Verbatim report on President Putin's meeting with participants of the 'Civil G8 2006' International Forum of Non-governmental Organisations
V. Putin: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen!
It is a great honour and pleasure for me to be speaking here today to such a wide and varied audience, to welcome you all, and to thank you for coming to Moscow.
The initiators of the Civil G8 2006 project were over 40 Russian NGOs. NGO communities from practically every continent were involved in its work. The NGO expert roundtables that took place, the holding of the March forum, the meeting with the Sherpas. I have just now heard some pleasant words addressed to the Russian Sherpa. I know that he has also been trying to facilitate direct dialogue, and to listen – not only to listen, but to hear and conceive of the ideas that you have expressed during these meetings. I myself have just been studying your draft summary documents, and I have to say that they have a significant amount in common with the summary documents now being prepared for the G8 leaders in Saint Petersburg. And I believe that this is a result of the collaborative work which has taken place together with you over the past months, or in any case largely so.
Many of your ideas, as I said, have been reflected in the summary documents. Particularly, the NGO proposals 'A Community for Creation of Systematic Mechanisms, Consultation and Monitoring Realisation of Summit Resolutions' are worthy of specific attention. I am sure that your experience, knowledge of real life, and closeness to the people; as you work directly with the people, as reflected in your recommendations, will be substantial additions to the agenda for the forthcoming G8 summit. Although I should also say immediately, and honestly, that some of your recommendations, and the documents that I have been able to review, will cause disputes within the G8. Of course. I am not sure that a hundred percent of everyone here would agree, say, that it is necessary to halt development of atomic energy, but I see that your documents do contain such a recommendation.
I would agree that it is necessary, say, to work on on alternative energy sources, on renewable energy sources, but I would say that the sequence of execution should be somewhat different. But now I am starting to debate things a little, and I should stop doing this. It seems to me that first we need to develop an alternative for the world, we need first to propose solutions, and then will be the time to cease development of atomic energy. Although it is certainly true that not everyone shares this opinion.
Retort from the hall (group of people with a banner reading 'No to nuclear power!'): “No to nuclear power!”
E. Pamfilova (to the demonstrators): We are very glad to see you. Please, do sit down, and continue participating. Or if you like, you can stay standing, maybe for the whole two hours.
V. Putin: Let the people do their thing. We won't get in their way. They came here to make themselves heard, and we must give them that opportunity.
Unlike others, our Russian civil society, and incidentally, this action could be accompanied by what I am about to say, our Russian society, unlike other so-called traditional democracies, has not had too much time for development of civil institutions. But this is why the task of the state, as we see it of course, is to create all necessary conditions for their development, primarily legislative conditions. I will allow myself to dwell on this point in a little more detail, particularly this problem, particularly in relation to Russia, has probably already been discussed, or is to be discussed in one way or another, I am not up to speed with all details of your discussions up to this point, but I am speaking about our law on non-governmental organisations. Of course, we have heard all the criticism directed at us in this regard.
What would I like to say? You will probably have heard many of our arguments before, but I will repeat them anyway, as I am not sure that everyone knows all the details.
After this law was raised in the State Duma, and after we had heard the first criticisms directed at it, what did we do, and what did I, your humble servant, do? I sent the Minister of Justice to Strasbourg, where he held some rather thorough discussions with his European colleagues with regard to this document. In Strasbourg a Council of Europe expert group was set up, consisting of specialists from two departments (legal and human rights), with attraction of independent international experts. This group performed rather thorough work, resulting in development of written proposals on changes to the draft of our law. I want to emphasise that these proposals were made in writing.
After this, these proposals were set before parliament by me practically in full, in the form of alterations made in the name of the president of the Russian Federation. And the parliament of the Russian Federation, the State Duma, took practically all of these alterations into account.
I am just drawing your attention to the process of our work on this law. I concede that this document is not perfect. This I can do. But that should not stop Russian non-governmental organisations, or any public organisations, from drawing attention, particularly in the course of this legislation's application, to legal practice which will be established during its application; they may make necessary remarks, proposals, and I assure you that we will, of course, take these remarks and proposals into account.
What would I like to say in conclusion? When people talk about the G8, they are usually thinking of discussions – if not solutions then the search for solutions to global issues of the international agenda, resolution of issues that are key to human development. And we, the countries' heads, particularly like it when people talk about the G8 leaders.
Whether we are true leaders or not is another question, but what is perfectly clear is that we are heads of government or heads of state, and that all of us, just like our colleagues in other countries, operate based on the idea that we have the right to make decisions, as this right was obtained democratically through parliamentary election campaigns or, for heads of state, through direct voting for the head of state, as is the case in the Russian Federation. But there are significant proportions of our countries' citizens who do not work in administrative structures, and believe that official government channels are too clogged up with bureaucracy to understand and feel the needs of simple people and rank-and-file citizens, and to appreciate the seriousness of the problems that the world is currently facing. And such people are primarily united by public organisations, including non-governmental organisations.
I would like to draw your attention to the fact that my colleagues – the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the President of France, as well as other colleagues from the G8 countries, have already been trying, and are still trying, to build up dialogue, one way or another, with public non-governmental organisations, to hear your voices and your opinions. And where in previous years these meetings with the leaders of non-governmental organisations were limited in terms of participation, today, as you see, we have invited you for discussion as part of a far wider representative forum.
I want to assure you that everything that you expound will, in essence, reach the G8 countries' heads, and that not only will we study them attentively, but we will also analyse them most critically, and will take them into account in making ultimate decisions.
Thank you very much for your attention.
E. Pamfilova: Vladimir Vladimirovich, I wanted to just draw attention, your guys, your Saint Petersburg countrymen, who are fighting against atomic energy, they have found a forum. As they say, everyone chooses what they like.
I would like to propose this form of work, which we discussed in advance: for the representatives delegated by the roundtables on agenda issues to now speak very briefly. They will briefly state the positions on which they have agreed, and then, when, when you consider it necessary, you can answer.
Now, as far as I can remember, we start with energy security. Evgeny Shvarts.
E, Shvarts: Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich!
Following our discussion of the highest-profile issue on the G8 agenda, we have been able, by agreement of the overwhelming majority of participants, to agree and approve a position and vision, with subsequent recommendations, and in some cases even demands.
