President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Mr President, ladies and gentlemen,
I am truly happy to welcome the President of the Czech Republic, Mr Klaus, to our nation. The last time we met [on May 22, 2009], it was in Khabarovsk on the sidelines of the Russia-EU summit, which was quite successful, I think, due to the Czech Republic’s chairmanship. It is true, we had resolved many of our problems by the summit time, but some traces of last year’s complications still remained. Nevertheless, thanks to the Czech chairmanship, we were able to advance to the current level of highly dynamic relations. I mention it because it was our first meeting, and it laid a good foundation for continuing the dialogue here in Moscow.
As I said to Mr President, our talks here today have been somewhat unperplexed as we are not affected by jet lag and time zone differences, the weather is nice and our overall communication is enjoyable.
Today, we discussed all the fundamental issues in Russian-Czech relations. We talked about the economy and about the bilateral projects that bind our nations, as well as the global economy and how quickly it is likely to recover from the recession; we also discussed today’s economic problems in Russia and the Czech Republic.
I think the talks were very useful, because our economies are linked to one another. In recent years, we have seen very high trade turnover, although more recently, it has declined because of the crisis. This decline is significant, but I think that in any case, we have every opportunity to make it grow again, especially because even today, it can be measured in billions of euros. I am also certain that in the future, our trade turnover will remain at a high level, which will be good for our nations.
We have many investment projects, and we discussed some of them. We spoke about projects in energy, including projects involving the supply of various types of energy resources to the Czech Republic. We talked about the fact that Russia is indeed providing energy products to many European nations.
At the same time, Russia does not act as an exclusive energy source. In any event, it is in our interests to make sure Europe is getting gas, oil, electricity or whatever other energy resources from several countries. But in this respect, I believe it is very important to have a common framework for overall energy relations. We reviewed the relevant idea proposed by Russia and explored the need to improve the Energy Charter. We hold similar positions on these issues. As Mr President said, the document that exists today must reflect the interests of suppliers, purchasers, and transit nations. In my view, this is quite important, and we must work on this jointly with all European nations, including the Czech Republic.
We spoke about issues of strategic security. I talked about the [UN] General Assembly that recently took place in New York. In my view, it was the best General Assembly of the past decades, because the mood there has changed. Many global players are now taking a more open position. The nations that took a harder stance before are now beginning to recognise the multipolar nature of the world. All of this improves our opportunities for cooperation and may allow us to resolve some of the most difficult problems standing before us today, such as the Middle East peace process, issues of Iran and North Korea’s nuclear programmes, and several other topics that we are consulting on with our European colleagues, the United States of America, and other countries.
We also spoke about cultural projects. Mr President had an idea, and if Mr President does not mind, I would like to make it public now. We are thinking about exhibiting some of the treasures from the Moscow Kremlin [museums] in Prague. We will consider how to organise this event, as well as its timeframe. It would be preferable to accomplish the idea without any delay, as I think this would be a great investment in the development of our humanitarian cooperation, and Mr President should be credited for this idea. For my part, I will help do whatever I can to make it work.
We have many common interests and we discussed many interesting joint projects. As a result, I feel that Mr President’s visit has been very timely and successful, especially since it has not yet ended – Mr President will speak before [Moscow State University] students who are currently waiting to hear what the President of the Czech Republic has to say, following the speech made by the U.S. Secretary of State, to see whether there are differences in their positions or whether their stances are similar.
Overall, I think it is very important — especially since the President’s schedule includes a business component – that there will be a meeting with Russian and Czech business people. This is very good, because we have many joint projects. Today alone, as far as I understand, a large number of agreements will be signed – agreements worth hundreds of millions of euro. This demonstrates that in spite of the crisis – not our national crisis, but the global crisis – our relations are developing and progressing really well.
I would like to sincerely thank the President of the Czech Republic for his visit to the Russian Federation, and I hope that we will be able to continue our communication in other places.
President of The Czech Republic Vaclav Klaus: If you don’t mind, I will speak in Czech.
First, I would like to thank Mr President from the bottom of my heart for this invitation. As he mentioned, we agreed on this visit during the Russia-EU summit in Khabarovsk [on May 21–22, 2009], which I had the honour of chairing. In my view, we had some very extensive and most positive dialogue there.
Mr President has very clearly described the content of this dialogue. I think that I can share something important with you: we have very similar views and approaches in many of the areas we discussed, which is good, and I think that our public should know this.
Naturally, we are interested in promoting our bilateral relations. I think during today’s meeting we initiated some important dialogue at the highest political level, and we will continue it.
We did not only discuss political issues, but economic ones as well. Our economic relations with Russia are very important to us, and I am pleased that many things have been going well recently. I believe that my visit is one of manifestations of our good economic ties.
We had a detailed discussion regarding energy issues, including oil, gas, and nuclear energy. I think it is good that a major Russian company intends to continue participating in the development of nuclear energy in the Czech Republic.
We spoke about numerous issues in international politics. Many of them have already been mentioned, and I have also felt a recent change in the global political climate. I will say again to the public of both our nations: this is a positive signal and an important development.
We addressed a variety of specific topics too. One of them was mentioned by Mr President: bringing a major exhibition of artefacts from the Moscow Kremlin museums to Prazky Hrad. I think that it is very important for us to continue such traditional, humanitarian exchanges, rather than limiting relations to matters concerning oil and gas.
