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19 Jun, 2010 14:08

Prompting deals worth $5 billion, St. Pete forum draws to a close

Summing up the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, President Dmitry Medvedev and the event’s main guest, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, spoke on a new monetary system and the EU’s approach towards Russia.

The Russian and French presidents said the global financial system needs major changes, with better regulation and more reserve currencies.

“We are making plans for the future, we are speaking about creating a whole set of new reserve currencies because even the existence of two major currencies is not a guarantee against problems for the world,” Medvedev said.

“Our position at the upcoming G20 summit in Canada will be consolidated. We can't afford to calm down, to relax, we have to move forward. We can't afford to think we've overcome the crisis and that everything's calm and quiet. The latest events in Europe demonstrate that everything could turn around once again. We're confident that France and Russia will be active at the G20 summit. There are still many issues before us, but our position is pro-European, and we share the same views,” he added.

The two presidents also touched topics like the second wave of the global recession, dragging the world out of recession and co-operation.

Medvedev shared his “great fears” over the “so-called second wave of the crisis”.

“We are closely following debates in the European Union. Every day we check the pulse of our own economies. We are looking at what currencies feel like, and we have great fears over the health of the euro. We wish it a quick recovery, because it's not only used in the EU – it's also one of Russia's reserve currencies. We're thinking about the future, we're talking about creating an entire package of new reserve currencies. We hope other countries will understand our intention; because even a couple of powerful reserve currencies, such as the dollar and the euro, don't provide enough security to the world. We're on a search for new solutions, but I'm confident we will succeed,” Medvedev said.

Meanwhile, Sarkozy criticized the perception of Russia as an enemy in the EU.

“The Cold War is over, the Berlin Wall is down, Russia is a great power and we shall be closer. It is a strategic choice,” he said.

“We must all think about the foundations of the new international financial system. The current one is based on the Bretton Woods concept, dating back to 1945. Back in those days, our American friends were the only superpower in the world and the US Marshall Plan was the only currency provider. My question is: in 2010, are we still in 1945? The obvious, correct answer is 'no',” Sarkozy said. “I believe in Medvedev's word, I highly appreciate our work with him, when we have managed to find a solution despite our differences”.

Dmitry Medvedev also made a call for Russian professionals who have moved abroad to come back.

Andrey Gudkov from the US Roswell Park Cancer Institute explains why he left Russia and what the prospects look like now.

“I actually didn’t plan to leave. The plan was to go abroad for about a year to play on the real ground, to compete with the most competitive peers, and to show yourself. And the same happened to all the members of my lab. We all left for about a year with the plan to come back and continue working in Russia,” Andrey Gudkov said. “The problem was that after this year it became clear that if we returned, it would mean a very significant loss of pace in our professional development because Russian science was on a very serious decline as well as everything else. We felt that on the Western ground we could reveal ourselves in a much better way.”

Summing up the forum, Medvedev stated his satisfaction with its results, calling it “interesting, to say the least”. According to Russia’s President, the forum was attended by 4,000 delegates from 100 nations and 700 companies. Deals with a gross value of $5 billion were signed at the event.

Many of those contracts were between Russian and French companies.

“We have an excellent relationship in our economy; these relations are unprecedented in terms of their volume and in terms of the diversification of our joint activities. And they include not only traditional strategic sectors but also vast areas of the economic activities of our nations. I should say that quite seldom in the history of Russia and France have our plans been so ambitious, so cloudless and so full of mutual confidence,” Sarkozy concluded.