President of France Nicolas Sarkozy (retranslated): Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming here in such number today. Each of us will comment briefly on the meeting’s results and then answer two questions – making six questions in all.
Since yesterday, Chancellor Merkel, Mr Medvedev, and I have been working on a range of bilateral and international matters. I will not come back now to yesterday’s Franco-German agreement on general European economic regulation, but I think it is very important that France and Germany have produced this joint agreement that will help us to strengthen control over Europe’s financial system.
Yesterday, during the working dinner, and today, the Chancellor, the Russian President and I discussed subjects of interest to Europe and Russia, and examined a range of issues on the international agenda. We are certain that Russia, Germany and France share common positions in many respects.
Mr Medvedev is pursuing a decisive modernisation policy, and we must help Russia in this. We will work hand-in-hand with Russia, cooperating in various areas in a spirit of friendship and trust. As for the matter of abolishing visas, which is so important for Russia, this will be a step-by-step process, but the issue will be resolved. We share similar views on economic matters, in which we are interlinked in sectors such as raw materials, for example, on technology exchange, trade, and on security issues, where we face the same threats.
We discussed the Middle East and Iran, on which Mr Medvedev has taken a very bold and useful position. Of course, with France due to take the presidency in the G20 next year, we also (Ms Merkel, Mr Medvedev and myself) discussed the various issues that will be on the agenda for the G20 summit in 2011. We will not talk at length about this today, because it is still early, still only 2010, but we do have a common desire to see France, Russia and Germany move forward together.
I will be happy to answer any questions you may have. I think this three-way meeting has shown that we share common views on many issues, and I can say that we have a common desire to solve these problems, are ready to reach compromises, and are fully aware that we live in a new world, a world of friendship between Russia and Europe.
President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Ladies and gentlemen,
We have completed the trilateral talks. I would like to say a few words and thank my colleague, President Nicolas Sarkozy, for his excellent choice of venue and a superb setting for our meeting. This is always very important because it encourages dialogue.
There have been no meetings of this kind for five years, and I completely agree with what Mr President has just said regarding the usefulness of such events. This is a frank, open, calm and friendly format for discussing various issues.
”We talked about cooperation between Russia and NATO. That was an important discussion, informative and useful. I would like to announce that I will take part in the Russia-NATO summit, which will be held on November 20 in Lisbon. I believe it will help us find the right compromises and in general to deepen the dialogue between the Russian Federation and the North Atlantic Alliance.“
Yesterday at supper we mostly talked about international and some regional issues, we addressed the Middle East, Iran and Europe. This discussion showed that we actually look at many processes in the same way. This gives us an opportunity to coordinate our positions and to reach very specific results, for example, in our efforts on the Iran issue, as Mr President has just mentioned. Incidentally, regarding Iran, we have agreed to adhere to the policies that have been adopted. We must act in accordance with the approved sanctions and at the same time to encourage Iran to cooperate on all issues.
We talked about European security, which is extremely important. Today, we touched on the issues raised in large formats, such as G20 and G8. Right now we are preparing for a G20 summit to be held in Korea. At the same time we must look to the future, and the future is the French presidency of the group. It is vital that the decisions made by the G20 be implemented, that they do not remain just our good intentions but become a concrete action plan. That is why preparation for such events is very important. We have agreed to synchronise our approaches and to coordinate our positions. To be fair, I would like to say a few words about these formats.
First, the Group of Twenty came to exist largely due to the efforts of President Sarkozy. I remember you telling me: “Listen, Dmitry, I spoke with President Bush, and I insisted that he gather a large forum.” So we gathered and today this format is working; it may not be perfect, but it works. And we must make sure that all our future meetings lead to concrete results.
Second, we tried to coordinate our approaches even before that. That is why before going to Washington and London, I flew over to see our partners, to France and Germany. And we intend to continue meeting like this in the future.
The issue of European security architecture, as I said, was also in the spotlight. We believe that there is a lot of work to do in the future. There are a number of ideas, including the Russian proposal of European Security Treaty. Our colleagues are prepared to continue considering this proposal.
We talked about cooperation between Russia and NATO. That was an important discussion, informative and useful. I would like to announce that I will take part in the Russia-NATO summit, which will be held on November 20 in Lisbon. I believe it will help us find the right compromises and in general to deepen the dialogue between the Russian Federation and the North Atlantic Alliance.
We reviewed the Partnership for Modernisation, we talked about visa-free travel and the whole range of Russia-EU issues because France and Germany are our major EU partners, and it is very important for us to coordinate efforts with these states.
