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Medvedev says Russia, EU should present united front

Video by Christophe ROBEET

Text by AFP

Latest update : 2008-11-14

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev urged closer cooperation with the European Union on global finance reform and suggested that Moscow and Brussels should speak with "one voice" at the G20 summit this weekend.

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev proposed a new partnership with the European Union on Thursday, breezing past differences over Georgia to urge cooperation on global financial reform.
   
Speaking in France one day ahead of talks with President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose country holds the EU presidency, Medvedev went as far as to suggest Moscow and Brussels should speak with "one voice" at the G20 summit on the financial crisis this weekend.
   
"Russia is ready, together with the EU and other partners, to participate in working out the parameters of a new financial architecture," he told European and Russian business leaders in the southern resort of Cannes.
   
Friday's meeting with Sarkozy in nearby Nice comes just one day before the leaders of the G20 group of rich and emerging countries is due to meet in Washington to discuss a possible radical overhaul of the world financial system.
   
Russia and France have both called, separately, for radical changes and both have pinned the blame for the current global crisis on the United States.
   
Medvedev said that the Russian and EU positions "coincide" on a number of points in relation to the crisis, apart from a few "nuances." An official in Sarkozy's office had already noted an "overlap" in their stance.
   
The Russian leader praised the strength of Europe's single currency, which he said had helped maintain stability during the economic turmoil, and vowed to "develop the ruble" to become another serious alternative to the dollar.
   
Europe will, therefore, hope for Russian support in pushing US President George W. Bush's lame duck administration into accepting radical reform of the financial system, despite recent differences over Georgia.
   
Many EU member states have been outraged by Moscow's decision, in the wake of August's war, to recognise two breakaway republics within Georgia and to reinforce its troop presence there in defiance of a ceasefire deal.
   
Medvedev did not directly address this issue, but said: "Our cooperation should not be held hostage to particular problems, which always exist in such multifaceted cooperation."
   
Medvedev also expressed hope Thursday that US president-elect Barack Obama's administration would bring "cooperative relations."
   
"The new administration wants to see things in an objective way, and I hope that the new president will be able to do so," he said. "We are open to developing good neighbourly relations with the United States."
   
Medvedev's stance on the financial crisis could assuage some European concerns about Moscow's belligerent stance over Georgia.
   
Ahead of the twice-yearly EU-Russia summit, officials admitted that the conflict had severely undermined relations, but common ground could be found as soon as the summit gets underway.
   
"The question of the financial crisis has come to fore. It is on this question that we will begin our conversation at the summit, especially as it comes on the eve of the G20," Russia's EU ambassador Vladimir Chizov said.
   
On Monday, the European Union decided to restart talks on a new strategic pact with Russia that were frozen in the wake of Russia's incursion into Georgia, despite the reservations of some member states.
   
Russia's neighbour Lithuania openly opposed the decision, and other states expressed concerns, arguing Moscow has failed to respect a ceasefire deal and has reinforced its troops in Georgia's breakaway regions.
   
While France, Italy and Germany want a rapid rapprochement with Moscow, former Soviet satellites in eastern Europe and, to a lesser extent, Britain and Sweden are determined to maintain pressure over the conflict.

Date created : 2008-11-14

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