Kyrgyz referendum results a step toward civil peace – FM spokesman

During the regular briefing on July 8, 2010, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said Moscow sees the referendum results in Kyrgyzstan as a step toward civil peace and interethnic consolidation.

RT presents the full transcript of Andrey Nesterenko’s briefing from July 8, 2010

The outcome of President Dmitry Medvedev’s attendance at a meeting of the EurAsEC Interstate Council and the entry into force and prospects for the Customs Union between Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia

Under the chairmanship of the Kazakh side, a meeting of the EurAsEC Interstate Council at the level of Heads of State of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan took place in Astana on July 5, 2010. It was also attended by the President of Armenia, which is an observer state in the Community.

The EurAsEC Interstate Council is the supreme governing body of the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia. At separate sessions, the Council discussed problems facing the EurAsEC as a whole and the Customs Union in particular.

A key result of the meeting in Astana was the adoption of a decision on the entry into force on 6 July 2010 of the Customs Code of the Customs Union of the “troika” of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan (for Russia and Kazakhstan the Customs Code has been operating since July 1, 2010).

A Joint Declaration was signed in which the presidents of the three countries stated the completion of Stage One of the formation of the Customs Union within the EurAsEC, and stressed that “this event can without exaggeration be called a milestone for both our countries and for the integration processes throughout the CIS, as it attests to a qualitatively new stage of economic cooperation among the states that corresponds to the spirit of modernity and the challenges of our time.”

Active work continued to fill the legal framework of the Customs Union, launched on January 1, 2010.

In the format of the EurAsEC as a whole, the heads of the member states adopted a joint statement regarding the tenth anniversary of its establishment in which they noted that the Community is based on new principles of trust and mutually beneficial cooperation. The EurAsEC is an association of equal independent states, and its activities are focused on the realization of the national interests of each member state. The goals and objectives set out in the EurAsEC Founding Treaty are being successfully achieved.

Joint measures to combat the effects of the global financial crisis in the member states were discussed.

The Heads of State considered establishing a full-fledged Court of the EurAsEC – a new body of the Community. So far, the CIS Economic Court has performed the functions of the Court of the EurAsEC.

The Heads of State also approved a budget message and a Community budget for 2011.

It was decided to hold the next summit in Moscow in the second half of December this year.Thus, following the EurAsEC Interstate Council meeting the practical integration within the Community, and the realization of the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan have advanced one more step. Now it is important that companies, enterprises, and citizens of our countries should be able to use more quickly the advantages that it creates.

In principle, it is also important that the Customs Union is open for the rest of the EurAsEC member states.

Russia aims for an early implementation of the next stage of integration – forming the Single Economic Space, which implies a higher level of integration with the free movement of goods, capital, services and labor. This will provide additional opportunities to stimulate economic growth, industrial cooperation job creation and the realization of large-scale projects. Everybody stands to gain from the elevation to a new, higher level of integration.

The outcome of the meeting “On the socioeconomic development of the Russian Far East and the strengthening of Russia's position in the AP region”

On July 2 this year Khabarovsk was the venue for a meeting chaired by President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev on the theme of “The socioeconomic development of the Russian Far East and the strengthening of Russia's position in the AP region.”

The meeting in Khabarovsk was a major political event. A detailed discussion took place on how to use the powerful, in many ways unique, potential of the AP region to lift the eastern areas of Russia. In conjunction with this question, ways to connect our country, especially its far east and Siberia, to the integration processes unfolding in the AP region were discussed, along with the forms and methods of strengthening Russia's position thereby developing bilateral relations with our partners and by participating in multilateral regional associations.

In his opening speech, the President of Russia accentuated the attention of those present to three tasks: bring to a new level the economic interaction of our far east and Russia as a whole with Asian-Pacific countries, with special emphasis on free trade agreements; ensure the specialization of Russia in the Asia-Pacific market in the field of high technology; and seek to strengthen the role of our country in regional associations, notably in APEC, SCO, ASEAN and BRIC.

