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Video: The Medvedev G8 Interview

I usually don’t bother posting videos from the government-run news/pr outlet Russia Today (they tend to have a certain slant), but honestly it becomes hard to avoid with the amount of content with which they flood the internet. Bearing this in mind, the following news clip has a quick summary and footage of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s “secret presser” with foreign media ahead of the G8 meeting. We hear that foreign TV crews were not allowed to bring their cameras to the meeting, so Russia Today is all we have. Click here and here to see the full unedited interview footage which I am not able to embed. Full transcripts after the cut.

From Russia Today:

Dmitry Medvedev’s interview with G8 media – part 1President Dmitry Medvedev has mapped out his vision of Russia’s role in the world in a question-and-answer session with foreign journalists ahead of next week’s G8 summit. This is Part 1 of the full version of the interview.D. MEDVEDEV: Hello to everyone! I’m waiting for your questions. I can say a couple of words. I’m glad to see all of you. It’s great that it’s summer in Moscow.D. STILE: Dmitry Anatolievich, Mister President!It’s a great honour for us to have an opportunity to sit near you on the eve of your first participation in the G-8 summit. Not only your partners in the G-8 but also the Russian press and the Russian people have a great interest in your views as President of Russia. That is why first of all I’d like to thank you for inviting us here for this interview.My first question is as follows: During the last few weeks you said that the global economic system is not effective. You were even criticising the US and you said that new economic mechanisms need to be put in place. I wanted to ask what mechanisms do you offer and how would they work?D. MEDVEDEV: Thank you!I’m also glad to talk to you on the eve of the G-8 summit. I will tell you about my views and preferences on the main agenda of the upcoming summit with pleasure.First of all, the present global economic system can’t satisfy anyone. Despite the fact that there are several islands of economic stability, the parameters of the international economy are very complicated. Last year’s financial crisis led to the problem of money liquidity. Several key players were affected by the crisis. The crisis has shattered confidence towards the American mortgage system and was accompanied by different negative processes in the macroeconomic sphere.In particular, as a result of policy changes among several leading states the problem of inflation which affects nearly every World economy was heightened. In some countries, inflation growth is higher, in others it is lower, but still the figures are quite significant. In the EU the rate of inflation is higher than the critical figure which is 3 % a year. We have recently talked about it with my European colleagues.Russia has also suffered certain difficulties because of its economic and financial system.Firstly, interest rates got higher.Secondly, we also were influenced by inflation rates and did not manage to stay within the figures that were considered optimal for this year. It happened last year but this year the inflation rate also needs improvement. That’s why whole government policy is aimed at coping with inflation and setting the figures we consider optimal which can be compared to the inflation rate of developed countries. So, the condition of the global economic market is rather complicated. And it is obvious that institutions that were created in the 70s or even the 60s now can’t cope with the tasks they are trying to cope with. That’s where the idea to adjust this financial system came from. First of all, it should be more fair. It should consider a number of risks that are topical nowadays. It should also consider the negative experience related to mortgage systems. It should consider the negative experience which happens when an economy overheats: in the World economy on the whole and in economies of individual countries. The mortgage system crisis affected not only the US. In the US it appeared in the strongest way but other countries also had this problem. The mortgage system should consider the situation with funds and should be modernised.What should be done about it? We need to formulate these proposals and start negotiations about how the new system would look like. Several states are preparing these proposals, including Great Britain. We are also preparing proposals.I’m speaking about attempting to solve the problems that we have already got now and to make this system more flexible, more suited to today’s needs, learning to manage the processes that led to a significant change on the global financial market. This is not an easy task and, what is more, it does not necessarily mean that today’s financial structures created over several decades should be broken. But it should be modified and should become more modern, more protected from risks and should not be nationally egotistic, it should instead be more fair in relations between states. The new system can not be oriented towards only one country of one currency. In future it should be based on the harmony of leading economies, on their substantial growth and on the principle of several reserve currencies. We consider this multicurrency approach quite important when the dollar is stable, not weak, as it is today. We have other reserve currencies which help the World economy and individual states to cope with the problems they have. We are speaking about European currencies and the ideas that are formulated in the East today. We are also speaking about making the rouble a regional reserve currency in future. But it can’t be done only with a Presidential decree. It is done as a consequence of a smoothly running economy and accepting this or that financial instrument which can be used by other partners.The fact that we started developing an open trade of oil derivatives for roubles is a step towards making the rouble a regional reserve currency, even more so that the aim to make the rouble convertible within and outside the country was reached. Now we want the rouble to be perceived as stable and sustainable. And this aim can be reached.Thus, I think that the agenda of improving the macroeconomic situation in the World is overcoming global economic problems.K. LEVI: Dear President, my question is about John McCain. As you know, he called for the expulsion of Russia from the G-8. If he wins the election would it be difficult for Russia to establish good relations with the United States?D. MEDVEDEV: You know, I suppose that the steadiness of the American economy in a crisis – and the American Finance Minister Mr Poulsen told me about it yesterday – is possible because the US tries to conduct a balanced policy. And this policy should not depend on who is at the helm. That’s why I don’t want to comment on separate announcements made during the election campaign. As far as I know, no one was speaking about it lately. It is quite obvious that announcements concerning expelling Russia from the G-8 or trying to put pressure on the country can’t be considered seriously. The G-8 exists not because someone likes it or not, but because it consists of the world’s