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6 Jun, 2008 02:20

Nord Stream will prove our reliability: Medvedev

President Dmitry Medvedev has staked Russia’s reputation on the $US 10 BLN Nord Stream gas project, saying it will prove the country’s energy reliability. Flanked by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Medvedev said he expe

The Russian president said that during the meeting with his German counterpart, they discussed the possibilities of expanding the pipeline system, including the promotion of the Nord Stream – a massive gas pipeline project, which is a joint venture between Germany and Russia.

“We have a common vision on it as a global project of European scale and thus, it meets the interests of reliable energy supply and energy security of all European countries,” he said.

Medvedev was in Germany on his first trip to Europe and the West as Russia's President. The Russian leader said it’s no co-incidence that Germany was the first western country he visited and Merkel was the first foreign leader whom he met in Moscow several days after being elected Russia's President.  He said this shows Russia’s priorities.

“For us, Germany is a strategic partner, with which we have a very high level of trade and economic interaction and very good level of political contacts,” he said.

During a joint media conference, Medvedev also raised concerns about the widening gap between Russia and the West on global security. He cited disagreements over NATO enlargement and U.S. missile defence plans. 

“That is why we hope that the high level and the priority relations between Russia and Germany are capable of being an orienting point for a new quality of relations between Russia and the EU,” the Russian president added.

Human right issue was also touched upon, specifically the case of a Russian businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky – the former head of oil company Yukos. In 2005 one of the richest men in Russia was sentenced to 9 years in prison for tax evasion – the move many in the West saw as politically motivated.  

Commenting on the issue, Medvedev stressed that matters related to penitentiary procedures, including those involving Khodorkovsky, are based on domestic legislation and cannot be a subject of interstate discussions.

Both leaders said they are satisfied with the talks.

Chancellor Merkel added that economic contacts can bring a lot of opportunities for both countries, especially in energy field. She said she was pleased with how the relations between two countries are developing and expressed hope they will develop further in the future. 

To watch the joint conference with the two leaders, please followthe link.

After the meeting with Chancellor Merkel, Medvedev has met representatives of German business. In his speech and a Q&A session that lasted more then an hour he voiced his position on a range of issues from media freedom to human rights to international politics.

Delivering his first major speech to the West as president, Medvedev spoke about a number of issues, including NATO expansion, which he believes threatens to undermine Russia’s relations with the alliance.  

“NATO has been unsuccessfully trying to find some new meaning of its existence,” the Russian leader said.

“These days that meaning is being looked for on the track of globalizing the alliance's mission – to the detriment of the UN Security Council prerogatives, by inviting new members. It is obvious, though, that the task set cannot be resolved in this way.”

He added: “Some people say that NATO’s expansion eastwards can be exchanged for something else. I think all these things are illusions. Our relations with the alliance will be undermined if this ever takes place. There will be no confrontation, but the price will be very high.”
The president also called for a new Russia-EU security treaty similar to the Helsinki Act signed in 1975.

“We should develop and sign a legal agreement on European security. We could have organisations that already exist in the Euro-Atlantic space. And these organisations can be party to such an agreement,” Medvedev said.

He suggested that a European summit should be called “that would give a start to the process of developing such a treaty”.

“It is important for all states to operate as single nations, leaving aside the concept of blocs,” he added.

The Russian leader has once again reaffirmed his determination to fight corruption in the country.  The freedom of the press was one of the parts of that mission, with Medvedev claiming it still needs protection.

“Several years ago, it needed protection from direct enslavement by corporations. Now it should be protected from attacks by administrative machinery at all levels,” he said.

“We're already standing on the threshold of a fully free mass media that will rely on technological progress – and the growing opportunities of the internet in the first place.”

Compared to three million people in Russia who used the internet in 2000, today their number has increased tenfold and it will continue growing at a fast rate.

Medvedev added: “This situation not only moves the freedom of the press center-stage, it sets up the task of maintaining moral and cultural values in the field of information. This task is bigger than one on a national or European scale. It's a global task.”

Medvedev said that all cases of attempted murder against journalists would be investigated, no matter when the crime took place.