Finally, I would like to mention just one last thing, since I must leave shortly to meet the students at Moscow State University. I invited President Medvedev to visit the Czech Republic. As I understood from the expression on his face, he has accepted this invitation.
Dmitry Medvedev: I can tell you directly that I will be happy to visit. Thank you very much for your invitation.
We are ready to take some questions.
Question (CZECH RADIO): The first question is for President Vaclav Klaus.
You talked about international issues. Did you explain your position on the Lisbon Treaty? Most importantly, what are you going to do on this issue?
And a question for the President of Russia, Mr Medvedev. Mr President, the Czech media claims that Russia's intelligence services are extending their influence in the Czech Republic. Is this true or not in your view?
Vaclav Klaus: The Lisbon Treaty was the subject of our detailed discussions. On the one hand, I want to say that I see no reason to send a major signal to the EU from Moscow concerning what my next steps might be. Of course I cannot say anything new about this here. No reasonable person would expect me to do otherwise.
On the other hand, I tried to explain my approach to the President and his delegation. I explained that I am concerned — and it’s not only I who am concerned — about deepening integration within the EU. I feel it – for me this is a serious question. So when they dismiss such things as tactical obstructions they’re making a fundamental error. For me, this thing is really vital, absolutely basic. In this regard, my contribution to the dialogue on what the EU will look like in the future will continue. I explained to the President what stage we are at now in the dialogue with Brussels. From my point of view, the conditions that I outlined for our signing the Lisbon Treaty were serious conditions. And there is no reason to think that I might forget in the next few days what I have just said.
Dmitry Medvedev: Life in general is pretty boring without conspiracy theories, without various plots and the machinations of intelligence agencies. So despite the fact that I have not read what the Czech media have written on this subject …
Vaclav Klaus: Mr President, you should not read our media.
Dmitry Medvedev: I do read it, Mr President.
Vaclav Klaus: It's boring…
Dmitry Medvedev: But I have not seen anything on this subject, though of course we follow very closely news from the Czech Republic. But on this subject I have not read anything. I know that media outlets have written a lot about the Lisbon Treaty. I know that they discuss the threat to energy security, with which Russia allegedly menaces the Czech Republic and other EU countries, and the inevitable Russian dominance in this area.
But this business about increased activity by our intelligence services escaped my notice. I can only say that there exist very good, friendly relations between our countries. There is no problem on the Russian side. Russian media are not writing about how the secret services of the Czech Republic have intensified their work in Russia. There is no such threat in Russia. I think that what is currently being discussed in the pages of the Czech media is the fruit of the conspiratorial views that have their origins in the period of the Cold War and our previous existence. We need to move on from them.
Question (ROSSIYA TV CHANNEL): I have a question for both presidents. Mr Klaus, please tell us if — due to the recent change in U.S. policy in Europe, in particular the abandonment of the third ballistic missile defence launching area — you are interested in Russia's initiative on a European security system, the kind suggested by the Russian President?
Mr Medvedev, with regard to the newly emerged circumstances just mentioned, is Russia making some adjustments in its initiatives to ensure European security in connection with the change in the American position?
Vaclav Klaus: I have already indicated that I have noticed a very significant improvement in the international situation, a change in the scope of tension. I feel that the level of tension has been reduced and I am very pleased about it. I want to be absolutely unequivocal on this point. I am not someone who yearns for a global government — I don’t know what the Russian expression is – that is, a government that can control the whole world. We have enough problems with the European administration.
So I don’t hold out much hope for big pan-European security projects. I view such things very pragmatically. I don’t see a great future for them. So I do not have any serious contributions to make. To be honest, I can’t say that I applaud this detail or that I am fundamentally opposed to that aspect.
Dmitry Medvedev: Our initiative remains on the table. My position hasn’t changed either. Of course I have to agree with my Czech counterpart that after certain steps were taken, including those by the administration of the United States of America, some of the problems, at least the European problems, went away. Including the problems which put us in a difficult situation, especially regarding the third launch area. By the way, yesterday when we discussed this issue with Secretary of State of the U.S., we agreed that we must work together to create more extensive, more global means of defence that do not threaten other countries, but at the same time establish full-fledged defence.
And speaking of European security, there we maintain the same old, very straightforward position. It lies in the fact that when all is said and done not all questions of European security can be resolved within the existing institutions, whatever institutions we have, the European Union, NATO, OSCE, CIS, or for the post-Soviet states the Collective Security Treaty Organisation.
In my opinion, we still do not have the right platform where we can address these issues. And even despite some easing of tension, despite the resolution of a number of issues, despite the recognition of the multipolar nature of the modern world by significant international players, still the creation of such a platform seems valuable to me. And so we’ll just keep pushing our idea, hoping that our European colleagues will approach it with sympathetic understanding. This does not mean that it can be implemented today or tomorrow. But the fact that we need such a platform is pretty clear, even if one admits that there can be no global government which would be capable of resolving every question. But we do need a place where we can discuss global issues.
At the G20, the summit of the world’s biggest, most important economies held in Pittsburgh, we discussed how the world economy should look, precisely because it’s there that you encounter the major economic players. But Europe also needs such a platform, especially since we are all European countries and all interested in making our common home both modern and secure, and in dealing in the most efficient way with the issues that arise in our lives. We will pursue this idea further.