President of Argentina Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner: Good evening. It is a great pleasure to receive the President of the Russian Federation here in Argentina.
This is the first visit by a Russian president to the Republic of Argentina. This visit comes as Argentina celebrates the 200th anniversary of its statehood, and as we mark 125 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries.
We have been talking about the new world order that is taking shape, the new global players that are emerging. We are very pleased to see that these forces are growing stronger in our region, South America, and that global players, players of great significance are expanding their presence here, in particular countries such as Russia with its rich history.
We have signed important agreements that make a real contribution to developing our strategic cooperation in different areas of technology.
Yesterday in Washington, together with President Medvedev, we examined an issue that concerns us all and took an active part in the Nuclear Security Summit.
I take this opportunity here with the media, including the Russian media, present to express once again our solidarity with Russia following the terrorist attacks in the Moscow metro that caused many deaths.
This brings us even closer together, for our country has also been the victim of serious terrorist attacks. We were therefore very pleased to have the opportunity to meet yesterday at the global forum that was this summit, which brought us together to jointly fight against global terrorism and nuclear terrorism.
As I already said to President Medvedev, I think today is a special day because it is the first time in the Republic of Argentina’s 200-year history that a Russian president has come here and is being received by Argentina’s first woman president. Moreover, we are getting a good rain shower today, and these are all good omens that will help us to build new alliances and develop our relations. Thank you very much.
President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure indeed for me and for the Russian delegation to be here in Argentina. As my colleague, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, just said, this is the first time a Russian president has visited Argentina in all the years that Argentina has existed as a state.
I fully agree that a whole number of good signs have accompanied this visit, including, as the President said, the rain coming down outside, and the fact that our relations have already gone through a whole 125 years of diplomatic ties between our countries.
This is indeed a special year. It is the 200th anniversary of the May Revolution. Also important is who holds the post of president today, and I think this last sign is particularly favourable.
We had the chance to discuss progress in our relations since the last contacts we had during the Argentine President’s official visit to Moscow, and during our fairly regular meetings at international forums.
Everything is progressing quite well overall. Even taking the crisis into account our trade has nonetheless grown several-fold over these last years. Before the crisis began we had reached a level of around $2 billion. Now it has dropped by 30 percent, but I am sure that we can make up this lost ground through carrying out new projects and intensifying our trade and economic cooperation.
Our delegations were present just now for the signing of new agreements, quite a few of them. They cover all different areas of bilateral cooperation, including transport, in particular opportunities for cooperation in railway transport, and nuclear energy.
We discussed nuclear energy at quite some length today because we think that developing peaceful nuclear technology and energy is one way to help make our planet a cleaner and calmer place while at the same time providing us with important new energy sources. We therefore hope for dynamic and mutually beneficial cooperation on this project.
We signed agreements on a number of other projects too, reflecting the whole spectrum of our relations today. These are all real projects and this is especially good to see.
The President and I signed a joint declaration, a declaration of our partnership. Taking into account all that has been said here, I think that relations between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Argentina have reached a new qualitative level. We have mature relations now, a strategic partnership. I think this is in the interests of both countries and peoples.
I am very happy to be here today. I want to say once again that this visit is indeed historic if only for being the first visit by a Russian leader to Argentina, and I am sure that it will be a complete success.
Question: Mr President, what stand will Russia take regarding US intentions to toughen sanctions against Iran? And a question for the Argentine President too, what developments and results can we expect to follow yesterday’s nuclear security summit?
Dmitry Medvedev: I have already expressed my views on sanctions but am willing to do so again. Sanctions in themselves seldom produce positive results. Sanctions are a form of pressure, an incentive for a country to change its behaviour, but there are some cases when sanctions simply become unavoidable.
Regrettably, Iran has done nothing of late that could be taken as evidence that it has changed its position. We all have an interest in ensuring that nuclear technology is used for peaceful purposes. This was why we met in Washington and worked so intensively. We worked in a friendly atmosphere and produced some good results.
We want Iran’s nuclear programme to be open and verifiable. If it is not verifiable, justified doubts naturally arise regarding the uses this technology could be put to, the countries it could be directed against, and what this could lead to in the Middle East.
I therefore do not rule out the possibility that the UN could decide to impose sanctions. But what we would need in this case are agreed sanctions, smart and effective sanctions that would not worsen the humanitarian situation. It would be better if we could avoid imposing sanctions altogether. I think that political and diplomatic means of settling this problem would be a lot more productive.
Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner: The most important result of yesterday’s summit in Washington, as I already said, I think, at the news conference with the Argentine media, was that we did not talk about imposing sanctions against any specific country. This summit was not directed against any individual country.
On the contrary, this summit’s goal was to improve security, nuclear security, and prevent terrorists from making use of nuclear technology. The subject we discussed very actively over dinner and during the work sessions was how to maintain the central role of the IAEA as a forum where countries can discuss nuclear energy issues, how to strengthen this institution, in which we are all members of a global world, and ensure that we all carry out inspections.
Argentina also signed the agreement on nuclear non-proliferation, and this is important. It is important to outline common rules and standards that all countries should comply with.
I think that attempts to portray this summit as a meeting bringing together so many heads of state to act on just one issue, one country, is a big mistake. I think that all of us, all countries, the Islamic Republic of Iran included, should come under the same supervision that all other countries have agreed to. Otherwise this would close the road to developing nuclear energy, which is something that all countries have a right to do. I think this was the main conclusion.
