President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Colleagues,
I will begin by providing some information on what we did, and then I will take some questions.
As a guest, I would like to begin by thanking Italy’s leaders and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi for such a well-organised summit. I would like to thank them for their efforts. I would also like to thank the key departments dealing with various issues here, such as the Ministry of Emergency Situations. They worked very hard to help recovery efforts following the destructive earthquake that occurred here, taking multiple lives, and they continue to work hard now. I feel that it is our duty to thank them.
I think that everyone present have grown fond of L’Aquila over the last few days. In some ways, it makes a dire impression, because it is very sad to see a city that is historic, beautiful, and at the same time, dead. One comes to realise how much more effort will need to go into restoring it, and it is tragic to think of the victims who cannot be brought back. Our condolences go out to everyone who lost their loved ones here.
Obviously, this summit took place at a difficult time, during the financial and economic crisis. This has affected all of our work, although in contrast to the G20 summit, we discussed a variety of issues, not just ones related to the financial crisis. Still, the central topic of our discussions was stimulating growth in the world economy, and the dominant viewpoint on this matter is that the only way to overcome our hardships is to combine our efforts, taking into account different interests.
This is important. Overall, we affirmed our commitment to the decisions made at the G20 summit in London and even earlier, in Washington, and we hope that implementing those decisions will have a positive effect on renewing global economic growth.
I’m not going to give an assessment of the current state of the global economy; you yourselves have followed it closely. Nonetheless, while we all noted certain positive moments in rebuilding our economies, everyone also expressed the same simple idea: we cannot relax, because it is still unclear whether we have reached the bottom of this crisis; nor is it clear how the crisis will continue to unfold.
For the first time, we had a full-scale meeting between the G8, the G5, and Egypt, as well as meetings that included other countries. In essence, we configured the so-called Heiligendamm-L’Aquila process, and for the first time, a joint declaration was made by the G8 and the G5. I feel that this better reflects general ideas on ways to overcome the crisis, as well as the overall situation in the world.
Clearly, the G8’s goal is to figure out long-term and medium-term strategies, so we discussed them with other nations, and I hope that we will be able to advance three goals.
The first of these goals is strengthening the legal framework for international cooperation, which is something we are constantly advocating, because without a legal framework, cooperation will not be possible. Indeed, this is the aim of our additional suggestions, which we formulated before this meeting, such as the agreement on European security.
The second goal is to reform our financial institutions and create new ones, if necessary – ones that will enable long-term development and improvements to macroeconomic policy, and which will help us to build a new economic and financial architecture.
And as far as institutions are concerned, we should address the issue even more broadly: not only do we need new financial institutions and reforms to the IMF and the World Bank, but we need new attitudes toward international institutions, as well. In this respect, I was happy to hear that nearly everyone, including the President of the United States, spoke about the need to reinforce the central role of the United Nations.
Why am I bringing this up? Because earlier, the leaders of this respected country did not always speak kindly about the role of the United Nations. But today, I am glad that the attitudes change. The UN is far from perfect, and it is true that we may need to make some decisions on modernising it in the near future, but we simply do not have any other universal platform for resolving global problems.
Finally, the third goal, and perhaps one of the most important, is to reform our very attitudes, and to reject the stereotypes that have been dominant within the establishment in recent years. I feel that the atmosphere that prevailed at this Summit is very important, because there has been a marked shift in attitudes. If you’d like, I can talk more about these attitudes and their causes during the question-and-answer section.
We made some important accomplishments. First of all, we defined an ambitious long-term goal: reducing greenhouse gas [GHG] emissions. The decision made by developed countries to reduce emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050 is both ambitious and very difficult, and may indeed change the model of human civilisation development.
We have our own view on this matter. We are ready to make a commitment to reduce emissions by at least 50 percent by 2050, as compared to 1990. ‘80 percent’ refers to total worldwide emissions, rather than emissions from individual nations. This is an ambitious and difficult goal.
Not long ago, we formulated our own goals for the next few years. In addition to developing our economy along the energy efficiency lines, I stated that we will try to reduce our GHG emissions by ten to fifteen percent by 2020, as compared to 1990 levels. It seems that this information also made our colleagues happy, because these are difficult decisions to make. Even some of our G8 colleagues are still in the process of formulating these goals, and have not come to a final decision.
Energy and the environment, green technology, and the creation of an energy-efficient model of economic development represent very important goals. In fact, we need them, not because we want to look good in front of other nations, but because it is necessary in order to modernise our own, Russian economy. Thus, this is something we will be working on, regardless.
A number of new, interesting ideas were brought up. In particular, Mexico presented the idea of a so-called green fund. Overall, everyone supported this idea, and we are also ready to participate in organising a green fund (assuming this idea is finalised) with our own input, monetary and otherwise.
Summit participants affirmed the G8’s commitments to promote growth and provide assistance to developing countries, including the development of infrastructure projects, improving public health, and education. This is our common goal, and naturally, Russia will also work on this goal with other countries.
On the last day of the summit, just half an hour ago, we completed a discussion on global food security. The topic is exceedingly complicated and very relevant. I have to admit that I really appreciated the way that this issue was discussed, as it was quite objective, and at the same time, quite advanced; naturally, the Russian side also presented its suggestions.
Russia is ready to make its contribution toward global food security. You know, we have nearly one tenth of the world’s arable land, and we have become a major grain exporter. If everything goes well, and if we can continue developing our agriculture industry as we are doing now, then soon – perhaps in five or ten years – we will be able to put up to 50 million tonnes of grain per year on the global market, which represents a great deal of food that is very much needed. Because regardless of the advanced technologies that we use, a great deal will depend on geographical factors and different countries’ possibilities. But we are also ready to help in other ways. We are ready to contribute to funds, and we are ready to continue training personnel to teach about agriculture. This is also an important element of cooperation. Clearly, we will work on all of this.
Ultimately, what we agreed upon in the expanded format of our meeting on global food security – which included the G8, the G5, Egypt, and a number of other countries, including African nations, as well as several international organisations – is to provide a total of around 20 billion USD in support. Initially, we had committed 15 billion USD, but finally agreed on 20 billion USD, as was suggested by all participating countries.
Naturally, we also discussed current political issues. We talked about nuclear non-proliferation, which is a very important topic, especially given that we just addressed this matter in Moscow with the President of the United States. We talked about fulfilling United Nations decisions and about violations of UN Security Council resolutions, which have been permitted in several countries, particularly North Korea and Iran. We feel that problems of this kind need to be resolved politically and diplomatically, while adhering to the founding principles of international law and the resolutions that were reached on these issues.
We affirmed our commitment to many of our long-standing engagements, such as the fight against terrorism, international organised crime, and piracy, and we spoke seriously and in quite a bit of detail about the Middle East peace process and resolving problems in that region on the basis of the establishment and co-existence of two states, Israel and Palestine.
I hope that this topic can be built upon and developed at the Middle East conference that will be held in Moscow. Naturally, we analysed other issues as well, including reconciliation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and conflict regions in Africa.
We are also happy with the decision made jointly with the United States and France as co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group on settling the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. We made a corresponding statement, calling on the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan to make additional efforts in this process. I hope that in just a few days, I will be able to welcome both presidents to the Russian Federation, where we will continue discussing this matter.
And finally, the last thing I would like to say is that, as always, many meetings and encounters took place on the sidelines of the summit. Some of them were officially organised, while others were informal, but no less productive. Thus, I was able to have talks with quite a large number of my partners, and I am grateful to them for it.
I think that’s about all that I wanted to share. I will now take your questions.
Question: Mr President,
Just before you came to Italy you held talks in Moscow with the President of the United States and, according to you, made genuine contact with Barack Obama. Have you been able to build on those good relations here in Italy, and in what way (if any) have your your talks with the President of the United States affected discussions in L’Aquila?
If you don't mind, one short additional question: how do you feel about the Italian proposal to hold another summit here in L’Aquila?
Dmitry Medvedev: It was actually good that we were able to get to know the President of the United States better. We have really forged a good personal relationship, I like to chat with Barack Obama. I hope that he has the same positive feelings about these exchanges.
At one point in the past we were both engaged in common – basically, scholarly – research, as I said to him at our first meeting. He once headed the editorial board of a legal journal, and at that time I was studying English in graduate school and reading that very journal. That is a curious coincidence, to say the least. Although it's not the main thing, our personal relationship is indeed something that will facilitate the development of relations between our two countries.
We have gone on talking here, and repeatedly returned to what we were discussing in Moscow, and even recalled some personal moments from our conversations that took place during the informal dinner in my residence in Gorki.
On the whole it was clearly a good idea that we have these back-to-back meetings with the U.S. President, first in Russia and then the continuation here. I hope that they will have some direct results. In my view, we have already seen such results in Moscow.
Those decisions that were taken about strategic arms reduction, the transit of goods and bilateral cooperation, are very, very positive, especially when compared to the atmosphere in Russian-American relations as recently as six months ago, when we were hardly even talking. I have already said something about this. Unfortunately, our relations had almost reached cold war levels, which was absolutely unacceptable and not our fault.
As for another summit here in L’Aquila, of course the point is that we met here for a specific reason. The location is excellent and the people are very hospitable, as I have already said. I get the impression you enjoyed it as well. If we need to meet, we are ready to do it anywhere, including here. And at the same time we managed to make a small contribution to the restoration of L’Aquila.
You know about our decision to restore two sites in the city. Other nations have made similar pledges. Maybe the more often we meet, the better it will be. But let me repeat: if we are to talk seriously, then this should lead to real, substantive results. We have been meeting a lot, there has been no shortage of communication.
If before the G8 met once a year, and my colleagues and I often met with our counterparts in other countries once a year, now there is also the summit of the twenty biggest economies (G20), which takes place at regular intervals (there have already been two, this is the third). This means that in the past year we have met four times.
That is already a lot, not to mention our bilateral relations, which involve regular exchanges, going to see each other, and carrying out visits. This is not bad, but most importantly there has been some real movement on the issues that we have discussed.
Question: Could you please explain how the summit declaration will affect domestic politics in Russia, including its economic implications?
Dmitry Medvedev: You know, I always assumed that everything in the world was interconnected, but after the crisis happened, I realised the extent to which this is so, unfortunately for all of us. And if all the talk before about the global economy and countries' interdependent relations was somewhat abstract, after such a pummelling that talk now seems very specific indeed. So even if it sounds a bit trite, everything that we do has a direct domestic or national dimension.
If the decisions taken in London and Washington to rebuild the international economy and reconfigure the international financial system work the way they should, of course they will have a direct impact on the national economies in general and the national economy of the Russian Federation in particular.
Much of the world depends on how the major economies are doing, economies such as the United States for example, and therefore, when decisions are made concerning the recovery of major economies, this has an effect on other economies. We all influence each other, so these summits that we've had are not just some general discussion of an important topic for our planet, but a set of very specific conversations with the heads of international financial organisations that will have important repercussions for our countries. I mean in economic terms, but that is probably the most important thing.
Of course there are foreign policy questions that we also have to discuss. I can tell you without going into all the details that this year's discussions were more transparent and more thoughtful than ever before, and that they confirmed just how close our positions are. Incidentally, for this I would like to thank all the other leaders who participated in the discussion of international issues – I mean the seven other participants in the G8. So these discussions also have an important practical dimension, and issues that were discussed in the foreign policy area influence to a certain extent a number of measures that we adopted later on our own. So this is very specific, bread and butter work.
Question: We're hearing more and more about the need to reconfigure the G8 in an extended format, as the G13 or G14. What are your views on this issue?
In your opinion which problems can the G8 resolve more effectively, and which should be consigned to the expanded format? And when the present crisis comes to an end will the G20 format continue to exist?
Dmitry Medvedev: Of course this subject was discussed, because it concerns everyone: it concerns the G8; it concerns those who are not included in the G8 but in effect already participate in all of its encounters; it concerns all the countries that don't belong to the G8 and are not part of the Heiligendamm – L'Aquila Process but are part of the G20. So we all want to know how things will go in light of what I mentioned in answering the last question, that we have become so dependent on each other that we simply have to keep the lines of communication open.
The time when state leaders, particularly of leading states, would meet every 20 or 30 years to define the parameters of foreign policy and economic cooperation is long gone. Now there is no doubt that we need to meet regularly, even in view of existing information technology.
