SWEDISH PRIME MINISTER FREDRIK REINFELDT Welcome everybody, and a special welcome to President Medvedev and his team.
We have actually now concluded the 24th EU-Russia summit, and Russia is of course a key strategic partner to the European Union. Our cooperation covers many, many topics and a number of fields. We had a very good meeting today. We started informally yesterday, but today, with the European Union, we had a very good meeting. We confirmed our common objective: a strategic partnership built on trust and transparency. We had discussions on climate change, on energy, and global economy.
On climate change, Russia is very important on climate issues, important to get the deal in Copenhagen, important what Russia in itself is doing, it’s actually one of the biggest emitters of CO2 emissions in the world. We want to see an agreement in Copenhagen – an agreement that could be put into a legal framework after Copenhagen, as had been discussed in Singapore. We also agree that we should stick to the target. That would mean that we need reductions both in developed and developing parts of the world to be able to achieve it.
On energy, we want stable and efficient cooperation. We are pleased that we have developed an early warning mechanism, and we have discussed this here today. This cooperation on climate and energy, as we think, should be intensified. It is very important for many of the European Union states to see this come in place.
On trade, we underline the spot for Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organisation and the importance of avoiding protectionism, through this financial crisis, but also at any other time.
On human rights, we exchanged views on developments on human rights. The rule of law and democracy in Russia, especially on the situation for human rights defenders in Russia – it’s an increasing cause for concern.
In discussing our common neighbourhood, we urge Russia to implement its commitments following the August 2008 war in Georgia.
As I mentioned, we had an informal start yesterday, and I also want to acknowledge that in our talks, we were very grateful for the speeches and also the articles by President Medvedev, pointing out the need for the modernisation of the economy and of Russia, and we welcome this very much.
President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Ladies and gentlemen,
We just concluded the EU-Russia summit. This was a special summit in several ways.
It is true that this summit, which we have been holding over the last several years, essentially heralds the 20th anniversary since the ties between Russia, at that time the Soviet Union, and what was then the European Economic Community were established. At that point, this was certainly a very significant, pivotal event.
Our summit is also taking place 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, which divided the people of Europe, first and foremost the people of Germany. We just recently marked the anniversary of this highly important event in Germany, with participation of our colleagues who are here today, recognizing it as one of the most important historical moments in the unification of Europe.
In these two decades, the world has changed radically, and summits such as this one here in Stockholm are no longer surprising to anyone. On the contrary, these summits have become routine; but that does not make them any less important.
I would like to say that I am quite content with the results this summit has produced. We were able to cover the entire range of subjects traditionally discussed during EU-Russia summits, and at the same time, we did this in an entirely constructive way, without going into emotions or additional problems, which were sometimes conducive to such meetings, and sometimes counterproductive.
I would like to thank Mr Prime Minister for the input Sweden has made into hosting this summit and for the bilateral talks that we held. I think that Mr Prime Minister has already described the key issues we worked on. Nonetheless, I will make a few comments.
True, the economic aspect of our relations is very important. We discussed the work in the “four areas” [of cooperation], a topic traditionally covered in any of the talks, an area which is important for reaching agreements between our nations.
We also talked about visa problems and agreed that the existing visa issuing system hinders, speaking objectively, normal exchanges between businessmen and ordinary people. It simply creates problems for those who want to visit our nation. I feel that we must continue our work on streamlining the process of obtaining both ordinary visas and long-term visas involving work permits.
We spoke about negotiations on the framework agreement between Russia and the European Union: here things are progressing quite nicely. We have already held six sessions since we met at the EU-Russia summit in Khanty-Mansiisk, where we gave the go-ahead to this work; we are now finalising the document itself, going though every paragraph and every section. I hope that we will soon have the final version of these arrangements.
Of course, certain compromises are necessary, and in this respect the summit in Stockholm has demonstrated that all the parties involved are ready to make such compromises, and this is the only way we can reach a normal agreement.
We spoke about developing large-scale economic projects, including ones related to energy cooperation, building energy security, and ensuring energy security in Europe. In this regard, I believe that we found a mutual understanding, which is good, because unless we reach an agreement on these issues, it is impossible to imagine things being normal in Europe. And, of course, ensuring energy security will largely depend on the kind of regulatory instruments we use.
I once again reminded our partners of the energy initiative Russia has come up with as a supplement to the existing energy documents, including the Energy Charter Treaty. Once again, I believe that we must continue the exchange of opinions on this topic, in order to develop a high-quality international foundation for energy cooperation in the future. This is particularly true now that we have achieved some very good results in promoting large energy projects; I am referring, of course, to Nord Stream and South Stream.
