Medvedev: Russia Hopes for Expedient Normalization of Relations With Europe

Medvedev: Russia Hopes for Expedient Normalization of Relations With Europe

13:09 14.01.2015(updated 15:20 14.01.2015)

MOSCOW, January 14 (Sputnik) – Moscow hopes relations with Europe will normalize soon since it is Russia’s main trade partner, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Wednesday.

“We’ll say it outright that we value the relations that we’ve had with Europe over the last few decades, it still remains to be our main trade partner. I hope that these relations will be normalized in the near future, at least we would like them to,” Medvedev said.

Relations between Russia and the European Union have been strained over the crisis in Ukraine. The West has accused Moscow of escalating the conflict, but Russia has denied its involvement.

The EU, alongside the United States and several other countries, has implemented sanctions against Russia targeting finance, energy and defense activities, as well as certain high-profile individuals.

Earlier on Wednesday, it was reported that, according to an EU discussion paper, the bloc member states were considering a gradual normalization of relations with Russia, conditional upon Moscow implementing a ceasefire deal with Ukraine, delivering gas to Ukraine and keeping a hands-off policy regarding trade between that country and the EU.

Medvedev Calls for Return of Civil Servants to Boards of Partially State-Owned Companies

Companies with partial government stakes need to come under more control and the return of government workers into these companies’ board of directors and advisory boards is currently reasonable, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Wednesday.

“Companies with state participation need more control now, actually they’ve always needed to be supervised, but in the current conditions, this is particularly needed. Therefore, I believe the temporary return of government workers back into the board of directors and advisory boards at this stage is reasonable,” Medvedev said.

He added that the financial situation in the country was closely monitored, allowing for the situation at the most crucial state enterprises to be assessed.

In 2011, Medvedev ordered civil servants to be removed from boards of directors of partially state-owned companies to improve the investment climate in the country. In 2014, the prime minister said that all they should be replaced with professional directors by September 1, 2015.

However, at the end of December, Medvedev said that in light of the economic slowdown that Russia was facing, it was time government officials returned to the top management of state-run companies.

Medvedev: Russia Must Change Model of Economic Development

Russia needs to change it model of economic development and not just stabilizing the foreign currency exchange rate and overcoming external economic pressures, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Wednesday.

“Therefore it is important to not only objectively assess and correctly react to the changes in external markets that are traditional for us and not just deal with external economic and political pressure, and simply stabilizing the current fluctuations on the currency market, this goal is much more wide-scaled and more responsible. We’re talking about changing the model itself of our development,” Medvedev said.

During the forum, Russia’s Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev compared the current economic situation with that of 100 years ago, calling for competent measures independent of oil prices.

Russia is currently facing an economic downturn. The country’s national currency plummeted dramatically in recent months, primarily as a result of a rapid decrease in oil prices and geopolitical tensions related to the Ukrainian conflict.

In December 2014, the head of Russia’s Central Bank stated that the inflation rate was to be at 10 percent in the first quarter of 2015.

During a televised press conference the same month, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that the economic situation in the country may start improving as early as the first quarter of 2015, with a full recovery in the coming years.

Medvedev: Russian Economic Growth Inconsistent with Abilities, Ambitions

Russia’s economic growth does not correspond to the country’s abilities or ambitions, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Wednesday.

“The Russian economy began slowing down back when oil prices were high. But they did allow us, nonetheless, to move forward somehow. The economy even now is demonstrating individual elements of growth, but the growth in quality and quantity does not correspond to our abilities or, we’ll say straightforward, to our ambitions,” Medvedev said.

On Monday, Medvedev said that Russia’s economic situation is “quite problematic” and urged for regular meetings of the members of the government in the areas that they coordinate. On December 23, the prime minister said the Russian economy risks falling into a deep recession, noting that the government may need to take a more active approach to address the difficulties.

Russia is currently facing an economic downturn caused by falling oil prices and Western sanctions imposed amid the Ukrainian conflict.

In December, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that country’s economic problems were largely caused by external factors. However, Putin assured it would take Russia a maximum of two years to overcome the current problems, as the world economy is expanding.

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