President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, colleagues,
I would like to start by thanking my colleagues, Mr Jansa, as President of the European Council, for all the work he has put into organising this summit, and Mr Barroso and Mr Solana for their constructive and comradely cooperation during the preparations and the holding of this summit.
Now I would like to inform you of the main results of this, the twenty-first Russia-EU summit.
One of the most important subjects we have been actively discussing of late was that of concluding a new basic agreement between Russia and the EU. Today we officially announce the start of full-scale negotiations to draft a new agreement, taking into account, of course, the European Union’s need to complete a number of internal procedures.
The future agreement will be an instrument for genuine rapprochement between Russia and the European Union. It should be built on the principles of equality, pragmatism, mutual respect for each other’s interests and, of course, common approaches to key security issues. It will lay the long-term foundation for the strategic partnership between Russia and the European Union.
The first round of talks will take place in Brussels on July 4. Today we reaffirmed that the positions agreed upon in Sochi in May 2006 remain unchanged.
The new agreement will be a fairly brief framework document without excessive detail. It will emphasise the strategic nature of our relations. It will be complemented by a system of agreements covering individual sectors.
We also examined a whole number of other important issues concerning our cooperation and our relations, above all the state of progress in implementing the roadmaps for the four common spaces: as you know, these roadmaps have become the main mechanism for cooperation between Russia and the EU and have proven their effectiveness.
These roadmaps, which were adopted in 2005, remain important documents for us in the medium term. They form the foundation upon which we will build relations between Russia and the EU, and the positive experience we have accumulated will be taken into account in work on the new basic agreement.
Overall, we assess positively the progress made on the roadmap for the common economic space. Its implementation has made it possible to develop the dialogue between Russian ministries and agencies in different sectors and the relevant general directorates in the European Commission.
The roadmap for the common internal security space opens up new opportunities for simplifying visa rules. I think that the most important thing at the moment is to outline the timetable and specific steps that will bring us closer to our ultimate goal of introducing visa-free travel.
The first meeting in May of the sector-based Permanent Partnership Council gave a big boost to work in such important areas today as science and technology. The Joint Declaration adopted by the meeting lays the foundation for launching new research projects and programmes.
Today we also discussed the problems and difficulties in our relations. A worrying trend in our view is the transformation of EU solidarity into an instrument for resolving the bilateral problems of individual EU member countries.
We continue to be concerned about the situation with the rights of our compatriots in Latvia and Estonia. We consider the soft line taken towards attempts to make heroes of Nazi collaborators and revise pages in Europe’s twentieth-century history unacceptable. We discussed this and met with full understanding on these issues.
We are worried in general by the tendency to take a selective approach to our common history. We should not forget that Europe’s prosperity and in some cases the very existence of individual countries were made possible only through the enormous sacrifices of the peoples of the Soviet Union and other European peoples. In this respect, the victory over Nazism is our common moral and spiritual heritage and we consider completely unacceptable any attempts to desecrate the memory of this victory and the good name of the hero-liberators.
During our discussions we also exchanged views on current international affairs, in particular issues concerning European security and the frozen conflicts.
Russia and the European Union share the same basic approaches to security issues. Our approach is based on our commitment to international law, the use of political methods rather than force to resolve international conflicts, and strengthening multilateralism in conflict settlement negotiations and a collective approach in world politics.
Russia and the European Union have abundant experience in foreign policy cooperation and we are ready to take further practical steps to strengthen stability and security in Europe and in the world as a whole.
In conclusion, I would like to thank my colleagues once again for their genuinely businesslike and very constructive approach to all the problems we discussed. A spirit of warmth, sincerity and partnership prevailed at our talks and this is very important for the future.
I am confident that the meeting in Khanty-Mansiyskwill become an important milestone in the ongoing development of relations between Russia and the European Union. This summit’s results open up new horizons for developing our partnership in all different areas.
Dmitry Medvedev: I would now like to call on the President of the European Council Janez Jansa.
Slovenian Prime Minister and President of the European Council Janez Jansa: Thank you, dear Mr President.
As President Medvedev has already said, the twenty-first summit between the EU and Russia was conducted in a very friendly atmosphere.
The outcome of the summit in Khanty-Mansiisk is summarised in the joint statement we issued. Ten years have passed since the first summit meeting between the European Union and Russia. We have now confirmed the start of talks on a new agreement between the EU and Russia, which marks a new beginning for our partnership.
In the past two days the words ”new“ and ”first time“ have been used very often, because we are faced with new challenges and looking for new answers to them. This summit in Khanty-Mansiisk is the first time that the Russian side has been led by President Medvedev, and the first time that, as the first Slavic country to join the European Union, Slovenia has been at the head of the EU Council.
Both sides have reasserted their eagerness to reach a new agreement. While we still need to conduct talks to coordinate our views, our initial positions on the desirability of such an agreement remain unchanged. We need a streamlined, more ambitious foundation for relations between the EU and Russia, one that is consistent with the scope and diversity of the cooperation that we have achieved over the last decade. During this decade, a great deal has changed. Even a cursory look at the figures on trade between the EU and the Russian Federation will show just how much our relations have advanced.
The new agreement also means extending our strategic partnership. I mentioned in the discussions today that the EU is faced with global challenges, and a great deal depends on our extending relations with Russia, which is after all our largest neighbour. And we are pleased that the Russian side is equally interested in such relations. As we heard from President Medvedev, relations with the European Union are an essential part of Russia's strategy for 21st century. And this will have consequences not only for our relationship on our continent but also on the global stage.
We have issued a Joint Declaration, in which the two sides guarantee that specific programmes on economic and regional development will smooth out the wrinkles in relations between the European Union and Russia. The European Union welcomes the commitments Russia has made to investing substantial sums in order to implement these projects.
The 1997 Partnership Agreement has admirably performed its intended functions and will still be useful until the new agreement that will form the basis of our relations comes into force.
In the first half of this year we have also taken some big steps to improve cooperation in four different areas. The EU remains Russia's largest trading partner. Since 2000 trade volume has tripled and is now worth about 233 billion [euros]. Russia now ranks third after the United States and China in economic relations with the EU.
The development of our economies is dependent upon global trends. The structural challenges of the global economy require long-term partnership and strategic cooperation. In this sense, the opening of a comprehensive global market should be understood as a strategic framework for development.
We must continue our dialogue on energy and achieve even greater stability in the area of energy security.
Russia and the European Union are strategic partners in the fight against climate change. The possible implications for the Arctic and Central Asia are particularly important in this regard.
Forums such as as the G8 and the G8 plus five invited countries now play a big role in our exchanges, and we shall be devoting our attention to these as well. The success of the upcoming meetings in Japan will also strengthen this process within the United Nations.
The EU and Russia also share responsibility for global security challenges. A good example is cooperation between Russia and the EU in Chad and the Central African Republic. The EU would like to continue to cooperate constructively with Russia in ensuring the stability of democracy in nations that are stuck in frozen conflicts. As Mr President said, we talked about this at the summit and agreed that in these frozen conflicts it is very important that both sides refrain from the use of force and work to ensure that dialogue is not interrupted and that communication remains open.
Among the vast range of issues on which we have expanded and extended the dialogue between the EU and Russia, there are also differences in points of view. It is therefore important that the mechanisms put in place to guarantee open discussion continue to function. This can take place in forums such as the consultations on human rights that recently took place in Ljubljana. The European Union is interested in continuing the dialogue on human rights.
Dear Mr President! The ancestors of Slovenes and Russians spoke the same language. Even today we have many words in common. I would like to thank you both as President of the European Council and on my own behalf for your exceptional hospitality. It has really made us feel being among friends. Thank you.
And thank you for showing us Khanty-Mansiisk, such a beautiful part of Russia and the easternmost point for the EU-Russia summit.
I would like also to mention the friendliness and openness of the local people, who have learned to cope with the difficulties involved in living in this region.
All this inspires us in building our partnership.
During its six months' presidency of the EU, Slovenia has sought to contribute to the realisation of our goals. We have tried to establish a common vision for the development of our partnership. Now the mandate to negotiate on behalf of the European Union will pass to the European Commission. The European Commission President, my friend Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, is a polyglot and he knows what a powerful weapon language is. I am therefore confident that he will appreaciate the symbolism of this summit, at which for the first time Slavic languages have been heard on both sides. In this spirit, let us hope that in the future the EU and Russia will find a common language.
Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you. I would like to thank you in particular for this eloquent assessment of the current situation. Let's try and move further east with a view to promoting the concept of a giant Europe that stretches from Vancouver to Vladivostok.
Mr Barroso, please, you have the floor.
chairman of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso: Thank you very much. Unfortunately, I don't speak any Slavic languages very well, so I will speak in English.
First of all, I would like to say that this is the first EU-Russia summit involving President Medvedev. The summit was very good and very constructive.
We are beginning talks on a new agreement. I am confident that, with the adoption of a new agreement, our relations will begin a new chapter. Negotiations will begin next week in Brussels. We in the European Commission are grateful to our member states for the mandate they have given us. And we will do everything possible in order to successfully implement it, because this is a very important agreement for the future as it will help bring about full cooperation between the EU and Russia.
During our meeting, I listened carefully to Mr Medvedev's point of view on the future of Russia and of our strategic partnership. In particular I welcome his recent discussion of the need to strengthen the rule of law to facilitate cooperation between important members of the international community, such as Russia and the EU, while addressing global problems such as climate change, energy security, food security and financial instability. All these problems are global in nature. They are near the top of the list on our agenda, and we examined them in the light of our cooperation in these areas.
For example, we talked about energy. As you know, this is a significant part of our trade and investment relations. Measured by value, two thirds of our imports from Russia involve energy. I would like to say categorically that Russia will remain a major supplier of energy for the EU. And the EU will remain a major export market for Russia. In the future I think we will become even more interdependent. Therefore, our common goal is to make this situation beneficial to both sides. We think that the new agreement should reflect the principles of the Energy Charter and the principles which were agreed at the G8 summit in St Petersburg.
Our trade and economic relations are healthy. Trade continues to grow year by year. From 2000 to 2007 trade almost tripled, from 86 billion euros in 2000 to 233 billion in 2007. Russia is the EU's biggest trading partner. And the EU accounts for about half of Russia's foreign trade. The amount of foreign direct investment is also significant. For example, last year a third of the investment in Russia came from the EU, 17.1 billion euros. However, I am convinced that we can do even better. And we must find ways to overcome obstacles currently preventing us from expanding our trade ties. I am convinced that the accession of Russia to the WTO [World Trade Organisation] will be an important step in Russia's modernisation and the development of innovative economic strategies. And I am sure that it will help take our economic relations to a new level.
I also think President Medvedev was right to stress the need to ensure the rule of law. This will enable us to solve problems related to human rights. I also welcome his comments relating to freedom of the press, and I think that it is necessary to continue the dialogue on women's rights. This is an important part of our international agenda.
So, as President Medvedev quite rightly pointed out, our meeting was very constructive. In a friendly, open atmosphere, we discussed the most sensitive issues, including the desire of some to rewrite history, including the history of Nazism in Europe. Let me say clearly: the EU is opposed to totalitarianism in any form. Thus the position of the European Union, of countries that are members of the European Union, is this: we oppose totalitarianism in all its forms, including Soviet totalitarianism. We are not directing these remarks at Russia. We call for democracy, and we recognize the contribution made by Russia, at that time — by the Soviet Union, in the fight against Nazism. And we very much appreciate this contribution. It was a huge contribution, enormous. This is part of our common values, our common heritage. At the same time, we in the EU clearly oppose totalitarianism in all forms, and here, I think, we agree that now the EU is building a relationship with a new, modern Russia. And I am sure that we share the same values of freedom and democracy, because we are part of the same civilization.
Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you, Mr Barroso.
Mr Solana, please go ahead.
SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION AND HIGH REPRESENTATIVE FOR THE COMMON FOREIGN AND SECURITY POLICY JAVIER SOLANA: Mr Chairman, thank you very much for your hospitality, both natural and intellectual. Natural, because we are in a beautiful part of Russia, where we have never been before. Khanty-Mansiisk is a modern city. And you have shown us not only this city but also the impressive resources of your country, you have introduced us to its intellectual potential.
Today we have opened up new opportunities for cooperation between the EU and Russia. We are about to begin a new chapter in our cooperation. This is not because we do not have enough chapters already, but simply because the moment has arrived for us to move forward. For all this I am grateful. I am also grateful for many other things, too numerous to mention.
I would like to stress that there are security issues that we need to deal with. Today's security problems are different from those that existed in the past. The EU and Russia should cooperate in facing up to these security challenges. Without the Russian Federation, we cannot find solutions, but this will also be impossible without the participation of the EU. And obviously, if we do not cooperate, it will not be possible.
We talked about energy security, climate change, terrorism and the dissemination of WMD [weapons of mass destruction]. These are issues that are of great concern to both the EU and the Russian Federation.
We talked about cooperating on the Iranian issue. That is another crucial issue. I thank the President [of Russia] for his cooperation in discussing the issues of Iran and Iraq. Concerning the frozen conflicts: we talked about Georgia and we will continue to cooperate. We talked about Moldova and we will cooperate in this area. We talked about the Middle East, another crucial issue. I would like to say that cooperation with Russia in these areas is essential.
We will be holding a series of meetings, during which we will continue these discussions. I think they are very important.
I thank you, Mr President, for having made this offer.
In sum, our meeting has been very fruitful. We were very pleased not only to enjoy the natural hospitality, the beauty of the environment, the beauty of the buildings in which we met, but also the intellectual hospitality, because we have found new ways of cooperation, and for both of these I thank you.
Dmitry Medvedev: Colleagues, you can put your questions now.
Question (Interfax): Good afternoon, high representatives of the EU, Dmitry Anatolyevich, what do you think of Russia’s initiative to conclude a treaty on general European security? Dmitry Anatolyevich, how do you assess the possibilities for actually carrying out your proposal? On a different subject, we would also be interested to know your opinion and Mr Barroso’s opinion on the prospects for the Northern Stream project.
Jose Manuel Barroso: Regarding Northern Stream, I will say clearly that we think this project reflects Europe’s needs, and this is why the Northern Stream project has been included in the trans-European energy network. We think this is a priority project. This is one of the new avenues for cooperation with Russia, but it is not the only direction for work together. All initiatives aimed at raising our potential and expanding energy sector cooperation between the EU and Russia deserve our attention.
The Northern Stream consortium is currently still evaluating the project’s environmental impact. It is their obligation to carry out this kind of study. Only after they have received permission from the countries whose territories the pipeline will cross can they begin laying the pipeline itself. One of the European Commission’s duties is to ensure that everyone complies in full with all of the relevant European laws in this area.
Our position is thus clear. We support the project on the condition that it will be carried out in accordance with all of the European Union’s environmental protection requirements.
Janez Jansa: I am not sure that I have correctly seized and understood the question, but these are things we have been discussing. This subject has received all the more interest of late in connection with the discussions on European security strategy taking place within the European Union. This is a matter we have been giving much attention to. It is a fact that a large number of international organisations share responsibility for security on the European continent and in our respective countries. These organisations have proven themselves very effective in the past and were able to deal with the challenges of their times. At least, the United Nations, which is also one of the organisations covering this area.
But there are also issues that do not come under these organisations’ mandate, security issues related to climate change, for example. This is something we started working on only recently. There are other problems too that we have not been able to resolve through the existing mechanisms in the numerous organisations and their programmes.
But what is the key point in answering this question? What is the foundation of any cooperation in the area of security? The foundation of any such cooperation is what we are defending. What we are defending in Europe are the common values of our European civilisation. Organisations that protect security but are based only on defence capability are only partially successful. In this sense the discussions currently taking place in Europe are especially relevant. President Medvedev already made this point in his speech in Berlin, giving it the appropriate dimension. We are talking about values, and the idea that there are three inheritors of European civilisation and culture – the European Union, North America and Russia – is the starting point for beginning our discussions by building the right foundation.
What kind of foundation do we need to build solid security structures?
Of course, we are not starting from scratch in this work. The existing organisations have their roles and functions. We are talking about different aspects of our cooperation, about building further upon what we have and looking for new solutions.
Initiatives in this area are very welcome. We all agree that this is a big challenge that we will have to deal with in the future, and I hope that we be able to look for solutions and move forward.
Dmitry Medvedev: I would like to start with a few words on general European security issues. We did indeed have quite a detailed discussion of this subject. We discussed the ideas I put forward in my speech in Berlin yesterday during dinner and again today during the working meeting.
The security of Europe overall cannot be divided. This is clear. It cannot fragment into blocs and alliances, and it cannot be guaranteed by one country or group of countries, precisely because it is the security of the entire European continent we are dealing with.
What is the situation today? There is a whole collection of strong and authoritative organisations that have great influence on the European continent and are attempting to resolve these problems. But in our view not one of these organisations is addressing all of these issues in full measure.
I have spoken about this before. I will just add a few words now.
The OSCE is an organisation that was established during the Cold War on the basis of the Helsinki Accord. It could have become a full-fledged organisation for maintaining security in Europe, but for a number of reasons that I will not go into now this did not happen.
NATO is the most powerful military and political organisation in Europe, a bloc organisation. For reasons that are eminently clear it is also not in a position to ensure security throughout the entire European continent because there are not enough countries participating in it, thus it does not have the needed universality.
The European Union was established for a different purpose and its membership is also not identical to the countries that make up Europe.
The CSTO [Collective Security Treaty Organisation] is an important regional organisation but is also not able to ensure security for the whole continent. We could continue this list and we would not find a single universal organisation. This is what gave rise to the idea of holding a summit (following serious preparation, of course) in which the European countries, the United States of America, Canada would all take part, as well as the European organisations involved in this area in one way or another. But participation would be based on each party’s own ideas, rather than bloc ideas, on how to guarantee European security. It would be based on the principles that unite us.
This is not an easy undertaking, of course, and it represents work for the future. But if we can achieve unity on these issues, unity on the need to discuss this subject at a general European summit (and if we were able to reach agreements even during difficult times there is all the more reason that we should be able to do so today), then this summit could result in a common European treaty. In any event, I am a lot more optimistic after today’s discussions on the subject than I was before.
Now, regarding Northern Stream, this is an exceptionally important commercial project. My colleagues agreed that it has immense significance for Europe and is not directed against anyone. It is a non-political and commercially justified project that can unite us. We will promote this project and will reach agreements with the countries that still have questions, whether environmental or other. There is nothing dramatic about this process. It is a matter of coordinating where each country stands. We respect these matters. But it would be better not to politicise what is a commercial project aimed at ensuring Europe’s energy security overall and not substitute its purpose with ideas of some other kind.
I think that we will make progress and today’s discussions have made me all the more confident. The work now underway on the Northern Stream project will continue and we will also continue our work in the other direction, on another project – the Southern Stream project. Europe needs both these projects.
Question (Slovenian Television): This question is for Mr Medvedev. You highlighted the importance of Slovenia’s presidency of the European Union. Do you think it has had an impact on the development of relations [between Russia and the EU]? If yes, then how are we to interpret the statements of some politicians that it will be much simpler to talk to the European Union during the French presidency?
Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you. I do not know which politicians you are talking about. I have not said any such thing. I found it very comfortable and pleasant talking with my colleagues present here at this summit, and I hope that we will continue this conversation in the future.
