Obama and Medvedev: Calling it quits before making it happen

It has become a political speed-dating event held in a place more fit for a honey-moon. Leaders of 21 Asia Pacific countries came together in Hawaii to publicly discuss ways of boosting trade and to have some closed-door action at the same time.

­Due to APEC’s non-binding nature, the parties were free to openly flirt with one another, pledging to lower tariffs and bring down trade barriers, while remaining totally uncommitted in their promises.

Yet, amid these shifting sympathies and promising alliances, one couple seemed to have stood the test of time. They had some memories to hold on to, yet were destined to say their goodbyes. For President Obama and President Medvedev it was the last major international gathering before crucial elections at home. With the one running a meager chance of returning to office and another holding no prospects at all, the pair were highly complimentary of each other, like two acquaintances who had long liked each other but had never had the guts to say it out loud.

­Watch Dmitry Medvedev speaking at a press conference after a meeting with his US counterpart Barack Obama.


“I would like to express full satisfaction with how our work with President Obama is being built,” Medvedev said after the talks with his US counterpart on the sidelines of the APEC summit. “The main thing that distinguishes our relations is trust. Only through trust-based relations can difficult issues be resolved. We’ve already resolved some of them, but many more are ahead.”

“President Medvedev and I have, I think, successfully established the reset of US-Russia relationships – the US-Russian relationship – over the last several years,” said Barack Obama. “And it has borne concrete fruit in the form of the New START Treaty, the 123 Agreement, the work that we did together imposing sanctions on Iran, and most recently, the efforts that we’ve made on Russia’s WTO accession.”

It is not that their relationship hasn’t lived up to its potential. Russia’s completion of the WTO talks is likely to be held up as the pinnacle of Medvedev’s presidency, completed after almost two decades of American foot-dragging. Yet, in the way they were extolling each other’s virtues, there was something slightly heart-wringing.

They both rose to power in 2008. Both seemed to entertain the romantic notion of radically changing their country. Both experienced the public’s initial affection turning sour as the realities of the day kept throwing a monkey wrench into their great intentions.

They were never destined for “happily ever after” – after all, the nature of the relationship between Russia and the United States is more that of love and hate. But they found the courage to announce their new engagement, aka reset. Things have never quite picked up from there, but at least they tried.

There is a reason why fairytales rarely go beyond the wedding, or why politicians seldom live up to their most heartfelt promises. And it is the same reason why, for most of us, Hawaii is a vacation destination rather than a place of residence.

­Oksana Boyko, RT

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