First. Energy security must necessarily include climate security. Based on this principle, we believe that the G8 countries must take the necessary measures to keep growth in average global temperature to a maximum of two degrees in comparison to pre-industrial levels. Accordingly, to do so, by 2050 we will need to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50% in comparison with 1990 levels. And we absolutely believe that the G8 must accelerate implementation of the action plan approved at Gleneagles in order to ensure heightened energy efficiency, rapid development of renewable energy, and lowering of greenhouse gas emissions.
And of course, something that was agreed upon by various roundtables on this agenda section, the G8 must gradually move away from the currently existing subsidisation in the energy sector, including state subsidies for development of atomic energy, toward more secure renewable and climatically effective energy sources and technologies.
In the area of environmental security for the oil and gas sector, it goes without saying that officially designated or officially acknowledged protected natural territories and dedicated areas for native minority peoples must be eliminated from oil extraction and transportation territories. At the same time, the best available technologies and standards must be applied in all countries, eliminating opportunities for pursuit of policies of double standards by large transnational companies, and for companies in developing countries – eliminating use of environmental dumping as a means of achieving competitive advantage, as has happened in a number of cases.
We believe that based on the experience of many countries, including those of the G8, governments in core oil-producing countries and core importer countries must create national funds for prevention and clean-up of sea and water pollution by oil. The ideal option would be for this fund to be kept fill using a special payment levied on amounts of extracted or transported oil.
At the same time, the three existing international conventions envisaging restoration or compensation in relation to natural pollution and ecosystem degradation must be added to in a way allowing this compensation to include the cost of the ecosystems and nature, which is not taken into account under the conventions' current mechanisms. And we sincerely hope that the G8 countries will set a good example for all developing countries, and that all G8 countries will ratify the 1991 convention on evaluation of environmental damage in the transnational context.
And it seems to us that in order to resolve the main key issues, governments will need to create special environmental compensation taxes on oil-extraction use, in which case funds from these taxes can be used on a target-oriented basis to support development of alternative energy, energy efficiency, and realisation of national energy-preservation programmes. And the richest and most developed countries can use funds from this tax to support energy-efficiency and environmental-protection projects in developing countries, including through use of the global environmental fund.
And in the area of nuclear energy, as you have already had the opportunity to see, this is a rather controversial issue, and I must say that most of our section's participants, which, to the extent of their competence, believe that in the year of the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster we have an obligation to demand that other G8 countries wind up their programmes for construction of new active nuclear units, as atomic energy represents a non-sustainable path for development of energy. And we believe it is necessary to put a halt to reprocessing and transnational transportation of spent nuclear fuel and other nuclear waste.
And a point which is general, although it is worthy of concluding the recommendations of our section, is that in accordance with accepted effective international European conventions, we believe that it is necessary to ensure open public participation in discussion, modification and optimisation of large-scale traditional energy projects in our countries. And it seams clear to me that you, more than anyone else, would be the most legitimate figure for this, as your brave step to protect Lake Baikal is a worthy example for all the G8 heads of state.
Thank you very much.
V. Putin: If you will allow me, I will state my reactions straight away, as if there will be many different topics, I might detain myself, and all of you.
Energy security must include environmental security, there are no disputes of problems in this regard. A brief remark on what issue is important for us, for Russia, and for the global energy market. You said we should not use territories of minority peoples, where they perform traditional crafts. Have I understood you correctly?
E. Shvarts: Very much so – only the dedicated territories of these peoples.
V. Putin: Ah, dedicated? In that case I will not even comment, as were we to be talking about territories in general, of course you are not demanding that oil-extracting countries cease work, say on the continental shelf. The point at issue is that this extraction should take place using the corresponding means preserving marine nature. And here, on these territories, we need to be talking about compensation for the local population and corresponding environmentally friendly methods of extraction.
As regards a compensatory tax on extraction in order to direct these funds toward development of other directions in the energy sphere. Increasing the tax burden is not always the best option, as we, and even I, cannot be sure that this money would go to these goals. But I think that it is not only possible, but also necessary, to demand that the government allocate required resources for the purposes of development of alternative energy. Here I agree with you entirely. Thank you.
With specific regard to the G8 summit in Saint Petersburg, I want to draw your attention to the fact that the subject under discussion in Saint Petersburg in relation to atomic energy will not be development of atomic energy worldwide, but rather issues of ensuring the security of atomic energy. This is what the subject of our talks will be.
But of course, since there is this recommendation from you, put together by you in the area of development, we will, of course, raise this with the G8 leaders, my colleagues, although, I should tell you now, several of my colleagues have even been reluctant to discuss this topic on principle. Not because they are against security in nuclear energy, but owing to the rather harsh positions of non-governmental organisations in their countries with regard to this issue, they have not wanted even to touch on this matter. But I believe that this is wrong. In any case, I managed to convince them of this, referring specifically to the Chernobyl tragedy. While in France today 80 percent of generated electric power comes from nuclear energy, security of nuclear energy affects us all, even those countries that do not intend to develop nuclear energy (like Germany, which has adopted a resolution not to build any new nuclear plants). But security is something that affects everyone. We know this better than anyone else following the Chernobyl tragedy. Therefore, in the end everyone agreed that we should discuss problems of atomic energy security in Saint Petersburg.
E. Pamfilova: I would like to give the floor to Diana Richler from Canada, a specialist in inclusive education.
D. Richler (reverse translation (English-Russian-English)): Mister Putin, thank you for providing the opportunity for civil society and its organisations, with education workers from Russia, other G8 countries and other countries, to meet here for discussion of professional problems in education, problems of partnership.
Education is a fundamental human right. An effective education system, which involves all children ad provides the opportunity for lifelong education, helps reduce poverty and facilitate economic growth. The G8 plays an important role in education in both G8 countries and other countries receiving the benefits of economic development. And the working group on professional education has several recommendations for the G8 leaders in this regard.
First of all, we would like to request that you form an expert working group, including education workers, civil society and business representatives, for development of standards and evaluation criteria in the area of tertiary and adult education. We believe that tertiary education is only possible for those who have finished secondary education and primary education. And there are currently over 100 children worldwide who do not go to school at all. Therefore we believe that the only way of providing education for all is to include them in the education system and to execute the demands of the G8 summit in Gleneagles, which approved the 'Education for All' program through to 2025.
We recommend that at the Saint Petersburg meeting the G8 leaders should agree to support this idea of providing education for all, as well as the UNESCO declaration stating that all children should be included in education. Special attention must be paid to children and young people of the most vulnerable groups, such as disabled children, children with HIV or AIDS, orphans, neglected children, children from ethnic minorities and children of emigrants. We also call on you to allocate 10 billion dollars per year to the 'Fasttrack' initiative, ensuring inclusion of all children in this initiative.
Many discussions took place in our group on these problems. In order to assist in large-scale civil society participation in education, we are appealing to all countries to facilitate creation of governing organisations that include teachers, that that can ensure inclusive education and can enable exchange of experience between G8 countries. Moreover, our attention was drawn to the to the fact that it is not only non-G8 members where children do not go to school. Even in member states many children do not attend school, particularly disabled children. And in order to demonstrate your commitment to the idea of education for all, we ask you to fight against exclusion from the schooling process in non-G8 member states, and to report on measures taken.
And, lastly, we feel that we have been given a great opportunity to come together here, and we want to build up a process allowing civil organisations of the G8 countries to continue the productive dialogue on education that has been initiated by the Russian government.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to present you with a plan developed by our Russian colleagues and the 'Perspektiva' group, which deals with inclusive education. And we will be most glad if you could take and wear this badge. Thank you.
N. Brusnikin: Mrs Diane Richler has done a good job of describing the entire spectrum of the discussions that took place at our roundtable. This is also the philosophy of the values-based approach. It is a methodological basis for inclusive education for all. But there was also one more part, in connection with the issue of professional education. It was shown that professional education is a key factor in achievement of social stability and the shift to sustainable development.
International statistics show that the more people have professional education, the lower levels of social differentiation will be. And high levels of full secondary education coverage in the regions are connected to lower levels of teenage criminality. We believe that it is important to focus attention on those social groups whose representatives are, for various reasons, fully excluded from professional activity. This primarily refers to schoolchildren. It is a paradox, but a fact nonetheless, that in developed countries large numbers of young people also receive professional training after leaving school. It is important that this trend be supported. It is important that schools should prepare children for life, not only for continued education.
The second group is students in professional education systems. The global labour market which is now taking shape requires, of course, new approaches to training of specialists, primarily with regard to educational mobility.
Diana Richler has already spoken about the problems of education for adults. The idea of formation of a model law for the G8 countries with regard to adult education was even raised at our roundtable. But as we see it, this problem is primarily important for migrants and handicapped people. Attention must also be paid to their adaptation and professional education for another reason – demand for labour is rising every year. Support must be provided for creation and operation of adaptation centres for migrants.
In conclusion I would like to say that in our section we talked a lot about continuing the trend which has taken shape during yesterday's and today's discussions. We would like to see the 2007 summit in Germany include evaluation and development of the results achieved by countries both in the education sphere and in other key areas. Thank you.
V. Putin: I will allow myself a brief remark, as your next colleague is to speak on another topic.
Particularly recently, we have been giving more and more attention to this (I mean in Russia). But practically all prior G8 forums have always included discussion of education, in one form or other. And I remember the first time I took part in this work, even then they were talking about the problems of education in one form or other (education for girls in certain developing countries, and now this has come around again, in the form of the 'Education for All' programme).
As you know, we have met with certain problems inside our country, particularly after the collapse of the Soviet Union. There were, and remain today, many unresolved economic and social issues, and here your colleague has reminded us of several of these serious challenges. One of these is homelessness. It seemed perfectly unreal that this could occur in our country, but the problem exists nevertheless. It is the same with mandatory provision of education for disabled children. These are all extremely important topics.
Now specifically. Allocation of additional funds. You said 10 billion, and in principle this may not be a large amount for the G8 countries, and this problem could be solved. The issue is that we should fulfil all of our responsibilities and resolutions that have already been undertaken in this regard. Not all resolutions have been implemented in full, and our position is that we must first deliver on resolutions accepted previously, and only then can we undertake new responsibilities or announce new responsibilities. Although the question raised is absolutely the right one.
And the final remark is also extremely important in my view. You spoke about the necessity of creating a system for exchange of information and experience between non-government organisations and the professional communities of G8 countries in this regard.
I must regretfully say that our work on preparation of documents for the G8 summit is too tangled with bureaucracy, which is a heavy burden. I doubt that we will be able to inset this into the concluding documents in time, and I speak of this with regret, as I believe that this is an extremely important topic and an interesting and entirely realistic proposal. Therefore I promise you that, firstly, I will definitely mention this during the free discussions on this theme, and secondly, that this will be included in the presidential closing address. And I think that my colleagues will definitely react to your proposal. We will think about what can be done in order to realise this proposal.
Thank you very much.
E. Pamfilova: Let's move on to the third roundtable and the third theme. We narrowed its scale somewhat, to consider only combating AIDS, and I give the floor to Jost van Dennerr, our representative from the Netherlands.
Jost van Dennerr: Dear Mister President!
We, the representatives of civil society, including people suffering from HIV and AIDS, would like to sincerely thank you for your initiative on combating AIDS and other infectious diseases as part of the G8 summit.
AIDS kills huge numbers of people. Huge numbers of people now have this disease, and over half of them are women. Only one in five AIDS sufferers has access to medical care and medication, and 15 million children have AIDS worldwide. HIV and AIDS are a global problem and one of the main challenges for development of our societies as a whole.
AIDS takes its toll from the most productive groups of the population, people aged between 14 and 40, and poses a threat to national security and stability. In order to put a stop to proliferation of HIV and AIDS we call on the G8 leaders to ensure universal access to medicine and preventative and alleviative drugs, particularly in the most vulnerable regions and those most exposed to this disease, such as African and Asia. We also want to see HIV and AIDS included in the agendas of international organisations, to see more sessions such as those held by the UN in 2001 and 2006, the Dublin and Peking declarations, and to see the theme included in such documents as the 'Millennium Development Goals'. We call on the G8 to form a community for executing strategies aimed at resolving issues concerning the most marginalised groups of the population, such as drug addicts, sex industry workers and prisoners.
