President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Ladies and gentlemen, we just had talks with Prime Minister of Sweden Mr Fredrik Reinfeldt. This was a continuation of the dialogue we started some time ago, in November 2009 in Stockholm. I believe that this is an important meeting, especially bearing in mind that the last time Prime Minister of Sweden visited us in Russia was 2000. And in my opinion, this kind of caesura in relations between such major neighbours as Russia and the Kingdom of Sweden is simply unacceptable.
Today we have much to discuss. We have been very active in promoting economic cooperation. Sweden is one of Russia’s major European partners. Over the past five years our trade has quadrupled. Unfortunately, last year it witnessed a slight decrease. Nevertheless, it is measured in billions of dollars and we have all possible opportunities to further expand it, including through the use of large economic projects.
There are promising fields for closer cooperation. Some of them, incidentally, have just been formalised in those agreements and memoranda which our colleagues signed. We expect that our cooperation in areas such as energy, the financial sector, the forestry industry, the environment, promoting the so-called green economy and improving energy efficiency will be characteristic of our further interaction.
When we visited Sweden, an idea which I find very good, came up. It was the idea of our partnership with the European Union [Partnership for Modernisation of Russia], and I think that we could continue bilateral cooperation in these areas within the framework of such a partnership.
We need to create conditions so that business can operate normally and that people can communicate comprehensively. This includes the conditions that govern border crossings. Visa restrictions are a topic we are now discussing quite actively with all EU countries and represent an area in which we hope to move forward.
It is necessary to discuss other issues as well, including those related to recruiting labour force and issuing work permits. We talked about this today with Mr Prime Minister. I think that this is also a very genuine area of cooperation.
Our countries border on the Baltic Sea, so we should coordinate our efforts to combat its pollution through direct contacts with one another: both Russia’s efforts and those of our Swedish partners are designed to achieve precisely this. For this reason we are working within the framework of the Helsinki [Baltic Marine Environment Protection] Commission. In June Sweden will chair this commission. We expect that our Swedish colleagues will maintain continuity on this account.
We need to expend some efforts to develop cooperation in the spheres of culture and education. Our relations have a history and there is a reciprocal interest in each other on the part of our peoples, as well as an increasing flow of tourists. Therefore this is also one of the areas in which we should make efforts.
My colleague and I had a very constructive, direct conversation during which we talked about various matters. We always have topics to discuss and this is normal. The most important thing is that this discussion be conducted in a respectful manner, that there is desire to move towards one another, and that we attempt to resolve difficult issues that always exist between countries.
In this regard I would like to thank the Prime Minister of Sweden for the constructive and engaged dialogue, and once again welcome the Swedish delegation to Moscow.
Thank you for your attention.
Prime Minister of Sweden Fredrik Reinfeldt (as translated into Russian): I agree with Mr President: it gives me great pleasure to visit Moscow as the Prime Minister of Sweden. And I agree with his assessment of our conversation: we have had a very constructive and frank exchange.
It’s true that we are currently developing in a major way our contacts in every area. At present there are more than 400 Swedish companies and enterprises working in Russia. Large numbers of Russian tourists come to Sweden. I am particularly aware of this because I live in the suburbs of Stockholm. There are somewhere between 60 and 80 thousand tourists who come to Sweden every year from Russia.
The agreements that we signed with the Russian party today will enhance the range of our contacts. I don’t know if everyone here fully appreciated the wide range of areas affected by these agreements covering cooperation in space exploration, in the field of culture, in healthcare, social development, and in coordinating the efforts of our Prosecutors General.
We also paid considerable attention to Russia’s modernisation agenda that President Medvedev just mentioned. I must say that the discussions that are now taking place in Russia remind me of the problems we are talking about in Sweden at present, because we want to create an innovative economy, an economy based on up-to-date knowledge. Such an economy provides more jobs. I think that we can cooperate in this area, on modernisation, and this is also confirmed by the signing of a certain number of agreements today. I also think in this context that we can develop our cooperation to protect the environment of the Baltic Sea.
Before my meeting with President Medvedev today I met with executives of several large Swedish companies that currently operate in Russia. They represent different industries: there are truck manufacturers, a telecommunications company, and the well-known concern IKEA. And I can say that in the end they painted a positive picture of opportunities available in the Russian market.
What they say about the future, about further opportunities for business development in Russia, of course in many ways resembles the modernising agenda of President Medvedev. That is, they emphasise the importance of a stable, reliable legal framework, of agreements that one can count on.
