanding of exactly how this crisis will develop. This would be an achievement worthy of the highest prizes. At the moment, we are forced to respond to circumstances as they arise. But we have nonetheless produced some results over these last months. There have been the consultations between Russia and the European Union and of course the results of the G-20 summit of the world’s biggest economies. In any event, this work will continue.
We had an extensive discussion on energy security issues, including the Russian Federation’s recent proposal to establish a new legal foundation for international cooperation. It seemed to me that our European colleagues show interest in these ideas. I hope that we will continue our discussions in this area. This is clearly in the European continent’s interests.
We took a close look at the regular issues on our agenda such as implementing the roadmaps approved back in 2005. We see progress in this area as the main mechanism for cooperation between the Russian Federation and the European Union. I am referring to the four common European spaces: the common economic space; freedom, security and justice; external, that is, international security; and science, education and culture. We want to continue the work in this area and broaden as much as possible our constructive cooperation on all of these issues.
We also discussed our strategic dialogue. Of course, we looked at the issue of the new basic agreement that is to replace the current Russia-European Union Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. Overall, despite the brief delay we had along the way, we are happy with the pace at which things are progressing now. In itself, the work on this agreement facilitates rapprochement between our positions on various important current issues, and we hope that we will continue to make headway. We hope that the work on settling and approving the main conditions will go ahead smoothly and will take into account our countries’ interests.
Existing cooperation mechanisms were another important and productive subject of discussion. We think that these mechanisms have proved their worth overall, both during quiet periods and crisis moments. I think that the European Union accomplished much during the crisis period in the Caucasus last August. The EU showed that it has sufficient means at its disposal for responding to crises that arise. But there is never any complete guarantee against future crises of this kind, and in our view, if we want to prevent such crises we need to put in place the legal foundations for anti-crisis action. The new European security treaty would give us just such a foundation.
We exchanged views on current international issues, in particular on the unresolved conflict situations in Europe. I am referring of course to Cyprus, Kosovo, the security problems in the Caucasus, and the situation with Georgia, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. We discussed developments in the situation in Moldova, and also looked at the Middle East, the Iranian nuclear programme, and the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This was a frank and constructive discussion. We all have an interest in these issues and on many points we share close positions, something I think is very positive, and also very important for resolving these various problems. We do have our differences on some issues, of course, but this does not stop us from continuing our discussions and looking for constructive ways to settle our differences.
Overall, I want to say that we have no doubt as to the strategic nature of the partnership between Russia and the European Union. We think that this kind of partnership enables us to respond to the most complex challenges and resolve even the most complex problems, including the financial and economic crisis. We will continue to work together to develop our economic relations, fight international terrorism and trans-border crime, and address other threats to humanity’s development. Overall therefore, I want to say that I am happy with the results of our work today.
I will now give floor to President of the EU Council and President of the Czech Republic Vaclav Klaus.
President of The Czech Republic Vaclav Klaus: Ladies and gentlemen, let me use English. Thank you, Mr President. I would like to first use this opportunity to express my and our gratitude to President Medvedev and the Russian Government for organising this important meeting, for bringing us to this beautiful part of Russia, that we had never seen before, and for creating a very friendly atmosphere during our talks yesterday and today.
I think I can say on behalf of all of us that we consider today’s talks fruitful and productive. On the one hand, there are concrete practical details, on the other there is the general approach and attitude, the general atmosphere, and I do believe that this meeting increased our mutual understanding of our positions on many points, and I do believe that this meeting increased our mutual trust, which is very much needed and very important.
President Medvedev used several times in his presentation the term “strategic partnership.” I would like to confirm that the European Union considers Russia as its strategic partner. We feel that it is necessary to do something to make it real, not just as a formal proclamation, and for a strategy partnership, trust is very much needed. In this respect, today’s gathering was definitely important and, as I said, positive.
As was mentioned, we seriously touched and discussed several issues of the economic and financial crisis. We exchanged information on the situation in our countries and the ways to tackle the crisis. We discussed energy issues, which are very relevant for us.
We discussed the Euro-Atlantic security problems and we touched several very important and topical international regional issues, like Middle East, Iran, Georgia, Moldova, Kosovo, Afghanistan.
So, to summarise, I would like that the EU and now I speak on behalf of the Czech Republic in its role as the presidency of the EU, we are satisfied with the results of this meeting.
Mr President, thank you very much.
President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso: Thank you. As Presidents Medvedev and Klaus have already presented many results of the summit, I will stress a few points I consider particularly important.