We call on states' leadership to cease and eradicate discrimination against people with HIV and AIDS, and to lift limitations on such people's movement. We call on the G8 leaders to include issues of combating HIV and AIDS in the core medical-services system, and these medical services must be provided on the necessary scale and by well-trained personnel. We call on the G8 to increase resource allocation for medical treatment, specifically with regard to women who are exposed to this risk. We call on the G8 countries to develop trade agreements taking into account the needs of civil society for medicine provision. And we ask you to take these recommendations to a new level, to ensure more active civil society participation, and create structured dialogue at both international and national meetings. We also recommend that you make HIV, AIDS and other infectious diseases priority issues for forthcoming G8 activities. We hope that these issues will be reflected during the Saint Petersburg summit. And we call on all the G8 leaders to demonstrate their sympathy and attention, and to communicate at least once a year with people living with HIV and AIDS, and people who may be exposed to this disease.
V. Putin: If you will allow me, I will start with your concluding point. You said that you would like to see the subject of combating infectious diseases on the agenda for this and future G8 summits. The agendas for future summits will be set by the countries hosting them, and next year, this will be the Federal Republic of Germany. I will pass on your wish, of course. But as with education, the fight against infectious diseases is one of the subjects that always comes up on the agenda in one way or another.
Personally speaking, there is nothing in what you have said that could create issues, or cause disputes or debates, because everything you have said is correct. The only issue is that we – professional society, non-governmental organisations and the government – should be uniting our efforts against a common threat. And this threat is not only social diseases.
You talked about one potential danger group – drug addicts. We are all well aware of how the drug addiction problem is linked to security and counter-terrorism issues. 90 percent of the heroin arriving on the British market today comes from Afghanistan.
How closely interlinked the world's problems are today! We just started with combating infectious diseases, and now we've come to the problem of Afghanistan and combating terrorism. And part of the G8’s work is to examine these issues as a whole, identifying, the main points on which we need to focus our attention. These main points include, of course, the fight against infectious diseases, and not only HIV and AIDS, but also hepatitis, tuberculosis and other diseases. Even as seemingly innocuous an infection as the flu virus causes huge human and economic losses and can undermine the economies of entire countries.
I want to assure you that not only will I pass on your concerns, but I am sure - and I will say this to Mrs Merkel - that the future German presidency will also give its attention to the problems you have raised. (I do not have the right to speak for Mrs Merkel, but I know how the German leadership feels about these issues).
Thank you very much.
E. Pamfilova: I hope there are no objections as to the ordering. The fourth roundtable is 'Formation of a Global Socioeconomic Policy for Sustainable Development'. In brief. Olga, is it you? Olga Ponizova.
O. Ponizova: Thank you very much.
Our working group recommends that the G8 pay greater attention to issues of sustainable development and the fight against poverty worldwide. We consider it completely unacceptable that 15 thousand people die of poverty worldwide every day. And we are concerned that the existing global economic system is not solving these problems, and will lead to inequality within countries and between countries, to environmental degradation, and will do nothing to enable achievement of the goals of sustainable development and implementation of the Millennium Development Goals.
We recommend that the G8 should guard against possible deepening of the crisis in international economic institutions such as the World Bank, IMF and WTO, and initiate a process of serious reform of these institutions based on wide public participation. We believe that these institutions must return to their initial mandates. For example, the WTO must engage in trade issues, and not impose demands that are far removed from trade. This particularly affects countries that are only just entering the WTO. We believe that this is unfair, and that these demands must be eliminated.
Civil society, particularly in poor countries, must take more active participation in management of these global institutions, and access to such critical human rights as education, medicine, housing and economic opportunity must be provided to all, regardless of social status. The actions of global economic institutions should not impede these rights.
It is necessary to defend the rights of small producers, specifically farmers, in developing countries and transition economies, and corresponding decisions in this regard should be taken at international level.
The governments of the G8 must ensure that issues of energy security are not discussed within the WTO framework, as this limits governments' opportunities to set their own energy policies and limits opportunities for public control.
We have also developed specific proposals on development financing. We believe that the G8 must ensure provision of an additional 50 billion dollars for development by 2010, and that 50 percent of these funds should be directed toward the needs of Africa.
We also believe that it is necessary to provide 422 million dollars for a programme of accelerated access to education. And in 2010 an exact timetable must be established for expansion of official aid for development up to 0.7 of GNP of the developed countries (exact meaning not specified – translator).
We believe that write-off of debts must be increased to 100 percent for sixty developing countries, including the poorest countries of the CIS. We also consider it important to stop classifying cancellation of debts as financial aid for development programmes.
Thank you very much. We are interested to learn to what extent this tallies with the draft concluding documents.
V. Putin: Thank you. As you and I both know well, wherever the G8 have come together and whatever themes have been discussed, it is always said that it is all directed at development aid, primarily to developing economies of course.
Much of what you have said perfectly matches my own views and convictions. Cancellation of debts cannot be presented as a form of direct development aid without changing the structure of international economic relations itself. The existing structure of international economic relations will just create new debts again and again. What is the point of writing off debts if they only begin to grow again? And they will continue to grow unless, say, developed countries don’t stop subsidising some sectors of their economies, above all agriculture. But try telling some countries that they have to end subsidies. They would have big problems, including with the ‘help’ of NGOs.
Therefore what you are saying does not, to a great extent, apply to us, but to our colleagues. I want them to hear this too, because a large number of NGOs in the G8 countries would defend, say, agriculture subsidies in their countries, and this will continue to produce poverty in the developing countries. Then the G8 leaders will kindly write off these debts over and over again.
As far as cancelling debts goes, Russia is, I think, in third place after Japan and France in absolute terms for writing off developing countries’ debts. That is in absolute terms of billions of dollars. And regarding the amount of cancelled debts as a share of GDP, we are in first place. We will continue to work in solidarity with our colleagues, of course. But I particularly want to draw your attention to the fact that that we will continue working on support for African countries. I am also grateful to you for drawing attention to the situation in some CIS countries, which in terms of their development level and budget revenue are closer to the HIPC group, the poorest countries, and need the assistance of the international community.