What is going to happen? I think that in general the trend is already clear, because the G8 plus 5 [Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa] already work much more closely together. At the same time, the G8 continues to exist along with what has come to be called the Heiligendamm – L'Aquila Process.
With regard to the G20, I think that even if we succeed in resolving this crisis – and nobody knows when that will be, since the recession is obviously going to last quite some time and the main thing is not to move into a full-fledged depression – we will have to go on meeting in this format. Maybe we won't have to do it two or three times a year, but I think that we will have to meet so that we can at a minimum definitively determine the contours of global financial architecture, give the IMF and the World Bank a real mandate, reallocate quotas, decide on the rules concerning international regulation and the rules for monitoring the state of affairs in leading economies, accounting and reporting — in general, solve all the issues that are now very topical. It just will take time, even if we are past the worst of the crisis. So these formats will continue to coexist, but I believe that in general we should choose a pared down format for our discussions.
Question: Regarding the WTO: will Russia be joining it as an independent member, to the extent that that's possible, or as part of the Customs Union?
And my second question: have you discussed the issue of new reserve currencies, and what was Russia's position on them?
Dmitry Medvedev: DMITRY MEDVEDEV: With regard to WTO accession, I will not go back to why we re-considered our approach to joining the WTO. I will only say that we had two choices. But given the fact that the process of joining the WTO was stalled, despite all the talk that 95 percent of the issues had been resolved, we acted as we had agreed. Incidentally I would like to shed some light on an agreement we reached on this issue. Last year, when we met with the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, we agreed to accelerate the creation of a Customs Union, and that our decisions will depend on whether we join the WTO by, say, the summer of this year. Neither Russia nor Kazakhstan nor Belarus belongs to the WTO, and we have established a Customs Union.
What to do next? Of course we can join the WTO in one of two ways — and that remains our goal, there should be no doubt about that.
The first way is to join as part of a Customs Union, which would be nice but quite difficult, according to our colleagues at the WTO charged with orchestrating such a process and other member states of the World Trade Organisation.
Or we can join a different way. Having agreed on some common standards and positions within the tripartite Customs Union, we could accede separately, which in my view would be the simpler and more realistic option, subject of course to honouring the rights and interests of other parties, depending on the position that we've worked out. This might enable us to proceed at different speeds in joining based on what had been agreed. But of course we must honour the positions outlined in our deal with Kazakhstan and Belarus.
Now with regard to currencies: this issue has already become a regular feature at these meetings. Although even a few months ago or, say, at the first summit in Washington, it was hardly discussed, I did raise the issue of international reserve currencies at [the G8 summit in] Toyako in Japan. But it must be said that the economic situation was not a great concern for many of the participants. They thought that we'd avoid the worst.
And now the topic has become a constant one. We are always discussing the creation of new reserve currencies or, to be more precise, the emergence of new reserve currencies, including the possibility of the ruble as a currency, even if that is not reflected in our statements, as well as the issue of a supranational currency.
Incidentally, on this occasion I can cheer you up because I have in my pocket a supranational currency, which someone gave me as a gift. This is one unit of it, a sample featuring the motto “Unity in diversity,” and it is called a “united future world currency.” It is already possible to see and touch it.
What does this mean? Of course, this is just a gift, a sample version, but something like this is in the works and may appear one day. You will be able to hold it in your hand and use it as a means of payment. There is even a special standard and rules concerning its use, but it is a symbol of our unity, of our desire to jointly address such issues. So here it is, an international currency.
Question: I want to ask about your bilateral meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister. Did you discuss visa-free exchanges with the Japanese side? Do you think that the Japanese side has politicized the idea of a visa-free regime?
Dmitry Medvedev: I had a full-fledged conversation, a full-fledged meeting with the Prime Minister of Japan, Taro Aso. The conversation was serious, friendly and quite informative, and at the same time totally bound up with the issues that we had planned to discuss.
We talked about economic cooperation and international issues, including the situation on the Korean peninsula. Of course, we touched on the very complex issues between Russia and Japan, territorial questions and the peace treaty. Such contacts are ongoing and are conducted in the regular way, involving people in our ministries of foreign affairs and other officials.