First of all, Russia and the European Union need to work closer together, so that we can successfully face challenges related to the financial crisis, security, trade, energy, and the environment. We are deeply, and inevitably interdependent, and this could and should be perceived positively by our citizens. We work in the spirit of positive interdependence. I am convinced that President Medvedev personally, and Russia as an indispensable partner of the European Union, share this spirit. So, my main message, of interdependence and cooperation today was precisely this one. Let’s apply this spirit and develop all the untapped potential of our relationship.
The global financial and economic crisis has hit us both, the European Union and Russia, and that is one of the reasons why we need to coordinate efforts to handle it. The London meeting of G20 clearly showed the resolve of the international community to work together closely in addressing the crisis, avoiding protectionist measures. We now need to fully implement the measures agreed on in London. I will be joining President Medvedev at the G8 summit in Italy in July, the G20 summit in the United States in September, to ensure that we fully deliver.
In this context I also welcome the confirmation of Russia’s goal to become a WTO member soon. President Medvedev was very clear on his commitment. The [European] Commission has been very supportive of Russia’s accession to the WTO, which guarantees fairness, open markets and a better-spread prosperity worldwide.
On energy, I am sure that confidence and stability can be restored. Disruptions of transit and export of gas must not be allowed to occur again. We have proposed an early warning mechanism on energy, covering oil and gas and electricity, and consisting of three steps: notification, consultation, and implementation. We will now work on ways to finalise this agreement.
I welcome President Medvedev’s agreement to discuss updating the Energy Charter Treaty. This will provide us with opportunities to make the best use of the ideas recently put forward by President Medvedev on the new international energy rules. As was already said, we consider some of these ideas very useful, and they should be in fact discussed in the framework of this revision process.
This brings me to our negotiations on the new comprehensive agreement, where we also aim for anchoring the principles of the Energy Charter Treaty in its energy chapter. This new agreement will reflect the full breadth of our relationship. We are making some good progress.
This summit was one more occasion to elaborate on what the Eastern Partnership will bring in closer cooperation between the European Union, and the six partner countries, as well as among them: more stability, consolidation of democracy, and more prosperity in our common neighbourhoods. I am sure that these three objectives are also in the interests of Russia.
In our discussions, I also stressed the importance we attached to progress in the implementation of rule of law, as part of our open and comprehensive political dialogue, I do believe that the vibrant and pluralistic civil society is both the basis and the yardstick of any democracy.
Regular, frank and open political dialogue is indeed the right way to manage our relationship, and this must occur at all times, no matter how difficult the issues at stake. We did so during the conflict in the Caucasus and again over the gas prices, and I appreciate the willingness shown by President Medvedev to keep this frank and regular dialogue.
To conclude, let me say that the fact that this summit took place in Russia’s Far East, here in Khabarovsk, in the broad dimension of Russia, is a good symbol of an equally broad ambition of our bilateral relationship, and I believe it was a summit that produced some important results and a very good spirit of common understanding.
Secretary-General of The EU Council Javier Solana: Thank you very much. Mr President, thank you very much for your hospitality. I think this is not the first time that we meet in this format and every time it is better. It is a great pleasure to be here, to know this beautiful part of your great country. Mr President, thank you very much for your hospitality.
There are two things that I would like to say. As you can imagine, most of the time was spent discussing the international crisis, the financial crisis, which is of most interest to the people – the people of Russia and the people of all our own countries. But unfortunately, the crisis does not stop our international problems. And we’re here to devote time and try to see how together we can solve other important problems. Let me mention just three, to give you time to ask the many questions I’m sure you want to ask.
As you remember, President Medvedev, in the first speech he made, talked of the need for a new structure of security in Europe. As you know, we thought about that, we talked about that, and we have decided to get engaged in that debate, and today we have agreed than in the coming month or two months, we will have another go to debate that important issue that the President detailed.
The second thing I would like to say is that we discussed the Middle East peace process. That is an important challenge for all of us, for all the people here, and for the Russian Federation in particular, since they will have the responsibility of convening the first conference on the Middle East peace process in the year 2009. The Russian Federation and President Medvedev can have the certainty that we will be behind them, helping them to make that conference a success.
Iran, as you can imagine, was on the agenda. We discussed that, and we are working on the same wavelength. Many other topics were dealt with today, but I think those are the most important ones. But again, the economic, financial system, the economy, is no doubt the most important thing, but as I said, the world continues to be moving, and problems continue to exist in the international arena, and we have the obligation to deal with it. Thank you very much, Mr President.