largest economies and the most serious political actors. The attempts to limit one of the actors would harm the whole global order.I think this question is not worth further discussion. I’m convinced that any American Administration, if it wants to succeed in overcoming the depression that exists in the American economy, should conduct a pragmatic policy inside and outside the country.D. ARMSTRONG: Mr. President, are you going to continue Mr. Putin’s policy?Do you think that Putin’s policy promoted stability in Russia?There is evidence that in many aspects life became worse: the level of corruption and crime remained the same, government bureaucracy became even higher. Are you planning to act differently in some field? And if you are, then in which fields?Thank you.D. MEDVEDEV: Every responsible government – as the US government – should conduct stable and balanced policy. That’s why we have settled our priority development for the next 15-20 years 8 years ago and are not changing the course we have taken. We want to make Russia a developed country with a strong economy and social sphere, to overcome poverty, corruption, to have friendly relations with our neighbours. These priorities can’t be changed, no matter who is the head of the Russian state. I think this is something that can’t be changed and I’m convinced that that’s what people want from us.As far as the details and emphases go, they are surely changing. Some problems are easily solved but some can’t even be moved from deadlock. One of the main problems is corruption. Unfortunately, we’ve done little to solve it. And Putin was speaking about it in his final press-conference. And now, when we have already achieved a certain success in the economic sphere, we should start dealing with this problem because it is impossible to eradicate corruption in a poor country. Corruption is much easier to be restricted in a developing country that is becoming richer.Thus, the emphases in internal and external policy are to be changed. Besides, the style of each politician and President is different. If not and people were all the same, then citizens would get bored and that wouldn’t make anyone happy. But I’m convinced the main aim should remain unchanged: we should work on our priorities because our country and our people are interested in that.F. NODE-LUNGLAU: An additional question on corruption. In March, you had said that you would like to change people’s approach, that in Russia people unwillingly comply with forms of law. And, as was mentioned by Chubays in St. Petersburg, the reforms, I quote: “will be effective, if there are no competitive political mechanisms, if there is no strong opposition.” Do you support this point of view?D. MEDVEDEV: You know, corruption is, obviously, an opportunity to use one’s monopoly position to fulfil, usually selfish needs. A person has exclusive resources and uses them in non-governmental ways, but for one’s personal gain. That’s why any type of competition is beneficial. Why do we want to introduce competitive procedures into economics? Precisely because if there is a choice among several options, a corrupt decision would not happen.A competition of political forces is also needed for the political system to be stable.The system based on one party’s right to the truth had shown its weakness about 20 years ago. It could not cope with the new challenges and became obsolete. That’s why, to ensure the competitiveness of our country in a global framework, we have to use political competition as well. But it needs to be reasonable. It’s competition, built in the right way. It’s competition in the framework of laws of those political forces that are aiming for normal competition and aiming for a better future for Russia. Without such competition, of course, an effective fight against corruption would be impossible.V. GUREVICH: Dmitry Anatol’evich, you’ve listed a few of the global crises, which, perhaps to a certain extent, we are facing. And they came, in a rather short period of time, everything started happening in the second half of last year. Meanwhile the G-8 is a traditional format. It gets ready for a long time and without a precise bureaucracy, beforehand. To what extent do we and all the world leaders and world powers manage to react to crises that occur day to day? Is there, perhaps, an additional need for new formats as well as G8 like a quickly assembled “eight”, where world powers could gather together straight away to make a decision.D. MEDVEDEV: Some crises happen fast, some can be easily predicted, when you have a detailed analysis of a situation. I had a meeting with aides regarding getting ready for the “eight”. I have just come here from that meeting. We were remembering that there are a lot of worrying trends, for instance, on the mortgage market a year ago in Heiligendamm that was pointed out by the Russian Federation. Having said that, not everything we said then was actually heard. On the contrary, it caused surprise. “Well, no, everything is fine, we will take care of it, it will be fine,” they said. Experience shows that not everything can be managed that fast.Why am I using this example? It’s obvious, that meeting and exchanging information on the most problematic issues, for heads of states, that represent the largest economies and generally the largest countries, is essential. The eight, for this purpose is not a bad place. But you are right, it is prepared beforehand. It does not mean that, for example the agenda that was made up 10 years ago or a year ago, is prevailing.The G8 in its development has seen different stages. When it just came into being, states were discussing just economic issues, like in G8. In essence, this was an answer to a series of crises that happened at the time, like the energy crisis, and other problems. Than the G8 started to get politicised, the G7 and then the G8 had started to examine political challenges as well, that are faced by the states, faced by the participants in this framework. At some point economic questions had vanished all together from the agenda. And here is the result – we need as two main topics, that no one thought about last year, to consider finance, economics and the food crisis. Events have amended the agenda in their own right. The agenda that was prepared beforehand, was simply out of date. The objective of the leaders is to take the right decisions in such situations. We will consider the main, and the most relevant question – the world economy, food crisis, the environment and climate change.Moreover, taking into consideration the growth of other states, new formats start to emerge. The G8 now works not just as an actual “eight.” An outreach format has emerged, that includes another five states.During this G8 summit yet another three states will be invited to discuss a number of certain key issues, I mean South Korea, Indonesia and Australia. Thus “the eight” as an institution, as a mechanism, so to speak is expanding when it comes to considering the most difficult issues and it’s good. Its size increases. And these decisions, that the participating countries discuss, and those recommendations that they work out are all based not just on opinions of these eight states but a larger number of states whose voice in economic life, and in life on our planet generally are quite