World Economy

Medvedev Tells Europe to Respect Russia’s Interests

Medvedev Tells Europe to Respect Russia’s Interests Medvedev Tells Europe to Respect Russia’s Interests

As long as the European Union ignores legitimate Russian interests, business in Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union will be done by other partners, said Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

"If EU partners want to lecture us and ignore our legitimate interests, like in case of the EU-Ukraine association…. Well, continue to lecture, while others do business at the joint market of the Eurasian Economic Union. Nothing personal, as they say," Medvedev said at a meeting with members of the Russian and German business communities on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, Sputnik reported.

He stressed that not only Russian producers are filling the vacant niches of the Russian market; this is also done by Asian, Latin American and other suppliers.

"Still, we hope that in the end common sense will prevail, that the economic logic, the logic of mutual benefit will return to our relations with the European Union,” said the head of the Russian government.

According to Medvedev, Russia has been getting unofficial appeals from Europe to abolish the ban on some EU produce.

“They are especially concerned about their farmers. But in Russia, we hear the position of our farmers as well: please keep this sanctions regime, give us a chance to stand on our feet, justify the investment. And as the head of the government, I must take these considerations into account,” he said.


Russia is not going to start negotiating the terms of lifting the sanctions, according to Medvedev. “We did not initiate them, so those who imposed them should be the first to cancel them,” said the prime minister.

Russia cannot unilaterally lift its restrictive countermeasures from some particular countries or sectors, even though its EU partners have repeatedly urged it to do so, he said.

"I won't deny it that I've had multiple meetings with my counterparts from various European countries, with business people, and, by the way, with policymakers and heads of government of these countries, who told me: 'Lift the restrictive measures from us in this or that sector'. But we can't do so," he stressed.

"First, these are restrictive countermeasures, and second, the WTO rules do not allow this, or otherwise this would look like a selective approach," Medvedev said.

'Mutual Damage'

The Russian prime minister accused the West of expansionist policies toward formerly Soviet-ruled eastern Europe since the end of the Cold War, saying they were deepening the rift with Moscow.

"European politicians thought that creating a so-called belt of friends at Europe's side, on the outskirts of the European Union, could be a guarantee of security, and what's the result? Not a belt of friends but a belt of exclusion," he said.

The EU’s sanctions on Russia in the wake of the Ukraine crisis are “absurd,” President Vladimir Putin said in a German newspaper interview recently, in which he blamed the eastward expansion of NATO for replacing the Berlin Wall with “invisible walls” between Russia and Europe.

“What the European Union is doing with those sanctions is nothing but a theater of the absurd,” the Russian leader told Bild in the interview published last Monday, referring to the economic restrictions imposed in 2014 after the Kremlin annexed Crimea and backed a separatist rebellion in eastern Ukraine.

 “The West’s sanctions are not aimed at helping Ukraine, but at geopolitically pushing Russia back,” he said. “They are foolish and are merely harming both sides.”

New Cold War?

Medvedev said tensions between Russia and the West have reached Cold War levels. Other leaders also warned of dangerous divisions within Europe.

He said the world had "slid into a new period of Cold War" as differences grew between the West and Russia over conflicts in Syria and Ukraine.

"Almost every day we are accused of making new horrible threats either against NATO as a whole against Europe or against the US or other countries," he told the delegates.

Medvedev said, however, that in the face of the challenges currently facing the world, such as regional conflicts, terrorism and the migration crisis, Russia needed to be regarded as a partner. He added that differences between Moscow and the rest of the world were not unbridgeable.

"Our positions differ, but they do not differ as much as 40 years ago when a wall was standing in Europe," he said, and cited several instances of agreements that had been achieved since then, including on issues such as disarmament, Iran's nuclear program and piracy.