In general, I would like to note that this format is very useful. I repeat, it allows us to discuss various issues in an open and friendly atmosphere and, most importantly, to find the answers we need. So I hope that we will continue to communicate in this format in the future.
Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel (retranslated): I want to thank French President Nicolas Sarkozy for the excellent choice of venue for this meeting. This is a very beautiful place and is exceptionally well suited to the kind of frank talks that we have conducted over these last hours.
We discussed upcoming international meetings. I was very pleased to hear Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announce that he will attend the NATO summit in Lisbon. This is good news because we need to put relations between Russia and NATO on a rational track. After all, we face some of the same threats in the world today.
As far as sanctions against Iran are concerned, we should welcome the fact that we have agreed on a common approach. Of course we spoke about the need to maintain pressure on Iran, but at the same time, to make it clear to Iran that if it behaves responsibly and rationally and gives us clear evidence that it is really not developing a nuclear programme, we will be willing to cooperate with it.
We discussed too the upcoming G20 summit in Korea. We think there has been clear progress made in regulation, given that we are still in the process of putting together the new global financial architecture. Even if the crisis has abated now we should not underestimate the importance of regulation.
We discussed France’s presidency of the G20 next year. Germany will actively support France in carrying out its plans to make the G20 a permanent organisation. The G20 and the G8 are two different formats and we think that both are needed, both serve a purpose, and there is no shortage of issues to discuss in both of these groups.
We also discussed the OSCE summit in Astana, which should demonstrate that we continue to move forward in resolving security issues, above all in the area of security organisations bringing together Russia and the EU. We outlined our initial positions on this matter during the meeting just now, and in this respect Germany, France and Russia share the same view, namely that we need to work step by step to build a security system that will enable us to respond to conflicts.
We spoke about relations between Russia and the EU. We want to see Russia and the EU conclude a new agreement as soon as possible and speed up the negotiations on this matter. Of course the visa issue is an important matter here, along with various other subjects. We need a new and modern agreement. Germany and France will support Russia in order to ensure that talks on this matter are concluded swiftly.
We examined many important subjects during our talks. One of them of course was the Middle East peace process, which, to our great concern, is moving too slowly. We call on all the parties, Israel and the Arab countries, to put greater effort into resolving this problem. Progress has been not as good as we would have liked, but we, Europe and Russia, are ready to take on the responsibility and work together with our American partners to do everything possible to get the process going again and move on to the stage of rational talks.
Question: Ms Federal Chancellor, how did you manage to allay Russia’s concerns about the American missile defence system in Central and Eastern Europe? How is your foreign minister going to persuade France in the medium term to renounce its nuclear weapons?
Angela Merkel: I am happy that the Russian President is to take part in the NATO summit. This shows that NATO’s agenda and strategic concept offers opportunities for future cooperation. Russia will express its own views on the missile defence issue. This is not my job. But I am happy that there is principled readiness to discuss these matters and put relations with NATO on a rational track. I already spoke about this. I take the view that (as Russia has affirmed on many occasions too) major threats such as terrorism, the problem of failed states, and nuclear weapons are common challenges for us all. We need to combat these threats together as much as possible.
As for issues concerning a new strategic concept for NATO, there are good chances of resolving these matters before the next NATO summit. I think that there is basic agreement on the need for global nuclear disarmament. This agreement must be based on reciprocity for all sides. I have not the slightest doubt that we will achieve good results on this road that will reflect all countries’ interest.
Question: President Sarkozy, you have just said that you discussed the issue of visa-free travel between Russia and the EU. It is well known, however, that certain countries have adopted a rather reserved stand on this issue, to put it mildly. What specifically did you discuss and did you reach any agreements here, in Deauville? Can it be expected that during the EU-Russia summit on December 7 in Brussels this issue will be completely taken off the agenda and we will be able to talk about visa-free travel? This question is to Mr President and to Madam Federal Chancellor. Thank you.
Angela Merkel: I did not hear the translation, but I understood.
Nicolas Sarkozy: Listen, we meet to discuss common issues. Angela Merkel and I realise how important the visa issue is for our Russian friends. This is obvious, and no one is saying that this issue is off limits for discussion. Germany and France see Russia as a friendly country, but we need to first bring our positions closer together.
We agreed that we will work step by step towards abolishing visas. Mr Medvedev has also made some commitments, including with regard to the Energy Charter, in order to reach the goal of full abolition of visas as soon as possible. Our discussions will enable us to make good progress in bilateral and trilateral format. There is no need to dramatise the situation. We are all making an effort to understand each other’s problems. The main thing for our three countries is that we are moving forward and moving fast. I think that in 10–15 years – this is the future we should be looking at – we will be able to establish a common economic space between the European Union and Russia with freedom of enterprise, visa-free travel, and a common security concept.
