Medvedev in the spotlight, wows future economists

Medvedev in the spotlight, wows future economists

3 Apr, 07:11 PM

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was well received at his only public appearance in London, delivering a lecture at the London School of Economics on Thursday after the G20 events. He spoke for half an hour in Russian and then took questions for half an hour. He praised the efforts made by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and called US President Barack Obama his new friend and comrade.

Medvedev commented on European security that "Because we heard each other badly, the situation came close to a Cold War. That was too bad." He praised the US for its willingness to listen to arguments on disagreements between Russia and the US.

That does not mean that he has reached a perfect consensus with his colleagues. Medvedev launched an assault on the dollar at the G20, which he referred to in passing in his lecture. Medvedev had told the leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies that the countries most responsible for the economic crisis are not shouldering their share of the burden.

“On this basis, we conclude that it would be wise to support the creation of strong regional currencies and to use them as the basis for a new reserve currency,” The New York Times quotes his conclusion. The topic was first raised in the run-up to the summit, and was endorsed by the Chinese. The Russian president’s words to the G20 were unexpected, and ineffectual, however, since the G20 had already officially declined to consider the topic.

Medvedev also called for the World Trade Organization to curb national protectionist measures. Russia is still not a member of that body, which is an irritant that Medvedev mentioned to Obama when they met.

In spite of his reservations about it, Medvedev knows what he wants to do with the American currency. He had pressed for a large infusion into the International Monetary Fund and shared the satisfaction of European leaders when $1 trillion was earmarked for the financial agency. European leaders praised Obama for his flexibility on that issue.

Presidential aide Arkady Dvorkovich, who has been serving as the main Kremlin voice on the G20 since the Russian president arrived in London, told RIA Novosti news agency that “Medvedev said that we support the idea of raising considerable resources worth $1 trillion through international financial institutions,” contingent on the reform of the IMF. The world leaders agreed to spend a total of $5 trillion on economic restoration by 2010.

Dvorkovich noted that the creation of a new reserve currency was not on the G20 agenda, and suggested that it would be discussed within the IMF. He stressed that the topic would not be abandoned. RIA Novosti quoted an unidentified member of the Russian delegation as saying that Russia would provide an additional $100 million for poor countries.

Tags: G20, Medvedev, Georgia, dollar, economic crisis