Russia's Medvedev signals readiness to work with NATO, EU
President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday signalled that Russia is ready to cooperate more closely with NATO and the European Union, DPA reported.
But he warned in a televised address to the nation of the dangers of a new arms race should ongoing efforts to strengthen ties with the West collapse.
"Either we'll manage to agree on a missile defence system ... or a new spiral of arming will begin. And we will be forced to station new offensive weapons," he said.
Medvedev also called on the EU to lift visa requirements for Russians travelling to the bloc. He also said the EU should help Russia in its bid to join the World Trade Organization.
In his speech, he called on the West to help Russia as it attempts to modernize. Such help would entail technology transfers and exchanges of qualified scientists. The comments come ahead of next week's Russia-EU summit in Brussels.
Turning to Russia's demographic problems, Medvedev noting that the world's largest nation, geographically, needs to do more to boost its birth rate and support families. He proposed giving free parcels of property to families with three or more children, as well as a 91- dollars-per-child tax reduction.
Analysts' initial reaction was to call the Medvedev's speech bland, weak and without vision. Traditionally, the speech is followed by questions from a collection of 1,000 political, business and culture leaders invited to the speech in the Kremlin.