Question: Ceska Televize. I have a question for all the speakers. Did you at least partly touch on the energy security issue, the repeated warning from the Russian side, even today, that a new crisis in gas deliveries via Ukraine might come, that there’s a real danger of another disruption of deliveries to Europe.
So, Mr President Medvedev, do you consider the situation really critical, and what kind of concrete assurances did you give to the European side that another possible crisis will not end with the disruption of the deliveries?
And also, the European delegation, did you hear any assurances, previously or today, from the Russian side, that a new crisis will not appear and that the gas crisis with Ukraine is really over?
Dmitry Medvedev: Energy security is one of our key cooperation areas, as I and my colleagues have just said. We discussed the question of building a modern system for guaranteeing energy security. Russia has made its proposal known and it was the subject of a very constructive discussion today that I followed with interest. Overall, I am happy with the discussion that took place because I think we looked precisely at the legal mechanisms that we could use to better regulate energy cooperation issues, and spoke about the need for discussion and analysis of the ideas Russia has put forward.
I made it clear to our colleagues and can state once more now that Russia is not a party to the Energy Charter and does not intend to become a party to it in its present version. Russia is not a party to the Energy Charter Treaty and will not implement it and we have given international notification of this fact. But this does not mean that we think everything in it is harmful. This is not the case. The Energy Charter involved serious work, serious talks, and a large number of countries have signed and ratified it. It should not be discarded, but rather, should be used as a base for developing more effective energy-sector instruments, including either a separate new agreement on procedures we agree on, or a new version of the Energy Charter, but based on provisions that have been agreed separately with Russia, because as I said, Russia has not ratified and will not ratify the current version of these documents.
To answer the second point you raised, the Russian Federation has given no specific assurances and has no plans to do so. What would be the point? We have no problems on our side. We have no problems with gas supplies or with fulfilling our obligations. Assurances should be given by those who have to pay for the gas. On this matter too there are possibilities for ensuring normal work together.
I spoke with our partners about this situation and proposed that we analyse once again the situation with gas supplies to Ukraine. At the moment, a sizeable amount of gas – around 19.5 billion cubic metres – is to be delivered to Ukraine’s underground reservoirs. These supplies represent a value of more than $4 billion. If Ukraine has this money, that is excellent. But we have doubts about Ukraine’s ability to pay. On this point you are right.
What do partners do in such situation? They help each other out. We are ready to lend Ukraine a helping hand, but we would like to see other countries with an interest in reliable and secure energy cooperation, perhaps the European Union too, take a big share in this work.
What we are talking about, in other words, is loans. Let’s work together to organise syndicated loans to Ukraine. This should not be Russia’s task alone. After all, it is not Russia that is having trouble paying its debts.
Jose Manuel Barroso: Regarding the first part of the question, of the Energy Charter, the positions are well known. As President Medvedev stated, Russia does not agree with the Energy Charter, and is not part of it. We in the European Union consider the Energy Charter Treaty as a legal framework that we respect – and not only we, but the other partners – and we are fully committed to it. So, I think what was important today to understand was, in face of the proposals made by President Medvedev, as I stated at the meeting and now here, that you can see some of them are very interesting and deserving our attention, that you could consider those proposals in the process of revision of the Energy Charter Treaty. This is, I think, the most constructive result of our meeting in this matter. Because if not, we would not come out of this dilemma. So we understand clearly that Russia does not agree with the Energy Charter in its present form, but at the same time, we understand that Russia is ready to engage in the process of discussion of some proposals in this revision of the Energy Charter Treaty.
Regarding the problems of disruption: we certainly hope that they will not happen again. This had a devastating effect at the end of last year and the beginning of this year. One thing is sure: it was not created by the European Union. The problem is that the European Union states were suffering the consequences of a problem that was not originated in the European Union or by any member state of the European Union, so of course we ask Russia and Ukraine both to do everything that is in their capability to avoid another kind of crisis next year, because I do not think it will be good for the overall atmosphere and relations if another crisis of that type were to come again. That’s why we came up with some proposals regarding early warning mechanisms. But apart from the mechanisms, I think the most important thing is, in fact, the political willingness to work on all sides to avoid for such a crisis to happen again. This was something I mentioned during the meeting. And of course we hope that both Russia and Ukraine will do everything they can do so that European consumers, who are not responsible for those problems, won’t again be in the position of suffering negative consequences.
Question: Rossia Television Channel. A question to the President of Russia and Mr Barroso. To what extent has energy become a contentious issue at these sorts of talks, and is a compromise possible? To what extent can the proposals Russia recently made in Helsinki consolidate the approach to the subject?
The second question is to Mr Barroso. Recently, the EU and Ukraine signed a memorandum on modernising gas supply network. Would Europe engage in the process without involving Russia? Is Europe ready to accept all of the financial obligations relating to implementation of the process?
Dmitry Medvedev: Energy is not a contentious subject. On the contrary, it is something that can unite us, something that binds together the Russian Federation and the European Union countries. It is our common business and it is something that guarantees a comfortable life for millions of Europeans. Energy is therefore not a problem but an advantage. But it is important of course to ensure that our energy cooperation develops in civilised form. We saw at the start of the year what can happen when energy relations take a different turn. We have our own view on this problem and I will not go back to this matter right now. I just want to state the obvious and say that it is preferable to trade at market prices, sign international contracts, and it is not a bad thing to pay up on those contracts from time to time. No one has yet abolished these principles of contractual law.
As for the future, as I see it, the way forward would be to draw up a comprehensive legal framework for energy cooperation. We all agree on the need for this. I was pleased to hear what our partner, Mr Barroso, had to say on this subject. We will continue to work on giving a legal foundation to our energy sector cooperation. I am confident that we can achieve this. We must make an effort to prevent crises and problems from arising, and this should be precisely the objective of future energy agreements, because the current agreements, whatever view we take of them, do not resolve these issues.
Incidentally, Ukraine is a party to the Energy Charter and the Energy Charter Treaty, but what good has this done? They have acted as they pleased and ignored the Energy Charter and the Energy Charter Treaty. Clearly, other instruments, including in the areas of liability and arbitration, are needed so as to avoid constantly having to resort to political resolution. We will not forget what things were like in January. Mr Barroso and I also spoke then on the phone. We really would not want to go through this kind of situation again.
Jose Manuel Barroso: First of all, regarding the proposals made recently by President Medvedev, as I stated already, I welcome the fact that this proposal contains a number of international principles that the European Union already subscribes to, and which are, in fact, already covered by different international frameworks, like the Energy Charter Treaty. I said during the meeting that we are ready to discuss these proposals with Russia. We are open to a discussion on an international level on how to improve the existing frameworks. But frankly, we should not throw away agreements that already exist, that have been negotiated over many years. We are bound by those agreements, and the other partners are bound by those agreements. So our idea is that we are open to discuss the proposals put forward by Russia, but rather, by building on the existing agreements and seeing those proposals that are now being put forward, but without destroying or putting in question the system that already exists.
Anyway, this should not distract us from the more urgent task of improving our bilateral working arrangements on energy in the short term. That’s why we came up with some proposals also regarding these early warning mechanisms.
Regarding the other part of your question, on Ukraine. For several years, we have already established a bilateral agreement with Ukraine, technical cooperation on energy. So this conference that took place on the 23d of March in Brussels was not directly linked to the recent gas crisis between Russia and Ukraine. It was in fact the result of work over several years, when our Ukrainian partners were asking for some cooperation with the European Union, and not only the European Union but also international financial institutions, to upgrade their grid and to modernise their network. So that’s what happened.
But in fact, we very much welcome Russian participation in this process. I was opening that conference, and I stated at that moment in Brussels that we very much welcome Russian participation in the efforts together, and also, as far as I understood, the Ukrainian authorities are also open to it. But at the same time, we have the right to have our own bilateral relations with Ukraine, as Russia has bilateral relations with many other partners.
So one point to make absolutely clear: there were several problems, as we know, and they are public in matters of energy, but we believe that we should try to do everything we can on both sides, in Europe, on the European side, and in Russia, to make this a win-win situation.
Energy, in fact, is something that can bind us, put us together. Certainly, the European Union needs energy from Russia, and I think Russia also needs good customers like the European Union, so let’s try to make this something positive, as I’ve said earlier, a positive interdependence between Russia and the European Union. This is exactly the spirit that we are considering in the proposals put forward by President Medvedev.
Question: Le Figaro. Mr Medvedev, did your European colleagues today try to convince you that the EU’s Eastern Partnership should not be a concern or irritation for Russia, have you been convinced? And of course, comments by President Klaus, President Barrosa, or Mr Solana are welcome.