Separately, the President dwelt on security issues in the AP region. Russia is ready to offer its vision on how to build a regional polycentric, non-aligned architecture of security and cooperation.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov delivered the main report at the meeting. He stressed that the meeting was finally embedding at the level of practical politics, an awareness of the objective fact that we are an integral part of the AP region and that our eastern areas are written into this vast space. The Minister reviewed the advantages our country has in the AP region, and presented a list of practical measures to strengthen Russia's position there.

During the meeting, Dmitry Medvedev placed before the Government, federal executive bodies and regional authorities of the country, a number of tasks covering an extensive range of issues in foreign policy, security, economy, trade, energy, transport, migration as well as the preparation for the forthcoming Russian chairmanship of APEC in 2012. The President gave the instruction to prepare a comprehensive Program of Action to strengthen Russia's position in the AP region.

The Khabarovsk meeting commenced a new phase of big work in the eastern sector. The coordinated, focused and systematic implementation of the tasks set at the meeting is aimed at the realization of our national interests in the Asia-Pacific region in line with Russia’s Foreign Policy Concept. At the same time, these efforts will contribute to stronger regional peace and stability and sustainable economic development.

Sergey Lavrov’s meeting with President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Mevlut Cavusoglu

Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov received on July 1 the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Mevlut Cavusoglu, who was on a working visit to Moscow.

During the conversation, they discussed topical matters relating to Russia’s participation in the activities of the Council of Europe. A detailed exchange of views took place concerning the role of PACE in eliminating dividing lines on the continent, efforts to overcome crisis phenomena in ECHR activities and the need to promote a unified agenda of the Assembly. The Minister drew attention to the need to firmly oppose attempts to use the Strasbourg Organization as a tool for falsifying our common history.

Today Minister Lavrov will meet with visiting Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland.

Meeting between Sergey Lavrov and Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met on July 6 in Moscow with his Italian counterpart Franco Frattini, who is in Russia to attend the 11th session of the Russian-Italian Council on Economic, Industrial and Monetary and Financial Cooperation.

The talks, held in the traditional frank and confidential atmosphere for Russian-Italian dialogue, have confirmed the strategic character of Russian-Italian cooperation. Further details are placed on the Russian MFA’s website.

On the annual session of ECOSOC

Last week, the high-level segment of the annual substantive session of the ECOSOC concluded its work in New York, having held a series of important events, details of which can be found on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website. The Russian delegation to the segment was headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Yakovenko. The work of the ECOSOC will continue until 23 July this year.

Russian-Ukrainian talks

As previously arranged, important Russian-Ukrainian contacts took place last week. On July 1 Moscow hosted the fourth meeting of the Sub-Commission on Border Affairs, Subcommittee on International Cooperation, Russian-Ukrainian Interstate Commission, with the participation of representatives of the Foreign Ministries and other concerned agencies of the two countries.From June 30 to July 1, in Moscow, as part of the meeting of the Sub-Commission on Azov-Kerch problems, Subcommittee on International Cooperation, Russian-Ukrainian Interstate Commission, the 33rd round of negotiations between the delegations of Russia and Ukraine on those issues took place. Further details are placed on the Russian MFA’s website.

Around Iran's nuclear program

A meeting of the political directors of the six international mediators (US, UK, Germany, PRC, Russia and France) in resolving the situation around the Iranian nuclear program (INP) took place in Brussels on July 2, in which Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov participated.There was a thorough exchange of views on the state of affairs in this area in light of the new sanctions resolution 1929 on Iran that was adopted by the UN Security Council on June 9, 2010. The meeting reiterated the commitment of all participants in this format to an expeditious politico-diplomatic solution to the situation around INP and the readiness toward this end for dialogue with Tehran, particularly on the question of implementing a fuel swap scheme for the Tehran Research Reactor.The political directors also held a separate meeting with the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to discuss topical tasks of organizing the next meeting in the Six-Iran format.

On the situation in the Middle East

The situation in the Middle East remains volatile and fragile, although some positive moments may also be noted: the continuing Israeli-Palestinian proximity talks, mediated by US Middle East envoy George Mitchell. Five rounds of such indirect contacts have been held, the last one on June 30-July 1. They bear a discrete character. This brokered dialogue is certainly not easy, but some progress has been made. The chance to move to direct conversation remains, and it should be used.