prominent.That’s why, I think, it’s a rational format for considering issues. But it’s perfectly obvious, there are situations, when one needs to react urgently. And in this respect, perhaps, it’s not necessary for all the states to gather but there should be mechanisms that make finance ministers, energy ministers, ministers of agriculture to meet just for a few days and report to their superiors and then to make decisions. These kinds of decisions we are preparing right now, including those for discussion at the G8.V. GUREVICH: Thank you.K. ICHIKAVA.: Thank you, Mr. President.Japan anxiously awaits your arrival to Hokkaido to the G8. What kind of impression would you like to give on Japan’s people and the government?Over the last few years, bilateral trade and economic relations between the Russian Federation and Japan have significantly improved. Despite that, political relations are not developing dynamically enough because of continuing territorial disputes. Because of that, a peace deal has not been reached to this day. President Putin had tried to solve this issue basing it on a statement from 1956 by Russia and Japan, which said two islands remained within the Soviet Union and two belonged to Japan. However, the issue remains unsolved. And how do you plan to solve this problem? Thank you.D. MEDVEDEV: Japan is our very significant partner in international relations and in the economic sector. We are satisfied with the development of our economic relations with Japan. Perhaps, it isn’t an ideal scheme. But generally the growth shown by both of our economies is very good. Trade turnover is more than 20 billion dollars. We have many large deals that involve Russian and Japanese companies. There are large investment projects, aimed for the future, with good prospects. Plus a number of projects on global scale. Not so long ago a decision was taken to allocate more than five billion dollars to the “Sakhalin-2” project. This numbers are significant on a global scale as well. In other words, on the whole, I consider the situation in the economic sector to be very productive.On the whole, as far as our trade and economic relations are concerned, they have never been better. That’s the first thing I would like to say.Secondly, our countries that are located close to one another, despite the differences in their historical ways, and cultures, have common values. These values unite us during our work in the United Nations, during summits on the level such as the G8 summit, and generally in other international frameworks. In a significant amount of issues, our countries have a shared position, in particular, when we react to the main threats and challenges faced by humanity such as terrorism, narcotics, and the world economic situation, and climate change. It’s these sectors where practically most of the issues are understood by us in a similar way. It gives the chance for a way forward.We do have one topic, on which we could not reach an agreement, that is the border question and the signing of a treaty related to it. I think, that we firstly do not need to dramatise this situation. We need to move forward, need to discuss this topic in accordance with those declarations made earlier. We should not aim to reach a maximum result in a short period, because, most likely it’s impossible, but we should also discuss those ideas that are already out there, and those that are being formed too.Talks have never been interrupted. I have mentioned it to Japan’s Prime Minister, Mr. Fokuda, when we met in Moscow. We are ready to continue dialogue on all issues.It seems to me, most importantly, on the one hand, not to expect any miracles here, on the other hand, not to weaken relations, to work in a friendly atmosphere. In this case we have all the chances to reach an agreement on this problem. Especially, it’s very obvious, that settling this issue will further help improvement of the economic and cultural ties between our countries. I’m going to stress again, that these ties are quite diverse. I have said about economics, but we have normal inter-personal relations that are developing nicely and our citizens communicate with pleasure and monitor cultural events, different groups from Russia visit Japan, and Japanese groups visit Russia, different other events take place.I can share my impressions with you with pleasure. Yesterday I went to an exhibition dedicated to the samurai culture, that is taking place at the Kremlin. An interesting show, it’s rather large but very informative, giving a good impression of this very unique page in development of the Japanese history and culture. I mean battle artifacts, and domestic things that are on display. It was very interesting for me. Events of ths kind, definitely, bring people closer; their number needs to be increased.L. MAISANO: Mr. President, the oil price is 143 dollars now. What is Russia thinking of doing? Are you preparing some sort of proposal to the “eight” on the issue? Do you think OPEC is still an efficient mechanism for solving such problems?D. MEDVEDEV: The situation with prices for energy producers is in fact very difficult because it impacts on the general condition of the world economy. Naturally, energy security will be at the centre of discussions at the summit. It’s one of those questions that we are planning to discuss. By the way, I would like to point out, that all suggestions and recommendations as well as most of the conclusions that were made during the time the Russian Federation was heading the “group of eight” and the St. Petersburg summit, we were absolutely successful in the sense that we adequately analysed the situation. Of course, forecasts are rather difficult to make, but even last year it was obvious that these changes would be made to this sector.I gave this example today, and I will say it to you as well. A year ago, I met with your colleagues, and they asked me about oil prices. I told them that oil would cost $150. Their reaction was naturally quite emotional. I was told that it would be almost impossible in the near future. Unfortunately for the global economy, prices continue to rise. And I think that we need to look at this situation, not just from the standpoint of consumer countries, but from the standpoint of those countries that produce and transfer oil. Only in that case we can make any kind of balanced decision. On its own, the rising cost of energy and gas products is a given that we have to take into consideration. There are lot of positive aspects for those countries that produce oil, and a lot of downfalls for those who consume it. The general situation is of course much more complicated, and I have spoken about this several times, and am willing to repeat it – it is impossible for our country to just gear our economy towards energy. It is evident that if we put money into the energy sector, it will be good. But any attempt to replace other branches of the economy with it, will lead to a complete degradation of the Russian economy. Because of this we have to build our investments in way that ensures a diversification of our economic development. And this is why this process has to be closely monitored by countries, especially those who hold key positions in an international economic arena. I think that right now there are no answers to the significant