Russia prepares for the summit
“Russia is accused of 'blackmailing Europe with energy resources', but is in fact a key highly reliable energy partner”.
On Wednesday Igor Shuvalov, presidential aide and Russian representative at the G8 summit, spoke about themes for discusion at the meeting of national leaders on 25 May. He believes that the area of energy will be key. Russia will present its proposals for ensuring security. This is expected to result in a change in approach to solution of global problems.
The Russia-EU summit in Sochi could set a positive tone for discussion of energy-security issues ahead of July's G8 summit in Saint Petersburg, believes Shuvalov, Russia's G8 'Sherpa'.
The area of energy is set to be one of the key themes. The summit will dispel for good the notion that Russia is using its energy resources for blackmail purposes. “We have recently visited all of the G8 countries, and discovered that many people, even some of those professionally responsible for issues of energy security, go on what they are told by newspapers. And this is a situation that it is very difficult to change”, stated Shuvalov.
The situation can be changed through bilateral negotiations. “Russia is accused of 'blackmailing Europe with energy resources', but is in fact a key highly reliable energy partner”, Shuvalov remarked, recalling the situation of this winter, when owing to unsanctioned Ukrainian skimming of gas, Europe was delayed in receiving necessary energy resources.
At the same time, the Western countries, despite all Russia's assurances with regard to the reliability of its supplies, are intent on diversifying hydrocarbon sources for delivery to Europe, a position which forces Russia to search for new markets. Moreover, this position of the Western countries is not in the spirit of partner relations. Shuvalov believes that this can be explained by the fact that the European Union and other countries have their own concept of energy security, which is unconnected to Russia's energy security.
Shuvalov spoke in favour of rational use of hydrocarbon resources. “Resources must be distributed in a manner allowing everyone's needs to be met for around thirty years – until we switch to alternative energy sources”, the aide emphasised. He stated that Russia intends to develop energy-saving technologies: specifically, construction of 40 nuclear power plants is planned.
At the summit, Russia will present its proposals for ensuring energy security. Where OPEC is concerned with security of demand for energy resources, and the OECD with security of supplies, Russia is proposing a more balanced approach, taking both elements into account.
Great investments are required in the energy industry, as investment in this sector has been insufficient in recent years. Shuvalov believes that based on the summit's discussions “a new long-term investment cycle will open up”, which will allow resolution of the problems of energy resource provision, and which no political resolutions will be able to influence negatively.
At the Saint Petersburg G8 summit, Russia may also propose creation of a new centre for development of an anti-AIDS vaccine.
“We are ready to commit to providing a significant part of the funding for this centre”, stated the presidential aide. Russia may also announce its intention to decline assistance from the UN Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, as well as its increased investment in this fund. “Russia will raise its Global Fund investment commitments. It is possible that we will not receive assistance from the Global Fund, and will switch to internal provision”, stated Shuvalov with regard to investment in Russia's anti-AIDS programmes.
The Iranian nuclear problem does not figure on the summit's agenda, but it will be discussed by the foreign ministers of the G8 countries prior to the summit. And Shuvalov did not rule out the possibility that the G8 leaders may return to this subject outside the official agenda.
Russia as a partner
The G8 summit will not result in creation of any new partnerships or organisations for resolution of global problems; we are more likely to see changes in approaches to their resolution. “This is far more effective than announcing a new partnership which no-one will remember in a year's time”, added Shuvalov, noting that not everyone takes this position.
The main political result of the G8 summit should be acceptance of Russia as a partner that shares the values of the West, but that is also ready to defend its viewpoints. Shuvalov believes that the summit's success will be demonstrated by the opportunity for all the G8 leaders to apply the stated principles of Russia's presidency for the good of their countries.
The presidential aide also mentioned that Russia considers its presidencies of the G8 and the Council of Europe to be of equal importance. The G8 gives Russia the chance to influence global politics, but the Council of Europe presidency will allow it to explain many of its positions.
Shuvalov assured observers that the Russian authorities will not raise obstacles for representatives of non-governmental organisations wishing to travel to Russia to hold demonstrations during the Saint Petersburg summit. However, in order to ensure the leaders' security, all demonstrations and rallies will take place a significant distance from the Konstantinovsky Palace, where the leaders will assemble.
Unofficial translation from Russian