Considering that the previous question was really addressed to me too, just let me say that France has no plans to renounce its nuclear deterrent. Perhaps this will disappoint you, but you need to realise that even in the case of friends there are still some things that are very important for us. France has ratified all treaties in this area. We are for transparency on this issue, and we support disarmament.
I spoke a few days ago with the NATO Secretary General. I think that we will reach an agreement that satisfies everyone. I think that NATO, which is a military alliance, should not unilaterally renounce nuclear weapons, all the more so as there are many countries that do not seek to join this process. We therefore should be talking of mutual complementariness and not of something separate and apart. I am sure that we will reach an agreement in Lisbon. Like Angela, I think that Mr Rasmussen is working very effectively in this direction.
Angela Merkel: On the issue of visas, our position is that we know this is an important issue for Russia and we think that we need to work towards it step by step. Germany has already simplified the rules regarding short-term visas, and in the next stage we could discuss multi-year visas. We said today that these steps should be clearly outlined and examined, and we need to move forward, but this cannot happen overnight. I realize that Russia does not want this issue to be put on the back burner and hopes that we will make strenuous efforts to sort out the matters that have not been settled yet.
Dmitry Medvedev: I think I should also say a few words on this subject since it concerns Russia. Opinions on visa-free travel are mostly clear, they are what they are, they are pragmatic and based on the domestic political reality prevailing in each country.
”Everyone understands that visas should be abolished and everyone understands that it cannot be done simply by an act of will, by pushing the issue. We understand that there must be a process, we just need to gauge the scope of this process, and we understand that this process should have its own roadmap.“
Everyone understands that visas should be abolished and everyone understands that it cannot be done simply by an act of will, by pushing the issue. Therefore, we agreed on two things in relation to our three countries. We understand that there must be a process, we just need to gauge the scope of this process, and we understand that this process should have its own roadmap. We will continue our efforts on the basis of these two premises. The next round of consultation will, of course, take place with the participation of all parties. I believe that it could be done as part of our work with the European Commission in the course of our visit to Brussels. We will also continue these efforts with other states and at other venues.
A few words about anti-ballistic missiles. I didn’t have a chance to speak about it before, but in general, we are concerned about this issue and we discussed it yesterday. We heard what is being said to us about the idea of Russia joining the global anti-missile defence system. This issue has also been proposed for the agenda of our relations with NATO. Currently we are considering the idea of this proposal but I think that NATO needs to understand for itself the terms on which it sees Russia joining the system, what this will achieve, in what way such an agreement could be reached and how to continue our efforts. We will we be able to give our answer regarding the way to move forward on the idea of a European missile defence system only on the basis of assessing this proposal.
Question: This question is for Ms Merkel and Mr Medvedev. Do you agree with Mr Sarkozy’s view on the need to reform the international currency system in order to avoid a ‘currency war’? Do you support France, which will preside in the G20, on this issue?
Mr Medvedev, do you agree with the view that the yuan could become a problem?
And a question for Mr Sarkozy: the European Commission has decided not to impose disciplinary penalties on France. What is your view on this?
Angela Merkel: Regarding the currency issues and the currency system in general, I think this is an excellent issue for the next presiding country in the G20. Germany supports France very actively on this. The discussions underway at the moment show that currencies and adequate exchange rates are one of the central issues and central threats of protectionism. We are almost all WTO members, and Russia is on the verge of joining this organisation too. We have few possibilities for protectionism as far as customs duties are concerned, but there are plenty of other possibilities. Germany and the entire European Union want to have an honest and fair currency system, and so we place great importance on this issue. We will do everything to reach greater transparency at the international level.
Dmitry Medvedev: On the whole I agree with President Sarkozy and I said so openly during our discussion. When the G20 began working together, I realised that we would not be able to avoid answering this question: What will our monetary and financial system be like in the coming years? Yes, objectively, there are states which believe all that is necessary is to patch up the existing system and everything will be all right. The Bretton Woods system is still effective. No one argues with that; the Bretton Woods institutions must not be destroyed. The question is what our monetary and financial system will be like in the next 20 to 30 years. Will the agreements reached in mid-20th century be sufficient? The universal answer is no, they will not be sufficient. Our position from the outset was that we need to discuss new terms.
