Question: A number of financial experts had higher expectations for this meeting than for the G-20 summit in Washington. Were these expectations justified, and if so, in what areas was the greatest progress made?
Dmitry Medvedev: Not so long ago, I did not have any expectations from the G-20 summit in Washington, and did not even expect that it would take place. Organising this kind of summit in Washington seemed impossible at that moment. But it did take place, and it must be said that the document drawn up at the summit met the expectations of practically every delegation. This does not mean it is an ideal document, that now we will find immediate solutions to the crisis, or that some new configuration of financial relations in the world has now emerged. But it is a comprehensive document and it encompasses the problems and the proposals that all the different countries put forward. In this respect, I would not oppose Washington to Lima.
Here we have a different format, a different kind of meeting. Here the countries in the APEC forum have gathered, though half of them also participate in the G-20 group of the world’s biggest economies. But nonetheless, the regional nature comes through more clearly. I would call this summit a continuation of Washington and say it has added specific detail on some issues. But the main thing we have seen, I think, is that it has not resulted in any alternative proposal. In the end, the things we agreed on in Washington, the main outlines for a way out of the financial crisis, were the right things. This has come through indirectly or directly in everything the leaders of the APEC leaders have been saying at this summit. So, I think this is a continuation – and not just a continuation — of the discussions on how to overcome the financial crisis that we began in Washington just a short time before.
Question: Will Russia follow the APEC recommendations on stopping protectionist policies for a year at the minimum, and how could such a step be made to fit with support measures for domestic producers, in particular for the automotive industry?
Dmitry Medvedev: This is a subtle issue. I still have in my pocket a sheet of paper I brought with me from Washington. It has four points, and the last point happens to be “Rejection of protectionism”. I say this because the whole issue of where rejection of protectionism ends and protection of domestic producers begins is a matter of taste and measure, a matter of knowing what is sufficient in this or that particular situation, because all countries agree today that we should abandon the kind of blind protectionism that harms the world economy and the world financial system. But at the same time, no country, no leader, would have been so bold as to say that they will never take measures to protect their own producers and their own real sector.
Measures to protect domestic producers and industry, to support the real sector, should therefore be reasonable and sufficient. But it is up to each country to decide for itself which particular measures to take. I do not see any contradiction therefore in this area. I think simply that we will need to define the measures required depending on the particular situation on this or that country’s market. This is the principle we will base ourselves on. We have pledged not to implement protectionist policies of the kind I just mentioned, but we will of course take measures to support our real sector, make additional loans available, and take such other measures as are justified by the situation.
Question: What reaction did your proposals for reforming the world financial organisations, including the IMF, get at the APEC summit?
And a second question: when will oil trading be conducted in roubles?
Dmitry Medvedev: That depends on which countries. I think there are some countries that will never agree to use the rouble – they have their own currencies. Seriously, to answer your second question, I think that we have good prospects for conducting oil sales in roubles with our closest neighbours, and with countries that already buy our resources. Incidentally, during my meeting with President of China Hu Jintao today, we talked about the possibility of carrying out trade transactions in our national currencies, that is to say, making payments using the rouble and the yuan.
We have had similar discussions with other leaders. In cases where there is a willingness and where the economies are prepared, I think there are very good prospects. As for the question of trade in roubles, this is a matter of organising stock market trade, organising sales. In principle, we already have everything in place for this, including the legislative framework. Of course, the sooner we begin, the closer we will bring our plans for turning the rouble into one of the regional reserve currencies. We should therefore not delay with this work. In my recent Address [to the Federal Assembly], I drew the Government’s attention to precisely this matter.
As for the system of financial institutions, it is not ideal of course. But the situation is such that everyone agrees that a number of the most important international financial institutions should remain. This includes the International Monetary Fund too. At the same time however, practically all countries agree today that the International Monetary Fund is not playing the part it should have to prevent the financial crisis. Our instructions and the action plan that was drawn up in Washington provide for a reconfiguration of the main international financial institutions, including the IMF. It is a matter now of making the specific proposals. I hope that these proposals will be ready by the time of our next meeting in the spring.
Question: Dmitry Anatolyevich, you held your last talks with George Bush in Lima. How did you say goodbye, and what awaits Russian-American relations after George Bush leaves office?
Dmitry Medvedev: Well, for a start, I hope this will not be our last meeting. In fact, I invited my colleague, President of the United States George Bush, to visit Russia after his term in office has ended. He was pleased with the idea. He likes it in Russia.
