PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Ladies and gentlemen,
I am truly happy to receive here in Moscow the President of Brazil, Mr Lula da Silva. We had, as we usually do, full-fledged negotiations. (Can you hear? Is there a translation? Excellent, then, the good words can be repeated.)
I’m sincerely happy that we are holding talks today with Brazilian President, Mr Lula da Silva. Our discussions show that, on almost all issues, we are moving forward, not to mention the foreign policy dimension, where our countries hold very similar positions on international developments, on what to do in various crisis situations.
I would like to note that our meeting is taking place almost immediately after the recent celebrations in Russia marking the 65th anniversary of Victory. Brazil was the only country in Latin America whose soldiers were on the battlefield participating in the defeat of Nazism in Europe. And paying tribute to all those who fought on WWII frontlines, we adopted today a joint declaration. This is actually very important; it unites us, and this indicates that we are ready to continue fighting for justice on our planet.
Russia considers Brazil one of its key partners in Latin America and in the world. We intend to further develop our multifaceted cooperation and further strengthen the strategic dialogue we have established between our countries over the years. Let me say it straight - my colleague, President Lula, has taken the most active part in the development of this dialogue, and it was in the recent years that our relations received the most serious and positive impetus.
What’s important here? We signed a plan of action that will be a roadmap in cooperation between our countries in the coming years, because our cooperation is not just a set of common goals, declarations, but also a set of concrete economic priorities we are promoting together. In that regard, despite the crisis, despite the fact that we have somewhat slowed our cooperation and that we lost momentum last year, all the conditions are still in place to develop these relations and achieve the goals we set at the very beginning. These goals, naturally, are evaluated in numbers, as in all economic matters. We are talking here about some ten billion dollar trade turnover; in any case, we will be aiming to achieve this goal. I believe these numbers are very much achievable, especially considering the new projects we are working on. This includes such areas as high technology, and today in our meeting, during our talks in expanded format, we talked about the high-tech areas, about rocket-and-space and aviation projects, civilian nuclear projects. And communication was cited as an important project in military technical cooperation. There are already concrete examples in terms of modernisation. We also have another important topic of connecting Brazil to the GLONASS system. Therefore, this issue, in my opinion, is very, very high on the agenda.
With regard to energy programs, here we are actively supplying equipment for the construction of four hydroelectric stations in Brazil, and we have reached an agreement on construction and cooperation between Russia’s Gazprom and Stroytransgaz and Brazilian Petrobras. During my visit to Brazil, I visited that company. A regional representative office of our group will soon open in Brazil.
And there is also a range of other projects we discussed today: projects in agricultural industry. Here too, things also develop very actively; we are thinking about how to balance various agricultural products’ trade, and in this respect we find understanding on the part of our Brazilian partners.
But, besides the economic component, we also cooperate on the international arena. We work actively and cooperate with each other within the United Nations, the G20 and the BRIC.
Speaking about cooperation within the G20, we talked today with Mr President about the need to make G20 a permanent forum, about its institutionalization, which means that G20 must have various structures within itself which will really allow it to influence international economic affairs.
We shared the same view today that the global financial crisis is obviously not over yet, as we receive disturbing information from various places, including Europe. We all follow closely the European Union’s efforts to resolve a number of problems, including the one affecting the euro. In that context, we agreed with Mr President to establish a working group to promote mutual settlements using national currencies. That is vital for the stability and economic development of our countries, and in general for a more balanced international financial system. As the recent experience has shown, neither the dollar nor the euro nor any other currency can claim the status of a global currency that protects all countries. There are problems with each currency; so the more actively we use national currencies, the more stable bilateral trade will be and the better for international financial institutions. I think that we will also promote this issue in the BRIC format, as we recently discussed in the Brazilian capital.
Another working group will deal with issues of direct air links, because it really is an important topic. Despite the fact that trade turnover is high and that we have a very close partnership, a very good strategic relationship, there has been no direct air link since the 1990s, and, of course, this gap should be filled, because the total number of tourists travelling between our two countries is increasing, and because Brazilian airports can be used as transit hubs for Russian tourists and businessmen travelling to South America.
There is some very good news to announce: in early June, from June 7, to be precise, we will introduce a visa-free travel between our two countries. We have agreed on that just over a year and a half ago, in 2008. Now this agreement comes into force, and, of course, it will improve our communication options and make it easier for people to travel to each other’s country, with fewer formalities.
Naturally, we discussed a number of international problems currently on the global agenda, including Iran’s nuclear program, and the Middle East settlement. We talked about some of the regional challenges that exist around our countries. In general, we discussed all these issues; so I think that a regular exchange of views is, of course, very, very helpful.