As for the other issues we discussed, naturally, we discussed the issues on the international agenda; we discussed Iran’s nuclear programme, and the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In my view, we are cooperating very effectively on these matters with the European Union and the United States, so in this regard our positions have almost no differences.
We also discussed problems related to the South Caucasus region. I can tell you honestly that in this area, our positions do not converge, and this must be admitted openly. We still have differences, but that is not the reason to dramatise the situation. We need to move our positions closer together, to find ways to stabilise a rather complicated situation that currently exists in the South Caucasus.
There are also good approaches and good examples of cooperation. In particular, we discussed the process taking place between Azerbaijan and Armenia in settling the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. And this is a good example of how we can cooperate, or how we could have cooperated if the known act of aggression had not taken place last year.
We spoke about one other subject that I would also like to support: cooperation on climate change. We expressed absolutely identical concerns in this area, as well as a completely concordant desire to promote cooperation as actively as possible.
Russia has always been in the mainstream of European ideas on what should be done to tackle climate change. Currently, our goal is to convince some of our other colleagues that cooperation in this area is timely, relevant, and crucial.
All this must be done ahead of the conference in Copenhagen which, I hope, will be successful. Although we have not yet agreed on a legally-binding agreement, we have generally agreed on how we will conduct our work.
Summing up what has been said, I would like to say that I am happy with the work we have done. I also want to mention that this was the last summit held under the old rules – the next one will be held in a slightly different format.
We do not yet know who the European participants in the next summit will be, but we hope that we will maintain continuity. And certainly, we hope that a steadier system of holding summits along with a stable system of presiding over the European Union will contribute to strengthening our relations. We are all at the threshold of change. Tomorrow is a special day for our European Union partners, and I wish them success.
President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso: Thank you very much. Prime Minister Reinfeltd and President Medvedev already presented many results of the summit. Let me just comment on some topics that were especially interesting from the commission’s point of view.
First of all, climate change. With the Copenhagen conference starting in just over two weeks, I very much welcome the signal from President Medvedev today of their proposed emission reductions target of 35%. This is indeed very encouraging. I have instructed officials to work very closely with their Russian counterparts on all details, because we fully agreed in our discussion this morning that this is a critical negotiation, and we must succeed in Copenhagen.
There are now many contacts all over the world. Politicians try to negotiate. It is good to negotiate, but we cannot negotiate with nature. We cannot negotiate with physics. We cannot negotiate with science. That is why it is so important that the European Union and Russia remain committed to this target of two degrees maximum of temperature rise, and that we take, in Copenhagen, a decision based on science. Today, we made very important progress in our talks with Russia in this very important issue.
The second issue was energy. We are indeed interdependent also on energy, and the launching of the energy early warning mechanism that was done some days ago will provide advanced information, and will increase confidence between Russia and the European Union on such a sensitive issue. We believe energy can be a win-win factor for Russia and the European Union, and we are working along these lines. That’s why we believe that our negotiations on the new agreement should include, also, a robust part on energy. It is important for companies from Europe and companies from Russia to invest in each other – in the European Union and Russia.
Economy and trade were also mentioned. In fact, we have been working also in the G8 and the G20 framework – recently we were together in Pittsburgh as well – and we agree on the need to work closely together, addressing the crisis, avoiding protectionist measures. In this context, I redirected our clear support for Russia’s accession to the WTO, which guarantees fairness, open markets, and better-spread prosperity for Russia and the European Union. We believe that early accession of Russia to the WTO will solve several issues and allow progress also on the new agreement that we are negotiating.
This brings me precisely to these negotiations, which fully reflect also this importance that we have seen in today’s meeting. That new partnership, the new agreement between Russia and the European Union should reflect the full breadth of our partnership. We are making some good progress. We have now completed six rounds of negotiations, and we believe that we can achieve even bigger progress.
Based on positions taken by President Medvedev – we have read with great interest his statements about a modernisation agenda – we have discussed the possibility of launching a partnership for modernisation between the European Union and Russia. We want to be partners in the efforts for modernisation that Russia is now following. It is extremely important because it brings concrete results and advantages for our economies and our citizens, and we are very much looking forward to progress in this area. I think it is something that our citizens can understand well, both in Russia and the European Union. We can exploit to the fullest the potential of increased economic relations, regulatory convergence, people-to-people contacts, exchange of students, of scholars, of technologies – there is great potential in these relations.