What can I say? We have positions that have not yet come together, but at the same time we have shown a desire to discuss this issue further on the basis of a set of principles. The Russian position is quite clear: we believe that the only legal document that describes the situation accurately and can serve as the basis for a settlement is the Declaration of 1956, and that is the instrument around which we need to build a dialogue.
With regard to specific aspects of the discussion of this topic, for obvious reasons I don't want to immerse myself in them. The topic is complex, but most importantly we are talking not only at the expert level but also at the highest level. We are discussing this topic openly, listening to each other, and this is important when you recall that Russia and Japan are key countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Resolving foreign policy questions and establishing a normal economic business climate depend on our collaboration. We have some very large projects that we are undertaking together.
With regard to visa issues, of course they are in large measure related to the issue of concluding a peace treaty and settling territorial problems, but not completely. Of course we can arrive at any number of decisions, but they must be in accordance with our sense of the best way to reach an agreement on the main treaty, the peace treaty. The subject is still on the table and discussions are ongoing.
The only thing that I would like to draw to your attention and that I discussed with my colleague is the desirability of not politicising this issue to such an extent. I understand that parliaments have one position and that the establishment and society have theirs. But to create a normal pragmatic atmosphere at the talks it is best not to increase the tensions with the other side.
Unfortunately the Japanese side has recently done precisely this, when there were several decisions taken at the parliamentary level, including the use of language that was totally unacceptable for the Russian side. We need to get away from this sort of politicisation if we want to come to some sort of future agreement on all outstanding items.
Question: Is it true that Russia is negotiating with Kyrgyzstan to provide it with a new base for the CSTO collective forces [Collective Rapid Reaction Force]? Would it possible to have some details on this?
Dmitry Medvedev: First, Russia has a base in Kyrgyzstan, let's start with that. Secondly, all the negotiations are of course based on our partnership relations with Kyrgyzstan in matters across the board: both economic affairs and military cooperation.
Periodically leaders of the Russian Federation and heads of ministries and departments visit Kyrgyzstan. But as regards the specific arrangements, as you can imagine, such an agreement cannot be declared in advance. We have nothing here that we want to confirm or to refute. In my view the only thing I should say at the moment is that we are naturally interested in forging relations with Kyrgyzstan on the basis of the long-term strategic partnership that we enjoy now.
As members of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation we have a responsibility for each other. And there are special articles in the Treaty. You know what they are, the same as the ones in the Treaty establishing the North Atlantic Alliance. So of course we must work to strengthen each other's security. We would naturally like to bring certain things that have been laying dormant to a more contemporary level.
Well, that's all I have to say about this topic.
Question: On the question of climate change, can you tell us what measures Russia is taking to reduce emissions?
Dmitry Medvedev: Frankly speaking, I have already talked about this. But I can say it once again with pleasure, because it was a fairly complex set of meetings and discussions.
We met with our experts, talked with our energy people and eventually came to the conclusion that, first of all, in accordance with my executive order from last year, the energy efficiency of the Russian economy should be increased and energy consumption reduced by 40 percent by 2020.
Secondly, by 2020 we are going to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10–15 percent relative to 1990. This is a very good contribution to international endeavours, because in terms of fossil fuels, if my memory is correct, this amounts to 30 billion tonnes. This is a huge figure.
And finally, we support the general provisions set forth in the joint Declaration on Climate Change, including those relating to reducing global emissions by 80 percent. By 2050, our contribution could amount to 50 percent (well, according to our estimations because as you know it's quite a ways ahead). Therefore, I believe the real results we have are very, very positive.
I will not hide the fact — it's even been noted by some of my colleagues during the G8 discussions – that they were happy that Russia has clearly articulated its position on these issues. Some colleagues have not yet done so — we have. We will work on this, and I have not yet mentioned our decisions to develop an energy-efficient economy, so-called green technology, and alternative energy.
This direction is extremely important, despite the fact that Russia is one of the largest producers of hydrocarbons on the planet. We realise that nothing is forever, including our hydrocarbon power. If we cannot create normal conditions for the development of other forms of energy, we will have no future. It is necessary to invest money and intellectual resources in this field.
