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Speech and answers to questions at news conference following Russian-Czech talks

December 8, 2011, Prague

President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to say that Mr President Klaus very clearly conveyed what we did yesterday and today, and the topics we discussed, which releases me from the need to make long opening remarks. I will just state that the talks were absolutely topical, work-related, friendly, and addressed economic cooperation between our two nations, as well as the partnership existing between the Russian Federation and the European Union, in addition to regional problems and domestic matters. Overall, we covered just about our entire agenda.

To me, the most important element in talks like these is not just two presidents meeting and being on the same wavelength (as was the case here) as regards certain problems; the most important aspect is what was just done at this table: we signed important documents. Some of the documents were signed outside of this hall. That means our partnership is becoming deeper and our trade turnover is growing. Indeed, we would like for our turnover to cover more than just two or three tracks; we hope it will become increasingly diversified. We want involvement in energy, but not just energy. We want to supply cars, but other products as well.

We must therefore engage in high-tech cooperation. I hope the declaration on partnership for modernisation just signed by our nations will promote this.

We are developing our contractual base. The set of documents just signed is certainly very important. I hope these documents will contribute to the development of investment and business cooperation, because what’s most important is for these documents to help our businesses develop cooperation and create new projects – both large and small – because we would like for the cooperation between our two nations’ business communities to involve all business circles.

It is true that we talked about what can be done with the euro. Mr President just proposed an idea, to exchange all our euro holdings into the Czech koruna. But we have a great deal of euro; I don’t know if you have enough koruna.

Nevertheless, during the break between our sessions, I just saw some apocalyptic information that has appeared stating that the central banks of the EU nations have begun to prepare for dumping the euro. I don’t know whether this is true, but in any case, I won’t deny that this topic truly worries us, because it ultimately affects the global financial situation in general.

”Demonstrations are an exercise in democracy. But all the demonstrations must be held strictly in designated areas and in accordance with Russian law.“

But our relations concern more than just the economy. We talked about international issues, regional affairs, and naturally, we touched on matters of cultural cooperation.

Mr President just talked about the opening of the Treasures of the Moscow Kremlin exhibition. Indeed, this idea was suggested by Mr President Klaus when we met previously. I’m glad it is being implemented right now. Soon, we will witness this very happy event.

I would like to once again thank my colleague for his kind invitation to make this official visit. I hope it will be productive and beneficial.

Question: In today’s talks, did you touch on the recent parliamentary elections in Russia? How do you assess the developments after the elections and the protests that took place? How do you take the criticism expressed, including from certain public officials and organisations, as regards the elections?

Dmitry Medvedev: There is nothing uncanny about what is happening in Russia: the fact is, elections bring certain results. Some people like those results, and others do not. I believe the political composition that exists at the moment as a result of the elections reflects the preferences of our citizens. Indeed, the actual figures that were yielded in these elections fully correspond to the predictions by a wide variety of sociologists and the exit polls that were conducted during the elections. So in this regard, I did not find the results of these elections surprising.

Clearly, our society – Russian society – is becoming more competitive, and multiple forces have the opportunity to lay a claim on controlling government processes. This is normal. I suppose there are many internal reasons for this, as well as external ones. But as far as the post-election situation is concerned, there are people who are genuinely disappointed and people who, in my view, are misinformed. Again, I do not see anything unnatural about this, or in the demonstrations that are taking place, because demonstrations are an exercise in democracy.

But here, I need to say just one thing: all the demonstrations must be held strictly in designated areas and in accordance with Russian law. And if there are certain criteria or parameters set for a demonstration, our citizens must abide by the law and must act accordingly. Everything that violates the corresponding requirements set by authorities in charge of monitoring the situation provokes various incidents, which is bad. But at the same time, I feel people must have the opportunity to express their views, and if they want to express themselves concerning the elections, that’s normal. What’s most important is for all of this to happen in the correct, calm manner, rather than resulting in complications for the others, creating problems for Moscow or elsewhere, and everything must be done in line with Russian law. That is the one demand that I feel should be at the forefront.

”Results of the elections fully reflect the current breakdown of Russian society’s political leanings. And the infractions that occurred must be investigated, and adequate legal decisions must be subsequently made.“

I suppose that questions concerning the outcomes of the elections also have the right to exist, just like questions about violations during the elections. All of them must be investigated thoroughly. The Central Election Commission exists for this purpose, as do the courts. No other investigative procedures are contemplated. And everyone talking about violations or presenting facts on these violations must understand this. But clearly, all violations must be investigated as thoroughly as possible, including those photos and videos, and they should be examined by specialists, rather than average citizens.