I would like to conclude by thanking Mr President for the frank dialogue. Our dialogue has always been friendly, no matter where we meet, whether in Russia or in Brazil or in any third country. I am sure that the documents we have just signed will strengthen the partnership between our countries and serve as the basis for the development of multifaceted Russian-Brazilian cooperation. This is what our nations need.
Thank you. Now I give the floor to Mr President.
PRESIDENT OF BRAZIL LUIZ INACIO LULA DA SILVA (translated from Russian):
My dear friend, Mr President,
Before I say a few words about the agreements signed by us, I would like to say first of all that I personally, and the members of my delegation, and in some sense, the entire Brazilian people - we want to express our solidarity with the Russian people in connection with the death of 65 coal miners and 24 more people listed as still missing. Brazil also had its own tragedies. We lost 200 people as a result of floods caused by heavy rains. Please accept our condolences over this tragedy.
It is very important that my visit is taking place at a special moment in the life of your country. Just recently you celebrated the 65th anniversary of Victory. Russian soldiers defeated the Nazis, and I would like to praise the heroism and courage of the Russian people and soldiers at this crucial moment in history. And now, many decades after, we face new challenges. And we must now create a new world order that would ensure prosperity for all countries. And we cannot fail in this endeavour. Our countries have created a new alliance, and we share hope and belief in the possibility of building a new democratic, fair economic order. We know that to achieve these goals we need to properly and timely respond to the challenges before us in a multipolar world.
Relationships between countries, which are fraught with conflict, complicate our task and the development of relations between states. Unfortunately, the number of threats in the world is increasing: energy insecurity, international terrorism, extreme poverty, violence, and intolerance. It is more than ever necessary to deepen cooperation within international organizations and to combat these negative developments.
The Bretton Woods economic and financial arrangements need reform, because they no longer meet the new challenges facing the world. We cooperate with Russia within the UN Security Council. And we are glad that Russia supports Brazil in its international efforts. We are a peaceful country. We share borders with ten other states. And we are a country with the smallest number of weapons. We are very concerned about stability in the world.
I will soon travel to Iran. I’m going there knowing that the dialogue that will take place is very important. And I will try to use the power of persuasion in this dialogue. We strive for a fairer world.
Another problem is climate change. And we must also work on this problem together, by joining our efforts.
With regard to BRIC countries and BRIC’s recent forum, we have demonstrated our determination to work together. Our relations with the Russian Federation remain our priority, and it’s good that we have adopted a joint action plan, a very important step to have our plans for the future actually implemented. We look into the future with optimism.
Trade between our countries, surely, must again pick up and return to its previous level. Our ultimate goal is 10 billion dollars. We must change the existing balance, or rather, eliminate the imbalance that exists in trade between Russia and Brazil.
There is a need to explore the possibility of setting up concerns in Russia and Brazil and using our national currencies in our trade and settlements. The issue of bilateral cooperation in the field of technology is a very important one in terms of our countries’ competitiveness, and it is an important element of our cooperation. We must cooperate in the area of satellite communication through GLONASS system. And we are confident that Russia will assist Brazil in developing its space research and exploration programs.
It has been 172 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and Brazil. We are confident that our peoples will be able to change the situation in the world and in bilateral relations. And the fact that the city of Joinville has had a ballet school of the Bolshoi Theatre for ten years now speaks for itself. This school gives the children from problem families an opportunity to take classes. This expression of solidarity on the part of Russia is a manifestation of our union, our alliance, which has a great future.
I would like to tell President Medvedev and the ministers present here that Brazil and Russia are giant countries. For many decades and even centuries, we remained far from each other, and we remained unaware of our own importance and significance in the world. In the 21st century, amid the global economic crisis that unfolded in 2008, these two giant countries, two powers, recognized and understood that they have no right to follow the same logic we had followed in the past century.
We have to build something new. We have to encourage our people to invest in our economies.
It is my belief that the figure I quoted, the prospects for development of our economic relations, is a figure that is consistent with the potentials of Russia and Brazil, and our people, and our countries’ level of scientific and technological development. And 8-10 billion dollars is not too much, and we can hit this figure and go even further. The current strategic plan for collaboration and the development of relations between Russia and Brazil - for us this is our perspective.
Brazilian entrepreneurs will invest in Russia, and Russian businessmen will invest in Brazilian economy, and both countries will be able to establish joint ventures. And that will be possible if Brazil and Russia realize that today it is impossible to live without direct air links between Moscow and Rio de Janeiro, Moscow and Sao Paulo, Brazil and Russia. This is necessary for our people, students, businessmen, and entrepreneurs. We want to have direct flights from Russia to Brazil. And we should consider the establishment of such routes a priority. That is why we have established a working group that will introduce its proposals. Another working group will deal with trade issues and settlements in national currencies. The use of our national currencies will be beneficial for developing our economic and trade ties.