The Middle East Quartet is still the main instrument of international support of the peace process. It is in this context that one should view the recent visit to the region by Sergey Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister. The special representatives of the Quartet continue to engage in intense daily work, including on the ground, with a view to accomplishing the tasks set by the Quartet leaders at their last meeting in Moscow in order to advance towards a comprehensive Middle East settlement. On July 2, in Israel, their scheduled meeting was held in which the special envoy of the Russian Foreign Minister, Ambassador at Large Sergey Yakovlev took part. The agenda included two main issues: progress in the proximity talks and the situation around Gaza. A new contact in the same format will be held soon.

We note some improvement in the situation around Gaza. On July 5, pursuant to the June 20 decision of the Government of Israel to expand the range of humanitarian supplies to Gaza, the Israeli MFA released a list of goods whose import into Gaza will be controlled by Israel. Among the prohibited goods now are only weapons, military equipment and dual use goods. However, building materials are also on the list, except those intended for projects approved by the PNA and being implemented by international organizations (UN). All other goods are permitted for supply.

Such easing of the blockade is a step in the right direction, after which we believe further measures should follow, such as restoring the rule that existed under the Agreement on Movement and Access of 2005, when UN and PA inspectors were stationed at the Gaza border checkpoints. The ultimate goal should be a complete lifting of the blockade, of course, taking into account the interests of Israel's security.

On the remarks of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her visit to Georgia

The Russian MFA has noted the statements by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her visit to Tbilisi on July 5 that her country would not accept the “Russian occupation of Georgia’s territories” and would seek “de-occupation of Georgia.”

Under international law, occupation is a temporary stationing of the troops of one state on the territory of another in conditions of a state of war between them. Moreover, authority in the occupied territory is exercised by the military command of the occupying state.

Thus, the use by Secretary of State Clinton of the term “occupation” has no foundation. There is not a single Russian service member in the territory of Georgia. In the region there are Russian military contingents, but they are stationed in the territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which have seceded from Georgia as a result of the aggression unleashed by the Saakashvili regime. At the same time Abkhazia and South Ossetia have their own democratically formed legislative, executive and judicial authorities fully operational; political parties are actively working there.

Russian troops and bases in the two republics are stationed on the basis of bilateral interstate agreements in full accordance with the norms of international law.

We expect that our partners will take account of this objective reality in their public and practical activities.

On the Russian Foreign Ministry comments

I would like to draw attention to a detailed commentary of the Press and Information Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in connection with the publication of the US State Department's report on worldwide democracy support in 2009. Its full text is posted on the Ministry’s website.

On the situation in Kyrgyzstan

The Kyrgyz referendum on June 27 has approved a new Constitution of the country. Roza Otunbayeva was confirmed as President of the Kyrgyz Republic for the transition period until the end of 2011.

We consider the results of the referendum as a step towards the establishment of legitimate government institutions, full normalcy, civil peace and interethnic consolidation in Kyrgyzstan.

We understand that the solution of these complex issues will require further concerted efforts of the leadership of the republic and indeed all constructively minded sociopolitical forces in Kyrgyzstan. In this context, we will keenly watch the preparations for the upcoming parliamentary elections in the country.

President Medvedev reiterated our willingness to continue to provide Kyrgyzstan during this difficult period with all necessary assistance as he held a conversation with Rosa Otunbayeva in Astana on July 5.

The outcome of Russian-French consultations on adoption

The third round of Russian-French interagency talks held in Paris on July 5 (with Russia represented by Ombudsman for Children’s Rights Pavel Astakhov and officials from the Foreign and Education Ministries) has resulted in an almost completely finalized draft French-Russian intergovernmental agreement to establish a Commission for Family Affairs. This is about a mechanism designed to fill a legal gap in our relations with France due to the lack of a bilateral agreement on legal assistance in civil and family matters.

It is understood that the commission will be consultative and deliberative and its activities will not affect the work of the competent agencies of the founding states, or the rights and obligations arising from other international treaties and agreements. At the same time it is planned to make its functions very broad: facilitating the resolution of disputes in family matters and providing advice and assistance to interested citizens and competent agencies of Russia and France applying to the commission over the violation of the rights of parents living separately from their children, over the violation of the child's right to communicate with both parents and next of kin, over conflicts arising from the abduction of children, etc.