Of course, when it comes to modernisation, I want to stress also the importance of the implementation of the rule of law, which is also part of our open and comprehensive political dialogue. We do believe that vibrant, pluralistic civil societies are both the basis and the yardstick of any modern system.
I want to end by praising the attachment shown by President Medvedev to keep this open, very constructive dialogue. I think this was one of the best summits we had so far. I also want to thank the Swedish presidency, Prime Minister Reinfeldt, for his personal input to what was indeed a very constructive summit.
Secretary-General of the European Union Council Javier Solana: Thank you very much. As you can imagine, it’s very difficult to add something, after three very solid interventions, but bear with me one minute. We have been talking about many things that have been mentioned. And we have been talking also about the problems of today, and the international agenda. I would like to say very clearly that the cooperation between the European Union and the Russian Federation on peacekeeping, crisis management operations has been done, but it has been done without a framework. I’m very happy that today, we have decided to start working on a framework, in such a manner that the cooperation in crisis management – and it will be necessary in the world today – between the European Union and Russia will be done in the scheme that will be devised on a permanent basis. I think that for me, that is a very important achievement, since this is probably the last time that I will be in a summit like this – I think I’ve been in 20 summits with you, more than anybody else here.
Mr President, it has been a pleasure to be with you, and I’m sure that we will continue working – I don’t know how, but we will continue working – working for a very, very important thing, which is a solid relationship between the Russian Federation and the European Union.
Thank you very much, Mr Prime Minister, Mr President.
Question: Radio Sweden. A question for President Medvedev. When the war was raging in Georgia, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt compared Russia's actions to those of Nazi Germany during the Second World War. Could you please tell us if the tensions sparked back then have now dissipated? Can we say that relations between Sweden and Russia are now back to normal? Thank you.
Dmitry Medvedev: What can I say? Carl Bildt overreacted. Anyone can get emotional. As for our relations today, allow me say a couple of things. First, relations between our countries go back a long way and feature everything: we have been close friends, we have fought each other, and it is perhaps for this reason that we are particularly sensitive to the different remarks and allusions to things that happen in our countries, even when they are only words.
Secondly, I do not believe that our relations have worsened significantly or come to a standstill. But it is true that perhaps we have not actively promoted them recently, and the fact that we met yesterday and had an informal discussion on various issues during dinner – I am grateful to the Prime Minister for this – and the fact that today we had full-fledged bilateral negotiations, show that we have the desire and ability to develop these relations on all fronts: in the economic, cultural and educational spheres and, perhaps most importantly, in so far as climate change is concerned. So there is no problem in that sense.
As far as that particular remark is concerned, as you know we are all capable of offering a scathing assessment of any event. It seems to me that political wisdom means avoiding the urge to instantly slap a label on something and extricating oneself from difficult situations, including those that occur in bilateral relations. The winners in all of this are those who, despite the difficulties, want to develop relations, want to make them more dynamic. And I think that today, during our visit to Stockholm and our negotiations with the Swedish leadership, we have succeeded in doing just that.
Let me remind at least those who did not attend the press conference Mr Prime Minister and I gave after the talks that we discussed various issues and I invited Mr Prime Minister to visit Russia in order to continue these discussions. I think that this would be both useful and very timely.
Question: You've already touched on the fact that tomorrow Europe will be choosing new leaders. In addition, on December 1 the Lisbon Treaty comes into effect. In light of this new treaty, how will relations between Russian and the EU develop, taking into account the fact that we are now talking about a consolidated voice for the European Union, which would at least theoretically prevent Russia from negotiating with each EU member separately?
And you just said that when it comes to a new strategic agreement, for example between the EU and Russia, which we all expect (Russia first and foremost), Russia is ready to compromise. What sort of compromises did you have in mind?
Dmitry Medvedev: In regard to the fact that tomorrow the European Union will be choosing new leaders – that is indeed the case. And we hope for our partners' sakes that these elections go off without a hitch and that the EU will achieve new successes, guided in part by this new leadership.
But does this mean that things have changed for us? On the one hand it does, because in addition to our traditional partners, we will have some new ones. I hope that we will have the same friendly relations with them that we enjoy with the current ones.
On the other hand it doesn't, because I am sure that no matter who is the head of the EU or its individual executive structures, all of these distinguished people will understand the importance of the relations between the EU and Russia. Similarly, no matter who the President of Russia is and no matter who holds any other post, we are well aware that for us a united Europe is essential. We too are part of Europe, and relations with the EU are for us an important component of our international relations. Let me remind you that according to various estimates between 50 and 60 percent of our trade is with Europe. So although our partnership is unavoidable it is nonetheless a friendly one. And in this sense I am confident that everything will be fine.
Concerning a new framework agreement between Russia and the EU, this is what I have in mind. I am deeply convinced, both as a politician and a former lawyer who knows a fair bit about this particular subject, that any sort of agreement can be worked out as long as in any such negotiations both sides are willing to make compromises, and we need to work towards reaching agreement on the most difficult topics.
Incidentally, there aren't many such topics, because we agree on almost all the key issues. We need to come up with an agreement on visas. And I think that this is certainly a topic on which we can move forward together. I have already talked about this in my opening remarks and I'm happy to do so again.
We want our citizens to have the opportunity to make short visits to EU countries without visas, like citizens of the EU and various countries. On the other hand, we are ready to consider making more flexible rules concerning, for example, accreditation and recruitment, and licensing rules as well, because we too have a lot of bureaucracy. We need to come to some sort of understanding on these issues.
Finally, in regard to who will negotiate with whom and how. Although from a legal point of view the EU has now become a legally distinct international entity, it is still not a country that has absorbed all the other countries included in it. On the contrary, the European Union is a union of countries, each one having their own European identity, with undiminished sovereign rights and opportunities for its constituents. Therefore, we will proceed to develop excellent relations with the EU, but we will continue to strengthen our relations with individual European states. One does not rule out the other.
Fredrik Reinfeldt: Talking about the new bosses of the European Union, I think it is very important to say that the European Union has 27 sovereign states, but at the same time, a Union is defined by the member states in certain areas where we feel that the political challenges of today must be met by cross-border strength, and also, with political muscles, because that is a way of actually controlling climate issues, the financial crisis, the need for trade arrangements, and this is what we believe in Europe: we believe in sovereign states, but we believe in European integration at the same time. So what we are trying to achieve tomorrow is, of course, to get personalities in place that, more over time, could meet the Russian President and other leaders of the world in these kinds of discussions and talks that we’ve had today. That’s what we see as one of the advantages of getting a council president for two and a half years and a high representative as vice-president of the commission for even five years.
And I think that this will make it easier to meet. And also: yes, we sometimes disagree. In most of our talks, I would say that we found that we have very similar points of view. Sometimes we disagree, but that’s not a reason not to meet. On the contrary, that’s a reason to meet. That’s why we need these discussions. That’s the modern way of meeting each other, trying to understand each other, trying, of course, also, to be clear towards each other when we have differences. And this is what we have done at the meeting today.
Question: A question for Presidents Barroso and Medvedev. After the summit, do you have a clear view of how Russia will be able to combine its WTO accession with the customs union with Belarus and Kazakhstan? And Prime Minister Reinfeldt, just following up on your last comment: how confident are you that you’ll be able to get an agreement tomorrow?
Jose Manuel Barroso: We have discussed this issue in fact during the summit, and it was a very important point. I explained to President Medvedev and our Russian colleagues why it is so important for us. The European Union is the first commercial partner of Russia, of Belarus, and of Kazakhstan. And so, of course, we fully understand their interest in having a customs union, and we fully respect that, but we were concerned that this customs union could be done at, let’s say, at the lowest common denominator, so that could be, in fact, some tariffs that could be detrimental, negative in terms of our trade. President Medvedev, better than me, can explain to you the Russian position, but he gave his assurances that this is not the case. And our concern was not to delay the WTO accession of Russia.
As I said earlier, we believe it is in the interest of all of us, Russia, and the WTO. It is obvious. Russia is a very important economy, one of the most important global partners in the world, and so it should be a party of one of the most important multilateral organisation in economic terms. And we think that some of the issues that are still pending could be solved by an early accession of Russia to the WTO. The comments made today by President Medvedev, if I may say so, gave me the conviction that this is indeed the commitment of Russia and that we can work for that.
And what I can tell you on behalf of the European Commission and the European Union is that we very much support the early accession of Russia to the WTO.
Dmitry Medvedev: I would also like to speak to this issue. I am very pleased that our decision to establish a Customs Union sparked such intense interest with regard to Russia's joining the WTO, because at some point I had the feeling that nobody cared about it but us.
Now I am convinced that Russia's accession to the WTO is important not only for Russia but also for the World Trade Organisation, and our close partners in the EU. This, of course, is an important consequence of establishing a Customs Union between Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus.
