Excerpts from the transcript:
Dmitry Medvedev and Xavier Bettel at a news conference
Xavier Bettel (via interpreter): Good afternoon. First of all, I would like to thank the Prime Minister for visiting the
Grand Duchy of Luxembourg with such a representative delegation. Thank you for
accepting the invitations I extended to you during our last meeting at the ASEM
This is the first visit of the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation
to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
We have a very long history of constructive bilateral relations. For
over 150 years we have always cooperated in the economy, culture and science.
I am glad that our first meeting allowed us to rapidly launch university
exchanges between Russia and
Two agreements were signed today: one on culture and the other on economic
Let me recall that Russia
have been actively cooperating in ferrous metallurgy for many decades. During
my latest visit to Russia
we discussed the issues of startups with a view to stepping up our cooperation
in this area.
As I have already said Luxembourg
have cooperated throughout the history of their relations. In 1867 Russia acted as
a guarantor of our country’s neutrality. During World War II, Russia’s tremendous losses helped liberate Europe, including my country.
The Tambov Region (I would like to thank its governor for attending)
also remains part of our common history.
Its representative attended the ceremony to lay flowers at the monument
to the dead. There is a cemetery in Tambov,
where 167 Luxembourgers are buried. They were recruited by the Nazis against
their will and never again saw their homeland. I am grateful to the Tambov
Region for their care for these graves.
I would also like to thank its officials for the copies of files of
Luxembourgers who were in Tambov.
This is also an important part of our history and our collective memory that I
consider extremely important.
We should not forget, and many know about this, that there were about
3,000 Russians in Luxembourg.
They were brought here against their will and used for forced labour. Many of them are also buried here. We
discussed this issue and think we should consider setting aside a plot of land
and building a monument to them to remember the 3,000 Russians brought to Luxembourg by
I should note that international relations are making rapid headway. I think
we should communicate more, talk to each other more because it is only when we
talk and hear each other that we can understand each other and resolve the
problems we face.
I continue to favour political dialogue with the Russian Federation.
Our principles are straightforward and clear cut, and our commitment to
dialogue is also very clear. We are in a unique place, in a fortress, and the strength
of this country comes in part from its location at a crossroads, from its
continuous commitment to dialogue, exchanges and communication with others.
This fortress is part of our history as well.
I would like to emphasise two moments. First, disarmament is the only
way of supporting peace and facilitating economic progress. Second, it is
impossible to achieve security on the European continent without Russia.
During the talks we discussed many issues, including the Council of Europe
that was established in 1949. Yes, we have disagreements but I am convinced that
united Europe, of which the Council of Europe is a symbol, is linked with Russia. I would
like us to find a way out of this highly complicated situation in the next few
weeks or months. We must find a way of resolving current problems. I am convinced
that this will happen because… You said this yourself, Mr Prime Minister.
You are a lawyer: each of us cherishes the rights that exist today and the protection
of human rights in Europe. We spoke about the
protection of human rights, in particular, minority rights. We talked about
this and, of course, about EU-Russia relations for the last few hours.
I think the principles of rule of law, the supremacy of law play a major
role in our relations with Russia.
It is important for our relations to follow certain rules. We talked today
about several issues that have complicated relations – the
Skripal case and Crimea, for instance. As a
result, our relations have cooled and even frozen. I consider it very important
to find a way out of this predicament because we are all losing as a result.
Nobody stands to gain. If some politician wants to say we aren't losing too
much, this will be untrue. Both the EU and Russia are losing out. We are all losing.
This is why I think it is important for us to continue searching for a way out.
Take the Minsk agreements.
They are perhaps imperfect. But this is the only foundation we have to achieve
some progress. I hope relations will stabilise and improve in the next few
months and years.
I am convinced that Russia
also believes that international law and multilateralism are important
principles. We talked about this. They also reflect our desire to cooperate
with each other. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council Russia
understands how important it is to work together to find a solution and not to
In conclusion I would like to say that I am happy to receive Prime Minister
Medvedev in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. This is a gesture on the part of Russia, which shows its readiness for dialogue and
cooperation, and its striving to promote security and stability in today’s world
that needs them so badly, including Europe.