As for the Slovenian presidency, it has had one very important result, and that is that we are now beginning talks on a new agreement. These decisions were made precisely during this summit and during the Slovenian presidency. In this respect, I would like once again to thank my colleague, Mr Jansa, and everyone who took part in preparing these decisions and contributed to their adoption and the summit’s organisation. I think this is ultimately something that will benefit the united Europe and the Russian Federation. This all the more so that we do indeed have common historical roots and that there are a number of important initiatives related to the unity of the Slavic peoples that we have always supported. In this sense I think that the Slovenian presidency has been a real success as far as the Russian Federation is concerned.
Janez Jansa: Thank you, Mr President, for these kind words. Of course I could give the specific details and say that it was during the Slovenian presidency that the negotiation framework for a new partnership agreement was agreed on, but this would be excessive self-praise as the presidency worked on this and wanted it to happen. We are pleased that this has indeed happened, and I want to add that this is not just the fruit of our own labour, for we also met with great understanding that was essential, above all in order to reach agreement, with Russia, for example, on various points. I am grateful for this readiness to cooperate and for the Commission’s help, without which it would have been difficult to overcome some of the obstacles that were holding us back for a time.
And we are pleased, of course, that over these six months, we have been able to put the emphasis on some specific areas within one of the directions that we set as a priority for our presidency. For example, we resumed the work of the forum of Slavic cultures and have injected it with new energy. A Slavic culture exhibition took place in Brussels. Other events were also organised that became part of the year of intercultural dialogue in Europe, which will continue during the French presidency and provides us with a foundation for these kinds of contacts.
I think we should not overlook some of the examples and symbols in the area of international cooperation that are important in international politics. The Slavic countries’ accession to the European Union has given it a new quality that is an important positive factor for cooperation between Russia and the European Union. This cannot be denied. This is not limited just to the time of the Slovenian presidency but is something more long-term.
Dmitry Medvedev: I hope that we will not end up going in the reverse direction during the upcoming French presidency as well.
Question (Reuters): To tell the truth, I did not expect to be given the floor. My question is for President Medvedev. There is another participant in your gathering who is not present here now, and that is Vladimir Putin. I would like to hear from Mr Medvedev and Mr Barroso whether you think that relations between Russia and the EU will be better under the new President?
Dmitry Medvedev: I will start, if I may. Our relations have been very good and will remain so. I would not draw any dividing lines here. Our relations will remain just as constructive and successful as during the preceding period. But this does not mean that we should just wither into immobility. We need to keep our relations dynamic. The fact that we are opening a new chapter today and beginning new talks is a very good thing. I think we should depersonalise the situation. It is our actions that are most important.
Jose Manuel Barroso: I would not make any comparisons. What I can say is that I met many times with President Putin and I will meet with him in his new capacity of Prime Minister, of course. I hope that our relations with President Medvedev will be just as constructive.
We have met 14 times. Next week we will meet again in Japan. I must say openly and publicly that I am very happy with our work together and with our constructive relations. We are working now on the long-term strategic relations between the Russian Federation and the European Union. I think that individual countries and people can make a significant contribution, but overall we need to think about the strategic perspective too. When we have two sides – the Russian Federation and the European Union – we need to think about how to strengthen and develop these relations. I sincerely believe that we will continue building up our relations because we need to keep up with all the changes taking place in the world today. There are a great many new demands. Climate change and numerous other issues require active cooperation between Russia and the EU. This is why I think that we can make even more progress and work even more efficiently.
Question (Radio Mayak): My question is for Mr Solana and his colleagues, Mr Jansa and Mr Barroso. The European Union gives considerable attention to general European security issues, but when problems such as the CFE [Conventional Forces in Europe] Treaty and missile defence are raised the EU tends to avoid the issue and generally expresses the U.S. line. What is the reason for this, and does this mean that the European Union is lessening its involvement in this area? Thank you.