part of these questions, but a certain consulting mechanism should be set in place.As far as the potential of OPEC or of other international structures is concerned, our international experience tells us that their potential cannot be exaggerated. Not all decisions that are made by OPEC countries can have a long term influence over the cost of gas, just like withholding a decision will not lead to a calming of the markets. This is why I am under the impression that we need more complex and modern mechanisms, I mean, the consultation mechanisms between producer, consumer, and transfer countries. This is what we insisted on during the St. Petersburg summit. This especially was written into an appropriate declaration. And we plan to build our energy policy based on this.M. LUDWIG: Mr President, a few days ago in Berlin you suggested taking a time-out on unresolved issues between Russia and the West, like making NATO larger, and so on. The world keeps on turning. With that in mind, is there a chance that Russia will end its blockade at the UN Security Council, of the EU’s civic mission in Kosovo, because the situation there is very complicated and could lead to anarchy.D. MEDVEDEV: – First of all, Russia does not have a blockade at the Security Council. We made our position on Kosovo clear. We have not changed our minds. It was formulated some time ago, and it stays as is. We think that the Kosovo precedent is dangerous, and unfortunate. We think that the decision is not an individual one but one that sets a precedent.And Europe will have to deal with the consequences for many decades to come. Moreover, this position will most certainly be used by a group of other separatist movements, for justifying their actions.Let’s not muddy the waters here.As far the situation at the Security Council is concerned, our position did not change. We think that the UN should have the appropriate jurisdiction. And we have made that position clear. We were in turn surprised by the position of the UN Secretary General, who by-passed the Security Council, put together a declaration about the replacement of those jurisdictions. But these decisions cannot be made by the UN Secretary General alone; it falls under the jurisdiction of the Security Council. And secondly, it is quite strange that the Security Council did not respond to the statements made by the Secretary General. This is why we confirm our position on the UN, in the situation when there are conflicting parties, when there are countries that are categorically against this trend, and I am referring to Serbia here. And there are other countries that under no condition will agree to recognize Kosovo, and there are quite a few of them.And the recognition process is going much slower than the founding fathers of this idea had hoped.All of this reinforces the need for a calm and balanced course of action in this situation. And we think that only the UN and the Security Council can be the platform for this discussion. So, all peacekeeping forces have to be sanctioned in accordance with the UN Founding Charter, and resolution 1244.K. LEVY: I wanted to ask a question about the relationship of Russia and its nearest neighbours. Do you think that Russia should put forth an effort to support and develop democracy in former CIS countries? And can, in your opinion, Belarus or Uzbekistan be considered democratic countries?D. MEDVEDEV: And which can be considered democratic in your opinion? Aside from these? Are others democratic?L. LEVY: That’s up to…D. MEDVEDEV: In my opinion? I see.I think that we have a good, friendly relationship with all former CIS countries. And that’s a good thing, because after the Soviet Union ended its existence, we did not create anything that would unify everyone, with the exception of the Baltic States. And the CIS could be treasured. Naturally, we are going to move in the direction of other integration opportunities, and will use other integration platforms, like the EurAsEC, like the united economic space, we will develop our contacts in the realm of the organization of security support, I mean the Collective Treaty Security Organization. So, our relationships with our partners are based on a fairly serious international base.As far as individual support is concerned for some or all of those countries, I think that the best way is to support the already existing government. Democracy cannot be something that is advocated for from the outside. We see that time and time again. The experience of building effective democracies in Afghanistan or Iraq shows us that money is not enough to install democratic values.This experience requires decades, and political practice based on serious, hard work from civil society. It can’t come in the form of humanitarian aid.The same can be said of these countries, that are similar to us both culturally, and historically. Every country has its own political process, in some places this goes faster, in others it is slower. This always has to do with a state’s identity, its people, and its traditions. It is evident that this sort of choice can’t be imposed by close partners, or by distant ones either. Nevertheless, I think that since the fall of the Soviet Union, all members of the CIS, all countries that were created in that post-Soviet space, have come a long way. Their political system is quite different from what it was 15 or 20 years ago. Some countries went through several changes of power, changes in their political system, changes in the constitution. In other cases, everything remained more or less stable. And I wouldn’t say that the countries whose constitutions and political systems changed more rapidly are better off democratically speaking, than those that were more stable.This is really a question of assessment, and it’s not up to me to do that. Secondly, this is an internal affair of the countries themselves, so it is the business of the people who live in these countries. They vote for a certain order, for the laws brought in by their parliaments.This is why I think that almost all countries formed in the wake of the Soviet Union, have a long and difficult road ahead in creating their own democratic values. I wouldn’t want to idealise the situation in our country, because we have a young and imperfect democracy, but we are trying to develop it step by step, on the basis of the constitutional system that we have. In my opinion, our constitution provides a sufficient basis for the development of our country for a long time to come. I mean of course the basic constitutional values, because there are always finer nuances, but the basic framework of the constitution should not change. I have repeatedly talked about this. I think, for instance, that introducing a parliamentary democracy in the Russian Federation would lead to the country’s downfall, with all due respect to the parliamentary form of democracy. In order to remain a single state, Russia should continue to be a presidential republic for decades, if not for centuries.Why am I talking about this? Because the path to democracy is different for everyone. And it is important not to rush that process, to give the people’s democratic goals an opportunity to develop. Only then will the democracy be stable, and only then will it ensure adequate development in the country for years to come.

