June 27, 2019
Vladimir Putin has said liberal values are obsolete because they have been rejected by the majority of the people in Western nations.
Vladimir Putin says liberalism has become obsolete and praises Donald Trump as talented person
In a wide-ranging interview with the Financial Times, the Russian President said German Chancellor Angela Merkel had made a cardinal mistake by adopting a liberal policy towards immigration from the Middle East.
"The liberal idea presupposes that nothing needs to be done. The migrants can kill, plunder and rape with impunity because their rights as migrants must be protected. What rights are these? Every crime must have its punishment," Mr Putin said.
"So, the liberal idea has become obsolete. It has come into conflict with the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population," he said.
Mr Putin said Russia was not homophobic, but that a Western willingness to embrace homosexuality and gender fluidity seemed excessive to him.
"Traditional values are more stable and more important for millions of people than this liberal idea, which, in my opinion, is really ceasing to exist."
Mr Putin also said he had the impression that liberal circles were set on using problems being experienced by the Catholic church to destroy the church.
His comments drew short shrift from Donald Tusk, who said he "strongly disagreed" with the Russian president.
Vladimir Putin says liberalism has become obsolete and praises Donald Trump as talented person
The EU President joked to reporters that he had been able to read the entire interview due to jet-lag but quickly turned serious as he bashed Mr Putin’s comments.
"I have to say that I strongly disagree with the main argument that liberalism is obsolete," Mr Tusk said.
"Whoever claims that liberal democracy is obsolete also claims that freedoms are obsolete, that the rule of law is obsolete and that human rights are obsolete," added the EU president.
These are "essential and vibrant values" for Europeans, said Mr Tusk.
"What I find really obsolete are authoritarianism, personality cults, the rule of oligarchs, even if sometimes they may seem effective," said Mr Tusk.
The feisty comments fitted the tone of this year’s G20 meeting in Osaka where leaders are expected to clash over trade, foreign policy and climate change.
Mr Putin said he did not expect any breakthroughs at the summit Japan starting on Friday but hoped leaders would find a common understanding of what's needed to bolster economies and financial institutions.
With the Russia leader and US President Donald Trump set to meet on the summit's sidelines, Mr Putin shed a little light on his relationship with the US leader.
Vladimir Putin says liberalism has become obsolete and praises Donald Trump as talented person
Mr Trump's apparent willingness to accept Mr Putin's denials of Russia interference in the 2016 US presidential election has put the dynamic between the two leaders under close scrutiny.
"I do not accept many of his methods when it comes to addressing problems. But do you know what I think? I think that he is a talented person," Mr Putin said of Mr Trump.
An example of his American counterpart's talent is the overtures Mr Trump made to thaw the chill between Moscow and Washington when Russia allegedly engaged in "mythical interference" that led to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, Mr Putin said.
"What happened in reality? Mr. Trump looked into his opponents' attitude to him and saw changes in American society, and he took advantage of this," the Russian leader said.
Mr Putin said he planned to push Mr Trump for an extension of the 2010 New START nuclear arms reduction treaty.
Vladimir Putin says liberalism has become obsolete and praises Donald Trump as talented person
The United States gave notice this year of its intention to withdraw from a Cold War-era nuclear missile treaty with Russia that is regarded as a cornerstone of European nuclear security.
The US alleges Russia has violated the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which is set to end in August under Washington's six-month notice unless Moscow destroys a new missile system.
Since then, Russia has focused its arms-control efforts on New START.
"I hope that I will be able to talk about it with Donald if we happen to meet in Osaka," Mr Putin said. "We said that we are ready to extend this treaty between the United States and Russia, but we have not seen any relevant initiative from our American partners."
The Russian president previewed what he might argue to give the issue urgency and get some movement from the US.
"They keep silent while the treaty expires in 2021," Mr Putin said. "If we do not begin talks now, it would be over because there would be no time even for formalities."
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