Question: At the summit President Obama spoke about a new initiative on nuclear safety. This initiative is supported by the leaders of the G8 and apparently Russia as well. I would still like to know what will happen with all the agreements between Russia and the United States in the field of nuclear disarmament if the United States does not abandon plans to deploy ABM systems in Eastern Europe.
Dmitry Medvedev: This question brings me back to Moscow, to negotiations with the President of the United States in Moscow, and when we discussed the issue of non-proliferation with him there. He suggested a corresponding summit on this topic. I think that this is a good idea: I supported him and said that we will be ready to take part in it. These ideas were relayed to those here and have the support of all parties, including our country. In general, this is probably the correct direction for our cooperation.
In doing so, of course we will rely primarily on our own interests. If with regard to non-proliferation issues our positions are close, and sometimes identical, with regard to strategic offensive weapons we are on the path towards maximum coordination and convergence. We made clear our intentions in the so-called Moscow joint understanding, there are options for warheads and missile launchers that have yet to be definitively determined, but nevertheless the basic parameters are there.
There is one issue on which we disagree. This relates to the decision taken by the previous U.S. administration, along with two European countries, Poland and the Czech Republic, to deploy a missile defence system and place a certain number of anti-missile elements and radar in Poland and the Czech Republic. Our arguments you know. Our position has not changed. We believe that this aspect of missile defence is harmful, that it will not protect a given country if a real threat does arise, and simultaneously looks like a challenge to the Russian Federation. Because actually this radar is more directed at controlling the territory of the Russian Federation than that of those countries that our partners are talking about.
Therefore, our idea is to nevertheless arrive at a modern understanding — I emphasise the words modern understanding — of global missile defence. We are ready to participate in this. I said this to President Obama. We are ready to participate in this, not merely intellectually, but also by providing our material capabilities, including radar and other facilities.
The minimum that I see that makes me moderately optimistic is that Americans are not forcing this initiative through and are now taking time to study it. How this will end, I do not know, nor whose view will prevail in the American administration. I can speak comfortably with Mr Obama on the subject. But we understand that there are a number of experts and of people making the relevant decisions who consider this endeavour very important for their country and themselves. Once again, our opinion is that this decision was a mistake. And if our partners show a willingness to revise it, and this is what we are hoping for, then we can agree on all elements. If we cannot agree on these issues, you know what the consequences will be. No one has suggested anything else. And what I said at the time in my Address to the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation remains an idea that I am still contemplating.
Question: To continue on the theme of missile defence, a quick question if you'll allow it. Today an article in the Polish press claimed that the issue had been resolved, that the U.S. administration agreed not to deploy a missile defence system. This is not very formal, but nonetheless a leak occurred. In this regard, I have a question: would you consider it your personal victory – I stress the term personal – or rather a foreign and domestic policy victory?
And actually, I had another question on the prospects for settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. How soon do you think a peace treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan could be adopted, and whether in this context, since the issue relates to the Caucasus, you discussed with your colleague President Sarkozy the fact that the Medvedev–Sarkozy plan is not being stringently implemented, by Georgia of course.
Dmitry Medvedev: If the United States renounce their missile defence plans then I am ready to attribute it to whoever you want, even to the President of Poland, as long as it comes about. Because we believe that the idea is harmful and unnecessary, and simply irritates all. If you like, you can put this on my record – I would not object. The important thing is the result.
Now, with regard to Karabakh and the Armenian-Azerbaijani settlement. I just said that we agreed on a document with the three participants in the Minsk Group. You know, I'll say it more simply: I have some expectations on this account. This may be one of the conflicts whose resolution is in the most advanced phase.
The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan listen and understand each other quite well, the number of nuances on which we have to agree are dwindling and, in my opinion, this is a solvable problem. This is not something that will require decades before a solution can be found. Therefore, we believe that progress can be made.
We will help this process together with our partners in the Minsk group and, to be honest, we will have to act because I hope they will come literally in the near future to one of the presidential events in Russia. We will continue with these contacts. But I will not anticipate anything. The main thing is that the parties retain their desire to negotiate. This is the case now.
