The Meeting of G8 leaders with members of the Junior G8 2006-07-16 12:30:21 Strelna, St Petersburg President Vladimir Putin: Distinguished friends, ladies and gentlemen. Allow me to greet our counterparts. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that our young colleagues have already been in St. Petersburg for 10 days, and they have been discussing the same problems that are now the focus of our attention. They have been discussing problems of health care and education, they have been speaking about tolerance and about energy. I myself attended a couple of the discussions on these problems and the problem of energy security and the issues pertaining to tolerance. All our activities are aimed at providing for the future. Our countries can influence the future development of all humankind. This is understood best by those who are affected by our joint efforts. These are the representatives of the younger generation of our countries. They are not just nice people, but also very talented people. I can assure you of this, because I have had the chance to talk with them a little. But these are not all our young colleagues, some of them are now in the media center watching our meeting. I would like to greet them also. I hope we will have the opportunity to talk with them. And now I am pleased to give the floor to our guests. We have no protocol, no order, so I will ask you, who would like to begin? Please, the representative of Japan. Representative of Japan: Ladies and gentlemen, we, the youth of the G8 countries, participants in the J8, have come here to St. Petersburg. And we would like to present our opinion on some of the issues regarding the challenges posed by diseases, energy security, and tolerance. We would like to contribute to creating a peaceful, beautiful Earth without drugs. We would like to serve as a good example to our peers, the children of the whole world. We would also like to make a declaration on television about the main topic: education. We think that education is the basis of all our work. Education should be of a high quality. It must be accessible to all. We must ensure equality between ethnic groups, between men and women. Education is important for all. We must motivate children to go to school. It is necessary to ensure that they are fed, it is necessary to ensure that they are vaccinated, it is necessary to ensure the whole infrastructure. Vladimir Putin: That relates to what the prime minister of Japan, our distinguished colleague, said. He referred to the fact that Japan has practically no natural resources. The main resource is intellectual. We agree with that. What you just said agrees with what the leader of the government of your country said. Canadian Representative: My name is Christina, I am representing Canada. I will continue on the education theme. We believe quality education is necessary, this is why we suggest a Learning Without Borders program, and not only for academic education, but also for ethics, experience and fight for peace. In developing countries we must provide for children’s access to education and ensure appropriate health education on hygiene and nutrition issues. There are also major problems in countries affected by wars, and even in such circumstances we need to foster tolerance and non-violent approach, because children very quickly get used to violence. To cope with this task, we need appropriate teachers, and teachers should train other teachers. Experienced teachers should go to the countries where local teachers are in need of further training and education. We have also spoken about funding of these ideas. We believe there is a global competition program, and that we need Global Industry Olympics. Everyone competes, and everyone is passionate in the Olympics about competing and winning. In the Global Industry Olympics we want the entire world to become passionate about competing and winning the fight we have going on today that stops children from going to school, the fight we are losing – against poverty. The Global Industry Olympics would be a global fund focused on engaging businesses from all around the world to get a percentage of their sales to the developing world to help feed the hungry, heal the sick. Also so that children could get this education. I know that now we are mainly depending on NGOs and the government for a lot of the money going to the developing countries. Imagine if consumers knew that from every purchase they made a percentage was going to the developing world. And they would be passionate about it, which is where the competitive power of the GO comes in. We believe businesses would want to do this because they want these passionate customers because passionate customers are loyal customers. We believe that they will be fighting for that, and that they will want to do this. We have realized through our work that education is tied into everything and that it is the main solution. We believe in investing in education, so we are hoping to invest through the GO. Thank you. Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much. Thank you, Christina. We will be very pleased to take a closer look at your Learning Without Borders suggestion. I would like to remind you that the G8 has already developed such a program, Education For All. And we should see to what extent your ideas are compatible with what the G8 has already developed, and I am sure there is something new and interesting we can take into consideration. And the idea of the Global Industry Olympics sounds interesting to me. We should take a closer look at your suggestion to see what it’s all about. If it could really generate some additional resources to be used in solving the problems which all of us, including yourselves, have gathered together here to discuss, then it would be most welcome. Thank you very much. DIANA PRICE, U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Hello, my name’s Diana Price, and I will be talking about infectious diseases. We know that infectious diseases are an enormous problem in underdeveloped countries. But we have to realize that it is a huge problem of humanity as a whole. That is why we suggest that we can solve this problem through education, prevention, treatment and respect. Our main goal is free basic treatment for everyone. And two ways to achieve this would be: one, the development of scientific research and provision of free diagnostics in rural areas; two, to open borders of medicine by simplifying the visa process and enabling doctors around the world to exchange their experiences. Our countries in collaboration with each other must protect people from the spread of infectious diseases through education. We must have HIV prevention programs and specialists at schools, which means to include HIV preventions in the curricula. And hospitals and schools must have links because hospitals have a huge responsibility with schools. And now, Xavier will elaborate on this. Representative of The French Delegation: Hello, my name is Xavier Attwell, I am fifteen and I am representing the French delegation. I am going to speak English, because in the last 2 weeks we have been discussing issues in English, and I feel happier speaking English. We are for free access to male and female condoms, especially in developing countries, along with information. For us prevention is the key solution. We can solve the problems of stigmatization through educational information about infectious diseases. There is also a need for world models, such as presidents, but also people who are living with HIV or other infectious diseases, to eliminate stigmas. Through this people will understand that infected people are human beings and that everybody should respect each other. We are all equal. It is not because somebody is infected that we should discriminate against them, or look upon them as somebody different. We all know that malaria is one of the top three killing infectious diseases but it can be easily prevented by the distribution of free mosquito nets. Another big killer is tuberculosis, and we can solve this problem by distributing free vaccinations available and accessible for all. I have now presented two problems, supposedly two solutions, and I hope you will take into account our ideas. Thank you. Vladimir Putin: As to the points that have just been raised by our young French colleague, and our American guest, I must say that these issues have always been very actively discussed here. And, moreover, today we stated once again that if the programs that have been designed are fully implemented, then by 2010 we will ensure access to medications for all those who need them and for people infected with HIV. This alone would already be good progress. And I would like to repeat once again that we will take into consideration both what has already been discussed and what you think should be done in this field. SOPHIE HARRISON, U.K. REPRESENTATIVE: My name is Sophie Harrison, and I am going to talk about energy security. We believe that energy security is a huge problem facing our world today. It should be made accessible, reliable, safe and clean. As fossil-fuel reserves diminish, it is vital that we turn our minds to saving as much energy as possible. We believe that recycling materials would conserve large amounts of energy, and this should be promoted. Another issue that we feel needs to be addressed is the Kyoto Protocol. We think that this needs to be refocused on the diversification of energy resources. This will not only help with the fossil fuel crisis but with cutting down emissions as well. Along with this, we support alternative energy such as solar power, wind power, and hydroelectricity. We also support nuclear power. Nuclear power is very safe on a day-to-day basis, extremely reliable and very clean. We believe that it is part of the way forward for the G8 nations. International enrichment centers are suitable solutions for the problem of nuclear proliferation. And while we have no real solution to the problem of nuclear waste, we feel geologically deep positioning should be continued until a safe procedure is developed. We also feel that nuclear waste should be dealt with in its country of origin to decrease the risks associated with transportation. Vladimir Putin: Thank you. That is, naturally, one of the key issues we have been discussing today. I cannot say we are not familiar with this problem, but we can see that in such a short presentation you managed to touch upon the most complex problems, the ones we, too, are concerned about. I was pleased to hear that in the course of your discussion you came to the conclusion that not only can nuclear power be a reliable and clean source of energy, but it can also be a very safe one, and, of course, modern sophisticated technologies enable this. I would still like to make a minor comment. You said that we face a fossil fuel, or hydrocarbons, crisis, but, in fact, there is no crisis at all. We have enough hydrocarbons in the world. But the point is – and we have already discussed this in the first part of today’s meeting – that hydrocarbon prices are increasing, and some of our colleagues openly said that modern methods for extracting these hydrocarbons need to be upgraded because hydrocarbon extraction costs are going up due to the lack of infrastructure in the regions where energy producers carry out their activities. Thank you. Italian Delegation Representative (TRANSLATED FROM ITALIAN): Hello everyone. I am Elena della Site, I am 17, and I am representing the Italian delegation. Let me start by thanking you on behalf of all of us for giving us the honor of attending such a major event. As for the issues we were discussing at the J8, I am going to talk about energy security, just as the U.K. delegation has, and I would like