Credit crisis costs world economy $US 1.5 trillion - Medvedev

The financial crisis has cost the global economy a staggering $US 1.5 trillion, according to Dmitry Medvedev. The Russian president was speaking at the 10th EU-Russia Industrialists' Round Table in Cannes, France.

He added that “these are calculations. The real losses are even greater. Counting them is an unpleasant but essential business”.

Dmitry Medvedev also proposed reforms to the world’s main financial institutions – the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. He said these institutions were unable to tackle the financial crisis. He added that Russia is ready to take an active part in this process. 

He once again assured Russia’s European partners that Moscow will remain a responsible and predictable energy supplier. 

Another important issue up for discussion on Thursday was Russia's accession to the World Trade Organisation. Medvedev said it should happen as soon as possible. “Enough negotiations, it's time to make decisions,” he said.

He has also played down hopes for a breakthrough at the upcoming G20 meeting in Washington, called to deal with the global financial crisis.

“There should not be any excessive expectations. The key value of this meeting is that it will take place, that it will focus on the most complicated and most difficult issues and that it will look at mechanisms to overcome the crisis,” he said.

In conclusion he talked about the state of Russia’s economy. Dmitry Medvedev said gross domestic product will go up by seven per cent in 2008, but that the rate of increase would slow in 2009.

“By and large we have managed to maintain macroeconomic stability. The seven per cent growth of GDP we expect was achieved mostly at the expense of domestic demand. However, next year the rates will be lower. Also, there are problems with inflation,” the Russian president said.

Russia and EU look for thaw at Nice summit

Russia's president Dmitry Medvedev has arrived in France ahead of Friday’s Russia-EU summit to be held in Nice.

Both sides are optimistic that relations between them can improve. Talks on a new partnership deal, frozen in the wake of the South Ossetian conflict, are expected to resume later in the month. The global financial crisis and security issues will also be discussed.

Russia has taken a firm stance ahead of the talks. The country’s representative at the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, has said Russia shouldn’t make any concessions just because the EU has decided to resume negotiations.

The only European country against talks is Lithuania. But its opposition has been overruled because, technically, earlier talks were frozen rather than concluded. They will be resumed on Friday.

The summit is expected to announce that discussions on a new Russia-EU partnership agreement will begin on November 25.