We talked about nuclear security yesterday, not just security from the counterterrorism point of view, but also the ways in which we can fight climate change and develop alternative energy sources.
This question was on the agenda again because many countries considered nuclear energy dangerous and have shied away from developing it. I think that we took an important step by reviving Argentina’s nuclear energy development programme in 2006.
Back in the 1990s, Argentina in effect halted its nuclear energy development programme, at least at the state policy level, anyway. We have started work again now on building our third nuclear power plant, and we are looking at the possible construction of other nuclear power plants that will be essential for electricity production and in order to reshape our energy profile, make it safer and reduce our emissions into the atmosphere.
Question: This is a question for the Russian President. In light of the agreements signed today and the plans to develop our relations, how much Russian investment can we expect to see in Argentina? And a question for President Kirchner – did you discuss meat exports at all?
Dmitry Medvedev: We signed many agreements today. The main thing now is to follow them with real action. I hope this action will be forthcoming. It is hard right now to calculate the total investment, but I can give you a specific example.
Regarding nuclear energy, which the President spoke about just now, Russian company Rosatom’s arrival on the Argentine market would pave the way for several billion dollars in investment in building the reactor units themselves and developing the infrastructure.
Projects of this kind usually have a multiplier effect, helping to develop not just the energy sector itself but also create new jobs, launch new projects in related areas, and simply contribute to developing the business environment in general.
Under the terms we have been discussing in this sector Argentine companies would carry out a substantial part of the work involved. This is good – it gives Argentine companies a chance to earn more money and create new jobs.
This is just one project but it comes to a figure of several billion dollars. It would be simply wonderful if we actually carry it out. There are other projects too, a big railway sector project, for example. The main thing now is to move from the legal side of things, the agreements and legal obligations, to getting the actual work underway.
Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner: I just want to add a few words to what the President said, and then I will answer the question that was addressed to me. As far as nuclear energy goes, 50 percent of components will be locally produced. This gives you an idea of the scale and extent of everything related to the electricity generation the Russian President mentioned, the creation of new jobs and so on. As you know, we are talking about high added value here, about advanced technology, and so the jobs created would be highly skilled jobs.
Regarding the second question, no, we did not discuss the meat exports issue because I have appointed a number of officials to work specifically on this matter. Argentina has no problems in meeting its obligations for meat exports to Russia.
Question: Mr Medvedev, Latin America was always seen as something of the USA’s preserve. You have just arrived from Washington and you met just recently with President Obama and spoke about strengthening Russian-US relations. Do you not think that Washington might perhaps be a bit wary about Russia’s advance into Latin America?
Dmitry Medvedev: My impression these days is that rational people are in the White House, and if they are rational people they have no reason to be wary of friendly visits to countries with whom we have good ties, what I would call strategic relations.
I will not make a secret of the fact that in my talks with the President today, I said that I think the big global players should be present in Latin America to help the countries of South America develop their economies and also to implement their own interesting business and social projects.
Russia has returned to South America. We did so quite energetically the year before last, and now we are actively building up our relations with our Latin American partners. I made quite an extensive series of visits the year before last in Latin America, and received a large number of Latin American colleagues in Russia. Ms Fernandez de Kirchner also visited Russia and we held full-fledged talks and signed agreements. Some of my colleagues have also made visits to Latin America, and now I am visiting Argentina. These are all signs that Russia has changed its position on Latin America.
We see these countries as being home to our friends, home to people close to us, and we want to develop close cooperation with them. Today’s situation makes this possible. The world has become global and no one has a monopoly on the truth. I hope therefore that what we are doing is not bothering anyone, and if someone does happen to be bothered by it, frankly, we do not care.
Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner: I also want to say a few words. I think the world has indeed changed. The confrontation between East and West that characterised the second half of the twentieth century is over now. I think that, as the Russian President said, there really are new global players today, and not only new players but also new leaders, including in South America, and they have a different vision of relations in the world.
This new multilateral world is a banner that our administration too has raised, as have other South American governments, it seems to me. The world has changed and our region has changed too. We are no longer any country’s backyard. We want to develop normal and serious relations with all countries around the world, because this new world also comes with new challenges that we did not face last century.
This is something I also discussed with Dmitry Medvedev at our meeting. I said that the confrontations and differences of the twentieth century unfolded within a framework of ideological rationalism. Now, in the twenty-first century, we are facing new challenges born not out of rationalism but linked to issues that Russia and other countries around the world have encountered.
This concerns terrorism and global confrontation in which the conflicts are based it seems on religious lines, on religious faith. I therefore think a gap has arisen between the tremendous progress the twenty-first century has brought and the international relations that we have in the world, because these relations have not kept up with the pace of change, and perhaps this was due to religious reasons.
I think that all leaders must act responsibly, including those who are part of the confrontations going on. President Barack Obama, in particular, said that Russia and the USA set the example, starting from 2006, when they signed a disarmament agreement.
This ideological confrontation once divided the world, and we also suffered from this, became part of this national security doctrine that persecuted anyone suspected of being red. I therefore think it is a great blessing to live in this new world. True, this new world is perhaps more asymmetrical and less predictable than the world we knew in the twentieth century. But we need to be reasonable, open, and follow a multilateral approach, because no country, no matter how strong, should be able to impose its will on the rest of the world and make decisions on a unilateral basis. As was said just before, decisions need to be global and multilateral, and no matter what the circumstances, they need to be smart decisions.
Thank you very much and good night to you all.