to remind you of the video conferences we had with developing countries on energy supplies. We had video conferences with students in Johannesburg, in South Africa, who literally begged us to focus on searching for new energy sources, as they live in a desert. And, accordingly, they need additional funding from the G8 countries so that they can better develop alternative energy sources such as solar energy or wind energy, and so on. But considering the water shortage in their country, and water is really precious for them and what is available is often polluted, they think it is important to receive funding so that they do not have to invest so much in energy imports, which would enable them to use this money for providing health care services to the population to save as many people as possible, because, unfortunately, in their country 23 percent of the population is affected by infectious diseases. As for access to energy sources, the delegates who attended the G8 summit also pointed out as a top priority the necessity of setting up a fund for an independent global organization that would deal with research into energy and its use, in other words, ensure that in all G8 countries limits are set on the use of energy. In the event that the threshold is exceeded, it would be necessary then to levy a tax, and this tax would then enable funding for global research by the organization to be set up. But since the G8 countries are the most powerful countries in the world, this money should go to developing countries, I mean that we should identify the countries which actually need it. Thank you. Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much. I would like to draw your attention to a point raised by the Italian representative. In fact, about one third of deaths in the world are caused by infectious diseases. This is a very serious problem for the world’s health-care system and for all of mankind. As for your idea of setting an upper limit on energy consumption, I think we would hardly be able to define that limit, though the main point of this idea is included in the global initiative currently being developed by a number of countries, I mean the Kyoto Protocol, whereby excessive emissions will be fined. And, on the contrary, bonuses are given to countries that do not exceed their emissions limits. So, in principle, this idea is being implemented, though there might be some other ideas that we could take advantage of. German Delegation Representative: I am 14, and I come from Germany. I am going to talk about violence. We should not forget that everyone is a human being who comes from a certain region and who has a background and traditions, and very often these differences in cultural background cause problems. And there is also a problem with violence towards young people, children and women. This is one of the main issues, which is why we would like that after the Convention on the Rights of the Child has been signed the leaders of the G8 should provide appropriate funding in order to protect children. And we must ask the G8 to call for a fight against violence. Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much. This goes beyond the scope of the main issues we discussed with the G8 colleagues this morning, but clearly, without solving this problem and without people being tolerant of each other no global issues can be resolved. This is very closely interrelated with education issues, with the adaptation of immigrants and their problems. So this is one of the key issues of mankind’s development. I fully agree with you and thank you for touching upon this subject. Tatyana Ushakova, Russia: My name is Tatyana Ushakova and I represent the Russian Federation. I would like to say a few more words about tolerance. As we see it, the key to solving this problem is raising a new, physically and morally healthy generation, free of violence and cruelty. This generation should be aware that a great diversity of cultures, traditions, nations and religions in the world is our heritage, which we should cherish. Every human being, independently of his or her physical abilities, social standing, age and sex, is unique and worthy of respect. And this is why we believe that these values need to be inculcated from a very early age. I would agree with President Putin that this problem is very closely related to education. It is education that must play the leading role in solving the problem of intolerance. We believe that at school children should learn not only their own culture, their own history, which is important for them to develop their own personal identity, but also the culture and traditions of other countries because that is how you can develop tolerance and respect for people in other countries from a very young age as well as an understanding that any culture and any history is unique. On the other hand, we think it very important to enable young people all around the world to communicate. There should be more opportunities for exchanges, for people to meet one another such as this unique opportunity we have here, and I thank the organizers for that. Notwithstanding the language barrier and the cultural differences we have, there is nothing to prevent us from getting together, developing common approaches and trying to solve this problem by our joint efforts. And let me just say a few words about another issue we are very much concerned about, which is the adaptation of immigrants in their new countries. Here, too, I believe, we must talk about the importance of preserving the traditions and culture of people coming from other countries as well as of their respect for the culture of the country to which they have immigrated. The adaptation must enable immigrants to feel like full-fledged citizens of the country they have immigrated to, but they must observe traditions and respect the culture of that country. We think that tolerance