We must seek cooperation in Europe where
we both live. We all cherish Europe. We must find
a way to work together that will allow our societies and countries to make
progress and put an end to a situation where all are losing.
Thank you very much, Mr Prime Minister, for your visit, your friendly attitude
and your presence that moves our dialogue forward.
Dmitry Medvedev: Colleagues, members of the press,
I will also begin by thanking my colleague, the Prime
Minister of Luxembourg, Mr Xavier Bettel, for the invitation to visit the Grand
Duchy. This is the first visit by a Russian prime minister to the Grand Duchy,
and my first visit to your country.
We had constructive and wide-ranging talks yesterday
and today. By the way, this is our fourth meeting. The first time we met was in
2015, and then the Prime Minister came several times to us. We discussed in
detail a variety of issues, including bilateral cooperation, its prospects and,
of course, the international situation and the general situation in Europe in order to share our perspectives on the current
developments. Actually, this is why we are here now.
I will not go deep into the history of our friendship
and partnership. But I want to say one thing: indeed, there was the Treaty of London, and the participation of the Russian Empire, and
the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Grand Duchy and, first, the
Russian Empire, and then the Soviet Union. And
we have always been able to maintain a constructive dialogue. In cases where
major powers considered it impractical, for some reason, to deal with the
problems faced by the Grand Duchy, Russia took a fundamentally
different position. Some countries didn’t even know the country’s name. It is
important that today we have cooperation in various areas.
I will give you several examples.
Luxembourg remains one of the largest foreign investor in our
country. It ranks fifth among the countries that invest in the Russian economy.
By mid-2018, the volume of FDI stocks reached
almost $20 billion. This predetermines the need for good relations, because we
are fully aware of what investment on this scale means.
Bilateral trade is on the rise. It is not of fantastic
proportions, but there is potential for growth. And I hope that our talks will improve
We agreed to look for new opportunities to increase
interaction. We have an intergovernmental commission. Our interaction covers a variety of matters. There are, on the one hand,
traditional areas and, on the other, there is high technology, which is a
critical area now.
As you may be aware, an agreement on cooperation
between the Chambers of Commerce and Industry of our countries was signed in
Luxembourg companies have been working successfully in Russia for a
long time now. They were instrumental in launching plants in big industries
such as metallurgy, the automotive industry, the production of high-tech glass,
and modern batteries.
Luxembourg businesses not only continue to expand existing
production, but show interest in new projects as well. Of course, we, as good
partners, will continue to provide the most favourable terms and conditions for
such companies in our country.
There are opportunities for expanding cooperation in
investment as well. I already mentioned how important it is for us to develop cooperation
in the sphere of high technology. By the way, that includes space exploration.
We discussed a number of projects. I think this is something of immediate
Luxembourg’s contacts with the Russian regions are developing
quite well. The Tambov Region was mentioned already. There are contacts with
the Moscow Region as well.
On a separate note, I would like to express my
gratitude to my colleague, Mr Bettel, for such a respectful – I would even say,
reverential – approach to the outcomes of WWII. Unfortunately, words like that
do not often come from our European partners. It is important. The memory of
the war is what binds us together, and it should, in principle, be sacred for
all of us.
Cultural ties are another area of cooperation.
Today, we signed a protocol on renewing our cultural cooperation programme for
three more years. It lays the foundation for specific future projects. I want
to thank our partners for supporting our cultural ties which truly connect
By the way, as I understand, the Museum of Contemporary Art,
where we are now, was created largely on Mr Bettel’s initiative. The fact that
we are having this meeting in this building is quite auspicious.
I would like to once again thank my colleague for a warm
welcome and an interesting, constructive and truly wide-ranging conversation.
I chose to not wade into the vicissitudes of our
relations with the European Union or discussions of all sorts of sanctions.
Most likely, you will ask me about something like that. The only thing I want
to comment on is what my colleague said about how everyone realises that
everyone is losing. Europe is losing. However,
I would like to point out that there are other countries that are not in Europe. And they are not losing. They are winning in some
ways. This, too, must be kept in mind. I think we will get back to discussing
these countries a little later.
