President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: What are your impressions of Mongolia?
Response: We liked it.
Dmitry Medvedev: That’s how I feel too. The country is changing, and this is good to see. It means that there is life here, development. We need to make sure we have our place in this development, because these are our close neighbours and old friends. It is probably a failing on our part that we have not always been attentive enough [to Mongolia]. So, we absolutely have to make sure now that the projects we agreed on go ahead. Some of them are already taking shape now. We have signed the agreements on the uranium project, for example. Talks are still underway on some of the other projects. There are some interesting ideas. I hope that our friends from the ministries, agencies and companies concerned will make progress.
Question: One year has passed since the Russian Federation recognised South Ossetia’s and Abkhazia’s independence. Now, a year on, do you regret this decision, or are you happy with it? Do you hope that other countries besides Russia and Nicaragua might soon recognise their independence, Belarus, for example?
Dmitry Medvedev: Categories such as happiness or anything suchlike cannot be applied to a decision like this. It was a decision born out of difficult circumstances, a very clear decision by the Russian Federation. If you recall the circumstances in which it was taken, it came just after Georgia attacked South Ossetia. I think it is clear that no other course of action was open to us in the circumstances. In the situation that we faced, there was no other decision possible to defend the peoples of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. I do not regret this decision. From the point of view of international law, I think it is a legitimate decision, a just and absolutely essential decision. As I have said on past occasions, for our country this is a decision that cannot be revoked. We have already gone some way down this path now and we will stick to it.
Since that moment when we recognised these two new subjects of international law we have signed new agreements with them: treaties on friendship and cooperation, and on military assistance. These treaties will guide our future steps. We will, naturally, also draft and sign other agreements too.
But it is not just a question of agreements. I visited South Ossetia and saw how people live there. They are poor, and without our help they will have a difficult time. We therefore need to fulfil the commitments we have made. We will help to build new facilities, help them to develop their infrastructure and social sector. They are building new houses now, opening new schools, and despite what some of our neighbours say, nothing of this sort was happening during the blockade years. Now there is real work underway.
As for the international law aspects of South Ossetia’s and Abkhazia’s recognition, I said a year ago that this is a secondary matter. Of course these countries would like to receive the recognition of other countries, of the international community, but not everything in the world happens so fast. This is a complex step, and other countries have to reflect, of course, before making such decisions. As I have said before, this changes nothing for the Russian Federation. But if other countries, having reflected, decide in favour of recognising these two subjects of international law, we would of course be pleased, no matter which countries they were. That is my view of the situation one year on. To say things in short, if these events happened again, I would do exactly the same thing.
Question: Mr President, a whole series of acts of sabotage and armed attacks have taken place since the meeting you held [on security in the North Caucasus] in Stavropol. Do you think the measures taken so far are sufficient?
And a second question: when will a new head of the Moscow City Internal Affairs Directorate be appointed?
Dmitry Medvedev: Regarding the situation in the Caucasus, of course I do not think the measures taken so far are sufficient. If they were sufficient the situation would be calm, and it is not. On the contrary, it has shown signs of getting worse over these last months, if we are to be frank about things and look the truth in the eyes. This is partly because the bandits, the underground armed groups, have stepped up their activities and partly because of oversights on the part of the law enforcement agencies. I have spoken about all of these issues recently. I held several meetings in different places, including in the places where these events are actually taking place. In my view, the situation does not call for any extraordinary measures, but there are certain nuances nonetheless that need to be addressed.
I have given an instruction to our law enforcement agencies. They are now working on several areas. First of all, they are in the process of putting in place new organisational methods of fighting crime, including terrorism, in the Caucasus. Second, they are drafting laws that will help the judicial and investigations authorities to identify criminals and bring them to justice, because unfortunately, it often happens that these bandits are caught but then released. As a democratic country we follow the same procedures in this respect as everyone else. We will need to make a number of changes to the law, of course, in order to implement our plans, as I said recently, and give the courts and investigators better possibilities for actually bringing these people to justice in the courts. In a number of cases, the response should be firm and irreversible. This is something that the federal and regional law enforcement agencies are working on now.
Regarding your second question, yes, we do indeed need to make a decision. I hope that the Interior Ministry will soon have its final proposals ready, and I will then sign the order appointing the new head of the Moscow City Internal Affairs Directorate.
Question: Mr President, you held a meeting on preparations for the [Annual Presidential] Address. When do you plan to make this address to the Federal Assembly, what issues will it cover, and what stage are the preparations at now?
Dmitry Medvedev: I held a meeting, but I am not yet ready to say when I will actually make the address. The document is not yet ready, and this is why we held the meeting. As for the subjects it deals with, I cannot tell you this either, because this would be to let you see all my cards, and there would not be any interest anymore. But I hope it will be relevant. The main material is still in preparation, and I will still need some time to reflect on proposals from our colleagues in the Executive Office, and work myself. There is still a lot to do.