Thank you very much.
E. Pamfilova: Thank you, Vladimir Vladimirovich.
I would like to say that our colleagues from practically every country of the CIS and the former Soviet countries are also in attendance here. And now I would like to give the floor to our roundtable representatives. They are not exactly directly included in the current G8 agenda, but they are here to present the opinions of civil society, as mandates for the future. There are several topics here. Naturally, this is human rights. We have Yury Dzhibladze and Claire Rimmer here. They will speak together, and quickly.
Y. Dzhibladze: Mister President!
The problem of human rights has come to occupy a prominent position on the agenda of our international forum. We had four roundtables sitting in parallel with regard to human rights issues, four roundtables out of eleven. And honestly speaking, we are disappointed that the problem of human rights has not found a place on agenda for the G8 summit. We believe that worldwide human rights is today in crisis following September 11 and the onset of the fight against terrorism. And certainly, the countries of the G8 should be discussing these issues when they are encountered. Ensuring defence and observance of human rights is a fundamental responsibility of the state.
As we already said, we had four topics, and the report on them will be split with my colleague Claire. The first topic is non-governmental organisations and state authorities, it concerns freedom of association. While emphasising the key role played by civil society institutions in resolution of modern global problems of socioeconomic and societal development, we believe that relations between national governments, including in G8 countries, and non-governmental organisations should be built on the following principles: mutual transparency to one another and the public; dialogue on the basis of equal partnership and the subsidiarity principle; participation of civil society organisations in making executive-level decisions, including formation of the political agenda and control over its realisation; and acknowledgement of NGOs' independence, right to criticise government authorities and defend the interests of various social groups. This collaboration must be built not only on the goodwill of the parties, but also on institutionally strengthened mutual relations between G8 governments and civil society organisations, in the form of a charter, which we propose be prepared and adopted at the next G8 summit in Germany in 2007.
As well as the positive experience of cooperation between G8 governments and NGOs, there are also the following threats and challenges.
The first is governments' equation of NGO dissent and adoption of critical positions with regard to state authorities with extremist and terrorist activities, as well as the pressure and victimisation exerted on activists of human rights and other NGOs under the justification of security measures for the fight against terrorism.
The second is adoption of restrictive legislation in the field of NGO regulation, which tightens registration and reporting procedures for NGOs and envisages disproportional and unjustified state interference in the activities of civil organisations. The third is formation of quasi-governmental organisations and imitation advisory bodies. And the fourth is the resistance shown by various countries to international collaborative programmes in the area of development of democracy and civil society.
The second roundtable was 'Civil Control over Law-enforcement Agencies and the Penitentiary System'. We call for creation and maintenance of conditions for effective participation of human-rights and other civil organisations in implementation of public control over law-enforcement and penitentiary bodies, as well as facilitation of openness and transparency for these bodies. Secondly, we call for creation of procedures allowing the results and conclusions of public control to be taken into account in improving operation of the law-enforcement and penitentiary bodies. And finally, we call for ratification and effective fulfilment of the optional UN convention against torture.
Now I will hand over to Claire.
Claire Rimmer: The third roundtable was 'Migration of Racism and Xenophobia'. We call for respect of human rights with regard to migrants and refugees, and for strengthening of the asylum system. We would remind governments of their responsibility to protect refugees and internally displaced persons, and call on the international community to increase its assistance in cases where the rules on internally displaced persons are not observed, as this cannot be considered as solely an internal matter for the state in question.
We call for a step-up in resistance to racism, xenophobia and discrimination, with provision of guarantees that these actions will not violate international standards of freedom, conscience, and self-expression, or suppression of the democratic process.
The fourth roundtable is 'Human Rights and the Fight against Terrorism'. Under the banner of the War on Terror and preservation of national security, the standards of international law are being violated in the field of human rights and international humanitarian law. This directly concerns the G8 countries as well.
Particular sources of alarm are the continued serious violations of human rights taking place in the context of the armed conflicts in Chechnya and Iraq. Large-scale serious human rights violations in themselves create a breeding ground for terrorism, and prevent creation of conditions for ensuring security. Therefore we call on the G8 countries to review their national anti-terrorism legislation on the basis of internationally acknowledged human rights standards, to put an end to impunity for violations of the rights of civilian populations, to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and to enable early adoption of the Convention on Enforced Disappearances by the UN General Assembly, as well as by states.
Thank you for your attention.
V. Putin: Esteemed colleagues!
I would like to come back to our law on non-governmental organisations, because some of you have raised an issue that I mentioned at the beginning, and that is that there are certain problems that could arise from the law’s application. We heard one of our Russian colleagues speak here about a possible toughening of registration procedures. But in principle, it is possible to toughen registration procedures without passing any laws. Administrative procedures can be designed in such a way as to make it impossible for any organisations to function. Laws in general - and our law too - aim at bringing some order to this area but not at restricting organisations’ work. I can say again that if it turns out that registration procedures have become tougher, we are ready to react and even to initiate changes, including in line with your recommendations.
To be entirely sincere and frank with you, I personally have only one concern that I will always oppose and combat (and I have spoken about it before and am ready to repeat it now for this audience). I am against having foreign governments finance political activity in our country, just as our government should not finance political activity in other countries. This is an area for our citizens and for their own organisations, and activity in this area should be financed by our people, by our public or financial organisations.
Everything else, including human rights, is the common foundation in all civilised countries and is an area where all organisations can work. Of course, in places where military conflicts are going on, there are almost always human rights violations. This has always been the case and, unfortunately, probably always will be, because it is hard to control observance of laws and the rules of war. Nowhere are they observed in full and they never have been. The best thing to do is ensure that situations do not reach the point of conflict in the first place. And we need to do everything we can to minimise human losses and suffering.
As I have said many times and will say again now, we place immense importance on resolving the situation in Chechnya. As you know, there are no military operations underway there now. There are outbreaks of terrorist activity, but no military operations are going on. The army is barracked. There are troops stationed there, just as there are troops stationed in other parts of the Russian Federation. They are there on a permanent basis and are occupied with the same activities as troops elsewhere in the country – training and maintaining operational readiness.