Javier Solana: Let me link your question back to the previous question. We are opening a new chapter. We have decided our next steps, have already completed some work and are now entering a new phase. We are here today with President Medvedev and are looking at the future. This is very important. The future holds the answer to your questions. You raised several questions, after all, and they are linked to the future.
We need to look to the future and work out how we can settle all of these issues. I can tell you that we have much at our disposal to make it possible to settle these problems, and we will do this. Today has been a good day. Yesterday over dinner and again today we discussed security issues, and we came to the conclusion that we must have strong and solid ties between Russia and the EU because the many questions that concern our future cannot be resolved without this cooperation.
A lot of these issues concern classic concepts of security, but we also encounter new threats and challenges today. We cannot respond to them without cooperation and so we must work in this direction. There are a number of specific issues – please listen to me attentively – that we need to address, and we began discussing these issues today and sounding out possible solutions, and we will continue working in this direction.
Janez Jansa: I would set this specific question in the wider context I spoke about before and add that missile defence is not an issue that the EU can decide. This is not one of the EU’s specific areas of work. But this is, of course, an issue concerning several EU members and also wider aspects of European security in general, as we discussed before. I also think that, as the high representative, Mr Solana, said, each of these open issues, and also the missile defence issue, can be settled without ill humour and negative consequences. We need to take a dynamic view and, as Jean Monnet said 50 years ago when the European Union was formed, we need to ‘broaden the context’.
In other words, there are some issues that cannot be resolved if we keep on looking at them in just a narrow focus. We need to broaden this issue within the framework of discussion on European security in general. This subject will expand over the coming years and in five years say, it might no longer be the subject that interests all of us.
Dmitry Medvedev: I would just like to add a couple of words, although the question was not addressed to me. Europe is our common home. Our countries are the owners of this common home and as such we need to remember our responsibility for looking after it. We cannot unload this responsibility on our neighbours, for it is our common work, and we cannot entrust this responsibility to just one of the owners, even a wealthy one. I think therefore that all issues related to maintaining and guaranteeing European security, be it missile defence or the CFE Treaty, should be settled through collective efforts. If these issues are dealt with on a quasi bilateral basis the interests of the other countries suffer. This is why we are skeptical about the idea of setting up a third missile defence area in Europe, and why we think that this is a harmful idea that does not fulfill the objectives of guaranteeing European and global security.
This is our common problem and we have stated on many occasions our desire to work on it together. The door is open and talks continue, but we must pursue them with these concerns of ours in mind.
Question (Slovenian Press Agency): My question is for Mr Jansa and Mr Medvedev. What is the situation with bilateral relations in the energy sector? Do you think they are developing in the right direction? What is the outlook for talks on the Southern Stream project, and when will these negotiations be completed?
Janez Jansa: These talks closely bind the European Union and Russia. This is also one of the foundations for the negotiations on the new agreement and it requires balanced relations because both sides are important, the supply side and the demand side. We discussed various aspects of these relations and also spoke about early warning instruments, something that was raised at the previous summit in Mafra in Portugal. I think that progress has been made in this area.
Talking about the various projects, we need to remember that the European Union is interested in making supply and transportation as reliable as possible, and this is being done.
As far as the specific projects are concerned, I cannot really answer this question because this is a business cooperation matter and it is companies that are involved here. In any case, cooperation between Russia, the European Union, and individual European countries is not limited to the energy sector but is expanding into new areas too such as advanced technology for more efficient energy use in order to fight climate change more successfully. This is an integral part of our partnership. The question is how we deal with these problems at the global level.
Dmitry Medvedev: I can only add that energy is certainly a very important part of our cooperation. We have given this issue a lot of attention and we discussed global and European security. What we discussed is part of the agenda of practically any summit taking place in the world today. It is very clear that without special agreements to link the interests of all participants in the energy chain – from producer to transit country, and from transit country to consumer – we cannot settle these issues overall.