From Russia Today:

Dmitry Medvedev’s interview with G8 media – part 2President Dmitry Medvedev has mapped out his vision of Russia’s role in the world in a question-and-answer session with foreign journalists ahead of next week’s G8 summit. This is Part 2 of the full version of the interview.D. STILL: Russia’s relationship with Britain is the coldest; the most tense of all European countries. You even called the British Council a nest of spies. How can we solve this crisis? What steps are you looking to see from PM Gordon Brown, or are you ready to take an initiative to start a new page in the relationship?D. MEDVEDEV: I spoke with Prime Minister Gordon Brown not so long ago, we had a nice, calm conversation. We agreed to see each other at the G8. Not that long ago, my aid visited Great Britain to discuss the details of that meeting. The preparations are being made. I think that this contact, this meeting should be helpful, especially considering that we currently have great economic ties, like never before. We have large investments, enormous commercial contacts. And our goal is not to politicise this area, but to calmly develop it.And on the issues where we have a difference of opinion, or some sort of problems, we just need to discuss them eye to eye. There is nothing uncanny about any of this.The relationship between Russian and Britain has been in existence for centuries. Frankly, we’ve seen situations tougher than this.D. STILL: You are ready to do something from your end, to begin new…D. MEDVEDEV: Any international relationship is always a situation where both sides are moving towards each other. It is an opportunity to reach compromises, to hear your partner, otherwise, it won’t work. Of course, Russia is ready to take steps towards Britain, but we are looking for the same steps from our British partners.D. STILL: How many times have you been to England, to Great Britain?D. MEDVEDEV: Good question.D. STILL: What memories do you have?D. MEDVEDEV: I’ve been to London, probably no less than five times. London is a great city, beautiful, very stiff upper lip, truly British. It is one of the leading financial centres of the world. Currently, from the economic point of view, it is easier to work there, than in New York, for example, if we talk about the stock exchange. I’ve been to London for many reasons, to meet with my colleagues in Downing Street, and briefly have been there on holiday. I like London, it’s a good city.D. ARMSTRONG: Mr. President, you have a reputation of a liberal. Do you really consider yourself a liberal? And what does this word mean in Russia?D. MEDVEDEV: You know, I’ve never tried to classify myself, people are definitely much more complex than any labels pinned on them. On the other hand, the entirety of a person’s actions makes it possible to characterize them, to claim that they hold conservative views, or liberal views, or socialist, or radical.Taking into account that I’m quite a young president, I would refrain from classifying myself. It’s not up to me anyway. What I can confirm however is that I do possess all the basic values, which I was given at university, and which I think of as fundamental. It’s a matter of taste how to characterize them, but what I’m sure of is this: law passed by parliament should always take priority over by-laws and acts. We should fight neglect of the law and legal nihilism; the economy should be based on market values, and property rights should always be protected. This is my position which I developed way back, during my university studies. There are also values to do with human rights, which I absorbed then. These are laid out in our Constitution. Human rights and human freedoms are subject to unconditional protection and are the priorities of any state activity and policy. And now it’s up to you, how to characterize such a set of values.D. ARMSTRONG: And an additional question: should the press be independent and free, should the mass media be free from state control?D. MEDVEDEV: If we are talking about the state, then I shall say that the state is a very valuable invention of mankind. Today you can’t be called a reasonable person if you deny the value of state mechanisms. But extremes are impermissible. A state which degenerates into dictatorship is an extreme, it prevents development, suppresses freedoms and frequently kills people. On the other hand, a state which self-destructs, which in fact is more of an amorphous mass, unable to solve and state tasks, is as dangerous as a dictatorship. But, as you know, the extremes meet. The history of our country has seen both. And both, at different times, ended in catastrophe. In the 1920s, our state practically turned into dust, and a dictatorial regime grew out of it. Then the dictatorship ended too – it lost its power gradually, turning into other forms of statehood, and finally dying.Therefore, I’m certainly not a follower of statism, or the prevalence of state over law, on the contrary, I’m for a state which develops within a civilized, modern, democratic, legal model.F. NODE-LANGLOIS: Dmitry Anatolievich, one French parliamentarian, a member of the party of the President, recently visited Russia, met and supported the mother of Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Though he said he’s unfamiliar with the details of his criminal case, it’s evident that from his point of view, and here I quote: “there was a political aspect to this criminal case”.And here I have a question: do you consider such a trip of a foreign politician to Russia as interference in the internal affairs of your country?D. MEDVEDEV: Criminal law and criminal processes in a state are subject to that state’s national legislation. And all the decisions made by national judges can’t be directly cancelled by any international court. There’s a special procedure for appealing these decisions, but this procedure is based on good will and conventional agreements. International courts are not a higher instance than national courts. I’ve commented on this topic more than once. I think that all procedures in our country shall be lawful and based on our procedural, material and criminal law. Any attempts to somehow influence the court position – I’m not even mentioning the position of the state, because the state shouldn’t have any stand on this… Only law enforcement bodies should have a position regarding the criminal prosecution of any person, including Khodorkovsky. If they think it’s necessary – they open a case against a person and then the lawyers should take their own stance. It’s clear that the main purpose of lawyers is to look for different flaws in a case. And then finally a court should have its own position.The state however should not have any standpoint. And while I lead the country and am the President of the Russian Federation this will remain my key position. We shall isolate the judicial authorities from any influence from private individuals, business corporations and state bodies. And this is my answer.V. GUREVICH: Over the last few years, Russia has accumulated, and now has at its disposal the largest financial