”We all agree that it was a useful event. It was useful in every respect because we discussed European issues, regional issues, trilateral issues, and finally we discussed the agenda and the efforts of the G20. Therefore, I believe such an opportunity to coordinate our positions is very beneficial and should continue in the future. I think that such meetings should become regular.“
The time has come for the G20 to achieve something definitive. What does definitive mean and what could it be? There must be fundamental agreements, and for the G20 that means the structure of the monetary and financial system. Yes, we have begun to reform the IMF and the World Bank, there is still a lot to talk about here, but in general we have made progress. I believe that the G20 is a good format that has led to a lot of useful developments, particularly during the peak of the crisis. But now we need to achieve a definitive result. In this regard, we will strongly support the ideas that were discussed today. I think that this could be one of the most important topics for discussion, if not in the near future, then certainly during the French presidency in the G20. We are ready to work on other issues as well but this issue is absolutely essential for everyone, as the issue of additional reserve currencies and, perhaps, even the creation of a global reserve currency.
Nicolas Sarkozy: I think the global financial and economic system lacks stability and needs support. You realise of course how important it is for me to have Ms Merkel’s and Mr Medvedev’s support on this issue. In this situation it would be very unproductive to renounce the support of our friends and colleagues. The question is not one of who is at fault, but of how to lay the foundations for a new global financial and economic system. If we start arguing and looking for people to blame we will succeed only in making the system even less stable, and this would be contrary to our objectives.
I think that working together as a threesome we can discuss many problems, but we should not go too far and anticipate developments. Let’s wait for the next G8 summit in Korea rather than go too into depth on this right now.
As for the Commission’s decision, I am very happy that reason has triumphed. The Commission decided not to start any procedures against France on discrimination issues, because as I always said, there was no discrimination. I therefore think the decision was correct and puts an end to a polemic that we could perfectly well have done without.
Question: This question is for the Russian President. Rapprochement with NATO and the EU was always based on the assumption that Russia will show goodwill in resolving the frozen conflicts. It was good to hear that you are making your contribution to these efforts. To give a couple of examples, Transdniester. When will Russia withdraw its troops from Moldova and Georgia?
Ms Federal Chancellor, may I ask a question too on the meeting yesterday with the French President, and the EU summit due to take place next week? What makes you so sure that this summit will open the way to making changes regarding the stability and growth pact for the period to 2013?
Dmitry Medvedev: I think we have the potential to resolve a wide range of conflicts, including frozen ones. You mentioned Transdniester. We discussed this issue yesterday as we traditionally discuss it during our meetings with Ms Merkel. I believe that we can achieve good results here, but only if all the parties involved in the conflict adopt a constructive position, and that is where intermediaries can help, those who can influence the situation. I have had the opportunity to gather the Moldovan authorities and the Transdniestrian leadership in Moscow, and in principle they can be encouraged to make constructive efforts.
It is another issue that today Moldova is in a state of uncertainty ahead of elections, and of course, these processes can be resumed only when the negotiating parties are in place. And a negotiating party consists of people who have the authority. Therefore, I believe that we have a good chance to resume the process immediately after the elections and to achieve a result. Russia will contribute to this.
But I would like to point out that of course the success does not depend solely on Russia. The success of these efforts depends without doubt on the position of Moldova, the position of Transdniester, the position of Romania, and the position of the European Union, all the parties involved.
Angela Merkel: France and Germany made use of the opportunity yesterday to prepare for next week’s summit. I think this is important and the right thing to do. I always said that the funds that we established to support the euro zone in general and Greece in particular will end in 2013 and cannot be simply extended. So we need to reflect now on what to do later. We agreed that we need a long-term rescue mechanism, but of a different quality. I think it is a very good signal that France and Germany together have said that this would require us to change the agreement, and the changes made should institute a mechanism making it possible to financially involve creditors in addressing the complex situation with the euro. This is a big step forward.
The agreement between France and Germany is not equivalent to agreement in the European Council, but if France and Germany disagree with each other the others will not be in agreement either. Agreement between us is therefore an essential condition, but not the only condition for success at the Council. I am sure that we still have hard work ahead to convince the others, but I think our agreement is already good news.
Nicolas Sarkozy: I fully agree with Madam Chancellor. Like Germany, France is taking part in reviewing this agreement, and we share the same view on this issue. We have no intention of imposing our views on anyone. I am completely certain that, as Ms Merkel correctly noted, that Germany and France are criticized when they fail to agree with each other, but no one will reproach us for reaching agreement with each other, all the more so as we know that both countries have played a very active part in stabilising the situation and overcoming the financial crisis in Europe. All of these decisions must be made together. In this respect I support everything that Ms Merkel said, and I think this will reassure everyone. We are working now on a long-term post-crisis stabilisation plan.