Dmitry Medvedev: I will try to be brief. They did try to convince me, but they did not completely succeed. Why not? I think that, unlike energy or any other disputes, partnerships of all kinds are always a good thing. We consider the European Union our partner, and the European Union considers us its partner, and we both want to develop this partnership, give it new substance, new possibilities and so on. But as far as the Eastern Partnership is concerned, it is not yet very clear to us what shapes this partnership will take. Certainly, we know that this partnership is about economic development and creating various new opportunities for a number of Eastern European countries. But to be frank, what concerns us is that some countries view this partnership as a partnership against Russia. I am not referring to the EU leadership and our partners here today, of course. I am referring to other countries. But we would not like this partnership to turn into a partnership against Russia. Life gives us all kinds of examples, after all. We have a partnership with NATO, for example, but despite the relations we have developed, this partnership proved its weaknesses when put to the test, and attempts to restore relations between Russia and NATO now are encountering considerable difficulties.
There is no direct link or correlation here with the Eastern Partnership. It is simply that I would not like to see this partnership lead to consolidation between countries with anti-Russian attitudes and other European countries. If the partnership manages to avoid this and really does promote normal economic cooperation, so much the better, and we would have no objection and would wish such a partnership every success. But as I said, there are a few points on which we have our doubts.
Vaclav Klaus: Let me add a few words, because as you know, the EU Eastern Partnership summit was organised in Prague two weeks ago, so let me say, first, we discussed it during our talks in the morning quite openly and quite clearly. We tried to make sure to tell President Medvedev that the idea of the Eastern Partnership is strictly for something, to do or achieve something positive; the idea of the Eastern Partnership was not against somebody, and definitely not against Russia. I hope we reassured President Medvedev that this is our strong position.
Jose Manuel Barroso: This was indeed a point in our discussions, a very important point.
As President Klaus has said, our concept is not against, but for. For what? For prosperity and stability. We believe it is in the interest of both the European Union and Russia to have stability in those countries that are neighbours to the European Union and neighbours to Russia. Some of those countries, as you know, have in fact been asking to join the European Union, but we believe either they are not prepared, or we are not prepared to offer them membership to the European Union, so we pause the request of those countries to engage more with the European Union, six countries. And that is why we have designed this Eastern Partnership, I repeat, against nobody, but to support prosperity, and to support stability in that region.
This is a substantial offer for stepping up our bilateral ties. This is an instrument to boost regional cooperation and cohesion, because sometimes, there are also problems between those countries, and we believe that by working with them in this kind of framework, we are not only reinforcing good relations with us, but among themselves.
This is also a framework for a long-term relationship and engagement by the European Union based on shared values. And, this is, of course, an initiative to promote political and economic stability. This partnership will also provide more assistance for political and economic reforms, and I believe that the approximation of these countries to our standards in the political, economic and social spheres, will bring those countries and the whole region greater stability, and hopefully, better perspectives.
Javier Solana: Let me make a small comment. In the programs that will be established in the Eastern Partnership, we would like very much if Russia could participate. They know they can, and we would like it if they will.
Question: Mr Solana, Mr Klaus and Mr Barroso, please comment on the attitude of the EU to the proposals put forward by Russia regarding the European security. What was the response of the summit to these proposals?
Javier Solana: I think in my introductory remarks, I answered that question. With President Medvedev, we have spoken on several occasions, remember the important meeting we had in Nice. From that point on, we have agreed and accepted to get engaged in deeper debate, and in the coming period of time, before the summertime, we will have a meeting in which this issue will be tackled. It will be analysed in the context of all the member-states of the OSCE, therefore the ideas of President Medvedev have been taken seriously, and the European Union is ready to discuss it.
Question: I have a question about the Eastern Partnership in regard to China. Did you try to convince your European colleagues that your partnership with China is not a subject for their concern? What did they say and what do they think about that?
Jose Manuel Barroso: I don’t know if I understood the question correctly, but really, if there is a positive development in the relations between Russia and China, we welcome that.
It is important to understand that in the European Union, we are attached to the basic values of peace, freedom, and prosperity. So we don’t see the development of good relations between our partners among themselves as something negative. On the contrary, we sincerely are happy when we see some positive developments.
For instance, yesterday in a very informal conversation we had in the very nice evening we had with President Medvedev, President Medvedev informed us of some problems there were in the past in the delimitation of borders between Russia and China. Now these problems are settled. That’s very good news! We in the European Union are very happy with this, because all the conflicts, as we can see, are solved, this is indeed very good news for everybody that loves peace, and this is certainly the case of the Europeans.