On October 2, 2019, at the plenary meeting of the Russian Energy Week International Forum, Russian President Vladimir Putin again discussed his views on Western liberalism. Putin stated that the liberal model had lost all flavor even where it still works, and that the enforcement of this model often encounters resistance even in the countries where it has been widely used for years.
Stressing that the migration crisis in the West is a result of this liberal model, he said, "The liberal model does not allow for stopping the inflow of migrants." He added that as a result discontent grows and people begin supporting far-right movements.
Also at the plenary, Putin commented on teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, saying that he does not share the general enthusiasm about her activity. "No one seems to have explained to Greta that the modern world is complex and diverse and rapidly developing," he stressed.
Putin also noted that renewable energy is a luxury good, stating: "But is this technology affordable for emerging economies and developing countries right now? Barely, but people want to live there just like in Sweden, and this cannot be stopped. Explain to them that they still have to live in poverty for 20-30 more years and [that] their children will be living in poverty – explain this to them."
Below are excerpts from the transcript of Putin's answers at the Russian Energy Week:
"The Migration Crisis Is A Result Of The Liberal Model"
Keir Simmons (moderator): "In an interview with the Financial Times, you seem to suggest that you predict the end of liberal democracy and that was interpreted as you celebrating a success over the United States and the Western way of doing things."
Vladimir Putin: "This is not a correct interpretation of what I have said, or rather it is a very loose one. This is how the problem is interpreted by those who want to believe that this is how we formulate our policy, that we do it as you said. I did not say what you have just said. I did not. Where did you get it? This happens very frequently, when one notion is replaced with another. First the replacement, and then criticism based on this false information.
"I said in an interview with The Financial Times that the liberal model has no right to claim domination and to believe that it is the only correct model in the world. No, the world is much more diverse; it is developing comprehensively, and one and the same model cannot be forced on everyone without distinction. This is what I said then, and I am ready to repeat it here.
"Take Asia. Look at how it is developing, how it is growing. Look at the Asian countries' history and culture. How can Western patterns as they are used in the United States and Europe be applied to Asian development? No, this would stifle any development there. There would be chaos, just as it happened in Libya and Iraq when those western countries attempted to reproduce their liberal pattern there. And it could have been even worse.
"That is what I said. I did not say that the liberal model has no right to exist. Did I say that? No, of course, not. If it works well, let it work. But it has lost all flavor even where it still works, and the enforcement of this model often comes across resistance even in the countries where it has been widely used for years.
"Take some European countries. Why are they talking about the migration crisis all the time? The migration crisis is a result of this liberal model. They simply take everything too far. It would be better to invest in the developing economies, so as to cut short the growth of poverty. Let us advocate this process in the World Trade Organization. Let us stop subsidizing agriculture in the West and open up our markets to agricultural products from the developing countries. Let us invest the necessary funds in them, giving the people an opportunity to work and live in their home countries, making a living for their families. You do not want to do this? Then you will have migrants. The liberal model does not allow for stopping the inflow of migrants. And the result is discontent among the people and a growth of extreme views and far-right movements. This is what I said. I still believe this."
"No One Seems To Have Explained To Greta That The Modern World Is Complex And Diverse And Rapidly Developing"
Keir Simmons: "Mr. President, what did you make of Greta Thunberg? President Trump said – tweeted I think – that she seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. People took that to be patronizing. What did you make of Greta Thunberg at the United Nations?"
Vladimir Putin: "I may disappoint you, but I do not share the general enthusiasm about Greta Thunberg's action. You know, it is a good thing when young people and teenagers focus on today's serious problems, including environmental issues, and they certainly need to be supported. But when others use children and adolescents for their own purposes, it is a practice that deserves condemnation. It is especially wrong to try to make money like this. I am not claiming that this is the case, but it certainly should be monitored.
"No one seems to have explained to Greta that the modern world is complex and diverse and rapidly developing, and people in Africa or in many Asian countries want to live at the same level of prosperity as in Sweden. But how can this be achieved? By making them use solar energy because Africa gets so much sun? Has anyone explained to her how much this would cost?
"A colleague was just talking about oil. Everyone probably knows that oil is the number one source in the global energy balance and it will retain its advantages as such over the next 25 years. This is what international experts say. True, its role will gradually diminish; true, renewable energy will grow faster. This is all true, and we must strive for this. But is this technology affordable for emerging economies and developing countries right now? Barely, but people want to live there just like in Sweden, and this cannot be stopped. Explain to them that they still have to live in poverty for 20–30 more years and their children will be living in poverty – explain this to them.
"These things do require a professional approach. Of course, emotions are inevitable, but still, if we want to be effective, we must be professional. I am sure that Greta is a kind and very sincere girl, but it is up to adults to try to avoid leading teenagers and children into extreme situations; it is up to adults to protect them from unnecessary emotions that can destroy a personality – this is what I wanted to say.
"Overall, of course, we should definitely support these ideas concerning the development of renewable energy sources, only we need to rely on reality. And, pushing this process – I have just explained in my remarks how we do it in Russia – we not only signed the Paris agreements and are completing their implementation, but we took steps, domestically, to limit emissions and develop alternative sources. We do this, among other things, through tax regulation, offering incentives for the development of alternative energy sources. We also continue to develop gas as the purest hydrocarbon.
"But, again, using children and adolescents to achieve even such noble goals, exerting such strong emotional pressure – I consider it wrong."