"Russia-European Union - Potential for Partnership" Conference: keynote speech by Dmitri Medvedev
Type: Complete speech
On 21 March 2013, José Manuel Barroso, President of the EC, went to Moscow where he met with Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, and Dmitri Medvedev, Russian Prime Minister. José Manuel Barroso then participated in the "Russia/EU Potential for Partnership" conference organised by the Russian International Affairs Council. This video shows the keynote speech given by Dmitri Medvedev during this conference.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||Soundbite by Dmitri Medvedev, Russian Prime Minister, (in RUSSIAN) thanking people for attending this EU-Russia conference. Saying that he will dwell on some aspects of their relations.Ten years ago in St Petersburg, politicians, diplomats, and other experts agreed to establish four common spaces between Russia and the European Union. The road maps that were adopted later, in 2005, were a tool for realizing that plan and determining the agenda for cooperation. Now they should understand what has changed in their relationship, and not just from a historical point of view – where they have succeeded, where they have failed, what conclusions they can draw, and how they can proceed in future. He is happy to see participants from the 2003 St Petersburg summit in this hall and on stage. Each of them has an assessment of what has been done. Saying that he will talk about his.Saying that people must know what discussions on the relevance of the European approach for Russia’s modernisation are traditionally like in this country. These discussions have become national sport by now. They have our own euro-sceptics and euro-pessimists who suggest they think of what is more important for the country at this point: economic integration in Europe or their presence in Asia and China. Saying that he would like to suggest that geographic location no longer determines an economy, a lifestyle or a professional future. He thinks countries are now divided in terms of how well they adapt to world trends and how successful they are in using their advantages in a changing world. It is no secret that the eurozone has convinced many sceptics that in the 21st century, Europe will face a decline while Asia rises, that the centre of global economic activity is moving from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, that the European project turned out to be too unwieldy and Europe was not ready for globalisation. They conclude that the future of their country points to the Pacific. He believes this kind of thinking lacks sophistication and he just can’t go along with it. But there is one obvious fact: Europe and Asia need each other. The European and Asian models will complement each other in economics, technology and culture; their interdependence will continue to grow. From this point of view, currently widespread sentiments of regional egoism are dangerous, and it is dangerous to think that one region is able to solve absolutely all of its problems by itself.The problems are many. What is everyone concerned about now? The situation in Cyprus. Saying that he wants to talk about this now because these issues need to be discussed anyway: they believe that the proposals made for settling the financial problems are, to say the least, unpredictable and inconsistent, and have been reconsidered several times already. Today, he saw plans B and C on the internet. But the promoters of these plans must understand that confiscating personal property, something that affects the interests of depositors and the Cypriots themselves, will not be popular. Regardless of the final solution, they need to look ahead and have a broader perspective.He will remind that the International Monetary Fund and other international organisations have said many times that the main threat to the current financial world order is lack of trust. He himself has heard the word “trust” many times at both the G8 and G20 meetings. Trust, trust and trust again! This word can be heard in the statements of every major global forum. A crisis in trust has ruined the system of financial mediation, represented in part by depositors and commercial organisations of G20 countries. The forum’s European participants have put great effort into overcoming the crisis, and we appreciate that fact.Following the proposals of the Financial Stability Board, certain measures to develop national deposit insurance systems have been taken. In this view, the plan now being discussed concerning Cyprus doesn’t make any sense. And he believes this is something all of them should consider. He believes that in any case, the Eurogroup could invite all interested parties, including Russia, to discuss further plans for Cyprus.Saying that it is generally possible to survive on your own, but it is not possible to find prosperity in the today’s world this way. Now, certain more important notes.First. For Russia, developing further cooperation with the European Union is an absolute and long-term priority. Not only in terms of economic relations, but also because Russia has always been, and will be, a part of Europe, both geographically and, he wants to emphasise this, culturally and in terms of civilisation. Russia is a European country, which stretches far to the East, to the Pacific coast, to the borders of China and Korea. They have become close in the last 20 years, unprecedentedly for the 20th century. Russia has become a respected participant in many important European bodies, including the Council of Europe. Since the four common spaces were developed, their cooperation has seen a boost.More opportunities appeared after they joined the WTO. The European Union provided them with serious support in this action, and they know that and appreciate it.Of course, the Russian Government will have to implement a package of measures to adapt its economy to the WTO recommendations. But they can already say investors and Russian and European companies have become much more active in each other’s markets. Their trade continues to grow and has reached a historical high of $410 billion. The EU is maintaining its position as the main investor in the Russian economy, with a total accumulated investment of over $260 billion. Russian businesses have invested substantial funds – nearly $75 billion – in EU economies.However, it must be said that most European countries still see Russia as something alien, rather than as a part of Europe. Everybody knows that the coordination of positions within the EU is proceeding extremely slowly and with major difficulties. Honestly, it is sometimes easier for them to come to terms with individual European countries. This is not good at all, and he believes that they should try to change this.