The law enforcement agencies of Chechnya itself, which are staffed almost completely by local people, are responsible for resolving 80 to 90 percent of law enforcement issues in the republic.
We have been told many times of the need to involve all political forces in Chechnya in all the different areas of activity in the republic, including in the law enforcement sector. Around 20 percent of the law-enforcement agencies in Chechnya are staffed almost entirely by local people, and 20 percent of these people are people who previously took up arms to fight the federal forces.
We have not only adopted a constitution and elected a parliament, but the parliament represents almost all, all, in fact, of the political forces. One of the deputies of the Chechen parliament today is the former defence minister of the Maskhadov government, and there are other representatives of similar political groups. We will continue to do everything possible to ensure that whatever the difficulties, civil society continues to develop there.
As regards Iraq, that is clearer to you, as you are representatives of the UK, and as you know there are no Russian forces in Iraq. But there are indeed many problems there.
And one final remark. I am ashamed to say this, but we are actually going to discuss the issue of human rights in the 'miscellaneous' category. The reason that I am ashamed is that this subject really is extremely important and relevant. But why has it been shunted to this 'miscellaneous' category? Because everyone is ready to discuss human rights, but only in other countries, but with regard to domestic issues nobody wants to engage with or discuss this issue. Nevertheless, I give you my word that everything you have said here will be passed on to my colleagues, you can have no doubt of that. It will also be a subject of our discussions.
Thank you very much
And also, forgive me, but another very important part of your speech was migration and rights of migrants. This is an extremely important subject. It is becoming more and more important for us and it is also extremely important for the other G8 countries, perhaps even more so than for Russia. This is a very complicated issue. The first point I would like to make is that most certainly people who arrive in a new country are in need of particular protection. This is without doubt. This is because they do not have rights, usually do not know the language, conditions and laws of the country they have come to, and so they of course require special protection. And it is you that have been and will remain, perhaps, the best defenders of their rights.
But we also have to take into account the reality of the situation, and that is that if governments in countries taking in immigrants do not also think about how to protect the rights of their own citizens, this could lead to the kinds of thing that concern us both so much: xenophobia and ethnic or religious intolerance. In other words, the citizens of countries taking in immigrants have to feel that their governments are following balanced policies.
Yes, governments protect immigrants and look after their rights, but it is not enough to talk just about protection. Governments also have to make resources available to help people adapt to their new life, to teach them the language, provide jobs and so on. And they have to ensure that conflicts do not arise with their citizens, otherwise there will be manifestations of a kind that we know all too well, and which, unfortunately, we in Russia have also encountered recently: xenophobia, intolerance toward representatives of other ethnic groups, minorities and so on. Even in the political arena this can lead to a shift to the right. We have already seen the dangerous trends in some European countries where right-wing politicians are winning more and more votes by capitalising on the fact that issues of this kind remain to be resolved.
I therefore call on you to take a balanced and carefully thought-through approach and to engage in open dialogue with the authorities on these issues.
E. Pamfilova: For the sixth roundtable, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing is here to speak on global security and the public interest.
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing (translation via Russian): Mister President!
I am very glad to be here. I value this chance to present you with the views of the members of the section for the public interest. The highly democratic forms of consultation that you have adopted give us, with our participants, the chance to prepare results of analysis, and also certain proposals. I can assure you of our desire and ability to take on our own responsibilities in this field, starting from family level and all the way up to professional activities, corporations, and social responsibilities of this type. Therefore, in playing our role, we aim to ensure security for our cities and villages by providing products and processes that are compatible with environmental protection, as well as our domestic relations.
Also, it is necessary for governments to adopt these things as well. We have prepared four subsections and would like to present them. I will talk about their most important aspects.
Firstly, the G8 countries have particular responsibility for ensuring security worldwide. At the same time, these countries have been targets for international terrorism in recent years. This is why we have four subsections.
The first is actions for ensuring regional security. One single issue. We would like to insist on resumption, as soon as possible, of the negotiations process with regard to cutting strategic offensive weapons stockpiles. This primarily refers to the corresponding contracts and agreements. And this can be followed by prevention and settlement of regional conflicts.
We are concerned by the growth in religious, racist and ethnic intolerance and xenophobia. As we talked about yesterday, this has a large effect on relations between countries and people.
Therefore active measures are required, in collaboration with civil society organisations, in order to stop and combat these tendencies.
The third subsection is non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We see that this is a highly significant issue in the United Nations, and that its participants have called for adoption of corresponding universal agreements.
We are also concerned about proliferation of nuclear fission materials, and want to see the G8 countries take immediate measures to put a stop to proliferation of these materials. France, for example, has not suffered from any violations of power supplies from its nuclear plants.
As regards non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, we understand that you have achieved significant progress in global G8 partnership with regard to non-proliferation, but faster realisation of these initiatives is required.
We are also concerned with regard to the further development of Iranian atomic energy. We believe that tough measures are required here. Radicals in the Iranian government are cooperating with international nuclear inspectorates, which will enable their integration into the global community.
We have one more section with regard to terrorism. We must say here that everything being done by the terrorists is a crime against humanity. And the G8 countries can provide real assistance in the fight against this kind of terrorism. But we should also remember the huge social problems faced by these populations. We could also be discussing providing support for countries and religious movements.
In conclusion I should say that we have great expectations for your meeting and its possible effect on all subsequent actions.
V. Putin. Thank you very much for listing the things you consider important for further discussion. Several of the topics you have mentioned will, of course, be not only touched upon during our discussions, but will occupy a lot of our time and attention during our meeting in Saint Petersburg. I am referring specifically to the Iranian nuclear programme. This will certainly be one of the main issues, without any doubt. We very much hope that our Iranian partners will accept the proposals the six countries have made and that we will be able to open up dialogue and negotiations based on these proposals as soon as possible. We would very much like to see these talks begin before the summit in St Petersburg, but it seems this is not possible. Well, in that case, we will need to work out when this will happen. Russia is committed to doing everything it can to help settle this crisis and we will work together with our European and American partners to find acceptable solutions so as to give Iran access to modern technology on the one hand, while on the other hand addressing the international community’s concerns regarding proliferation of nuclear military technology and ensuring that all work in this area is, as you absolutely correctly said, under the constant control of international organisations, above all the IAEA.
