Transcript of the Euronews` interview with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev
September 2, 2008
PYOTR FYODOROV: Welcome to Euronews, Mr President. What is your assessment of the outcome of the EU’s extraordinary summit for future relations between Russia and Europe?
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: I followed closely the development of events at the summit. I will not make a secret of the fact that I had preliminary talks with my colleagues. I think the results are two-fold in nature. First of all, they show that Russia’s motivations in deciding to respond to Georgia’s aggression and recognise South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent subjects of international law have unfortunately not been fully understood. This is sad but not fatal, because everything can change in this world. This is one situation.
The second situation is a lot more positive in my view. Despite the different views that exist to a certain extent in the EU member countries, a reasonable and realistic approach prevailed on this issue. A number of countries were calling for some kind of mythical sanctions and punishments, but this did not go ahead, and I think that this is in the interests of Europe, the interests of the European Union above all.
PYOTR FYODOROV: People are saying that by recognising South Ossetia’s and Abkhazia’s independence Russia has isolated itself. Do you agree with this point of view?
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: There is no isolation, Russia does not want isolation, and it is essentially impossible. It is another matter that now that recognition has been given [to South Ossetia’s and Abkhazia’s independence] we really should reflect on the security architecture we want for our complicated world over the coming years. It is absolutely clear to me that the events that began with Georgia’s aggression on August 8 have put this issue firmly on the agenda. The former security architecture has proven its ineffectiveness.
PYOTR FYODOROV: But people are saying some kind of sanctions could be imposed on Russia or that it could be excluded from the G8 or refused entry to the World Trade Organisation. How will Russia react if such measures are taken, and – a question that worries ordinary Europeans – will the ‘hot summer’ in the Caucasus turn into a ‘cold winter’ for Europe?
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: The issue of sanctions is always complicated because sanctions are a sword that cuts both ways. I think the European Union decision shows how dangerous the sanctions road can be. Reason prevailed and the result is plain and clear. Regarding other international instruments such as the G8, the G8 is not viable without Russia. The G8 itself is fully aware that without involving countries like China and India, without using the ‘outreach’ format, many decisions would not be fully effective. This is all the more true if decisions are made without Russia’s participation. The G8 cannot therefore exist without Russia. And if it does try to take this road, it would not be in the interests of the world order, absolutely not in the interests of the order that exists in the world today.
The World Trade Organisation is a separate economic issue. We do indeed would like to join the WTO, but not at any cost. We have been engaged in negotiations for a long time now. Unfortunately, they have not been successful in all areas. Our position is straightforward. If we do not manage to reach agreement soon, we will be obliged to withdraw from a number of agreements that imposed additional commitments on us within the WTO framework. We will probably take such a decision if progress towards the WTO remains out of sight. It is not only we who want to join the WTO; other economies need to have us there too. As for how events will develop, time will tell.
There are other means of influence. You know, I do not think that Europe should fear a ‘cold winter’ or anything else of this sort, because this would not be in anyone’s interests.
PYOTR FYODOROV: I had in mind oil and gas supplies to Europe.
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: I realise what your question implied. We will of course continue to carry out in full all of the obligations we have taken on as the main supplier of oil and gas to Europe.
PYOTR FYODOROV: Analysts are saying that the ‘Caucasus crisis’ has turned the final page in Russia’s post-Soviet history and is the starting point for the new world order you mentioned in part. What kind of relations will Russia build with its closest neighbours, in particular Ukraine, and with the outside world in general?
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: We will build our relations with all countries based on common criteria. You are right, and I already said that the events of this August have proven the current security architecture’s shortcomings. We need to build it anew, taking into consideration the reality today. I recently set out five principles that will form the guidelines for Russia’s foreign policy. I will repeat them now.
First, Russia will comply in full with all of the provisions of international law regarding relations between civilised countries.
Second, Russia believes in the need for a multi-polar world and considers that domination by one country is unacceptable, no matter which country this may be.
Third, we are naturally interested in developing full and friendly relations with all countries, with Europe, Asia, the United States, Africa, with all countries in the world. These relations will be as close as our partners are ready for.
Fourth, I see protecting the lives and dignity of Russian citizens, wherever they may be, as an indisputable priority for our country, and this is one of our foreign policy priorities.
Fifth, I think that like any other country, Russia pays special attention to particular regions, regions in which it has privileged interests. We will build special relations with the countries in these regions, friendly relations for the long-term period.
PYOTR FYODOROV: Is there a danger that recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia could incite separatist feelings in other parts of the Caucasus, in Dagestan and Ingushetia, for example?
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: I do not see any such danger so long as people abroad do not meddle in these issues, thinking up various scenarios for dismembering Russia.
PYOTR FYODOROV: What are the main conclusions you draw from the latest crisis in Russian-U.S. relations, are there lessons to be learned?
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: I would not call this a full-scale crisis of the likes of what existed during the Soviet period, but there is tension today. We certainly did not want this tension. It is the result of the not entirely reasonable policy the United States has pursued in Georgia. At some point they gave the Georgian leader the impression that he could do as he pleased with impunity. He seemed to think he’d received carte-blanche to take any action he wished, and we can all see now where this has led. I think there is a certain amount of frustration now in the United States at the failure of this virtual project, ‘Free Georgia’. The leader has bankrupted himself, the regime is on the brink of crisis, and the situation is tense. The sooner our American partners sort out this issue the better it will be for Russian-American relations. We are ready to restore the best possible relations and develop our ties in full with the United States.
PYOTR FYODOROV: Thank you very much for this interview, Mr President.
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Thank you.