resources in a decade. We now have a stable reserve fund, and so on. There’s an idea that foreign investments aren’t that necessary when there’s such a large influx of oil money, and lots of opportunities for easy borrowing. This is not the general view, but nevertheless it’s quite popular. For several years we’ve been trying to do something with our legislation, too, trying to understand who we want to let in to what areas, and who we don’t. It was a long process. Can we finally say that we’ve reached a clear final position, clear both to us and to our foreign partners, as to whom, and to what extent, we’re ready to let in? This debate was very long, so could we say we’ve managed to come up with any kind of answer?I’m asking because yesterday I read that you’ve reduced the list of strategic enterprises two-fold.D. MEDVEDEV: But strategic enterprises don’t mean foreign investments. These are separate things. And what is your question?V. GUREVICH: Do you think that the position on foreign investments to Russia that you’re now ready to present to the international community is clear first of all to ourselves and is final?D. MEDVEDEV: The Russian Federation does need foreign investment. And this is an unconditional conclusion. The question is – what and where. The economic situation in Russia is really not bad, regardless of those macroeconomic problems which I mentioned earlier and the global economic crisis. Nevertheless we haven’t stopped, we are moving forward and developing, there’s investment into the most important sectors of our economy, into its infrastructure, we finally started investing into the social sphere and education and we’ll continue with all this. But foreign investments remain quite necessary.Firstly, a number of problems can be solved only with the help of foreign investors who have either enough experience or are able to consolidate considerable financial resources,Secondly, the influx of foreign investment generally shows the state of the economy – is it healthy or stagnant, or ready to collapse. In this sense foreign investments could be called an indicator of market development and, if you will, of economic freedom. A state which isolates itself from foreign investment couldn’t be called a free state, that’s evident. But the question remains – who will invest and where. We have major debates on these issues. Not inside Russia – here we’ve solved these questions and have answered them openly. Five years ago foreign investors were begging me: “Please pass a law where you set certain spheres where you don’t want us present at all or only in co-operation with Russian structures.” We’ve passed such a law, but it’s a global problem. And even while preparing the documents for the G8 summit, we discussed issues of foreign investment and strategic industries. Our partners agree that the only grounds for not letting foreign investments into a country are security issues. Each state interprets these in its own way.Our own interpretation is not the toughest one. I won’t name other countries but their laws (I specially read them) are much more tough, and much more remains at the discretion of their administrative bodies. We have it all set out – which investments, who makes the decisions and so on, whereas in a number of other states it’s stipulated that this or that committee or ministry reserves the right to make the final decision. So we went along the moderate way, and I think our situation is quite simple. There are areas in which foreign investments are welcome, and there are some where foreign investments shall be agreed upon with state structures but on the whole are also welcome.H. ICHIKAVA: Global security remains one of the most important issues, discussed by the G8 countries. The nuclear programmes of North Korea still raise concerns. What programmes will Russia, Japan and other countries pursue to provide higher security? What measures will Russia take to neutralize the nuclear programme of North Korea? The Japanese people lay great hopes on Russia in this issue. We would like to know what possible co-operation we could expect from you – the new President?D. MEDVEDEV: Were you asking about Iran as well or only about North Korea? I didn’t hear – they were putting the tea on here!N. TIMAKOVA.: About North Korea…D. MEDVEDEV: Only North Korea?H. ICHIKAVA: We could broaden the question and ask about Iran.D. MEDVEDEV: All right, good.The situation with the nuclear programmes of both Iran and North Korea – I’ll speak about both together first, then on the separate nuances – of course, this situation is a cause for concern in the United Nations and in our country as well. And we’ve stressed this more than once. All work on these nuclear programmes that we’re taking part in is based on these concerns. Just like other countries, we can’t sit and calmly watch non-transparent nuclear programmes developing. But we try to work on the positive aspects. I always thought and still think (here our position remains unchanged) that for the so-called “problematic programmes” and corresponding states, a system of “positive incentives” is needed. We shouldn’t simply adopt a resolution, which shall be carried out, no matter what, and if you fail, then we will implement strict international sanctions and a military operation to boot. This is a dangerous approach. A system based on real incentives is much more understandable and what is more important, it’s easier to explain, easier to offer to our not-so-simple mediators.Concerning the situation around Iran, in some respects it’s advancing, but in others it remains the same. Unfortunately the efforts made by states involved and the IAEA have not yet produced a breakthrough, but the process should continue. We must encourage the Iranian leadership to demonstrate the transparency of their nuclear programme – only then there’ll be a chance to continue talks about its future. We must take a number of steps and decisions which have already been agreed with the IAEA, and in this case the tension around this programme will ease. We must continue to produce positive incentives. And we must understand how these processes work. We should not make any decisions that contradict the overall course.If we’re holding talks with Iran in different formats, we shouldn’t not take any steps which would provoke the Iranian leadership and which would involve new sanctions. I really don’t see why the EU recently made such a decision, and I touched upon this during my meeting in Khanty-Mansiisk, when I talked to Mr Barroso and Mr Solana. Either we’re talking to them, or we’re trying to pinch our partners for any little reason.Concerning North Korea. The situation there is not simple either, but to my mind, there is some movement forward. The decisions that were recently made, and the steps taken by the North Korean leadership, including the dismantling of nuclear facilities, to my mind, are the right steps.We support all these initiatives, and we are working in co-operation with other states. Not long ago there was a report from China. We also take part in aid programmes to North Korea in order to