As for the various concerns that have been raised, I am sure that they have no foundation whatever, because even the tariffs that we are currently negotiating are already at a lower level than those imposed by Russia and, as you already know, we effectively adapted those tariffs to the decisions that we made ourselves as part of the WTO accession process. Therefore there is no reason to expect any problems.
The only question that remains and that will in all probability be resolved in the near future is the exact scenario for Russia's joining the WTO. Will this still be an attempt to join the WTO as a single customs union, or will Russia do it on its own but will synchronise its entry with its Customs Union partners? In my view either way is eminently possible, but for us the main thing is speed. So whatever path is the shortest, that's the one we'll take. If it's the path of separate WTO accession agreements, we'll proceed in that way. These are the instructions that have been given to the Government Cabinet. The Cabinet is now engaged in this.
Just to go back to the subject of tomorrow's election: although as I understand it this question was addressed not to me but to my colleague Jose Manuel Barroso, I will admit frankly to everyone here: my colleagues have not disclosed to me the name of the future President or the future High Representative. In all likelihood this is because they have no idea.
Fredrik Reinfeldt: On that, let me be very precise. You learn very early in politics about this: what’s the decision to be taken and who are the ones with the voting rights? That is the interesting question. So, we need a council president and we need a high representative. Who is the one with the voting rights? That’s the heads of state and government. I’m mentioning this because a lot of you are referring to others than to heads of state and government, but they are the ones deciding tomorrow evening. These are the people I’m talking to. I’ve now been talking for four full working days and some nights with my colleagues, because this is EU-27.
Just to make a phone call, I don’t know if you have tried this, but try to get in contact with 26 heads of state and government within 24 hours, and… good luck. These are people who tend to have some other things to attend to as well, aside from talking to me. But tonight, I have one left, I have achieved my second full round, and as I’ve indicated, they are not of the same opinion, all of them.
So, with that, we are coming close to our meeting, so I need, of course, the collaboration of my colleagues, to try to get this through tomorrow night. But I want to be clear on one point: it’s foreseen that the council president should be voted in with, if needed, a qualified majority. The high representative, also with a qualified majority, must be accepted by Jose Manuel Barroso, and also accepted by the European Parliament. These are the conditions, and they are also interlinked. One very often gives the other, because there is a balance in Europe which everyone is referring to. Do we get these new figures tomorrow night? Well, I don’t know. It might take a few hours. It might take all night – it has happened before in European history. But that is what I’m preparing and this is what I will try to present tomorrow.
Dmitry Medvedev: I would like to wish Prime Minister Reinfeldt good luck on his difficult mission, because it really is a very difficult job. I invited the Prime Minister to watch the football game tonight, but for some reason he refused.
Question: Russia has been found guilty in more than 100 cases in the European Court for Human Rights. In many of the cases, you know who the criminals are. Why don’t you bring them to court in Russia and punish them?
Dmitry Medvedev: I can answer you with regards to the decisions made by the Court of Human Rights and other courts. When it comes to actual compensation to be paid to Russian citizens, then of course such decisions are carried out in Russia, because we are parties to the court in question. If we are talking about other decisions, then I would be interested to know what cases you are referring to, because such procedures are not abstract but quite specific.
If someone is caught somewhere, or if someone is accused, then he or she should be brought to justice. But as you know, Russia enjoys complete sovereignty, including sovereignty concerning the prosecution of its citizens. In this sense nobody has the right to usurp its authority. If someone is judged to be a criminal by Russia's criminal law, he will be punished in Russia, but the decision about his guilt as a criminal offender can only be made by a Russian court and enforced in Russia and nowhere else.
If someone catches our criminals in another country and tries them, in some cases such decisions are enforceable in Russia itself, and that person can be returned to Russia to serve his or her sentence. But surely no one has the right to try to impose certain decisions concerning criminal prosecution — that would be simply ridiculous and in clear violation of international law.
Question: My question is for the Prime Minister of Sweden. Russia has signed treaties on extradition of criminals and terrorists with many countries in Europe, but not with Sweden. In the past there have been occasions when in response to a request from Russia's Prosecutor General Sweden has refused to turn over people whom we consider terrorists. Can you please tell me when Moscow can expect some movement from your country on this issue of combating terrorism?
Fredrik Reinfeldt: Well, this is linked to that we want to be sure what kind of treatment we would see if we would give out a person. I don’t know the exact information linked to this individual case you are mentioning, but this is a matter of concern to Sweden, and this is what we are talking about, how to arrange these matters.