The same thing applies to combating terrorism. This topic will definitely be at the centre of our discussion.
I have already spoken about the growing racial intolerance and xenophobia in discussing the previous topic. I want to say again that not only must we react firmly and rapidly to any manifestations of xenophobia and intolerance, which is important in itself, but we must also pursue a balanced policy with regard to the local population so that the citizens of countries taking in immigrants also feel protected, otherwise we will end up seeing the same thing as what has happened with world trade. I am not talking about day-to-day manifestations of these problems, as we are all real people and understand what takes place in real life, but about other problems too, problems with the labour market, for example. How should we treat these problems?
The enlargement of the European Union has seen production capacity shift to countries with more favourable economic conditions and a cheaper labour force. It must be said that this does nothing to improve relations between different ethnic and religious groups. State leaders must think about all these different issues and not just say that we will take a firmer stand in combating xenophobia. We need to understand what gives rise to this xenophobia, look for the root of the problem and fight its cause. This I absolutely agree with.
And finally, a very important topic, which is, in my view, disappearing from the agenda, but I am grateful to you for having given it your attention – this is negotiations on strategic offensive arms reduction. This is an extremely important issue, and rather than becoming less relevant today it is now perhaps more important than ever as, given the prospects for developing strategic offensive weapons, these kinds of arms are becoming very dangerous. Placing nuclear weapons in space, for example, would be a huge threat to humanity as a whole. We need to know about this and we need to be talking about it instead of keeping silent. There is also, say, the possibility of using ballistic missiles to deliver a non-nuclear warhead. You don’t need to be a big specialist or any kind of specialist at all to realise how dangerous this is. If someone were to launch a non-nuclear strategic missile ,other nuclear powers could think this was an attack against them. No one would know if the missile in question is delivering a nuclear or non-nuclear warhead, but the response to such launches takes place in the space of just a few minutes, and to a large extent the response could come automatically.
Then there is, say, the matter of low-intensity nuclear devices. These days we here from various quarters about the possibility of using low-intensity nuclear devices. But who is going to calculate what the difference is between low-, mid- and high-intensity devices, where one begins and the other ends? This is a very dangerous trend. I understand the feelings of those who defend this or that position, speaking of the need to fight terrorism, to ensure greater security when carrying out this or that kind of operation, and achieving this or that objective more effectively, but we need to examine all of these issues as a whole. And your having raised this issue tells me that our meeting here today was not in vain. I am very grateful to you for this, thank you very much. All the best.
E. Pamfilova: We still have the environment, the seventh roundtable. Gert Ritsema (Netherlands) and Igor Chestin (World Wildlife Fund) will speak together, followed by Alexander Mondiano (Greece), representing the business community.
Gert Ritsema (translated via Russian): Dear President Putin, I want to thank you especially for giving me and my colleagues the opportunity to discuss the issue of genetically modified organisms as part of this 'Civil G8'. I sincerely hope that the same level of freedom with which we have discussed this topic today will be given to all Russian non-governmental organisations. And I hope that the Civil G8 can provide a foundation for development of more democratic processes in your country.
And now allow me to present the conclusions of our roundtable's discussion. The participants of this roundtable were 17 representatives of various countries throughout the world. We were all greatly concerned by the insufficiency of control with regard to illegal distribution of genetically modified organisms on the food market in such countries as the USA, China, the European Union, and this problem has also been observed in Russia. This problem constitutes a threat to both the environment and to public health. It also threatens consumer rights, preventing them from purchasing products. And this is also a threat for farmers, as the problem upsets the balance in crop production.
So, we call on you and the other G8 leaders to include the issue of genetically modified organisms in future discussions, and to take into consideration the following proposals of our roundtable.
Number one. To take immediate measures at international and national level to ensure that genetically modified organisms will not contaminate the environment.
Next. Producers of genetically modified organisms must be brought to responsibility based on the principle of observing environmentally friendly production standards.
Number three. Consumers must have the right to know whether products sold on the market contain genetically modified organisms. This rule must be applied in all countries, and it is now actively observed in the USA.
Next. Production and access to genetically modified organisms should be made completely open and transparent, and no information should be hidden.
Thank you very much for your gracious attention.
E. Pamfilova: Igor Chestin.
I. Chestin: Mister President!
While the general economic growth indicator of GDP is growing in practically all countries, the less well-known environmental indicator of living planet index is, unfortunately, falling all over the world. This means that we are losing the natural capital on which billions of people depend for life, and this includes in the G8 countries. These people are dependant on biological resources and ecological functions, on ecosystem functions, such as clean water, clean air, and biosphere ability to absorb the pollution that we produce, and probably always will produce.
We call on the G8 leaders to devote equal attention to the economic, social and environmental components of sustainable development, including by establishing specific national-level goals and tasks for each of these areas of sustainable development. This is the only way to achieve balance in our world.
We call for activation of collaboration within the framework of existing international mechanisms such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, specifically ensuring fulfilment by 2010 of a working programme for especially protected natural territories worldwide, and not only in countries that have the funds to do so independently.
We should base our activities on such positive and well-known experience of the G8 countries' leadership as the summit in Okinawa in 2000, when the leaders examined the issue of forest resources, after which this process became truly international in nature, and is now taking place on a far wider basis than within the G8 framework; it is now a fully legitimate international process of joint international management of forest resources.
We call on the G8 countries to adopt the issue of use of marine resources as one of their priority issues for the next few years, both with regard to fishing and use of shelf resources, particularly as these shelf resources are only now opening up, particularly in the Arctic, owing to climate change, which is a problem in itself.
Vladimir Vladimirovich, in spring our conservationist community applauded your political will when you ensured protection of Lake Baikal. However, in this example we believe that had there been effective mechanisms and management systems in place at national and international level, though primarily national, preventing implementation of such projects in the most vulnerable ecosystems, then it is probable that these resolutions would have had to be implemented far earlier, which would have saved funds and time, as well as allowing realisation of these important projects over shorter time periods.