As to the situation in the Caucasus, of course this is generally a more complicated issue than just the Nagorno Karabakh settlement. Unfortunately, after what happened in August last year, the overall situation in the Caucasus has become more difficult. And we cannot be happy with the fact that, say, Georgia considers this situation a pretext for the further militarization of their own regime. The acquisition of additional weapons currently taking place is certainly not improving the situation or helping it calm down.
Second. All kinds of exercises which take place in the Caucasus, including on the territory of Georgia (in my opinion, even last year, prior to the conflict between Georgia and South Ossetia, there was no point in holding these exercises), but now they look like a provocation. We have talked about this openly with our partners in NATO. And even this was a reason to delay – even just a bit – the announcement of the resumption of relations between Russia and NATO. Now we have done this and agreed with the Americans that we will resume military cooperation. This will all benefit the case at hand. Here the most important thing is to avoid any provocation.
As for my agreements and the so-called Medvedev–Sarkozy plan, I think that it has worked quite well and, to a large extent, accomplished its purpose, which was to calm the situation. Another point is that there are a number of aspects on which we must continue to cooperate. We will do so. There is the issue of the missions in the Caucasus. Indeed, this encountered difficulties, because neither South Ossetia nor Abkhazia wants the missions to formally refer to them as they were prior to the proclamation of their independence. But in fact no one objected to the missions themselves.
The missions are useful and necessary: the UN mission and the EU mission are actively working, as they should be. But if you talk about the mandate and the United Nations mission, it seems to me that it must take into account realities, rather than create the illusion that nothing has happened, including with regard to name changes.
That is why we were forced to veto a decision. If the approach here becomes more pragmatic, of course we will remove our veto and agree on everything.
Question: This is your second G8 summit as president. From your point of view, what has changed in the past year within this club, which players have come to the fore, what relations do you have with them? And how would you rate the performance of Barack Obama at the summit, given that he is not yet a very well-known political figure on the international stage, but is nevertheless the head of one of the largest economies in the world?
Dmitry Medvedev: If the degree to which a political figure is well-known is associated with the length of his or her tenure, then I am also not a very prominent figure. And the most recognised has to be one of the leaders that has been in power for a very long time. In life, everything is a little different.
Nevertheless, I want to say that the summit was certainly interesting. And of course, the great advantage of such meetings is that we can communicate informally: we have the opportunity not simply to sit at the round (or oval) table, or under the cameras during a bilateral meeting in one of the facilities where the meetings took place, but simply talk one-on-one, to take each other aside, ask certain questions and just chat. This is sometimes also useful. So in this sense, these summits are unique. And in any event, for me, this is a good experience with my colleagues.
I have equal, and I hope, good relations with everyone. So I do not want to go into any personal characteristics. But the fact that during these discussions we got to know each other better is already a huge bonus. The fact that sometimes people who in real life have difficulty communicating with one another appear here is also a bonus.
But I will not hide the fact that last year it was difficult for me to communicate with the President of the United States of America, because we were very divided on many issues. Rather let me say this: talking to George Bush Jr. is a pleasure. He is a frank man, a quick man.
But unfortunately this did not have any positive consequences for our relations, and to speak frankly, it often had negative consequences. In this sense, I hope that with Barack Obama we will listen to each other better and therefore understand each other better. Anyway, let's hope that those decisions that were taken in Moscow and the positions we discussed here will be implemented. This is, of course, important.
Question: There is one issue that requires clarification. Who gave you the coin, that is who issued the new international currency? And especially, at what rate would you be ready to exchange it?
Dmitry Medvedev: You want to offer me a few euros for this? I am not ready to change it with you because I do not know the real rate of this currency. If you do, I might think about it.
With regard to who gave it to me, it is a gift that, I understand, has been given to all the heads of delegations. It was coined, I think, in Belgium (it is sort of a test batch) at the mint. But I am heartened by the fact that aside from where it was coined and what quality it is, this is now worrying everyone, including the mints. It means that people are getting ready and I think this is a good sign. It is a sign that we understand to what extent we are interconnected. There is a very good declaration attached and I have quoted part of it. In fact, if we ever live to see a global currency, it can be used as the relevant rules concerning issuance and circulation. But I will nevertheless keep this coin, as it is a valuable souvenir for me.
Thank you, colleagues. Good luck with everything. See you again.