Tuesday, 11 September 2012
Siberian cranes bring extremely good luck to Russia's APEC summit
The 9th summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) has ended in Russia's Vladivostok on September 9. The summit surprised many people with its effectiveness. Moreover, the forum proved to be unexpectedly successful for Russia. The APEC forum is a place for holding debate and outlining plans, rather than for making decisions. However, the most recent summit became an exception, although its agenda, which was defined six months ago, did not stipulate that it could turn into something really meaningful. Following the summit, it became clear that the "turn to the east" of the Russian economy is an issue to talk about, although experts and observers expressed concerns before that such a favorable turn for Russia was not going to happen. The forum, from which no one expected any decisions, has turned into the platform that gathered the leaders of major powers in the region (China, Russia, USA, Japan) and where a number of various arrangements was signed, The Izvestia newspaper said. After the summit, Russia has obviously gained weight among APEC member countries. The center of the world is shifting to Asia, leading scientists of politics say. Russia wants to keep up with the process and even become one of its leaders. Russia that joined the APEC in 1998 initially considered the summit in Vladivostok as a foreign policy event - largely contrary to the sense of this association, which officially positions itself not as an alliance of "states" or "countries", but rather as an "alliance of economies." But it is now clear that the APEC has worked precisely as an economic union. Perhaps it goes about the creation of an alternative to the WTO inside the APEC so that the members of the association could play on the contradictions in the WTO with the EU. Some agreements look broad in the final declaration of the forum. In particular, it is the intention to fight corruption, strengthen the financial system, reduce price fluctuations, etc. But there are a lot of specific details too, the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper said. Thus, the leaders agreed to refrain from imposing new export restrictions and creating barriers to trade and investment before the end of 2015. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who replaced President Obama in Vladivostok, and Russia's Putin were advocating the joint refusal from protectionism at the summit. The leaders also agreed to reduce the total energy intensity of the Asia-Pacific economies by 45% by 2035 from the level of 2005. Putin himself was satisfied with the agreement, which could not be achieved "within ten years of work on the WTO platform." Namely, it was decided to reduce customs duties on 54 "green" products to 5% (wind generators, water and air pollution sensors, etc). The issue of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which was initiated by the United States in 2009, did not receive a development in Vladivostok, to Russia's great satisfaction. In 2009, the USA put forward an initiative to conclude an agreement on free trade between nine developed APEC economies. Russia and China would have had no chances to enter that agreement. The "Japanese" outcome of the summit was positive too, despite contradictions between Moscow and Tokyo on the Kuril Islands. Japan expressed its willingness to participate in the Russian project to export liquefied natural gas from the Russian Federation. A railway transportation agreement was signed between ICT Group and Mitsui, as well as several other smaller contracts. Surprisingly, the United States had no objections to Russia's Asia-Pacific plans. In general, there are a lot of reasons to talk about the success of the summit. But on the other hand, this was due to the extremely good luck. The realization of bonuses earned is more complicated than a good forum in Vladivostok. The APEC summit, according to various estimates, cost Russia 700 billion rubles. However, Vladimir Putin, commenting on the results of the forum, said that the unprecedented cost seemed reasonable to him. "No offense, but what you are talking about, which 700 billion?" he replied, when asked about the cost of the summit. He explained that the money was mostly spent on the development of the infrastructure in the region, rather than preparations for the summit. At the press conference, Putin spoke about many things, but it was a question from a correspondent of the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper that received most attention. The journalist asked Putin about his flight with cranes. Journalist: Vladimir Vladimirovich, my question is not quite about the summit. May I ask you about the cranes? Putin: About the cranes? Journalist: Yes. About the cranes , whom you showed the way to warmer places. (Putin shrugs.) The fact is that on the Internet there are plenty of highly caustic remarks about it - people do joke a lot about it. Putin: Do they? They should try and take a flight themselves. Journalist: Well, your successive opponent Ksenia Sobchak [Russian it-girl, celebrity TV host] projected it all on the electoral statistics. She said that 63% of the cranes flew after Putin and the rest preferred to head south. Only a small part remained to nest on squares and boulevards. (Journalist laughs.) There is some truth in these words - not all birds flew after Putin. Here, Mr. Putin, answer! Putin: (applause heard in the hall) Indeed, not all cranes flew ... only the weak ones did not fly. (Applause in the hall again). It was with the first attempt - all of them flew with the second attempt (laughter and applause). It is true, I must admit and say it honestly, it is partially the pilot's guilt too that no all of them flew after him (silence in the hall). Because he was gathering speed and height too fast, so they simply couldn't catch up. But this is not the whole truth and not the whole situation. Just at some point - I mean, bad weather and strong crosswind - the pilot is forced to gather the height and speed quickly. Otherwise, the aircraft can turn over. (Putin thinks.) What else is there to add? Yes, there are, of course, birdies that do not fly in the pack, they prefer to nest somewhere separately. What to do? That's another problem. Even if they are not members of the pack, they are still members of our population. And they should be treated with care. (Putin pauses) If possible ... (a storm of applause).