Medvedev: ‘There will be no new Cold War’
During a meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Russian president disagreed over the Caucasus and called for more dialogue.
Moscow/Kiev -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were at odds over the Caucasus during meetings Thursday but in agreement over the US financial crisis.
Merkel, in her opening remarks at a conference in St. Petersburg called "The Petersburg Dialogue," called for increased understanding between Europe and the Kremlin but at the same time criticized Medvedev and his government for Russia's hard line policies in Georgia.
"The Russian reaction in this conflict (the Russo-Georgian war) we consider to be disproportionate and we said (to the Russians) that we now need to build trust," Merkel said.
A key first step would be withdrawal of all Russian troops from Georgian territory by Oct. 10 as agreed to in a European Union-brokered ceasefire between Moscow and Tbilisi, she said.
Medvedev, in his opening remarks at the conference, defended his country's actions, calling Georgia's August attempt to overrun its renegade province South Ossetia "aggressive nationalism" and international claims Russia was the attacker in the conflict "dishonest propaganda."
Despite worsening relations between Moscow and NATO nations over Georgia, there will be no new Cold War, Medvedev said, "because there are no reasons for it."
Russia and Germany have "differing views on this matter (the Caucasus situation)," Merkel conceded.
Western nations and Russia need to engage each other in a series of "preventative talks" to forestall future conflicts and to prepare the ground for cooperation, she said.
Russo-European coordination over the role of military observers deployed to Georgia from the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is one of first topics requiring greater mutual understanding, Merkel added.
Russian combat forces Wednesday delayed and in some places restricted the movement of OSCE observers through a buffer zone in South Ossetia despite European claims the observers should be allowed to travel unhindered.
Merkel named as other areas of disagreement requiring further discussion the renegade Moldovan province Transnistria, Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzogovina -- all European territories over whose future status Russia and NATO nations sharply disagree.
Medvedev called for more clarity and direct talk between Russia and the West, saying what was needed was "the voice of truth stated loudly."
"We have to accept the mutual dependence of countries and nations in the modern world," Medvedev said. "This interdependence does not only apply to economies but also the spheres of science, technology, culture, and education. We need to go forwards, and not focus on the past."
Medvedev cited the ongoing US financial crisis as evidence the world needed to work together, calling on the international community to combine its efforts to establish order in world markets.
"The international world of finance should be reformed," he said. "No longer can one state dictate the rules."
The US was both responsible for the financial crisis and unable to control worldwide damage from it, he argued.
Merkel, in comments prior to her Russia trip, also criticized the US leadership for allowing American financial instability to spread worldwide and declared US domination of world financial markets at an end.
During a press conference after the two leaders' meetings, Merkel took pains to emphasize common ground between Russia and Germany, pointing out she did not believe "Ukraine or Georgia are now ready to join NATO."
Medvedev has been an outspoken opponent to early NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia, saying it would destabilize the region by sparking a regional arms race.