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25 Sep, 2009 07:24

Medvedev at G20: trumpet call for action

Although the big events are over for most of the leaders attending the UN General Assembly, the heads of the 20 most developed nations are preparing for further debates and heading to the US city of Pittsburgh.

Eleven presidents, seven prime ministers, a chancellor and a king – all these dignitaries will descend on the city of Pittsburg within the next few hours for the 3rd G20 summit.

During the G20 summit, leaders will tackle economic recovery while thousands of protesters outside demand change.

The goal of this gathering is, as before, to develop and co-ordinate governmental strategies dealing with the global economic crisis. But what really makes this year’s event different from the previous two is probably the atmosphere.

It is no longer so panicky here as it was a year ago, when the leaders met in Washington DC for the first time. Some leaders, including US President Barack Obama, are quite optimistic. They believe the worst has already passed and the global economy is showing at least some signs of improvement.

“Love! What can be more important?” – Medvedev’s meaning of life

President Medvedev has been among the first to arrive in Pittsburgh, where ahead of the summit he found time to talk to students on a wide range of issues at the city's main university.

“We are all different, and that is good. But we have common values, which is even better,” he said while addressing students.

While answering questions from the university students, Dmitry Medvedev yold what he believes is the most important thing in life.

“Love! What can be more important?!” Medvedev said.

“Love towards people closest to you, those who are near. To my mind, it’s in line with any commandments – both moral and religious. It is the sense of life. Each of us understands the world differently, but it is probably the most important thing in life.”

And what about the people back home in Moscow? What do they consider to be the most important things in life?

The president also spoke on US plans to call off construction of the missile-defense shield systems:

“The recent decision adopted by the President of the United States regarding the missile defense system in Europe – of course it is a decision motivated by his ideas about the security of the United States in the first place. This is not a pro-Russian, or pro-Chinese, or pro-European decision. This is an American decision, and I think that it is very courageous to change decisions by the previous administration, concerning not domestic, but foreign policy this time.”

“This is a difficult choice,” he added. “I tried to put myself in his shoes, and I know it would be very difficult for me. Even this one step deserves our respect.”

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has opened the door to the possibility of more sanctions against Iran and North Korea.

President Medvedev also took time to talk about the future of the world economy, saying that he is optimistic about it, as well as mentioning his possible future political plans back in Russia:

“If I work well and am successful in my work, and the Russian people still trust me, why not run for the presidency? As for Mr. Putin’s plans, I think you should address that question to him. Now the president’s job is as hard as the Prime Minister’s. So, there's not much difference between the two posts in that sense. I am prepared to do any work that would be useful for Russia.”

This has already become a G20 tradition with the Russian President, himself a former professor of law, to visit local schools. In April he visited the London School of Economics where he talked about global security and answered questions about the American anti-missile shield in Europe.

Medvedev’s speech at Pittsburgh University seems to be a historic event by itself, since Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev visited this university and made an address this very day exactly 50 years ago, in 1959.

Back then, the Soviet leader spoke about the difficulties in relations between the two countries, and Dmitry Medvedev is expected to speak about the same topic this time around. Half a century ago, Khrushchev said that what the U.S. and the Soviet Union needed most was fair competition without bloodshed.

Medvedev calls for a change

Speaking about his expectations for the G20 summit, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has said he would expect his counterparts to finally go from words to actions and start implementing the changes declared at the previous two G20 summits, for example the reform of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Most of the G20 meetings will naturally be conducted behind closed doors, but nevertheless the general public will also have a couple of opportunities to get involved.

Among others there will be a Beer Summit, which will include the participants of the event sampling various beers from the countries participants of the G20.

Of course, no G20 summit goes without mass protests. Thousands of protesters have been pouring into Pittsburg over the last days. The main event – the Protest March – is expected to take place on Friday.

Why Pittsburgh?

In his address to the G20 leaders, Barack Obama explained why Pittsburgh was chosen for the G20 summit. He said this city provided a very interesting example of these crisis times.

Back in the 50s and 60s, when Nikita Khrushchev visited the city, it was a center of the steel industry for the US. Later on, it was plunged into a serious crisis with thousands losing their jobs, but today it has dedicated itself to new industries and is becoming a center of innovation and green technologies.

But despite the fact that the city has redesigned itself over the last decades, those who are coming for the G20 summit will have trouble seeing this, simply because all of Pittsburgh has been turned into a ghost town. The only people you really see on the streets are policemen and national guards.

Luxurious dinner ahead of anti-crisis summit

The G20 leaders had the chance to gather for an official dinner at a farm just outside Pittsburgh – away from the nearby crowds of protesters.

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed their guests. It was Mrs. Obama's first time in the role as an international host.

Some of the dishes on the menu were made from food grown on the farm.

Also, musicians from the Pittsburgh Philharmonic Orchestra's Jazz Ensemble performed throughout the evening.