EXCERPTS FROM PRESIDENT DMITRY MEDVEDEV’S INTERVIEW WITH NTV
Excerpts from President Medvedev’s interview with NTV.
President Dmitry Medvedev’s meeting and conversation with NTV correspondents was mostly centered around foreign political issues. Special attention was focused on the relations with the United States in the light of US Vice President Joe Biden’s recent visits to Ukraine and Georgia. (Interviewed by the Wall Street Journal in the meantime, Biden was quite critical of Russia.)
Medvedev was asked to comment on Biden’s promise to the president of Georgia that Washington did not intend to reset the US-Russian relations at Georgia’s expense.
He said, “We want normal relations with the United States. It does not mean that our relations with the United States should affect our relations with other countries or relations between the United States with whatever other country, be it Ukraine or Georgia. It’s their relations, we’ll leave it to them.” The president added that all recent complications in contacts with Ukraine notwithstanding, he counted on establishment of a neighborly dialogue with the sisterly nation.
Speaking of Georgia on the eve of the first anniversary of the tragic events in South Ossetia, Medvedev pointed out that diplomatic relations between Moscow and Tbilisi were lacking due to the aggression mounted by Saakashvili’s regime. “Regimes like Saakashvili’s come and go while feelings between peoples remain,” Medvedev said. As for Georgia’s resolve to become a NATO country, the Russian leader asked a rhetoric question, “What does NATO want a country with so many problems for?”
Where Ukraine and its analogous determination were concerned, the Russian president referred to the Ukrainian people which he said should decide if it wanted membership in NATO or not. “We consider it wrong that some states are dragged into military-political alliances despite their peoples,” Medvedev said. “Where Ukraine is concerned, it’s quite simple. Organize a referendum and that will be that. We are not jealous of how other countries develop relations with our partners in the international community, including important partners like the United States.”
Medvedev emphasized that Russia was different from the late Soviet Union and that its determination to be strong was a corollary of the interests of its population and not an ultimate objective in itself. “We want to see the Russian Federation strong. Not in order to play muscles or teach anyone lessons, but because only a strong state can ensure proper living conditions for its citizens.” he said.