ROAR: St. Petersburg forum works to change Russia’s image

For the Russian and French leadership, the international economic forum in St. Petersburg has become a preparation for the forthcoming G8 and G20 summits in Canada.

“Russia is changing its face,” RBC daily said, commenting on the results of the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg. The main session of the forum was held under the slogan “We have changed,” the paper noted. “We have changed because the world has changed,” Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said.

He made it clear that the country wants to become a modern country and claim “a role of a fully-fledged participant of the collective political leadership in the post-crisis world,’ the daily said.

“The main thought which was sounded during numerous discussions at the forum was the need to change the existing world order with the main currencies – the dollar and the euro – and to transfer to a multipolar world,” the paper noted.

However, to be one of the world leaders, Russia has to put things in order in its own country, the daily noted. The authorities are certain that the existing economic problems could be overcome, it said. For that, the country needs “clever policies,” as Medvedev put it.

The Russian and French presidents used the forum, among other things, to “rehearse their addresses for the G8 and G20 summits due to be held in Canada in the end of June,” Kommersant daily said.

“President Medvedev closed the [St. Petersburg] forum together with French President Nicolas Sarkozy,” the paper said. “After the bilateral talks the two sides announced that many positions have been agreed prior to the forthcoming summits,” the daily noted.

Analyzing the lessons of the crisis, Sarkozy noted that “there is no system of management adapted to the 21st Century and globalization.” It is necessary to start regulating prices for raw materials and laying the foundations of new financial system, he said.

The current system, based on the dollar as a reserve currency, does not meet the global structure of the world, Sarkozy said, proposing to establish a new organization “to unite Europe and Russia on a huge economic space.” He also stressed that his presence at the economic forum in St. Petersburg was “his strategic choice,” the paper said.

Medvedev noted that the “positions of France and Russia are very close.” Speaking about the coming forums in Canada, he also stressed the need to widen the number of reserve currencies, Kommersant said. The existence of two “big and mighty currencies” does not insure the world from problems, the president believes.

At the same time, Moscow and Paris have not agreed, so far, on their positions on increasing the number of reserve currencies, the paper said. But there were no disagreements on other issues that are on the agenda of the summits in Canada. It shows that “important decisions in the security sphere or economy could be agreed fairly quickly during different events,” Medevdev said.

The previous forum in St. Petersburg was mainly devoted to the understanding of the crisis, Vremya Novostey daily said. This time, strategies and ways to overcome the crisis were discussed.

Politicians “did not forgive bankers” for having to spend gigantic taxpayers’ money to save financial system and economy as a whole, the paper said. Doing so, they “jeopardized not only the stability of state budgets, but also their own political careers,” it noted.

Meanwhile, Medvedev told bankers “feeling pressure in their own countries that Russia is ready to secure a comfortable business environment for them,” the paper noted. He also said that the world leaders have not agreed on “repressive measures” against financiers. He made it clear that that the problem was not caused by the activities of all the bankers.

“It should be noted that both Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin are actually indulgent towards bankers, but they have been repeatedly stressing that the crisis was generated in America,” Vremya Novostey said.

Conditions for financial institutions will be changing in Russia like in the rest of the world, but the changes will only help business, the president said. He has made a concrete step, having decided to head the Board of Trustees of the Skolkovo innovation research hub near Moscow. Medvedev will also start his trip to the US this week visiting hi-tech research centers Silicon Valley and Stanford University.

As Moscow wants to attract world hi-tech specialists for the Skolkovo project, observers are commenting on Medvedev’s statement that Russia should become “a dream country for anyone who seeks success.”

This statement was aimed at creating a positive ideal and serves as a guiding line for the country’s development, believes Mikhail Vinogradov, president of the Petersburg Politics Foundation.

The president spoke about “the change of the Russia’s image as a country that many are afraid of… to the country that is oriented for the dialogue, first of all, with citizens and wants to be attractive and non-aggressive for citizens,” he told

“As for the instruments for achieving this image, their development and application lie ahead,” the analyst believes. It is clear that the task will require steps in the economic sphere, easing pressure on business and “correcting particular political framework and the country’s activities in the world arena.”

Thus, creating Russia into “a dream country” is a complex task, Vinogradov noted. The fact that it was mentioned at the St. Petersburg economic forum demonstrates that it may become a priority for the Russian authorities,” he added.

Medvedev’s statement not only describes the country’s strategy, but it also gives an answer to the question, “what is the aim of modernization,” said Dmitry Badovsky, deputy head of the Institute of Social Systems.

“We have been speaking about modernization for a long time – more than a year,” he said. “It is clear that this presents a certain process that should lead us to something. I think the president… partly answered the question “Where are we going to?’”

Sergey Borisov,
Russian Opinion and Analysis Review, RT