President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: I would like to begin with some remarks. Recently, my colleague Ms Federal Chancellor and I met in Munich. Now, I am very happy to welcome Ms Angela Merkel to Russia. We just had some good, productive, sincere, and very extensive discussions on a wide variety of issues.
I will not try to anticipate your questions, but I will tell you that naturally, among other things, we spoke about ensuring security both globally and within Europe; we also spoke about the need to consolidate out efforts in overcoming the global financial crisis. Indeed, recently, we have seen some reassuring signs and we began today’s talks with this topic which is no doubt pleasant to talk about, although I think that we shouldn’t get too caught up in being content; we must implement all the measures we agreed on in Washington and in London, as well as ones that we will discuss in Pittsburgh.
We consulted on many other very complicated situations. Of course, these included nuclear programme in Iran, as well as other problematic regions, such as North Korea. It is imperative that we continue cooperating with regard to the situation in Afghanistan. All these are examples of our very close cooperation with our German partners and with other European countries as well as the United States. That is why I feel that it is natural for these kinds of issues to come up as subjects of discussion during such meetings at the highest level.
I think that we will need to continue our consultations on economic issues and make sound preparations for Pittsburgh summit. I would like to reiterate that in my view we have been able to make some accomplishments. Russia supported and continues to support many initiatives, including the German initiative regarding an Economic Charter which in our opinion is a promising idea that can serve as the grounds for further moves. All of this is a foundation on whose basis we could advance.
But of course, issues of bilateral cooperation are no less important, and perhaps in certain situations, are even more significant. We discussed those issues at the beginning of today’s talks. We reviewed major projects that tie the Russian Federation to the Federal Republic of Germany. We spoke about how we could improve cooperation in certain aspects of those projects and achieve specific results. I think that we will tell you more about it later.
We agreed that we need to continue cooperation in energy sector, including the Nord Stream, as well as many other projects uniting Russia and Germany.
All of these examples demonstrate that even during a crisis period it is possible to find good ways of cooperating that help overcome the effects of the global financial crisis and help create favourable conditions for economic development. I’m not going to give you any statistics, but I will merely mention that this year, in spite of the crisis, we saw an increase in investments. This means that we see this kind of cooperation as a way to overcome problems. This is likely very important and should always remain on state leaders’ radar. We will also discuss some other issues as our meeting and talks are not over.
I would like to once again thank Ms Angela Merkel for the productive dialogue that we had today.
Question: What were you able to promise to Ms Federal Chancellor in regard to preserving jobs in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and in regard to Mr Igor Yusufov’s active progress with shipyards?
Dmitry Medvedev: Both Russia and Germany are interested in reciprocal investments, but these must be high-quality investments, rather than hyped-up or speculative ones, intended only to make easy money.
As for the shipyards – Wadan Yards – they are naturally a case of private investments and as a matter of fact the government had not really been involved in the deal. But given that these are quite significant investments which have great importance for the development of our relations and that a large number of people are employed in these shipyards, we have begun to monitor this situation carefully.
I hope that the new pool of investors taking shape now will be much more effective and successful and will be able to resolve challenges in production and in maintaining a workforce. Most importantly, their efforts will ultimately result in getting orders for building ships which can serve a variety of purposes. If their work is organised properly then it will naturally bring good results. Our Government will in turn follow this situation closely, because this is a matter of investment cooperation with our German colleagues, which is most valuable to us.
Question: Via Sberbank, Russia is now truly ready to make serious investments in the German economy. But is there a risk that in crisis time active support of the German economy may harm Russia’s economy?
Dmitry Medvedev: Indeed, today we are in a mature phase of relations with Germany, our strategic partner in Europe, since we are not only engaged in mutual commerce – and we really have been trading much lately, even despite the crisis; we are buying a lot of fuel and engineering facilities – but we are also making reciprocal investments. Just now, we have mentioned one of those cases, and perhaps this is a complicated case, but nevertheless, we have an array of projects that bring our economies closer together and, in my view, are extremely important in the current situation.
