Kirill Kleimenov: This week, the first full-format BRIC Group summit took place, bringing together Brazil, Russia, India and China. The BRIC countries between them cover half the world if you look on the map. Could we say that a new political and economic centre of influence has emerged? If so, what role do you think it will play?
Dmitry Medvedev: I think this really was a historical and very significant event, because it marked the emergence of a new forum for resolving global problems. As you rightly said, Russia, Brazil, India and China are all very big countries. India and China are the world’s biggest countries in terms of population, and Russia and Brazil are the biggest in terms of territory and we also have a sizeable population. These four countries unite practically half of the world’s population. Of course the decisions these countries take are decisive for resolving many of the world’s problems, including coming up with a global response to the financial crisis.
The fact that we were able to get together and hold this summit, discuss the global agenda, examine ways to work together to overcome the global financial crisis and talk about the future international financial system was really very important.
During our discussions in Yekaterinburg, I pointed out to my colleagues that none of us took part in establishing the international financial system back in the 1930s-40s. I mean, none of our countries took part. Everything was decided for us. We cannot accept this situation again. We need to ensure that our countries, which between them are home to billions of people, take part in setting the new rules of the game. It would be unforgivable of us to let things develop otherwise. For this reason too, this new forum has great interest and relevance today. And, of course, it gives us the possibility of coordinating our policies on this or that issue. So, I am pleased that this summit has taken place and that we were able to discuss a wide range of issues, including matters of great global relevance today.
Kirill Kleimenov: Will the BRIC summits take place on a regular basis?
Dmitry Medvedev: We are in the process of deciding how we will plan our future meetings, but whatever the case we will get together as necessary.
Kirill Kleimenov: Another big international issue that will soon become a talking point is the UN conference on climate change, which will take place in Copenhagen in December. We already know that most of the Western countries, including Russia’s G8 partners, have already set their medium-term greenhouse gas reduction targets. What line is Russia taking on this issue? When will Russia state its position?
Dmitry Medvedev: Russia is behaving in worthy fashion in this situation as in other situations. For a start, despite a number of difficulties, Russia signed up to the Kyoto Protocol and its obligations, something that a number of big countries did not do.
Kirill Kleimenov: We know which countries you mean.
Dmitry Medvedev: Yes, they are well known. Second, Russia’s position is that we must follow responsible policies in the areas of efficient use of resources, energy efficiency and of emissions, that is, greenhouse gas emissions. One of my first executive orders upon taking office was an order to reduce our economy’s energy intensiveness by 40 percent by 2020. This is a large-scale and serious undertaking which is very important for our country and for the world’s climate. We are reflecting now on the next steps to take. Everyone is talking about the Kyoto Protocol, about what will succeed it, about what needs to be done now.
We do indeed need to set greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, because greenhouse gases are having a highly damaging impact on the global climate. Our position is that, based on the current situation, by 2020, we could reduce our emissions by around 10–15 percent. In this way, we would not deprive ourselves of development opportunities, while at the same time making our contribution to the international efforts to fight climate change. Overall, what this would mean is that over the total period from 1990 through to 2020, that is, over a thirty-year period, we would reduce our total emissions by 30 billion tons. This is a worthy position and a serious effort. Frankly speaking, we hope to see similar steps from our partners. I have said on a number of occasions that climate change is something we all need to work on together. It is an all or no one issue. If the approach is that it is nobody’s concern, then everyone can relax but that would be a fatal road to follow. If we let this happen, we would end up not being able to sit like today, on the banks of a beautiful lake and hear the birds singing.
Kirill Kleimenov: But Russia is not going to take unilateral steps in this area?
Dmitry Medvedev: No, of course not. We will take coordinated steps together with our partners in the international dialogue on the subject.
(The full text of the conversation will be published on June 21, 2009.)