is a very sensitive, complex and possibly contradictory issue requiring a long-term and very circumspect solution. In closing, we undertake to disseminate our ideas and values among young people, and this is the most important thing we can do ourselves. I am sure that the work that we started here will continue beyond this summit. It will have an impact on what we do and how we approach problems on a daily basis. And I would also like to say that in order to find effective and real-life solutions, we believe that it is important that children from other countries, outside the G8, both from the developing and the developed world, participate in future J8 summits. We are very pleased to have had this opportunity to share our ideas with you, and we sincerely hope that they will be taken into consideration. We would also like to say that we believe in our power to change the world, and we call on all young people of the world to come and join us. Thank you. Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much, Tatyana. I would like to reiterate everything that has been said by Tanya. Why am I stressing this? Because this is of particular importance to us. The Russian Federation over its entire millennium history has always been a multi-faith, multi-lingual and multi-ethnic state, and I think we can truly say that tolerance is at the very root of Russian statehood. If the many different groups living on Russian territory had not managed to coexist peacefully, we would not have been able to establish a centralized state. Tolerance is very important for us. So thank you all for that. From the J8 I would now like to turn to my G8 colleagues and ask whether anyone has any comments to make, or anything to add to what has been said by our young participants. Anyone from the G8? Yes, Tony. Tony Blair: First of all I’m sure I speak for all the leaders represented at the G8 when I say how impressed we were with the presentations that have been given, and if you are a representative of the younger generation of people today, then I think the future of the world is in good hands. Thank you really for that. I just wanted to pick up on the last point, which is about tolerance. I think it’s absolutely right. The critical thing is that we allow people to be comfortable with their own culture and their own religious faith and their own racial or ethnic background, but in a way that is respectful of the difference with others. And this is something where I think younger people particularly have got the key role to play. Because most of the countries round this table are now very, very diverse societies, and if we can’t teach people to respect the differences, then we’ve got a real problem. Because we will have all sorts of conflicts that happen as a result of that. And I think it starts when people are young, I think it starts when they are at school, I think it also is in their home. But there’s an obligation I think also on every part of civic society including those engaged in particular religious faiths to reach out across the boundaries of their own faith and talk to other people and understand their different culture and religion. But the only way globalization will work in the future, is that people come together respectful of the difference, they’re determined to be tolerant towards that difference. Vladimir Putin: Thank you Tony, thank you very much. Yes, Angela. Angela Merkel: Let me start by saying that these were wonderful contributions and I was so pleased with them because you did not only identify problems but you always came forward with solutions to propose. And that’s not so easy after the energy discussion. There were some controversial issues such as nuclear energy that were all very difficult, and what you have said is very impressive in my opinion. Secondly, the way the whole thing has been organized. This shows that you have an unbelievable chance to grow up in a globalized world, which was not the case for the previous generation. I think the message has come across to young people. And then we had a discussion on education. We had a talk with Jose Manuel Barroso on this issue. It’s important for people to keep in mind that their school and university education is an asset they will have for their entire lives. You have to be more flexible, more so than the generation that is now retired. We are going to discuss these issues tomorrow, and I’m sure we will return to all of these ideas, and will have a deeper and more detailed discussion. And I think we’ll come back to these young people again. Vladimir Putin: Thank you Angela. George. George Bush: I congratulate you for being interested. It’s hard when you know that you are leading a generation of people who aren’t sitting watching TV this summer. I actually said become involved and make some suggestions and we’re listening. I was sitting listening to the presentations and I was thinking about what life was like for me when I was 14, 15 or 16. And I remember playing 45 records. If somebody told me that one day you would be able to hold all the records you owned on something about this big and you could plug it in and listen through unbelievably good earphones… I’d say you’re out of your mind. And so here’s my prediction. I predict that in 20 years you’ll be driving different kinds of automobiles, not necessarily powered by gasoline but powered by hydrogen. That’s what I predict. Or powered by fuels derived from crops. I believe it is conceivable that you will have homes that will be little power generating stations because of solar energy. I believe that we will have the capacity to take nuclear waste and burn it down to nearly nothing. This requires a firm commitment of money. I think what you find is that people around this table are coming to the conclusion that research dollars spent today are going to yield a vastly different picture, and I think you will find a commitment, at least from our perspective. Anyway so thanks for your presentations. Some of us aren’t going to be around to see those days. But nevertheless I anticipate their coming, and one of these days you may be sitting here as G8 leaders looking at the next generation. You’ll know that President Bush was here and he predicted that something was going to change. But it is going to change. So that’s what’s going to happen. And I thank you for helping bring these issues to our attention and welcome. Vladimir Putin: Thank you George. Yes, Junichiro. Junichiro Koizumi: Thank you very much. The G8 leaders have been discussing the same topics as some of the Junior G8 participants. 