Why are these investments needed now, in difficult economic circumstances? Precisely because they will help us get out of the nosedive. That is why I placed emphasis in my introductory remarks on the fact that, strange as it may seem, investments between our countries have actually intensified and increased instead of weakening during this period of crisis. This is due to the very fact that now is a time when it’s possible to make profitable investments and acquire various assets at a price that may be lower than before, and to subsequently boost joint business projects or one’s own business. This is true both for the Russian Federation and for Germany. Thus, these kinds of investments do not divert money; on the contrary, they help resolve a variety of challenges – challenges that are quite clear to all of us.
Recently, I said that our national economy is imperfect and that it does not have a proper structure, which is why we suffered such a great downfall. What do we need to do in order to improve our economy’s structure? We need to invest money in areas where we do not yet have sufficient economic activity. For example, investments into companies like Infineon Technologies AG or Qimonda AG, or the acquisition of Opel – they are investments in high technology companies and high-tech industry is precisely what we are lacking and what could really help us improve the structure of our economy, thereby helping us be better protected during future crisis.
That is why such strategic relations and strategic investments help to create a better foundation for future cooperation and a better economic structure. Furthermore, to some degree they serve as a kind of insurance against future economic catastrophes.
This is why now is precisely the time to invest. This is the right approach.
Question: One month ago, just before you arrived in Munich, we learned about the murder of [human rights activist] Natalia Estemirova. Now we have learned about other murders. In Munich, you said that you respect what human rights activists do. What can you do in order to protect the lives of those activists?
Dmitry Medvedev: I will begin my answer by expressing my condolences to the families of the activists who died – Ms Zarema Sadullayeva and Mr Alik Dzhabrailov. They also engaged in human rights activism, the same as Ms Estemirova, who was killed last month. All of these murders serve as evidence that we simply cannot sit back and relax.
The situation in the region is very complicated, and the government must do everything possible to change it. I would like to say that it is the duty of the government and the President to protect the lives of all citizens. We must look at everything that has happened from this angle. And in my view, what’s happening lately is as follows: there has been a slew of political killings and attempted murders intended to destabilise the situation in the Caucasus. I am referring to the killing of those human rights activists, as well as the attempt to assassinate the new President of Ingushetia, who had actively engaged in stabilising the situation in the republic and initiated dialogue with a variety of forces, and multiple other political murders. All this is evidence that powerful groups that are displeased with this positive trend of development in the area have intensified their disruptive activities which are supported and funded from various sources and from abroad. Those groups have unleashed multiple terrorist attacks and employed new terrorist technologies.
I have certainly given all the necessary instructions, just as I did before. Our goals are to find the killers, to bring them to trial for their criminal deeds, and to punish them. These goals are the top priority for all of our law enforcement agencies, including the Prosecutor General’s Office, national Investigative Committee and other special services. I also see this as a provocation against the leadership of the Chechen Republic. The President of the Chechen Republic must do everything he can in order to find these killers and bring them to trial. He has said he will do so. Tragic events like this elicit a very controversial response reaction from the public, from the people living in the Caucasus and throughout the country.
Thus, I would like to again emphasise that this is a common, joint challenge for all of Russia’s authorities, not for the federal authorities only. I hope that we will be able to resolve this case in the very near future.
Question: Yesterday, Ukrainian President Yushchenko replied to your message. Are you satisfied with his reply? And, if I may, a related question: why was your message sent specifically now?
Dmitry Medvedev: You know, I have already said everything that I wanted to say to the President of Ukraine. If I begin to elaborate on why I did this, giving additional arguments, I am afraid that this will just create more tension, whereas I would like to avoid further controversy on this issue. I have said everything I wanted to say. If they want, they can re-read it.
It is entirely clear to any casual observer that in recent years – the years that the current administration has been in power – the relations between Russia and Ukraine have radically deteriorated. I have spoken about this openly. I am confident that it was not Russia’s fault, regardless of what they may say.
Finally, at this time, I do not see any prospects for re-establishing normal relations under the current political leadership. Perhaps something will happen, and the situation will change – I would be very happy if it did, but for now, I do not see any such prospects. Glaring evidence of this can be seen in the Ukrainian side’s most recent actions, including an attempt to expulse senior diplomats at the Russian embassy. Thus, I have made the decision not to send the ambassador I recently appointed to Ukraine. Let’s live and see. I hope that Ukraine’s new leadership will have ample opportunities to significantly improve our relations. Russia would very much like that. For us, this is a major priority in our foreign policy.