We agreed to continue discussing all of these matters in the context of the future general agreement between Russia and the European Union, and as concerns the absolutely specific work and projects that are underway today. In a number of cases these projects involve many countries, while in other cases they are bilateral in dimension. These are big and complex energy projects that will require us to make a whole number of decisions. But as I already said, being of such clear importance for maintaining Europe’s energy balance, I think these projects will be carried through to their conclusion. I am referring to Northern Stream and Southern Stream. These projects are going ahead successfully even though their implementation requires coordination and approval from various individual countries. This is a normal process and, as I said before, we will continue to work in normal fashion.
Question (Financial Times Deutschland): Thank you. My question is for President Medvedev and Mr Barroso. You complained about European solidarity, which sometimes puts the EU in a situation where individual countries’ problems become a stumbling block for relations between Russia and the EU. There are also a number of current problems. Could you name the current problems of this kind at the moment?
And when you said that the EU is a complicated organisation, what did you mean?
Dmitry Medvedev: I did not complain about European solidarity. Why should I complain about European solidarity? It was not we who established this principle. I spoke about this just recently and said that the problems are not between the European Union and Russia, but are often within the European Union itself, and we are very well aware of them. As for the use of the principle of European solidarity, this is a principle that makes the European Union stronger. It is a principle for coordinating the opinions and will of all member states. But the bigger the European Union becomes, the more member states it has, the harder it is to implement this principle. The Lisbon process gave us an example. In this sense we sympathise with our colleagues and we hope that, despite the firm lines taken and the fact that European solidarity remains a principle to be observed, work on building the European state will continue.
As for the application of this principle in specific cases concerning our relations, things would probably be simpler for us without it. But this is not our principle; it is that of our partners, and it is their responsibility to reach consensus among their members. Ultimately, this is what is happening.
Today’s summit is evidence of this. I think therefore that we can always find solutions. That even internal European mechanisms can be optimised is another matter, but that is the affair of our European Union partners and not our affair.
I would like to say once again that we are fully satisfied with the results achieved today, and the difficulties accompanying our work over the last 18 months have vanished now. This does not mean there are no longer any issues to be resolved. There will be many issues ahead. But the road is open now towards drawing up a new basic agreement for our cooperation for many years to come.
I think that everyone stands to benefit from this – the European Union, its individual member states, and the Russian Federation.
Jose Manuel Barroso: I fully agree. Solidarity is not the problem. On the contrary, solidarity is one of the European Union’s important assets. Indeed, in the EU we respect each other and we apply the principle of solidarity. Some people think (not President Medvedev, as he just made clear) that this complicates the decision-making process. Yes, this is true, but this is the way we work. We respect the identity and differences of each of the 27 member states. The EU is a democratic organisation, a democratic formation, and we cannot impose views against the will of our member states. It is very important to understand this. Ultimately, this is one of our greatest advantages because when we reach a common position, when we enter discussions with our partners, including with Russia, we speak on behalf of 500 million citizens and in the name of an economic entity that is now the biggest in the world. The EU’s GDP is the biggest in the world, bigger than that of America. The EU is the biggest trade grouping in the world and is also the biggest donor of development aid. That is what the European Union is today.
Sometimes we need time to make a decision because we have to take into account the views of all our member states — the more developed and less developed, the founding states and the new EU members.
This is a very good example for the rest of the world. If this same principle of solidarity were used in the rest of the world I think the world would be a much better place. As this is my last press conference with Janez Jansa, I would like to note an important point: this is the first time one of the new member states has held the EU presidency. It has been a very successful presidency for me and for the European Commission. The Slovenian presidency of the Council is equal to that of any other member state. We have achieved results during this presidency, including a start to negotiations on a new agreement with Russia. This is a fine example of how all of our member states are equals in the European Union, and we will continue to fight for this and to uphold the principle of solidarity.
I would like to take this opportunity to give Mr Jansa and the Slovenian presidency the credit they deserve and express my gratitude to him. And I do so here in Khanty-Mansiisk, at this meeting with President Medvedev, with our Russian friends and partners.