Friday, May 05, 2006

Cheney Answers Questions About Russia

In Astana, Kazakhstan:
Q Yes, Matt Spetalnick, with Reuters. Mr. Vice President, the Kremlin has dismissed your criticism of Russia's record of democracy and its energy policy as "incomprehensible." Can you respond to that and explain how are you going to get this message across if they don't want to hear it? And what this could bode for the G8 Summit?

And for Mr. President, what do you think of the rising tensions between these two major powers?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I haven't had an opportunity to -- excuse me.

MODERATOR: Excuse me -- which superpowers you were talking about, sir? United States and Russia?

Q United States and Russia. (Laughter.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I haven't had an opportunity to study the response out of Moscow. The speech was very carefully crafted. It made the point that we don't look upon Russia as an enemy by any means, that we want them as a strong friend and ally. But I also made it clear that we had some concerns with respect to the extent to which they seem to resist the development of strong democracies, if you will, in those areas represented by the governments that were represented at the conference in Vilnius in Lithuania.

And I expressed the concern that I heard repeated by many of the people I interacted with at the conference that Russia is using its control over energy resources to gain political leverage of various kinds on those governments that were represented at the conference.

I expect the G8 conference will go forward as scheduled in Petersburg, and that we'll all benefit from a free, open, and honest exchange of views at that conference.

PRESIDENT NAZARBAYEV: (As translated) Well, first of all, I think that there is no such thing as confrontation between United States and Russia. We think that there is a friendly exchange of opinions and views. And we all have to know that every country has their own way of solving their own problems, and that is called politics. And we have to respect politics of every country. But every country also has a right to voice their opinion of what is happening in another country. And if that would be done in a friendly manner, I think we will just benefit from that.