Question: Mr Prime Minister,
talks have concluded, and previously, Russia-Bulgaria talks were held. I would
like to ask a question on both agendas.
the completion of the Belene nuclear power plant was discussed among other
things. Is Russia
interested in participating in this project?
we witnessed the signing of a declaration of cooperation on economic
modernisation. We have similar agreements with other European countries - they
exist de jure but do not work de facto, they are not executed. What will happen
to the document signed today?
Dmitry Medvedev: Let us start with Bulgaria. We discussed in detail with
our Bulgarian colleagues everything that was and was not implemented. Including
the Belene nuclear power plant. Perhaps this is an example of how not to work.
Money was spent, money was paid but nothing was done. Quite a big sum of money.
But since our partners from Bulgaria
have a desire to build a new nuclear power plant, it would be quite logical to
implement those ideas we put forward. We do not refuse anything. They are going
to hold a tender. Equipment has been purchased. Of course, it is necessary to
conduct an audit, but in general, if there is a corresponding offer for us, as
well as for other participants in this tender, we are ready to participate in
believe that we have very good competences in the construction of nuclear power
plants and we have opportunities to implement this project as well as we do in
a number of other European countries. For example, we are implementing projects
in Turkey, Hungary, Finland. Why don't we implement a
similar project in Bulgaria?
Especially since we already started it.
can say the following about the document signed here in Luxembourg. In
general, there are many similar documents, you are right. And these documents
were signed in a much better period of our relations with the countries of the
European Union. These documents work well with some partners, while they do not
work that well with other ones. But it may work well with our partners from Luxembourg
because we have a desire to do this. And we addressed specific areas of how to expand cooperation on high technology. So
everything is in our
interpreter): Mr Prime Minister, we can see how well our relations are developing.
Can Luxembourg become a kind
of mediator, an intermediary between the West and Russia? Something the Americans
will not much like to see Luxembourg
doing, I understand. Mr Bettel, are you ready to take on this role, despite the
pressure from our NATO allies?
Dmitry Medvedev: Everything in this world depends on
specific people. Mr Bettel is in fact ready to undertake this intermediary
mission, as I see it. Moreover, he first mentioned it in 2015. I am aware of Luxembourg’s
role and place, he said; I am aware of other constraints, I understand
everything, I know that we are a NATO member, and we naturally fulfill our obligations
in the European Union, but someone has to build bridges, and I’m ready, he said.
I think this is the right thing to do and a truly noble mission.
This mission will encounter
varied responses. I will not comment on the positions of individual countries in
the European Union – this might not be very diplomatic of me, but I will
comment on the position of our American colleagues, if you meant what was shouted
from the American embassy.
I do not know who said this, I do
not remember the name of that clerk, but in any case I would like to note the
following: that person needs to be given an elementary textbook on
international public law to start learning the basics, because serving in a
diplomatic position, one must be familiar with the concept of state sovereignty.
What does state sovereignty mean?
It means the supremacy of state authority inside the country and the
independence of state authority outside it. This is the classical understanding
of state sovereignty. Maybe after reading this, everything will fall into place
in that person’s head. If he actually understands what he has read, which I
Xavier Bettel (via
interpreter): I belong to a generation that has never known war. I was elected
in a democratic vote, and if I can speak openly here, it is all because of soldiers
– Russian and British soldiers who came here without even knowing where my
country was. And so I respect them, and I owe them something.
Today I live in a free country
and I can freely express my opinion. If the US ambassador says something, it is
also freedom of speech, freedom of expression. I am an advocate of dialogue and
personal contacts. It is important that there are good person to person
contacts between colleagues. My relationship with President Putin is very good.
My relationship with President Trump is also good. And with my European
colleagues, we have good relationships too.
Dialogue, the exchange of views,
the fact that we listen to each other and a pragmatic approach are the only way
out of this situation in which we often fail to talk to each other, but communicate
through the curtain of the press, sanctions and counter sanctions. This is what
the dialogue between the countries looks like today. It is sad that this
And so I thank you, Mr Prime
Minister, for believing me capable of performing this role. But it is important
to have interlocutors who would listen to me. Thank you for being open to this
dialogue. We certainly need to talk. We need to tell everyone we are willing to
start a dialogue. This is the first step.