||Soundbite by Dmitry Medvedev (in RUSSIAN) saying that they have their problems too. They do not always understand their partners’ logic and sometimes overlook important details that are part and parcel of the European political culture, which has developed over centuries. In other words, they have a lot to learn from their partners. Otherwise the most important elements – human and business relationships – will suffer. And this definitely has a detrimental effect on business.Take the perennial issue of the EU’s Third Energy Package. He told journalists yesterday that they never said that the Third Package is a bad thing. The EU is free to regulate its energy flows as it wants. But they don’t think that they should impose their unilateral decisions on other partners. Rather, they should listen to their partners’ arguments.They are working with utmost consideration on a new basic agreement between Russia and the EU. They believe that it is a very important document that should promote cooperation in various fields, especially since their relations have long outgrown the boundaries of the current agreement. He'd like to remind people that it was signed nearly 20 years ago, in 1994.The second issue he would like to mention is this: Can they postpone the development of their cooperation until better days, for example, until finances stabilise? He does not think that would be wise. Slowing down is dangerous for both sides, because all countries and regions are facing the challenge of modernisation, and not only in the economy but also in all other areas.Their starting positions were different, but they are using the same design for the engines that put their mechanisms into motion and they are moving on the same track. The competition is certainly tough, and there are many problems, but they need to find solutions for them. For Russia, being behind on this track means turning into a raw materials appendage, becoming permanently dependent on energy prices and dooming themselves to the degradation of their science and educational system. For the European Union, the consequences may be less dramatic but no less serious: chronic stagnation in the economy, social conflict and the loss of competitive opportunities in many promising global markets. The inability to cope with the challenge of modernisation may eventually threaten the whole European project.The third point he would like to make is very important. What are they in this process – rivals or partners? He has already said that in Russia and other countries, commentators and analysts often say: Europe has lost the modernisation race and is slowly but steadily turning into an industrial museum and it is necessary to orient itself toward the leaders – either current (North America) or potential (East Asia). Likewise, there is an opinion in Europe that Russia is unable to offer anything substantial for modernisation.If they follow this logic, it would be easy to predict that they will continue drifting in opposite directions. Is there an alternative to this? Of course, there is. Current modernisation processes are based not only and not so much on resources, production capacities and currency and financial positions, but on human capital. The latter is created in the relevant cultural environment, the educational system and research centres. European countries and Russia can rightfully be proud of their achievements here – they have the infrastructure and scientific schools that encourage the development of human capital. They have something to offer each other. This is why the joint initiative – partnership for modernisation – has been made. He thinks this is a very good initiative. Importantly, the priorities they have announced largely coincide. They have achieved some results, but for the time being they are not so impressive. This is why all departments concerned should be more active in overcoming their inertia. They should define their priorities and focus on several major areas.There is one more issue he is compelled to talk about. Regrettably, this is a permanent issue as well. They are unable to resolve the visa issue, and it is one of the main barriers to the development of their human capital. This issue is impeding business activity and human contact, as well as scientific and cultural ties. Visa-free travel would be a real change now that people in the modern world are highly mobile, especially business and young people.Fourth, economic modernisation in the modern world is inseparable from social modernisation. They are often told that in Russia, just like in the rest of Europe, the social burden on the state is too heavy; social costs are preventing the economy from being effective and social commitments must be curtailed. But this is dangerous. How can they talk about raising the efficiency of social institutions if they reduce their funding? That said, nobody has extra money, so these issues are equally topical for Russia and Europe, and they should step up their cooperation in science, education, culture, healthcare and, of course, in developing the institutes of civil society and local government and in handling migration processes. They can and should discuss any problems with each other (and they are open to this), such as the judiciary, political freedoms and human rights both in Russia and the EU countries.The fifth point he would like to make is that he knows the agenda of the conference includes the relationship between Russia-EU cooperation and integration processes in the post-Soviet space, primarily the Customs Union. They think that Russia’s successes in Europe should become an additional catalyst for Eurasian integration. They believe development of cooperation between the EU and the Eurasian Economic Union that is being set up would be a proper, far-sighted and mutually beneficial step. Their tasks are similar – to remove barriers and create a transparent and comfortable business environment. This is what they are doing under the WTO regulations and on the basis of the EU's experience. Their goal is to establish the Eurasian Economic Union on universal integration principles and make it open to cooperation with other countries. Saying that they are closely watching the processes in the EU with a view to borrowing the best of EU practices.The leading positions in the world are not guaranteed by anything, be it one’s wealth or challenging plans. This is true of people, countries and entire continents. Both Russia and the EU and the post-crisis international development stand to gain if they build their partnership on a stable basis and create in perspective a common economic space from the Atlantic to the Pacific. This is a super-ambitious project but they all know that without ambitious goals it is impossible to move forward.He is confident that this conference and their work in the Russian Government-European Commission format in general will become a new step along this road.