50 years ago I was your age and I could not even dream that young people would sit together and talk with world leaders like this. But maybe when you get to our age, there will be no need for translation any more. Maybe we will have a new communication mechanism, and we will overcome the language divide. So, the issues you have discussed are very important, and when you become older, they will still be important and you will continue to discuss them. And I hope you will keep up your interest in these issues. Vladimir Putin: Jacques, please. Jacques Chirac: Well, I agree entirely with what has been said about the quality, the competence and the realism of the statements we’ve heard here from the young people of the J8. There’s just one comment I’d like to make. George Bush is right of course when he talks about the progress of science, technology, everything you can imagine. But there is another evolution of which you must be aware, and this is that we are living in a world that is divided into two parts. One part has no population growth but there is increasing wealth, and the other part has no wealth but a huge rise in population, and at best stagnating living standards. Let’s take Africa, for example, with 955 mln inhabitants, of whom 450 mln are under the age of 17, and in 2040 Africa will have 2 bln inhabitants. How do you think the world can remain unchanged, with the rich getting richer, and more and more people who don’t have access to wealth? That is the real world, tomorrow’s world, the world that you will have to manage when you become heads of state in your own countries. So keep in mind that there is another side to this progress we are so proud of, and it constitutes a grave danger for humanity. Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much, Jacques. Yes, please. Jose Manuel Barroso: I would also like to thank the young leaders here. Let me just emphasize one point. All the problems you mentioned earlier – from environmental challenges to development aid, namely, in Africa, infectious diseases, energy security – those are global problems that require global solutions. In the G8 there are leaders of the most powerful countries in the world. And everyone agrees now that they cannot find a solution alone, that we need a global solution. That’s why I’d like to express hope that your generation will be more global than the previous ones, that you will be patriotic, that you will love your country but at the same time have a sense of global responsibility. I hope that your generation will fight against narrow-minded nationalism. A great French writer said once, “Patriotism is love of your own people, nationalism is hatred for others.” So it is crucially important that the next generation is more global in their efforts against nationalism, against racism, against xenophobia, against religious fundamentalism, and that it tries to build a global society based on the values of freedom, the rule of law, democracy, and in that framework we can solve those global problems. Vladimir Putin: Thank you. Stephen now. Stephen Harper: Yes, thank you. I’d like to congratulate you as well as the other members of the J8 on having won the right to represent all the young people here. I know many of you attended the discussions last week and I think it’s important to thank everyone for your ideas, for ideas that are important and innovative and that are vital for youth throughout the world. There’s a couple of things. You’ve told us some important policies, suggestions, things that are along the lines of what we were discussing earlier, things that in some cases are different. I’ve got to say particularly to my Canadian representative here that I’m fascinated to hear really strong positive ideas from young people on education. I think when I was your age we were thinking really how to avoid education more than how to embrace it. But it does really lead to two thoughts, two things that are more important. The first is a sense of optimism. If my generation was guilty of anything, and we were, it was the cynicism that so many of us had when we were your age. And that cynicism has proven to be in my view not justified. Notwithstanding the terrible problems the world still faces, tremendous progress has been made during the period of my adulthood. The other idea I’d push you towards is the importance of people in everything you do, the importance of the human relationships. The human relationships that will underlie the success or failure of any ideas you put forward, and the relationships you’ve built here, which I hope will be important steps in your life. Your relationships will build on as you move forward. Because as so many have said, a relationship between people at all levels will really drive our world in the future. And if I can combine these two topics, relationships and optimism into one, let me just note that Kristina Abretti here celebrated her 16th birthday this week in St. Petersburg in Russia, which when I was 16 years old was unthinkable, and speaks to how much the world has changed, why we should be optimistic and why we should all value the relationships we are forming here today. Vladimir Putin: Thank you Stephen. Yes, Romano. Romano Prodi: I’d like to thank