Of course we discussed the problem of the frozen conflicts with Mr Medvedev. We spoke about Georgia. As you know, I reached an agreement with Mr Medvedev in 2008. This was not an easy task. I already said to him that the withdrawal of troops from Perevi was a very important step and represented significant progress. I thanked him for this, as I have thanked him in the past, and will continue to do so. I think that diplomacy should triumph over force. I think that it is essential too to reflect on returning prisoners of war.
At the same time, Georgia also should make a commitment not to use force. It would be good if our Russian friends agreed to the presence of European observers on these territories. We are working on this, but this is a lengthy process and we should not expect to find a solution to such a complex and tragic situation in just a few weeks.
We talked about everything in an atmosphere of trust, and I think we have achieved some positive results for everyone. Of course these conflicts must be settled not through confrontation and military force, but through diplomacy, discussion, mutual respect and understanding of each other’s problems. This is the way to solve conflicts. I am absolutely convinced of this.
Question: We have heard positive words from all three leaders on today’s meeting. You were clearly glad to see each other.
Can we say then that this trilateral format, which was not used for several years although it enjoyed certain popularity some time ago, will be used regularly again, perhaps with its own agenda? How will it work in the future and will it be integrated into the architecture of European and global politics? Perhaps you already have a clear agenda? And where will you meet next time?
Dmitry Medvedev: I think we all agree that it was a useful event. It was useful in every respect because we discussed European issues, regional issues, trilateral issues, and finally we discussed the agenda and the efforts of the G20. Therefore, I believe such an opportunity to coordinate our positions is very beneficial and should continue in the future. I think that such meetings should become regular. I am sure we will be able to find a good location and a suitable occasion.
Angela Merkel: I think that a globalising world should have many different formats. This summit is very useful as a format. We were not bored in the slightest and had plenty of subjects for discussion. There are other interesting formats too, the Weimar triangle, for example, between France, Germany and Poland, and plenty of other opportunities for meetings at which we can discuss various issues and work out new approaches in a calm and informal setting. We are ready to go to Russia next time and would also be happy to invite both presidents to Germany. Our cooperation will continue whatever the format.
Nicolas Sarkozy: I think it is always very useful for the heads of state and government to work together in an atmosphere of trust when they want to discuss various issues without all the protocol formalities, when they want to discuss the various issues of concern. I think this format will continue and has a good future. I do not know where we will meet next, in Germany, if I understood correctly.
Dmitry Medvedev: No problem. Angela and I will reach an agreement.
Angela Merkel: Yes, this is possible, we accept the proposal, but we can discuss this further.
Question: I have a question for Mr Sarkozy on the domestic situation. Demonstrations have been going on for six days now. We have problems with fuel, problems with secondary schools and universities. Do you think this movement will radicalise, and what kind of excesses and negative consequences could we face?
Nicolas Sarkozy: Forgive me, colleagues, for this question on the domestic situation in France. I thought long and hard before beginning pension reform in France. This reform was put off for a very long time and I think the time had come when it could no longer be delayed. Why, because we are talking about the future of tomorrow’s pensioners and the guarantees that they will receive pensions.
There are 15 million pensioners in France. They are currently receiving pensions thanks to banks’ credit resources, but this situation cannot continue because this is completely unfair towards the working age population and our youth. France is not alone in facing this situation. It is a problem in many countries. This problem arose in Germany a few years ago, and I recall that there were stormy debates on the subject there too. I think that Dmitry will recall too that we discussed these same matters together a few months ago.
Life expectancy has increased by 15 years on average in France since the 1950s. If this is the case, how can we not work longer than we did in the past? This is quite simply logical. Since it is my duty to do so, I have therefore made this difficult decision.
Heads of state have their responsibilities, responsibilities towards our young people, the future, and maintaining balance in our country. I think that everyone has the right to their own opinion in a democratic society, and everyone has their voice. But as soon as I return to Paris I will hold a meeting to break the deadlock on the various problems that have come up because most people need to work and we cannot allow petrol shortages to stop them. This is unacceptable in a democratic country.
We must at the same time be very vigilant about the bandits trying to squeeze their way into this movement. As the head of state it is my duty to maintain public law and order in the country.
You asked me what I think of the excesses. We are certainly not happy to see this confrontation, but it is my duty to counter these processes and think about today’s and tomorrow’s pension system.
The rest concerns the responsibility of the participants in this process. Things should remain within certain limits.
Thank you very much.