Dmitry Medvedev and Xavier Bettel at a news conference
But a dialogue requires a partner.
So, I believe it is important to tell all stakeholders that we are offering
this opportunity to clear up the situation in international relations, that
there is the will to organise a dialogue here.
Naturally, I will undertake this
mission during meetings with my European colleagues. And I will talk about it with
President when I meet with him. Because I believe that dialogue and the exchange
of views is the only way to find a solution. I am ready to listen to everyone.
This does not mean that I share all points of view, but freedom of speech is
one of the main democratic freedoms in my country. So yes, I heard everything
that was said. I read all the letters. And our government supports dialogue, open
exchange of views and respect for partners.
Question: Mr Medvedev, the US is withdrawing
from the INF Treaty. In response Vladimir Putin signed an executive
order suspending the Russian
Federation's compliance with the Treaty. What danger do these steps pose today for Europe and the world as a whole?
Dmitry Medvedev: Any withdrawal from
a treaty before its expiration date is itself dangerous. If it is a commercial contract,
breaking it will be bad for at least two parties. One side refuses to abide by
it or pay anything… But if this is a treaty on security, the matter is much
Let’s analyse what happened. There were some criticisms
from the US
– ostensibly the Russians were violating the INF Treaty. We had similar
criticisms on some other positions. I wonder what is better– to criticise each
other, argue, discuss and find some solutions or simply terminate the Treaty.
This is exactly what the Americans did under a flimsy pretext, at least in Russia’s
opinion. They simply said they are suspending the Treaty but in reality (this
is clear to everyone) they tore up the Treaty which was one of the instruments
underlying international security and strategic stability. Is this a good thing?
Has it improved the world?
Obviously, this directly affects the general state of
affairs in security. There is no other way to describe it. Discussing this issue
with MPs today I said we should all remember a simple and well-known Latin truth:
Pacta sunt servanda – agreements must be kept. Those who do not abide by
treaties deserve to be denounced. This is exactly why what has happened with
the Treaty destroys one of the elements of the security system. And this it
what our American partners in this Treaty did.
Nobody knows what will happen next. The President of
the Russian Federation
signed a relevant order. Sometimes we are told that we should all get together
once again and make a deal on everything. But it is clear to everyone that it
is impossible to get anyone together to agree on anything, all the more so
since many more countries should take part in this Treaty. They will not sit at
the negotiating table because they are fine with how things are. We assumed
commitments (for which we were criticised for some time by the way) and kept
them. Nobody else will sit at the negotiating table. Meanwhile, weapons have
become more powerful. The consequences of this, as is said in the releases of
our General Staff and the conclusions of analysts, concern not only Europe. In effect, they now concern the entire world,
especially considering what our President said: not only missile deployment
sites but places where decisions are made on the use of weapons will be
targeted in this case. Everyone understands what this means.
I think this is a sad event. This does not mean that
we should cut off communication. But this step deserved the strongest
condemnation. It is inappropriate to behave
like that. There is no doubt that the unilateral US withdrawal further undermined
(via interpreter): I would like to add that I am worried about this
issue because what is happening is the erosion of legal instruments for arms control. It worries me. We should not forget that even
at the worst points of the Cold War both the US
were always ready to sign disarmament treaties to stabilise the situation. So I
hope we will return to this practice, to common sense, so as to avoid a new
interpreter): In December 2018, the European Commission announced an action
plan to counter online disinformation campaigns in the run-up to the May
election. Facebook, Twitter and Google were put on alert. The threat coming from
as everyone pointed out, is the main concern. Mr Medvedev, what can you say
about these suspicions, including those relating to Russia's
possible interference in the US
Dmitry Medvedev: I am not sure what I should comment on: the European
Commission’s proposals or suspicions regarding Russia?
interpreter): What does Russia
think about the fact that the European Commission suspects it of potential interference in the European
election which is scheduled to be held in May?
Dmitry Medvedev: The election has yet to come, and
we are already suspected of doing something wrong? What about all the different
presumptions and legal assumptions? There is no end to what people may suspect.
