Monday, April 6, 2009

Medvedev G20 Meds

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was generally satisfied with his meetings at the G20 Summit in London, having covered a wide range of issues - from the economy to global security to relations with America and with Russian neighbors.

At a
press conference after the summit, President Medvedev called the forum a major step forward compared to the previous one. "If the first summit in Washington was somewhat introductory - some of the things that we discussed were very general in nature - now, it is very different," said the Russian leader. According to him, the joint declaration that has just been adopted contains a very specific set of topics and decisions on overcoming the global financial and economic crisis.
"In this sense, I believe that the work which was carried out, culminated in the proper result. This is a step forward, a step in the right direction," said Medvedev, admitting also that the attending parties have not been able to resolve all issues.

Medvedev also stressed that G20 members will get back to discussing the idea of a "supranational currency," which has been suggested by the Russian side:

"No one expected that today we are going to take a decision on this subject. The challenge now is for our national currencies to feel normal, but that does not mean that we are satisfied with the overall situation of national reserve currencies," explained the President. Medvedev also remained positive on his meeting with the US President Barack Obama, calling him a "constructive man" who gave very specific answers to the questions raised:
"I am glad that I got acquainted with the President of the United States. It was a good meeting. It seemed to me that we have been able to establish contact. There are many topics on which he and I see eye-to-eye - that I can say with absolute precision," said Medvedev, stating that there were still differences with the American side on many issues.

One common area with the US is the issue of financial bonuses at companies that are receiving government assistance. According to Medvedev, heads and CEOs of companies that get such assistance must "behave decently" and limit the size of their bonuses: "It is up to the companies whether to pay bonuses or not. But if a company is public or a company is owned by the state in whole or in substantial part, I believe that our dear managers, directors of the companies must practice self-restraint, even if they already have agreed to pay a high compensation," said Russian President.

At the summit, President Medvedev also spoke with the students at the London School of Economics, answering questions on Russia's relationship with the West and NATO. He briefly touched on the subject of protests in London, which led to some unrest in the city, saying that people should have the right to protest, but that he gets tense when talking about it: "I grew up in a country where there have been many revolutions, and I am always careful when referring to such popular expressions of discontent," joked Medvedev
Russian president called on NATO to be more responsible when making decisions, not to create problems for themselves and not to exacerbate relations with its neighbors, including with Moscow: "NATO needs to think about that, to preserve the unity and not to create problems with its neighbors. Before you decide to increase the size of the alliance, think about the consequences," stressed Medvedev, adding that "... frankly I told all this to my new comrade Barack Obama."

According to the Russian President, NATO should be responsible for making these kind of decisions and act on the principle of "do no harm": "You need to think about what would be the relations within the alliance, because the admission of new members brings new responsibilities and new challenges," said Medvedev, noting that "it's not easy to talk to all NATO members," although he declined to mention specific countries.

Turning to the issue of missile defense in Europe, Russian President once again called the possible placement of such a system an "error on the conscience" of the previous U.S. administration: "I think that all sorts of protective measures, such as missile defense - namely, a means of protection, including from threats that come from nations with unstable regimes - these kind of protective measures should be implemented together", said Medvedev, adding that many of his European colleagues share this stance.

However, he encouraged those present at the London School of Economics briefing that "there is every chance that Russia would not need to deploy its Iskander missile systems in the Kaliningrad region in response to the deployment of U.S. missile defense system in Europe: "We had a conversation on this subject with the President of the United States. At least I can say that today, there is a desire from the United States to listen to our arguments. They do not try to cut us off and say that this issue is resolved."

Responding to the question from a Georgian student, Dmitry Medvedev stated that he does not want to have any relations with Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, or to communicate with him: "Everything that happened during last summer in the Caucasus is on the conscience of the Georgian leadership. This is my official stance. If the power ... changes [in Georgia], I am ready to discuss any topic. Russia wanted to have kind and good relations with Georgia."

Meanwhile, Georgia would like to continue its security relationship with the United States, and recently offered to send its troops to Afghanistan. President Saakashvili announced this initiative at a briefing with the Deputy Chairman of the Joint Staff of the US Armed Forces General James Cartwright.

However, experts are certain that Georgians will not receive special dividends even if a limited contingent of Georgian troops will get to Afghanistan.
An example of such reasoning is the fact that no meeting recently took place between US Vice President Biden and the Speaker of Georgian Parliament David Bakradze. At the briefing with Saakashvili, when General Cartwright unexpectedly advised Georgia to maintain peaceful relations with its neighbors, the pro-government TV company "Rustavi-2" quickly interrupted a live broadcast.

Submitted by
Yevgeny Bendersky