help normalize the situation on the Korean peninsula in the long run.We fully carry out the obligations placed on the Russian Federation, to supply energy carriers. I’ve been told today that we’ve already supplied over 100 million U.S. dollars worth of black oil – this is a considerable amount. So as far as the situation with the North Korean nuclear programme is concerned, there are advances there. The international community should not amend its position. We should offer our North Korean partners positive motivation, we should help them. Then, there’ll be a chance to deal effectively with this programme, and then the situation as a whole.L. MAYZANO: Mr. President, you’ve been saying recently that you don’t want so many state officials taking part in administering state corporations. Several days ago, Gazprom and Rosneft appointed new CEOs. And they are all political figures. Does this not contradict what you said?D. MEDVEDEV: I would point out two things here. Firstly, I voiced the idea of reducing the number of state representatives in boards of directors four months ago, during the election race. Not because it’s a populist idea, but because I believe it’s right. That’s why it came about at that time. My colleagues – you’ve named some of them – also supported this idea. But to put it into action, we need sufficient independent board members.Secondly, we must follow corporate procedures, because, for instance, the representatives we’re talking about were appointed to Gazprom and Rosneft in accordance with the law before January 31, 2008. The idea appeared – or, to be precise, became concrete – some time later.And thirdly – of course, it depends on what company we’re talking about. I know a lot about the situation in Gazprom. I think that in general, the number of state representatives, state officials, can be reduced both in Gazprom and in other companies. Even now, Gazprom has independent directors. The state’s controlling stake in the company allows it to elect both state officials and independent figures to the board of directors. But to do this, we have to compile a list of these people and decide that they are fit to carry out such decisions. At the same time, they will have to represent the interests of the state, and not their own interests – although corporate rules say that a director has to make decisions for himself.But there are areas where the state issues instructions and it will continue to issue them if a problem is thought to be important. The state is a shareholder, and like any other shareholder it gives instructions to the board of directors. But I think it’s a positive thing that there are more professionals coming to work in the board of directors’ managing bodies. No one has taken this issue off the agenda, especially in relation to major companies. It just has to be done in accordance with our shareholder legislation, within the time limits when it’s actually possible to do it, and bearing in mind the responsibility which rests with this or that major company.If we’re talking about a major company, such as Gazprom or Rosneft, I think that even if there are independent members on the board of directors, a state representative can– and maybe should – head the board, because it’s a very important company. I’ve always said that. We’re not saying it’s necessary for the board to be headed by an independent director, we’re just saying that the decisions made by the board should be more thoroughly thought out, and based on the experience of independent directors. But this mainly applies to major companies.As for smaller companies, I can absolutely admit that independent directors can be elected to head the board, or people who are not state officials. So there are no contradictions here.M. LUDWIG: Mr. President, we’ve recently read about a survey claiming that the young middle class elite which you’d like to develop, which makes up for 60 per cent of the population, the majority of this elite is thinking about leaving Russia. They are your future, they’re professionals, they’re the people who have made it. And, in spite of all this, most of them are thinking about emigrating. What can you do so as not to lose such a valuable generation?D. MEDVEDEV: To be honest, I don’t know what survey you’re talking about.M. LUDWIG: Levada-center.D. MEDVEDEV: Levada-center?M. LUDWIG: Yes.D. MEDVEDEV: What’s the percentage they have?M. LUDWIG: Around 57. And one of the main reasons they’re naming – these people don’t believe they can protect themselves from abuse of power by the administration. They don’t believe in a stable situation in Russia.D. MEDVEDEV: I’ll have a look at this survey. Levada-center is a respectable public opinion research agency. I think, the number of people who want to leave the country for good, to emigrate and settle in other countries, has fallen significantly in the last few years. And I’m not judging by any surveys. I’m judging by the way people I know personally think and feel about it. They aren’t state officials, and you won’t see them in any important institutions. They are ordinary people: small businessmen or simply Russian citizens working on social issues. So we’ll have to look into the figures you’ve mentioned and try to understand what they actually mean. Of course, if people are dissatisfied, they can have all kinds of feelings. Although I think – let me stress it once again – that over the past decade, our people have seen that the grass isn’t greener on the other side, and that you have to work hard anywhere – in Russia and in other countries – to be successful.As far as the business environment is concerned, creating good conditions for living and working is up to the government. We have to create favourable conditions for our citizens. When there’s a lack of such conditions, people want to go somewhere else. In fact, that’s what happened in the early 1990s.Today, economic conditions for working in Russia are quite good, especially for young people and for those who want to start their own business or work on a technological project. Nevertheless, these conditions are not perfect. That’s why we’re working on small business enterprises; that’s why we’re fighting corruption. But on the whole, the situation these days is very different from what it was in the previous decades, or even 10 or 15 years ago. So I think the number of people who associate their future with living abroad is gradually decreasing.It’s also a question of how you pose the question. You know, it’s a delicate business this social technology. It’s a complex thing. But the state has to monitor these processes, and not allow a mass exodus of youth to other countries.I actually think that one of Russia’s unquestionable achievements during the new democratic period is that any person now has the opportunity to go abroad, see what life is like there, work in a foreign country, compare life in Russia and abroad, earn money to get an education, start up a business, and come back here – or, vice versa, work here first and then leave to work somewhere else in the world. The mobility of the population is among the main