As for our actual talks and the atmosphere in which they took place, we said something about this when we were standing together next to our countries’ flags before the meeting. We both said that there are subjects on which we have our differences, but overall, the work that we have carried out over these years merits without doubt a positive assessment. We did succeed in achieving many positive results. Overall, everything we worked on, everything President Vladimir Putin worked on before, and everything we have been working on over these last few months, is reflected in the Sochi Declaration adopted earlier this year. I think the balance is positive, despite the complicated issues that have emerged in our relations of late, issues such as the situation regarding Georgia’s invasion of South Ossetia, and our respective views on the situation in Ukraine and a few other countries. But this seems to have been inevitable taking into account the current U.S. administration’s positions.
As for relations with the new [U.S] administration, I spoke about this in quite some detail when I was in America. I hope that we will have a constructive partnership. This is what I would like to see. The discussion I had with the President-Elect gives me reason to believe that our American counterparts share this same desire.
Question: Dmitry Anatolyevich, during your meeting with the new U.S. President, did you manage to convince him to renounce plans to deploy elements of an American missile defence system in Europe? What are the chances of success on this issue, and what are the chances that Russia will renounce the idea of deploying Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad Region?
Dmitry Medvedev: I already said quite frankly that we do not want to deploy any missiles. This is a counter-measure, and everything will depend on the position taken by our American partners. I think that there are chances for a solution. The current administration has taken a very inflexible stand on this issue (taking the line of ‘we’ve made the decision and we’re going to go ahead no matter what’), but the President-Elect looks to be taking a much more careful line. At any rate, the fact that following his talks with the Polish President he said that the issue was not closed and the final decisions not yet taken, suggests that our future American partners are thinking about this matter and that they have not settled once and for all on a particular decision. If this is the case, this means that dialogue is possible, and this means too that changes in position and ultimately even a renunciation of these plans are possible. We will have to wait and see what the future brings.
Question: For a long time, Latin America was seen as part of the United States’ sphere of influence, and this remains the case today. In what light can we see your visit to this region?
Dmitry Medvedev: In the light I spoke about during the summer when I set out the five main principles of Russia’s foreign policy. One of these principles, if you recall, is our desire to develop relations with countries with which we would like to have privileged ties. This includes the CIS countries, and the countries of Latin America, with many of which we had strong and serious relations during the Soviet period. Now the time has come to restore these relations. Peru is also a country with which we would like to build special privileged relations.
During the meeting at the Council [on Foreign Relations] in Washington, I said that we would also be happy to build up privileged relations with the United States of America.
Question: Dmitry Anatolyevich, during your meeting with [head of Gazprom] Alexei Miller you said that all measures should be taken – legal and administrative – to make Ukraine pay its debts. What do you mean by ‘administrative measures’?
Dmitry Medvedev: I make no distinction between legal and administrative measures. I think as a lawyer. Administrative measures are measures taken within the framework of administrative powers and administrative law. These are measures that Gazprom as the main supplier, and the Russian Federation Government, are empowered to take. This is what I meant by administrative measures. And when I spoke about legal measures, I had in mind measures taken through the court system within the framework of the civil law relations that exist between two companies, in this case between the company supplying the gas, Gazprom, and the company purchasing the gas. I was referring to making use of the different possible court procedures. That was what I had in mind.
Question: So, we should not expect a sudden new freeze in Russian-Ukrainian relations before the New Year?
Dmitry Medvedev: This will depend on what line our Ukrainian partners take. I want us to see in the New Year in calm, and I think the conditions are in place for this to happen. Ukraine only needs to settle its debts, and then everyone will be in the right mood for celebrating the New Year.
Question: The APEC countries have declared the organisation of a regional anti-corruption campaign. How will Russia coordinate its anti-corruption efforts with the APEC countries’ strategy?
Dmitry Medvedev: I think this is the kind of area where cooperation is natural for a regional grouping such as this. There are issues that divide us, and also issues that unite us, and one of them is the fight against corruption and crime. In this respect I think that we can combine our efforts to create quite effective instruments. I have in mind things like exchanging information in the relevant cases, reciprocal handover of criminals on the wanted list or subject to extradition procedures, and the conclusion of the corresponding agreements for the search for and extradition of such people. And there are plenty more legal possibilities that our countries have for cooperation. This is all important, and we can do this on a bilateral basis or even on a multilateral basis if we reach agreements at big forums such as APEC.