Visit to Russia
THE PRESIDENT – (…) We reviewed in some detail all the issues, particularly the G20, the G8, where we’ll be going together at the end of next week. We share the same determination to get things moving. I also had the opportunity of saying how much France had appreciated Russia’s attitude on the sanctions against Iran. Finally, I want to say, in front of the business leaders and ministers, how satisfied I am at the spectacular development of our two countries’ economic relations; spectacular, unprecedented in volume, and spectacular in terms of the diversification of our joint activities which are no longer simply in the usual strategic sectors but now embrace every important sector of our two economies. I think we can say that rarely in history have relations between Russia and France been so ambitious, untroubled and mutually trusting.
Q. – (…) When you spoke at the forum, you said the number of reserve currencies has to be increased, and as fast as possible. Just now you said your positions on the G8 and G20 are coordinated. Did you talk about this list of reserve currencies? What does President Sarkozy think of the rouble and yuan? Today we’ve received reports that China wants to strengthen the yuan and maybe China is on the list. Another question to President Sarkozy on the euro: are France’s positions on supporting the euro coordinated with Mrs Merkel’s?
THE PRESIDENT – Three points. Firstly, Russia has of course a role to play in developing the future new world monetary order. Russia is a power which counts on the international stage and has ideas to contribute on this new order. We, Russia and France, agree on the idea that things have got to move, and do so in the next few months.
Secondly, the Chinese leaders’ recent statements on the yuan are actually rather encouraging. And we welcome them. We’re saying that no one has to feel they’re being accused and that everyone must make their contribution to this new monetary order.
Thirdly, when it comes to France and Germany and supporting the euro, we have the same position. Germany and France’s responsibilities in Europe are such that our positions are very similar on everything. We can’t allow ourselves to have any kind of opposition. There’s no reason for our positions not being very similar. The Chancellor and I talk very often. Our ministers are always having meetings. Our positions, when they’re not spontaneously the same, well, we take the time necessary to bring them closer together. Clearly and simply, Germany and France have the same position on the euro.
FRANCO-RUSSIAN CONTRACTS/FRENCH GROWTH FORECASTS
Q. – Several of the contracts announced today concern so-called sensitive sectors: nuclear power, aerospace and, also under discussion, France’s delivery of the Mistral helicopter carrier to Russia. So where today, if they exist, are the limits to technology transfers between France and Russia? Also, you both declared, following the forum, that you were reasonably optimistic about putting the crisis behind us. What practical elements are you basing this optimism on?
And in the case of France, President Sarkozy, should we see France’s 2.5% growth target for next year, which some people think a bit optimistic, as a sign of your confidence?
THE PRESIDENT – The limits to the contract which we are signing are quite simple: these contracts must be in Russia and France’s mutual interest. That’s what we are trying to ensure. That’s what a partnership is. It has to be in our Russian friends’ interest to work with our businesses and equally in ours to work with them. We aren’t simply in a client-supplier relationship; we are in a partnership for the long term. We know perfectly well that there will be technological transfers if this is in both our interests.
You asked me questions on nuclear power. Russia has been a nuclear power for a long time. French and Russian scientists have been working together for a very long time. I’ve already had the opportunity to explain about the Mistral. Our Russian friends have taken the position you know on Iran and we should conclude from that we can’t go and sell the Mistrals? That would be absolutely senseless, totally inconsistent. And a great partnership in the agri-foodstuffs industry, a great partnership in transport, great partnerships in energy and the Russian investors have decided to build two tall towers to revitalize the property market in the La Défense district. The only limit I can see is that it must be in our mutual interest.
On the forecasts, why are we optimistic? Growth is picking up again all over the world. As regards Europe and France, all the international bodies are saying that France has better prospects than her partners. I’m not going to be sad about that. If it weren’t the case, you wouldn’t hesitate to point it out to me, and rightly. I was in fact very interested to receive the encouragement to pursue our reform policy which the IMF gave us.
Finally, as regards the growth forecasts, with Mme Lagarde, we’ve always been moderate and, so far, whenever we’ve had to revise our forecasts, it’s been up not down. So, at least, this recent past gives us credit for the near future.
Q. – I ask both leaders. The St Petersburg forum is drawing to a close but the major events are ahead of us: the G8 and G20 summits. How are we going to change the world economy? On which issues are your positions the same or different? What are the common positions?
THE PRESIDENT – Listen, let me answer very briefly (…): at times there are two camps within the G20: one of countries wanting things to move and us to learn the lessons of the crisis, and one of countries taking the view that, since the crisis is waning, there’s no reason to learn any lessons. I note that on virtually every issue, Russia and France are among the countries wanting a new global order. That doesn’t mean we’ve got exactly the same positions on taxing financial transactions or the banks. But we’ve got exactly the same strategy. We want the same causes not to produce the same effects. I think that in saying that, I am being as honest and transparent as possible; our strategy is the same: we have to learn the lessons from the crisis and do so straightaway. When we’ve got points where we aren’t spontaneously in agreement, we discuss them.
I might add that we have also decided that, with Germany, the three of us, Russia, Germany and France, are going to meet together more often so as to coordinate our positions and take things forward. So our strategy is exactly the same. Within this strategy there may be certain issues where our interests aren’t exactly the same, or our sensitivities aren’t exactly the same. In this case, we reach a compromise, we agree. (…)./.