Russian President Medvedev opens Davos forum


Davos, Switzerland – Just two days after the deadly terrorist attack on Moscow’s Domodedovo airport, Russian Federation President Dmitry Medvedev delivered the opening address at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2011.

“All our efforts to further develop the world economy will be for nothing if we fail to defeat terrorism, extremism and intolerance, if we fail to eradicate altogether these evils which are the greatest danger to mankind,” Medvedev told some 2,500 participants in the opening session. “Success can be ensured not by states alone but through broad dialogue with civil society.” Added the Russian leader: “The pain from the loss of human lives will stay in our hearts for too long, but they only strengthen our resolve to find a solution to international terror.” The timing of the bombing indicated that those responsible “expected that their act would bring Russia to its knees” and that the president would cancel his trip to Davos, Medvedev said. “They miscalculated.”

Medvedev stressed that his nation is trying to modernize and recognizes it has work to do.

“Russia is very often criticized. Sometimes the criticism is well deserved, sometimes absolutely not,” he said. “Russia is rebuked for the lack of democracy, totalitarian tendencies, weaknesses of legal and judiciary systems.”

“Today we are the way we are, and let me tell you that Russia indeed faces many difficulties in building the rule of law, in creating a modern state of the economy,” he acknowledged. “We are moving ahead in fighting corruption and modernizing the judiciary, though we have not achieved the best results from our efforts.”

Russian president also did not miss the opportunity to lecture the west. “We are learning and we are willing to receive friendly advice,” Medvedev said. “But what we don’t need is lecturing — we should be working together.”

In his address, Medvedev also outlined his government’s plans for modernizing the Russian economy and enhancing Russia’s global competitiveness. He stressed his commitment to openness and technological development and the importance of attracting talent to Russia. “Our task is to turn Russia into a more attractive place for the best minds in the world,” he said.

Earlier, Micheline Calmy-Rey, President of the Swiss Confederation and Federal Councillor of Foreign Affairs, welcomed participants. “The gap between rich and poor is growing without relent,” she remarked. “Global justice is a prerequisite for sustainable development and we have to understand that our lifestyle is not sustainable.” The international community should “guarantee that resources are distributed in a way that benefits those who are most vulnerable.” She called for the creation of a “sustainability council” at the United Nations. “The world is so fragile so let’s take care of it.”

In his remarks to participants at the beginning of the session, Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, warned of “global burnout”, as the world focuses on reacting to crises as they happen rather than on actively addressing challenges. “We are all optimists here, but when we look at the big issues on the global agenda, there is pessimism. We don’t want this meeting to be one of despair. You fight possible burnout with renewed self-confidence.”This should be “a meeting of constructive optimism,” he said.