This is bound up with the importance of a reliable, genuine, well-functioning judicial system, dealing with the protection of human rights. These are issues about which, as I said, President Medvedev himself just spoke in reference to Russia’s modernisation agenda.
Of course we agree that the whole debate on a [climate change] treaty in Copenhagen ended in disappointment for our countries, but we also agree that in the final analysis the treaty created a mechanism for establishing a framework, a foundation on which to continue to work in this area.
Our aim is to carry out more intensive work with countries that are big emitters of greenhouse gases. And of course the other aim is to exert additional political pressure on some countries, so they do what they are capable of doing. We will also fulfill our obligations in order to achieve the goal of reducing or controlling the temperature rise to a maximum of two degrees.
I believe that we have had a very useful conversation today. After a nine-year hiatus, we have met with the President for the second time in four months. We have a lot to catch up on and I expect that in the future our contacts will be more frequent.
Question: My question is for the President of Russia. Today a Memorandum on Energy was signed. What areas of cooperation will be involved, and what is the amount of planned investment?
And a question for the Prime Minister of Sweden: will Sweden be reconsidering joining the Nord Stream project?
Dmitry Medvedev: When we met in Stockholm, we agreed to increase cooperation in the energy sector. Of course, this involved more than just the construction of Nord Stream. It was in this context that our Swedish colleagues made their decision about this issue, which took quite some time and required a plan for energy cooperation on a wide range of issues. Let me remind you that last year Russia formulated a proposal on energy cooperation that was addressed to European countries and other countries more generally, and we are counting on our Swedish colleagues’ participation in this.
Regarding specific areas of cooperation, we are not excluding
anything. We are ready to develop energy cooperation in a wide range of areas. But so far as our priorities are concerned, then in my view it is extremely important to work at energy efficiency. Mr Prime Minister was just speaking about this when he said that similar issues are now a top priority for Sweden. So I hope that the general framework agreement that has just been signed will create conditions and help to develop contacts in this area.
Fredrik Reinfeldt: As you know, Sweden made a decision about Nord Stream back in the fall. After an investigation of this project in accordance with international conventions, international standards, and subject to the provisions of Swedish law, based on the results of this research the Government decided to endorse the project. But we need to take into account the fact that our country’s energy strategy means that we do not expect an increase in the consumption of natural gas. We have developed a rather delicate balance to meet our energy needs, according to which we essentially expect rely on our hydroelectric power plants. We also plan to meet our needs through renewable energy. If we utilise our potential and existing reserves and stocks the way we should, Swedish experts estimate that we can even become an exporter of clean energy and other forms of energy. Therefore, we do not expect an increase in natural gas consumption in our country’s economy.
I want to emphasise again the importance of energy efficiency agreements. The question is of course of great importance also for work on climate change, because the most important way to improve the climate, to reduce the impact of energy use on climate, involves coming up with a more effective way of using those energy resources that we currently have.
Question: My question is for the Prime Minister of Sweden.
Mr Prime Minister, human rights activists in Russia asked you in an open letter published today to raise with Russia’s leaders more openly and more publicly human rights issues in Russia, especially in the North Caucasus region.
My question is: Did you raise these issues in your conversations with the President of Russia?
Fredrik Reinfeldt: Yes, as I said in my opening remarks, I did address these issues. I want to say that they also figured prominently in the discussions we had in Stockholm, and President Medvedev himself has repeatedly drawn attention to these issues. Let me say again that today we had a frank and constructive dialogue that included such matters. I think that this is an important issue and will be a recurring theme at these meetings. I look forward to further exchanges with President Medvedev, including on this issue.
Dmitry Medvedev: I would like to assist Prime Minister Reinfeldt here, because this concerns not only Russia, but also the dialogue that continues between us and Sweden. At the outset I said that we had a very direct and frank conversation. I think that this is how it should be between states that are good partners and are thinking of their relations in terms of long-term prospects.
There are issues of concern to both our countries, and in so far as the Caucasus is concerned, in addition to actual human rights issues, there is another problem which I discussed with the Prime Minister: there are criminals who, unfortunately, have found refuge in Sweden and who I hope can be dealt with in the framework of signed agreements between our Prosecutor Generals’ Offices. If we are talking about human rights, then we need to make concerted efforts to fight crime.
I am looking forward to constructive cooperation with our Swedish colleagues on this issue.