The remaining unagreed elements of the future document are largely non-basic and require, in most cases, editorial refinement.

We presume that in the coming months, the text of the agreement will be completely finalized and it will be possible to sign this document even before the end of this year.

On humanitarian assistance to Ukraine

Heavy rains hit seven districts in the Chernivtsi region of Ukraine on June 28 and 29, 2010. All in all, about 250,000 people found themselves in the disaster zone.

On President Dmitry Medvedev’s instruction, humanitarian aid was provided to the western regions of Ukraine affected by floods.

On July 1 and 2, two Russian Emergency Ministry Il-76 planes arrived at Ivano-Frankivsk delivering a total of about 70 tons of humanitarian aid. The cargo included power generators for lighting in the affected areas, blankets, water and tents.

On humanitarian assistance to the Republic of Abkhazia

At the request of the Abkhaz side and pursuant to the orders of the President and Government of the Russian Federation, the Emergency Situations Ministry carried out a humanitarian relief operation in the Republic of Abkhazia in early July. The delivery of humanitarian goods was made in two stages. On July 1 an IL-76 plane delivered 40 tons of cargo to Sukhum that included food and medical supplies, high-tech medical equipment in particular. On July 3 the Ministry’s motor convoy reached Abkhazia bringing up to 240 tons of humanitarian goods (food, building materials, and blankets).

Additional supplies of humanitarian goods are planned.

On the Russian Federation Ambassadors, Permanent Representatives Upcoming Meeting

A Russian Federation Ambassadors and Permanent Representatives Meeting will be held from July 12-13. The President of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev, is expected to address the meeting.

This is the fifth in a series of Ambassadors meetings that are held regularly every two years. This year it sports the motto: “Russian Diplomacy Seeks to Uphold the National Interest and Promote an All-Round Modernization of the Country.” Invited speakers – heads of Russian ministries, departments and institutions – will cover major areas of foreign policy work. Thematic and regional sections will discuss the tasks in priority sectors, and ways to enhance cooperation with foreign partners in various bilateral and multilateral formats, in order to ensure a sustainable and steady development of Russia.

Media Questions:

Question: Can you comment on the scandal surrounding musician Mikhail Pletnev? Has he been slandered, or has there been a criminal offense?

Answer: As soon as the Foreign Ministry received information about this problem, the Russian Embassy in Bangkok got in touch with Thai law enforcement agencies and with Mikhail Pletnev himself. We actively ascertained the details of the situation and provided the Russian citizen with necessary legal and consular assistance in such cases.

According to recent data from our Embassy, on July 7 at a hearing of the Pletnev case in the Thai city of Pattaya the court allowed him to leave the country temporarily to carry out his touring program. We know that Pletnev made bail and has to return for the next court hearing, which is scheduled for July 18.

Question: How can you comment on what is happening to the Russian citizens in the US where not very adequate charges of spying have been brought against them? What is the Foreign Ministry doing to resolve this situation?

Answer: A short comment on the matter was placed on the Ministry’s website on June 29. We have no other comments.

Question: A group of Russian military experts has visited South Korea recently to acquaint themselves with the results of the investigation into the sinking of South Korea’s Cheonan warship. What are the results of this work and what line does Russia adhere to in the course of the consideration of this issue in the UN Security Council?

Answer: The Russian Navy experts who visited the Republic of Korea from 31 May to 7 June at the invitation of President Lee Myung-bak carried out a thorough analysis of the materials provided by the Korean side in the aftermath of the investigation into the causes of the sinking of the ROK Navy’s corvette Cheonan in the Yellow Sea on March 26. However, we received materials from our Korean partners the other day additional to those that the Russian experts had acquainted themselves with. Now they are being carefully examined.

Simultaneously, intensive consultations on this subject are continuing in the UN Security Council. Russia has calls for an early agreement on a balanced response of the Council, bearing in mind the need to defuse the situation on the Korean peninsula. We are ready to continue constructive cooperation to this end with all interested parties.