We must not forget that the economic crisis first hit rich countries, because the financial system that exists in these countries is far from perfect. Europe continues to suffer from that crisis. It is surprising that a country like Greece, a very small country, has created such enormous problems for the entire European economy. This example shows us that the financial system now prevailing in the world is poorly controlled and poorly regulated. The decisions made carry too much risk. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to have control over the financial system, as well as over the World Bank and other international financial institutions.
Mr President, we will soon meet again in Canada at a G20 summit. At that meeting, we will have to explain and articulate our position. And we will have to explain to other countries that it is necessary to use their own national currencies in trade with other countries.
I would like to express confidence that our joint work will be successful. And we will make every effort, do everything we can to change the world and make it different from what we had in the 20th and 19th centuries. And this will involve the economy, politics, and diplomacy. The most important is to preserve peace in the world, and we must do everything we can to avoid another situation like Iraq. We need a stable, peaceful world, where there is no place for terrorism. Russia and Brazil can cooperate in this area, working for the preservation of world peace.
Thank you again for your hospitality.
QUESTION: I have a question for both presidents. Mr Lula, you said that you will soon be visiting Iran. In this regard, what’s your assessment of the efforts the Group of Six is undertaking to settle Iran’s nuclear problem, and what can Brazil offer in this regard?
Mr Medvedev, a question for you as well. Yesterday, you and the President of the United States agreed to take a common stand on Iran within the Group of Six. Does this mean that the differences on this matter are still significant? Is the offer by the Group of Six to send uranium abroad for further enrichment still on the table? And how do you see this situation develop if Iran rejects these offers?
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: My mission is less difficult than that of my colleague and friend, President Lula; I will be in Moscow, while President Lula goes to Tehran, and naturally, this will not be an easy trip.
As for common approaches, at this time, we do not have too many disagreements with regard to Iran’s nuclear programme. Our common principles have not changed, and overall, almost all states are adhering to them. What are these principles?
First, Iran’s nuclear programme must be peaceful.
Second, it must be open for inspection and control by the IAEA.
Third, Iran must cooperate with the international community and, of course, with the Organisation [the IAEA] itself.
And fourth, Iran must abide by the rules of non-proliferation of nuclear technology. If these principles and conditions are met, then we are certainly ready for Iran to take a worthy place among the nations, which are conducting research in the nuclear sector. But these are the issues that are currently causing us a certain amount of concern.
As for positions among the Group of Six, I think that they are fairly consolidated and stem from the four principles that I noted. There are some nuances and some issues for particular nations. Each nation participating in these talks has its own relations with Iran – or, to be more precise, some have relations with Iran, while others don’t. Well, the Russian Federation does have relations with Iran; these are deep, serious, mutually beneficial relations, so this gives us a certain responsibility, but at the same time, we have a certain choice to make.
Now, with regard to what might be done, I am very much counting on President of Brazil’s mission to end in success. Perhaps this is the last opportunity before certain decisions will be made within the Security Council. It would be very good if we can convince Iran to cooperate accordingly, agreeing to the suggestions that have been made. These suggestions involve exchange of low-enriched uranium for highly enriched uranium, regardless of where this is done, whether in the Russian Federation, or in Turkey, or in any other nation. Today, I told my colleague that I genuinely wish him success in this endeavour.
Yesterday, the President of the United States and I discussed this issue over the phone, agreeing that we need a consolidated position. And I stated that, in my view, we absolutely need to give the President of Brazil an opportunity to use the full range of arguments the international community currently has at its disposal to convince Iran to start cooperating. If there are no changes, if the attempt to convince Iran to cooperate is unsuccessful, then the international community will need to act in accordance with the approaches being considered by the Group of Six and other states that are actively involved in this process, including the ones discussed in our own communication. And so, I hope that the situation does not develop this way, but nevertheless, I cannot rule out such a possibility. And that is precisely why I will state again, for the third time, that I very much wish for my colleague and friend, President Lula, to be successful in these talks, and I appeal to the Iranian leadership to listen to the arguments made by President of Brazil.
PRESIDENT OF BRAZIL LUIZ INACIO LULA DA SILVA: I will not make any assessments right now of the accomplishments the Group of Six has made; I do not attend its meetings. I’ m not engaged in its discussions. I simply believe very strongly in dialogue and in the policy of persuasion. It is imperative to persuade people that they must move forward; otherwise, they will always be moving backward. I think that with every day, as we approach the talks with Iran, I become increasingly optimistic. I want the same things for Iran that I want for my country, for Brazil, and I wish the people of Iran the same things I wish for my own people. I want the Iranians to live by their Constitution, the Constitution that works; I want the peoples of the Middle East to live in such a setting where the creation and use of nuclear weapons is out of the question.
I would like to return to the ideals to which we have been true since 1988, when we adopted our new Constitution. I would like for all nations to be and remain peaceful nations, so that we can all enjoy music, football, our own work, and most importantly, so that we can enjoy peace. All of this will be possible only if we live in an atmosphere of peace; only peace can allow for progress and development in every nation. I can imagine how much positive energy has already been wasted in the last months in constant discussions about Iran’s nuclear programme, how much energy and effort we have needlessly used trying to influence other nations’ positions on Iran. Thus, we have a clear goal ahead of us: for diplomacy to be at the highest accessible level and using it to convince the Iranians that agreements are always better than disagreements, disputes, and quarrels.
I began my political career negotiating permanent agreements as a trade unionist during a difficult time for Brazil when there was no freedom for trade unions to function, and very often, we had to make an enormous effort to convince companies to at least sit down and negotiate. Later, it was often necessary to do exactly the same kind of work within the framework of the United Nations.
I have a vivid memory of President Ahmadinejad’s speech at the General Assembly and the conversation I had with him. I can only say that there is not a single human being who is 100 percent good or 100 percent bad. The scales are always shifting. And I think that President Ahmadinejad also has a very good, very interesting human side. I know what the entire world thinks about him right now. But I believe the truth is that the people of Iran want peace. Men, women, children – everyone wants to live in peace, just like the people of Brazil, and just like the people of Russia. And it is simply imperative to develop relations of mutual trust.
Trust is a much more solid basis for agreements than distrust and suspicion. Thus, I would like for everyone to believe and trust the way that I do. It is important to trust not only one’s own friends, but many others as well. I must now use everything that I learned in my long political life in order to convince my friend Mr Ahmadinejad to reach an agreement regarding the suggestions made by the international community.
I continue to support the idea that we must always try to start anew, that the main goal is to reach agreements, even if that process is gradual. Thus, I readily accept your wishes for success; I will try to do everything I can to reach some kind of settlement. I am heading to Iran convinced that we will find some kind of agreement. If we do not come to an agreement, I will nevertheless be content that I participated in these efforts, that I tried to make my contribution, and that I did everything I could. And so, I was optimistic yesterday and I am even more optimistic today; perhaps, I will be an even greater optimist tomorrow, and I hope to be even more of an optimist after my meeting with President Ahmadinejad.
QUESTION: The United States and Mr Medvedev have stressed and repeated that the President of Brazil’s visit to Iran is the last opportunity to convince the Iranian President to stick to a peaceful nuclear programme and avoid sanctions against Iran…
Thank you very much.
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: I did not hear the question itself. Maybe there wasn’t one? We did not hear it in the translation. Could you repeat it? Or was that a foreign policy statement? If so, we can support it.
QUESTION: They asked about the chances… of Iran recognising…
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: You want me to assess those chances? Or you want President Lula to do that? Very well, taking into account that my friend President Lula is an optimist, I will also be optimistic and give an assessment of 30 percent.
LUIZ INACIO LULA DA SILVA: In my view, we all signed a nuclear non-proliferation treaty and we must all adhere to its principles. Furthermore, we must all obey the decisions of our highest authority – the United Nations. Everyone knows that there have been some disagreements between Brazil and the Security Council, since we feel that today, the UN, which was created in 1945, does not correspond with current global realities. We feel that if the UN Security Council included more nations, then the United Nations itself would have more opportunities to influence the situation around the world.
Unfortunately, the Security Council also lacks unity, and while some members are inclined toward one point of view, others are inclined toward a different one. And this is an element of the political situation, political life. However, I do not see any reasons or basis to presume that we cannot maintain a normal, substantive dialogue with Iran. I do not know why some believe that this is unachievable. Perhaps another nation may have problems in maintaining a dialogue or conversation with Iran, but we have not had this problem, and we are certain that we can maintain this kind of dialogue.
We also maintain very good trade relations with Iran. We sell a lot to them. And naturally, we are ready to make many sacrifices to find the right path and help Iran find the right path to resolving this problem. And if it doesn’t work, then perhaps this will be my loss, my mistake. But for the moment, I have a very optimistic outlook.
I speak in the name of Mr Medvedev and in the name of other leaders. After all, everyone wants an agreement and an understanding to be reached with Iran regarding its nuclear programme. This is in the interest of the Brazilian people and the Iranian people. Furthermore, we also need to settle the problems in the Middle East. Indeed, the United Nations itself made a resolution to create the Palestinian State; it passed a resolution on the creation of two independent states.
In my youth, I witnessed the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. This had a very strong influence on my perception of the world. And once, I read an article in a newspaper saying that a Brazilian agricultural company called EMBRAPA, an agricultural business that produces food products, it has great importance. And that researchers, employees of this agricultural business are now working in Afghanistan. I will die an optimist and I will remain an optimist until the very end of my days.
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: I understand. Mr President and I have agreed that we will stay in touch and check on the chances after Mr President completes his mission. I hope it is successful.