achievements of democracy. So all this is certainly no cause for a headache, although the government has other causes, for instance, ensuring this mobility through organizational means – I mean visas, and accommodation for people coming and going. So the state must support the younger generation. But on the whole, I think there’s nothing tragic going on. On the contrary, I think we are seeing encouraging tendencies.N.A. TIMAKOVA: Dear colleagues, we’ve been through two pools, as was agreed. I think we still have time for personal questions or clarifications…K. LEVI: A personal question. What are your impressions of your office so far – is it better or worse than you thought it would be, three or five months ago?D. MEDVEDEV: I’ll try to explain. Do you want to ask about the same thing?D. STEELE: How much time do you spend speaking to Mr. Putin each day?D. MEDVEDEV: I’ll start with your question, it’s easier. It depends. Sometimes we call or see each other several times, sometimes we don’t talk at all. Luckily, the state system and decision-making process allow us to solve problems and make decisions without having to call each other all the time. It always depends on the situation.Now, about my feelings. I can honestly say that it certainly didn’t get any easier. I had no illusions that, after being elected and getting into the President’s chair, I’d be able to relax and say: “That’s it, I’ve reached my goal, I’ve been elected to the top state position. Now others can do the work, and I’ll just be the boss”. You can’t think in this way, it’s stupid. Our country has a whole lot of problems, and a poor population. Russia is a country in a fast-changing global environment which is facing a large number of threats. The President of a country like Russia, a powerful state, a large state, a nuclear state, has to work 24 hours a day. In any case, he can’t afford to relax in any situation. I knew that well, when I agreed to take part in the presidential election campaign.But I think each person has his or her own story. I sympathize with my American colleagues, because in America, it often happens that a person is elected President after having experience of working in the Congress or the House of Representatives. But he doesn’t know how the executive branch functions, and it’s a different thing altogether. Of course, you can learn. I am saying this because working in the executive branch for several years gave me tremendous experience, personal experience you can’t get from books, or from talking to your friends, colleagues, or even ex-Presidents. You need to experience it for yourself. In this sense, I think I’ve had enough training in tackling state problems. I’ve faced a considerable part of these problems before, only on a different level, when I was helping the President solve them, or making my own decisions when I was in the government.Still, life goes on. It’s essentially the same work. But it’s a different level of responsibility. This responsibility is yours alone and there’s no person in the whole world who can take it from you. There’s no one who can decide for you. There are people you can ask for advice, and Vladimir Putin is one of them. He has a lot of experience, and he’s a very popular politician. But, in the end, it’s up to you to make the decision. And, if this decision is wrong, you will be responsible. And this changes the whole thing, changes the very idea of how to work.M. LUDWIG: After you were elected, you said some people will try to undermine your relations with Vladimir Putin. Mr. Surkov recently said, I quote: “certain destructive powers in the country are trying to ‘drive a wedge’ between you and Mr. Putin”. Is this true? And what are these ‘destructive powers’?D. MEDVEDEV: Each person has the right to comment on events and processes. My colleagues are also doing it, it’s perfectly normal. I’m sure that the current configuration of power does not suit some Russian politicians. It probably doesn’t suit a certain part of the population. But that’s what democracy is all about. When the election is over, and the head of state has been elected by the majority of the vote, the head of state chooses a government, and that’s the way it works. So I accept that someone may not like the current situation. I’ll say once again: this is perfectly normal.But naming these destructive forces would be a farce. I’m not fond of conspiracy theories. In life, things are much more simple. It’s obvious that any advanced country has a system of political competition. So it’s normal that Russia does, too. But this political competition shouldn’t turn into a violent anti-constitutional struggle. Our country had enough of this in the 20th century. It’s the President’s job to keep track of the situation in the country, to make sure that laws are observed, and that the rights and freedoms of citizens are not infringed upon. The opposition should be able to freely express its position and opinions in state bodies, in the legislative branch, in parliament and in the street – but this should always be done according to the law. All the rest is a matter of individual evaluation.M. LUDWIG: A very special question. As far as I know, you’ve been taking part in helping develop a new relationship between Russia’s centre and the regions. This was done to abolish the system of agreements, which existed in Russia in Boris Yeltsin’s time. But there’s still one example of a special ‘agreement’ left – between the centre and Tatarstan. Why is this, and how long is it going to continue?D. MEDVEDEV: If we’re speaking about federations, each federation is unique. Our federation is also unique, in its own way. Although Russia has formally been a federation for the last 100 years, the real federation only appeared in the legal sense in recent times. Before that, it wasn’t a federation at all, for all the obvious reasons.Our federation is not a simple one. We have a number of national territorial units, which explains the necessity of signing agreements with these regions. Most federations in the world don’t have agreements between their territorial units, their relations are based on the constitution even if there have been prior negotiations and agreements. This is the nature of the Federal Republic of Germany, this is the nature of the United States of America.But a federation is a living body. That’s why, at a certain point, we started moving forwards to a more modern, more efficient federal system. Of course, this can’t be done in a day, or even a year. There are units which believe this component is important. And we respect their position, because it’s an issue of state unity, it’s an issue of our friendly relations. Some units in the Russian Federation believe that today such agreements are obsolete. That’s why we’ll be developing our federation smoothly, keeping all these aspects in mind. The final result of a federation’s development should be an efficient federation – a federation which is able to protect the rights and freedoms of its citizens, a federation which is a united, powerful state. There are plenty of examples of this on our planet.