As for the final results, I think it is the Central Election Commission that should do it. I can only express my opinion. I feel the results fully reflect the current breakdown of Russian society’s political leanings. And the infractions that occurred (clearly, they did occur in some places, because unfortunately, we do not have an ideal election mechanism yet) must be investigated, and adequate legal decisions must be subsequently made. Again, these must be legal decisions.

The last thing I would like to say concerns the position of international observers. You know, we are always happy to hear out our friends – our partners who provide assessments. Sometimes, I feel these assessments are entirely correct, even when they reveal our shortcomings; and sometimes, these assessments are entirely biased. There are times when they try to explain to us what our overall electoral system should look like, where things should lie, how we should write things, but colleagues, ultimately, this is up to the Russian government and those who must decide which rules apply.

Still, overall, our feelings on what is being written and said are quite positive. There are different opinions; some have made harsher assessments, while others say that the electoral mechanism worked normally. But I’d like to point out that nearly all observers came to the common conclusion that the elections were well organised. There is only a difference in the interpretation of individual violations – whether or not they occurred. I suppose that is all I would like to say on this topic. Now, what’s most important is to calm people’s nerves, to give the new parliament the chance to begin its work, but at the same time, to carry out a thorough investigation on all this, on what happened, and make the appropriate legal verdicts.

Question: Mr President, you justly remarked that the outcomes of the elections should be announced by the Central Election Commission. It promised to do this on December 9, but this can be extended until December 19; it’s within your competence. Do you feel that this is appropriate in the current situation, given the hot tempers in Moscow and other cities?

Dmitry Medvedev: I feel that this should not be correlated in any way with anybody’s emotions. We all have emotions; we are all living people. It must strictly correspond to the Central Election Commission’s own convictions. If the Commission is prepared to give the final results, it should go ahead. If, for whatever reason, it feels it needs more time, it has that right to do so. But this must be based on facts and our election laws, and that is an absolutely irrefutable truth, because there are always emotions following the elections. And in this election cycle there were more emotions. I suppose this is natural in a given situation.

”Problem of the euro must be resolved by nations in the eurozone, rather than any nation outside it. The problem is so deep that it cannot be resolved simply through monetary offerings, coming from various sources.“

In the 1990s, emotions were running wild in the streets. We cannot have quiet and calm all the time; moods change, and approaches change. Incidentally, everyone must be prepared for this: the party that gains the majority of the votes, and the opposition parties. Because, again, all of this falls under the Central Election Committee’s authority – that is the body that must present the grounded position.

Question: Did your talks touch on the completion of the Temelin nuclear power plant? What specifically did you talk about?

Dmitry Medvedev: We did indeed discuss the Temelin NPP. It is an interesting project for the Russian Federation. We would like to participate, and naturally, we will be bidding. We feel our bid has particular competitive advantages, which, as Mr President just said, are partially explained by the fact that we contemplate more active involvement by Czech companies to fulfil subcontract works.

We really do hope that the decisions to be made within the tendering procedure will be open and free from any outside pressure, no matter where it comes from. And ultimately, the Czech Republic itself will make a decision on who is the most interesting partner for them: Rosatom, Westinghouse, or Areva.

Question: The euro issue has already been brought up today, but I would nevertheless like to get a better understanding. Neither Russia nor the Czech Republic is a member of the euro zone; nevertheless, both nations are concerned about the problems their neighbours have. What are these two nations ready to do to help other countries? Earlier, Russia said it will help only through the International Monetary Fund. Perhaps we will increase our stake in the IMF, or take some other measures?

Dmitry Medvedev: We already talked about our positions on this problem. I want to say again that we are worried by it.

Moreover, the problem of the euro must be resolved by nations in the eurozone, rather than any nation outside it. The problem is so deep that it cannot be resolved simply through monetary offerings, coming from various sources, although at the G20 summit, the Russian Federation stated our readiness to participate in resolving this problem within the framework of our IMF obligations. In other words, we are ready to do what we signed on to do for stabilisation. But, again, the key solution must come from these nations.

And finally, we talked about this today: yes, naturally, the problem of the euro is connected to the fact that for the first time, one currency is used to serve nations that are so different in terms of their economic development: very strong economies and, frankly, very weak ones. And that is the cause of all the current problems.

But the level of political and financial investment into the euro is such that the nations of the European Union and the states within the eurozone cannot forsake the euro, leaving it to its fate. We will see in the next few months what will come of this.

December 8, 2011, Prague