Speech at the Session of the Russian-Spanish Civil Society Forum 2009-03-03 14:13:15 Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Mr Prime Minister of Spain! Mr Alvaro Gil-Robles and Igor Sergeyevich Ivanov [co-chairmen of the forum]! Ladies and gentlemen! I would like to warmly welcome you! I am genuinely glad that our countries now have this opportunity to hold a dialogue on issues of great concern to the citizens of our countries. Based on what we have just heard from our two respected co-chairmen, the discussions in the first session of the forum were quite successful. That is how the relations between our two governments should be. The topic of our round tables is, in essence, truly that which concerns civil society, and in recent years, this dialogue has been developing quite successfully in the business sphere, as well as the area of cultural and humanitarian projects, and the fields of media, tourism, communication, and education. I am certain that this forum will promote the development of new ideas and further reinforcement of mutual understanding and trust between our nations. For us, it is quite useful and interesting to examine the transition to democracy that took place in Spain, to acquaint ourselves with the processes of the development of civil society in your country, as well as business organization. I think that this kind of interest, as always, will be reciprocal in nature, but in any case, we are tied by the fact that both of our nations experienced totalitarianism and self-isolation, which means that they have had to pave a path of political, economic, and social transformation. In essence, our countries have had to rid themselves of a terrible disease; at the same time, we cannot make direct analogies – Russia and Spain each had their own experience of transformation, their own experience of developing democratic institutions, their own successes and their own misfortunes. In general, the experience of building a democracy is always unique, and it is only for that reason that democracy exists on our planet. All of these events are histories still being written, in many ways determining our current events, and our future. And today, we must seek common ground in our contradictory and highly complicated world, and open new directions for cooperation, which may affect the prospects of developing relations between our nations. I am certain that our countries have all the preconditions for this, including the intellectual capacity and a capital of business and humanitarian contacts. Currently, our countries, much like many other European countries, are living through a difficult period – a period of economic crisis. When speaking about the crisis, it is common practice to say the same things that were said by Igor Sergeyevich Ivanov: that the crisis is complicated, and that we must overcome the crisis together. Still, all this is true. And indeed, we will need to work together. These great efforts can become productive only in the event that they are based on common values and the common understanding of what a just economic world order is to look like in the upcoming decade. That is why I consider fostering discussions on reforming economic relations and creating a new financial architecture to be very important. The previous financial architecture, which was created during a certain period of history, however good it may be and however much it may appeal to individual governments, is outdated, and nothing can be done to change that. I hope that during the summit which will soon take place in London, all of your governments will be able to achieve a consensus on key questions regarding the modernization of this architecture, and we will begin full-fledged work on creating new conventional rules that will determine the economic development for all the world’s population in the upcoming decades. I think that it is important not only to begin this discussion, but also to create an adequate legal framework. If we cannot create one, we will continue to face crises similar to the one happening today, many more times. For the moment, the patterns and intermittence of this crisis are not yet fully clear. That means that we must try to determine its patterns. This is exactly why, among other things, we are counting on forums such as the one underway today in Madrid. I think that we must act, and we must work with motivation. I have heard about the kinds of issues that were discussed today. I feel that it is very beneficial to continue discussions on the full range of these issues, such as business ties, which truly unite our nations. The trade turnover between our countries last year was close to 10 billion. Is that a lot or a little? It is probably both: compared to the amount from ten years ago, this figure is astronomical; but compared to what could be, this figure is probably rather ordinary. Naturally, the discussions which are being held regarding key issues of business cooperation are quite interesting. Cooperation in such spheres as energy, the creation of new alternative forms of energy and new kinds of fuel on our planet, the use of traditional sources of energy, so-called fossil fuels – all of these are issues that tie us and issues that sometimes cause problems. And I feel that we must discuss such problems openly, face to face, and try to overcome these problems with the help of the aforementioned modern legal mechanisms. I feel that discussions on humanitarian issues – issues regarding the function and modern development of media in the global age – are quite useful. I feel that it is very productive to discuss major humanitarian projects, such as tourism and the development of cultural ties. In this respect, our countries have made great strides in recent years, so we sincerely count on your input in all of these issues. Ladies and gentlemen! The relations between Russia and Spain have already spanned more than five centuries, although, as I have just said, the modern phase of these relations has not been very long – only a few decades. The mutual sympathy that binds our nations and our people is very important. It binds us in all aspects, including critical, key aspects of cooperation such as language. I feel that we must do everything in order to develop educational programs. Today we had a forum of university rectors – a very large event. To be fully honest, I was even somewhat surprised when I found out that the Russian Federation alone was represented by thirty heads of higher education institutions. Naturally, equally large numbers of rectors from Spanish and Latin American universities were also present. It was a good event. I hope that the next event of this kind will take place in Moscow. We have great potential for cooperation. I am certain that this forum has a bright future, and I can assure you that we will always support the work of the forum on an official level. I invite you all to Moscow. Thank you!