all the young people who have spoken today, and I think there are two conclusions we can draw that are particularly important for us. But what’s important is that you touched on the same issues that were relevant to us, and sometimes you simplified their scope because you are not limited by everyday life and everyday experience the way we are. So the invitation I’d like to send out to this new generation is to retain their freshness and their commitment. That was something that was reflected in your comments. You talked about tolerance and intolerance: intolerance towards injustice, and it was imperative to point that out, in terms of energy security, poor countries’ access to energy, and a lot of other problems, including education. But at the same time there is extraordinary tolerance among different people, nations, and countries. And the new generation that has all these concepts in their DNA, will I think be able to create a better future for all of us. Thank you. Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much. Yes, Matti. Matti Vanhanen (TRANSLATION): Thank you for your excellent contribution to our discussion. But I have one question for you, if someone can give me an answer. I understood that you also discussed drugs. What should we do to fight drug use? What is the most important issue to take into account? Vladimir Putin: Well, that is a very important question and I think that is the right way to put the question. I mean, you know, I am a practical politician, I have to think in terms of solutions that are feasible, but maybe some of our guests have some ideas on this. French Representative (TRANSLATION): Well, I would like to say that we have to combat the production of drugs because when drugs are there, there will always be people who want to use them, so if we stop their production, if we help the countries where drugs are produced, I think the problem will be solved. Vladimir Putin: The French are always the most daring and they step forward. He’s made the point that it is the issue of supply that is most important, we must fight against production. Yes, Tatyana. Tatyana Ushakova, A Russian Representative: I would certainly agree that production, or perhaps limiting production, reducing production is the most important kind, the most effective kind of solution. But I think that we also need to create appropriate conditions for young people. Young people don’t necessarily start taking drugs on their own initiative, it can be the result of some psychosocial difficulty that they are experiencing, so one thing that can be done, one of the most lofty aims would be to get young people involved in the future of their own countries, to keep them busy, to make them impassioned citizens so that they are interested in what they are doing, in their daily lives, and then of course they won’t have an emptiness that needs to be filled by drugs. And it would also instill spiritual values in them. That is another way to combat the drug problem. Vladimir Putin: I would certainly agree with what you said, but let me stress the fact that you don’t necessarily find drugs where there is poverty, but rather drugs where there is money, I mean, there has to be a market. You don’t sell drugs to people who don’t have any money, and we’ve seen that in the Russian Federation. Obviously, it is important to make it possible for all young people to do what is really important so that they won’t need drugs. Yes, you have the floor. Japanese Representative: In Japan we discussed with a group of people our idea about how to eliminate the drug supply. We should devise a new technology, or an alternative source of revenue, such as sweet potatoes, to stop the cultivation of drugs, and then as I said drug cultivation would stop thanks to the new technology. The new crop or the revenue source must be provided, and we can contribute to this so that people can support themselves. Vladimir Putin: That is undoubtedly a very good idea, since we have to offer an alternative which is effective. You can’t just take something away from people and not offer them something in return. The substitute may generate much less revenue than the production of drugs and so it won’t be as attractive, but if it’s an effective alternative then it can work. I see no further requests for the floor, so, on behalf of my colleagues, I would like to thank you and members of the J8 not only for having come to St. Petersburg and for having participated in this joint meeting but also for expressing your views to us. This G8 will go down in history as the one in which you participated in our joint work. What you have discussed with your peers from other countries while in St. Petersburg is something that will have a big impact on the outcome of our work. Stephen said that it was very pleasant to hear how interested you were in education, and not just education but the other issues of great importance to us. But when Stephen said that, the thought that came to my mind was that in our practical political work we often say that a given issue is important, a given issue is relevant, it’s at the top of the agenda, but unfortunately, and I think my colleagues from the G8 will agree with me, we don’t always find the most effective solutions to solve these important problems. And even though we have a good sense of the importance of the issue, we don’t necessarily find the right way to deal with it, and when our young colleagues talk about the importance of these issues, they should also be working on finding the right solutions to these problems. And I think that as a result of this meeting we, the elder G8, feel a sort of impulse, a fresh wind from the J8. Thanks to your support, to your enthusiasm, to your passion, we will be inspired, I hope, to find better solutions to the world’s problems. Thank you once again for being with us and I wish you a very pleasant stay in St. Petersburg.