Let them prove at least something. So far, it’s nothing but speculation about
the future which has yet to come. Truth be told, suspecting someone of an event
that has not yet happened is a bunch of paranoid nonsense. Let them come up
with some evidence after the election. Then we will look into it. Now what, Russia has
already been declared responsible?
Question: I have a question for the Russian Prime Minister.
Luxembourg is considered a founding father of Europe, whereas
we, in Russia,
have our own integration union, our own way of integration. It is associated
Here is my question: based on recent statements, including by the Belarusian
President, what is your take on the prospects for this association, bearing in
mind that there is an option to integrate on the basis of the 1999 Treaty and an
option to integrate based on the Eurasian Economic Union?
Dmitry Medvedev: Thank you. This is really an appropriate question in
this audience since we are now in the centre of Europe, where, in fact, the
European capitals are located, as there are several European capitals, and Luxembourg is
one of them.
We are following our own integration path. I think
this is a normal and correct thing to do. It is interesting to observe the EU experience.
Indeed, I looked it up - there were several statements
on this account recently, as the presidents met and discussed possible levels
of integration, one way or another, deep or not so deep to begin with.
I believe we need to work on it rather than say that Russia clearly
does not want anything, and this is all just a front. If the founding fathers
of the European Union had reasoned like this, there would never have been a
European Union. Any union is based on trust, not comments about who is
suspected of what, taking someone aside and whispering in his ear. Not a good way
With regard to the future, I outlined two options when
I spoke about this subject several months ago. The first option is to implement
the 1999 Treaty, which is turning 20 this year. This is an advanced path both for
Russia and the Republic of Belarus. We just need to create the corresponding
institutions. Then, we will be able to state that this union has come to pass,
This can happen only if the two parties agree. There is no way to
force anyone into it. It is pointless to talk about the location of the currency
issuance centre, or what the currency name will be until we are done with the routine
part of agreeing on the basic documents which will underlie this union.
So, we can stay within the framework of the 1999
Treaty and say that this is the union that we wanted to create. Not too large,
but still something that gives us certain advantages. This is one option. The other
option is to follow the agreement that was signed, and implement the provisions
that are directly stipulated in the treaty.
With regard to the Eurasian Union, everything is
clear: the treaty was signed and needs to be acted upon. It has already created
a single economic space for us that generates revenue for the states and opens
up opportunities. Then, we should follow the path outlined in this treaty. But
these are different integration options.
interpreter): Mr Medvedev, a major US investor, Michael Calvey, was
arrested recently. The court refused to release him on his own recognisance. Do
you think a civil rather than a criminal court should look into his case? Could
this arrest have an impact on the investment climate in Russia, or on Russia’s
relations with the United
States and the EU?
Dmitry Medvedev: You are forcing me to comment on things I am not
authorised to comment on, because, after all, there is the separation of
powers. When it comes to arrests, it is, of course, the jurisdiction of the
criminal courts. Not long ago, a top manager from a Chinese company was also
arrested, and quite unexpectedly so. Everyone was shocked. However, later they reconsidered.
What does this tell us? It only tells us that a court
in any country is entitled to rule based on the materials provided by the
investigative authorities. Apparently, in this particular situation, they had
I simply don’t know what will come next. Of course, the
court will hear out the arguments provided by the prosecution. If it recognises
them as sufficient, it will extend the arrest. If it doesn’t, it can choose
another measure of restraint. But this is entirely the jurisdiction of the
court, so I would like to limit my comments to this.
Xavier Bettel (via
interpreter): I do not want us to end up in a situation where legal matters
are considered issues to be tackled by governments. It is important to understand
You asked me about relations between Luxembourg and the United States. My colleague and I discussed
everything. There was no topic that we didn’t touch upon. Of course, we
discussed compliance with international law. I also discussed minority issues
with the Prime Minister. We had the chance to discuss everything. I believe it
is important that we can talk to each other, and that we talk face to face and
listen to what our partner has to say. Prime Minister Medvedev’s visit shows a willingness
to sit down and discuss things. We have also been taking this approach in
recent years and will continue to in the future. It is important to build
bridges to connect with each other. This is part of our common DNA and our