Monday's Press Review

Monday’s Russian newspapers report on the G20 summit in Washington, interview European politicians on missile defence and predict an improvement in Russia-U.S. relations. Here is the review:

IZVESTIA writes that after the Washington summit, the G20 countries have a right to ask G8 to move aside and give it more space. The paper says the G20 is likely to become a ‘world government’ of sorts. President Medvedev of Russia, continues the paper, became one of the authors of the initiative that was reflected in the document signed by the leaders. The suggested reforms to the World’s leading financial institutions are supposed to bring fairness and stability to the World economy. The paper also notes that in spite of the efforts by President George Bush to be as hospitable as possible, everyone at the summit understood that it makes no sense to discuss crisis management with him as he is not going to occupy his present position for long.

VREMYA NOVOSTEI says: the G20 summit was ‘the right place and the right time’ to start repairing Russia-U.S. relations, which have been deteriorating for months. The writer, RIA Novosti’s Svetlana Babaeva, says that the choice by the U.S. side of Madeleine Albright as a representative of President-elect Barack Obama for meetings with the Russian President is a positive sign. Obama himself didn’t honour the summit by his presence because, as he said, there can only be one president of the United States, writes the paper.

It also adds that President Medvedev’s speech at the summit has shown Russia’s clear intention to build, together with the new U.S. administration, ‘principally new relations between the two countries.’ The writer concludes, quoting an American politician, that at the moment ‘the ball is in Barack Obama’s field, and we all will see if Russia is a priority for his administration when we know the name of the person appointed to oversee America’s relations with Russia.’

ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA quotes Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as saying that helping to build closer relations between Russia and the U.S. is the main objective of his foreign policy. The paper says the Italian prime minister says openly that the U.S. has allowed itself provocative steps in relation to Russia, such as the plan to deploy elements of U.S. missile defense in Eastern Europe, unilateral recognition of Kosovo and facilitating fast-track NATO membership plans for Georgia and Ukraine. Now, says the paper, Mr Berlusconi is taking upon himself the task of arranging, as fast as possible, a meeting between presidents Obama and Medvedev. The paper says French president Nikolas Sarkozy also wants this role.

The same paper has an interview with the speaker of the lower chamber of the parliament of the Czech Republic, Miloslav Vlcek. He says that he is flat against the deployment of U.S. missile defense systems in the Czech Republic, and that he is convinced that apart from him and most opposition MPs there are many on the government side of the House who would be very hesitant to approve the deployment. The speaker says that the Czech constitution has no articles on foreign military bases. From the experience with Soviet military installations, he says, the Czech people know that if there is a constitutional base for those military bases, they will stay forever. The speaker says that the lower chamber of parliament may shortly launch a legal challenge to the proposed radar base at the constitutional court of the Czech Republic.

NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA publishes an op-ed piece by Ekaterina Kuznetsova who comments on last week’s Russia-EU summit in Nice. She writes that the problems concerning European and World security were discussed extensively at the expense of economic discussions. Even the decision to renew negotiations on the new partnership agreement between the EU and Russia, writes the author, wasn’t enough, and the summit failed in its objectives to conduct a ‘thorough inspection of relations in every sphere, first of all the economy.’ In fact the summit, says the writer, ‘became just another toothless forum.’

Meanwhile, writes the author, it would have been much more useful to talk about energy security in Europe. Should Russia join European programs on energy saving? Should the trend of shifting from natural gas in its natural state to LPG be discussed? The writer thinks Russia and the EU cannot avoid discussing these things together as they are bound by law and fate to interact in the sphere of energy and many others. Thank God, says the writer, economic relations are not dependent on the documents produced at various political forums, but on the laws of economics.

Evgeny Belenkiy, RT