V. Putin: I will start with your closing point – national and international mechanisms for incorporating environmental security into the implementation of major projects, I agree that it would be good to establish such mechanisms. Formally speaking, such mechanisms already exist in our country and in all other countries. But we all know that just as art requires sacrifice, so too does development. Of course, we must ensure that these sacrifices are minimal and either exclude them or make available the necessary resources for environmental recovery and regeneration
There is only one thing that concerns me – I should share it with you. Unfortunately, we often see that environmental problems are used at corporate and intergovernmental level as an instrument in competition. This undermines the foundations of relations between states and environmental organisations. In this respect, your argument that we need to develop absolutely transparent instruments that work clearly and effectively at national and international level is a very sound idea. If we can succeed in doing this, if only at national level, I will be very happy because like any other citizen, I want to live in a healthy environment and I want my children to live in a healthy environment. We all share this desire. But we have to find a balance between economic development and protecting the environment.
Of course, we will not be able to resolve this question if we do not create such institutions at national and international level. At the national level we, understanding this problem, have not only signed but also ratified the Kyoto Protocol, as you know. Not all the G8 countries have done so. It is not our intention to criticise their position. This is their decision and they clearly have their reasons for it, all the more so as the scientific community is not in unanimous agreement on the issue of global warming, which is said to be caused by human activity. Some scientists of well-established reputation think there is no direct link between human economic activity and global warming and back up their claims with figures, conclusions, analysis of previous eras of human development and so forth.
And we, the people who make political decisions, cannot ignore their voices. We need to listen to all views. Nevertheless, despite the lack of unanimity in the professional community, Russia decided that things will not be any worse if we ratify the Kyoto Protocol. In any case, we are indicating the direction in which we should move and are showing our concern. We have done this, and we will continue to make the necessary contribution to this common effort, but we would like our partners to take our views and our interests into account in the negotiating process on all of these issues.
We do not think that all of our interests were taken into account during the negotiations on Russia’s accession to the Kyoto Protocol. The forests that you reminded us of, for example, were not sufficiently taken into account when the conditions for Russia’s accession to this protocol were drawn up. Our forests are the lungs of the planet and are processing all of these greenhouse gases. But the scale and potential of our forests were not taken into account for our country the way things were for some other countries that are ranked among the developing nations, but which in terms of greenhouse gas emissions have a far more serious impact on the global environment than does the Russian Federation. You know which countries I have in mind. These countries are perhaps formally speaking among the developing nations, but they have huge economies and huge emissions.
We will definitely keep working in this direction, there can be no doubt about this.
Now, as far as giving special attention to the problem of genetically modified products goes, I am very happy to have come here today because I feel as though I am here among like-minded people, and I say this without any exaggeration.
One of the problems we have encountered during our negotiations on joining the World Trade Organisation is that we are being forced to renounce what I see as our right to inform our own public in the retail outlets about products manufactured using genetic engineering. Some countries with which we are currently in the process of completing negotiations as it were, have made it one of their main demands that we stop informing our public about genetically modified products. You can guess which countries I am referring to. These are countries that have gone a long way in developing genetic engineering and that grow a lot of agricultural produce using these technologies. But we will insist on using the standards that the NGOs are proposing.
Thank you very much for your position on this issue.
E. Pamfilova: Our last roundtable is 'Business and Society: mechanisms for collaboration'. Our esteemed colleague Alexandros Modiano from Greece will conclude.
Please proceed, Alexandros.
Alexandros Modiano: Thank you Ella.
Good afternoon Mister President! We have developed six recommendations with regard to mechanisms for collaboration between business and society. With the primary aim of making relations between the state, business and society productive and effective, we would like to draw the government's attention to the necessity of creating favourable conditions for development of constructive trilateral dialogue.
Secondly, we understand that the world is today encountering such problems as poverty, pandemics, social vulnerability, illiteracy, low life expectancy, and the risk of resource depletion. To resolve these problems, the private sector must be involved.
At the last G8 meeting, recommendations were made on resolution of the problems of poverty and other millennium goals. By creating jobs and using resources effectively, business has a contribution to make to solution of these tasks. Of course, business cannot solve global problems on its own, but it can make a large contribution to their resolution. We propose that governments should encourage businesses to make voluntary social contributions at international level, and also to create and maintain conditions for entrepreneurial initiatives by non-commercial organisations.
Third. We also understand that there is a delineation between areas of responsibility for business and the state. Optimal taxation and reporting to society on where these funds are allocated are the responsibility of the state. Where additional resources are needed, it is the responsibility of the state to establish dialogue with business on a public-private partnership basis. We recommend adoption of additional legislative measures for regulation of the relations between the state and business, as well as approval of corresponding initiatives for civil society involvement in this process.
Fourth. We call on states to adopt new rules on economic development, which must result from state laws, on the one hand, and agreements between civil society institutions, on the other, for the purpose of binding economic growth to the necessity of social development.
Fifth. We would like to draw the attention of heads of state to the necessity of assisting in creation of constantly operational trilateral areas. We expect state structures to contribute to the fight against corruption. We hope that the state will help private individuals, associations and businesses suffering from the effects of corruption, and we appeal to governments to provide support for dialogue on civil society problems, and its participation in discussion of issues raised at the G8 summit.
Thank you Vladimir Vladimirovich.
V. Putin: Esteemed colleagues!
Allow me to thank you all, including the last speaker. With regard to corruption, combating corruption is one of the most important issues in state activity. Unfortunately, where you have the state you also have corruption. This has always been the case and it is universal. But it is all a question of scale. In some places corruption is at an unacceptable level and this is an issue requiring particular attention. I call on business to also get involved in fighting corruption. I call on you not to help corruption grow, not to bribe anyone and not to give anyone extra money, but to work within the framework of the law.
But there is no issue of the current agenda that can be solved without business representation. This is clearly an axiom, and we will definitely enable development of this trilateral format.
I believe that the proposal is a good one, and a correct one. A trilateral format is a very good working arrangement.
Overall, I want to thank you for today's meeting, for the discussion, and to give thanks to everyone who was able to come to Moscow. I hope that your meetings will be pleasant as well as useful. Moscow is a good city.
Thank you very much.
Unofficial translation from Russian