Published: September 21, 2009
Filed at 4:29 p.m. ET
BERNE (Reuters) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, keen to build on Washington's decision to drop its plans for anti-missile defence, Monday said Switzerland could mediate his efforts to refashion Europe's security arrangements.
Medvedev visited Switzerland on his way to the United States where he will take part in the U.N. General Assembly, the summit of 20 leading economies and meet U.S. President Barack Obama -- his partner in "resetting" thorny U.S.-Russian relations.
Medvedev welcomed Obama's decision last week to scrap plans to deploy elements of a U.S. anti-missile shield in eastern Europe, viewed by Moscow as a threat. Kremlin officials said the move provided an impetus for breakthroughs in other areas.
A new binding pact on European security, designed to prevent a return to the divisions of the Cold War era, is one of Medvedev's top diplomatic goals but it has so far has received little support from the West.
"We believe everyone is interested in creating a new security architecture, especially those not engaged in (military) blocs," Medvedev told a news conference after talks with Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz.
"Switzerland is a neutral state and it is not indifferent to what will happen in Europe," he added. "When negotiating the basics of a new European security architecture, we count on the services of Swiss mediation."
He received no immediate response from Mertz, who spoke in favour of improving European security in general terms.
COLD WAR LEGACY
Moscow believes the current security arrangements in Europe, shaped in the era of confrontation between NATO and the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact, are out of date and disadvantage Russia.
But most Western nations believe the NATO alliance continues to serve the continent's security needs well and have been sceptical of Medvedev's calls for a new start.
Russian officials say that at Wednesday's meeting in New York, Medvedev and Obama will discuss the new opportunities created by the removal of a major stumbling block in their relations -- the U.S. anti-missile plans in Europe.
The primary goal of the encounter is to foster moves towards a new pact on nuclear arms cuts, which aims to replace the 1991 START-1 treaty that expires in December. The latest expert talks on START took place in Geneva Monday.
"The plan is to provide as much time as negotiators need to get a new treaty ready for signing by Dec 5." said Michael Parmly, a spokesman for the U.S. mission in Geneva.
Redrafting European security arrangements will likely be tricky for Russia, whose reputation was badly hurt by last year's war with ex-Soviet Georgia.
The West largely sided with Georgia in that conflict.
As well as improved relations with Washington, Russia will need the support of some European states if it is to dispel concerns that its plan is an attempt to divide up the continent into spheres of influence.
(Additional reporting by Robert Evans in Geneva; Editing by Jon Boyle)
Kyivpost: Interfax, Switzerland's Dun & Bradstreet sign strategic cooperation agreement
Today, 08:38 | Interfax-Ukraine
Bern, Switzerland - Interfax, a leading Russian news agency, and Swiss company Dun & Bradstreet (Schweiz) AG, a member of the D&B Worldwide Network - the largest global business information network, have signed a strategic cooperation agreement to gather and disseminate high-standard commercial, financial and marketing information on the Russian and Swiss markets.
The agreement was signed during the Russian state visit in Switzerland in the presence of Dmitry Medvedev, President of the Russian Federation, and Hans-Rudolf Merz, President of the Swiss Confederation.
The main goals of the partnership are to add transparency to the Russian and Swiss markets, increasing their attractiveness to investors, to promote bilateral economic relations, and to help find foreign trade partners.
Interfax will provide Dun & Bradstreet (Schweiz) AG customers with information about Russian companies sourced from SPARK, Russia's largest database of corporate information, which was developed by Interfax. This includes details about companies' registrations, owners and financial accounts. In return, customers from Russia and other parts of the Commonwealth of Independent States will be able to obtain information about Swiss companies.
Interfax and Dun & Bradstreet AG plan to give entrepreneurs in Switzerland and Russia wide-ranging access to high-standard information on companies from both countries. This will facilitate the assessment of economic risk, the search for partners, and market analysis.
"Today we can record that growing numbers of questions come from abroad about Russian companies, something that is a sign that the crisis is coming to an end. More questions of this kind have come in over the past two to three months than did so for the same period in 2008, which in turn is evidence of optimistic assessments by foreign businesses of prospects for work in Russia. Switzerland is one of Russia's largest partners as regards investment and, by signing this contract, we are seeking to create the most comfortable environment possible for more intensive information exchanges of this kind," said Mikhail Komissar, General Director of Interfax.
"It is in these economically difficult times that reliable and comprehensive information about companies becomes particularly important. Especially for us, Swiss people, who still see Russia as a relatively new, untransparent and inconceivable market. I am convinced that having access to our extended Russian corporate database will allow many Swiss companies to have a clearer idea about Russian business partners, and we will thus enable and facilitate business contacts and trade between both countries," said Macario Juan, Managing Director of Dun & Bradstreet (Schweiz) AG.
Interfax and Dun & Bradstreet (Schweiz) AG plan to promote cooperation between our countries in sectors such as energy, finance, investment, trade, tourism, electronics, and innovation, and will look for companies in Switzerland and Russia that are interested in large-scale joint projects in key industries.
Interfax and Dun & Bradstreet (Schweiz) AG have come to an agreement to organize meetings between current and potential customers in Geneva, Zurich, Moscow, and St. Petersburg with the aim of promoting joint services, and will hold seminars and roundtables.
Interfax signed a similar contract with another D&B subsidiary, Spanish company INFORMA D&B, early in March this year in the presence of Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who was on an official visit to Spain.
Dun & Bradstreet (Schweiz) AG forms part of the D&B Worldwide Network, the largest global business information network. The company supplies commercial, financial and marketing information on companies and sole-proprietorships (650,000 current companies in Switzerland) to enhance its customers' knowledge of their own customers and to minimize their commercial and credit risks.
D&B is the world's leading source of information on companies. D&B Worldwide Network operates a worldwide network of subsidiaries and partners selling D&B Worldwide Network-branded business information products and services. D&B Worldwide Network's main advantages are its global nature, its own quality control system, and its global database.
Interfax is a leading Russian news agency, whose particular areas of strength are its unique expertise in gathering, processing, storing, and delivering authentic high-standard information. Interfax is the creator of SPARK, Russia's largest corporate information database with records on 12 million companies in Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan.