Most important is preventing escalation of violence in Kyrgyzstan – FM spokesman

We believe that today the most important thing is to prevent the escalation of violence, with the threat of civil war, Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrey Nesterenko said.

RT presents the full transcript of Andrey Nesterenko’s briefing from April 15, 2010.

On the plane crash near Smolensk

You know that the investigation into the cause of the tragic crash of the Polish President’s plane on April 10 near Smolensk is continuing in the closest co-operation with the Polish side. Highly qualified Russian and Polish experts are involved. We think it’s premature to comment on this subject until all of the investigative activities are completed.

I was asked about the MFA’s actions. Here’s a brief account.

The Ministry officials who were in Smolensk to meet Polish President Lech Kaczynski immediately joined the work at the scene.

Sergey Lavrov became part of the Governmental Commission.

The MFA set up an emergency headquarters on April 10, which worked in close co-ordination with the promptly deployed headquarters of the Ministry of Emergency (our staff member was seconded to it) and the Moscow City Government. We immediately contacted the Polish Embassy in Moscow, and gave necessary instructions to the Russian Embassy in Warsaw.
Arrangements were quickly made for the arrival of 14 special Polish flights in Moscow and Smolensk (data as of April 10-14).

A simplified procedure for issuing free visas for citizens of Poland at the Russian Embassy in Warsaw was provided, along with organizing the issuance of visas on arrival by the MFA’s consular stations in the airports of Moscow. In close co-ordination with the Polish side, arrangements were made to receive and accommodate relatives of the victims, as well as official representatives of the Polish authorities.

On April 10 and 11, Lavrov held telephone conversations with Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski. During the latter call, the Polish Minister, on behalf of his Government, expressed deep gratitude to the Russian side for all the help.

I will also note that in accordance with the decisions taken the documents, and some personal belongings of Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his wife came in from the Investigation Committee of the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office to the MFA on April 13 and on the same day were handed over to representatives of the Polish Embassy in Moscow.

From April 10, the Foreign Ministry’s interpreters were assigned to all necessary areas of work. I would like to express special words of thanks to students of MGIMO University and other tertiary institutions in Moscow, as well as to our other citizens who speak Polish and who offered their help. They were engaged in the work with the victims’ families all these days, including during forensic examinations.

Residents of our capital showed their sincere and profound sympathy and compassion over the tragedy that befell the Polish people towards the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Moscow. A similar pattern was also observed around the Polish Consulates General in Kaliningrad, St. Petersburg and Irkutsk. The Polish diplomatic missions were visited by a huge number of people, who signed a condolence book or just brought flowers. You also know that President Dmitry Medvedev came to the Embassy of Poland on April 12. Sergey Lavrov also visited the Embassy.
The Foreign Ministry has been working in close contact with the Polish side, the Russian Emergency and Health Ministries, aviation, border and customs services, the Moscow City Government and the Smolensk Regional Administration. I would like to thank all colleagues for their highly professional cooperation.

On the earthquake in China

President Dmitry Medvedev sent a telegram of condolence to Chinese President Hu Jintao in the wake of the earthquake in Qinghai province. Simultaneously, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin also sent a telegram to the Chinese Premier of the State Council, Wen Jiabao, expressing heartfelt condolences on this tragedy.

The outcome of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington

The Nuclear Security Summit was held in Washington on April 12-13. It was attended by 47 states and three international organizations (the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations and the European Union).

We believe the summit was very successful. The constructive debate made it possible to arrive at a broad consensus on issues such as the threat of nuclear terrorism and the need to take further national and international measures to strengthen physical nuclear security and enhance the role of the IAEA in this field.

The meeting concluded with the consensus adoption of a communiqué and a plan of work that not only contain agreed assessments and principles, but also define further steps to maintain and reinforce physical nuclear security. State participants in the summit agreed to implement these activities on a voluntary basis.

During the summit, the Russian side announced its decision to close the reactor producing weapons-grade plutonium in Zheleznogorsk in mid-April this year.

Also in the course of the meeting, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed a Protocol to the 2000 Agreement Concerning the Management and Disposition of Plutonium Designated as No Longer Required for Defense Purposes and Related Co-operation. The Protocol provides an opportunity for practical implementation of the disposal by each country of 34 tons of plutonium, as envisaged by the Agreement.

The constructive atmosphere of the summit must, as we hope, contribute to further strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime, including the successful holding of the Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in May.

President Dmitry Medvedev spoke at a prestigious center for political science, the Brookings Institution, before representatives of US political and business elites after the conclusion of the summit.

Also in the US capital, the Russian President had a series of bilateral meetings with his counterparts from countries participating in the summit.

More detailed information on this subject can be found on the RF President’s website.

Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to the Argentine Republic

President Dmitry Medvedev paid an official visit to the Argentine Republic on April 14. This was the first visit by a Russian head of state to Argentina in the 125-year history of bilateral relations.

Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev held talks with Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

During the meeting, the presidents discussed the most topical issues on the international agenda, and talked about the problems involved in overcoming the financial crisis. They touched upon the theme of political and economic integration in Latin America in light of the expanding co-operation between Russia and the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), the Rio Group and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).

The talks concluded with the adoption of a Joint Declaration by the Presidents of the Russian Federation and the Argentine Republic in the year of the bicentennial of the May Revolution and the 125th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations, overlying a mutual commitment to the principles of international law and the UN’s key role in world affairs.

In the presence of the heads of state a number of agreements and memoranda of co-operation in the fields of peaceful uses of atomic energy, use and development of the global navigation system GLONASS, rail transport, forestry, physical education and sports were signed, along with an intergovernmental program of cooperation in culture and education for 2010-2012.
Dmitry Medvedev also met with representatives of Russian and Argentine businesses.

Sergey Lavrov’s bilateral meetings on the fringes of the Washington Summit

Returning to the Washington meetings, I want to draw your attention to the fact that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, accompanying the President, also held bilateral meetings with his counterparts, in particular Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian. They discussed a number of practical aspects of bilateral relations, cooperation in the UN and the OSCE, as well as the situation in the region, including Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement.

Sergey Lavrov’s visit to Ukraine; third meeting of the Subcommittee on International Co-operation of the Russian-Ukrainian Interstate Commission

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov paid a visit to Ukraine on Aril 9-10, during which the third meeting of the Russian-Ukrainian Interstate Commission’s Subcommittee on International Co-operation led by Lavrov and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kostantin Hryshchenko was held.
Lavrov was received by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich.

Within this Subcommittee, six further sub-commissions have been created and are working on: co-operation in combating new challenges and threats; settlement of regional conflicts; the Azov-Kerch settlement; border and consular issues; and co-operation in international organizations.

The meeting of the Subcommittee substantively examined all matters within the competence of these sub-commissions. In addition, the heads of the foreign affairs agencies discussed other topical issues related to bilateral co-operation, major international problems, particularly European security issues, and progress in Transdnestrian conflict resolution.

The meeting of Lavrov and Hryshchenko – the third in the past two months – bears testimony to the active political dialogue between Russia and Ukraine.

Currently, preparations are under way for the sixth meeting of the Interstate Commission’s Committee on Economic Co-operation led by the prime ministers of Russia and Ukraine, which is scheduled for the second half of April in Moscow.

A meeting of the Interstate Commission’s Sub-Commission on the Black Sea Fleet is scheduled for April 28. Its agenda comprises issues relating to the operation of the Russian Black Sea Fleet based on the territory of Ukraine.

In addition, a meeting of the Interstate Commission’s Subcommittee on Humanitarian Co-operation took place on April 7, during the course of which the parties objectively examined, among many other themes, the issue of meeting the social, cultural and educational needs of Russians and Ukrainians living in the two countries.

Also being prepared is the meeting of the Subcommittee on Security of the Interstate Commission in which issues relating to Russian-Ukrainian military technology co-operation and interaction between the armed forces of the Russian Federation and Ukraine will be considered.
The activities of the working bodies are geared to prepare the third meeting of the Russian-Ukrainian Interstate Commission led by Russian Federation President Dmitry Medvedev and President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovich, which is scheduled for May in Kiev.

The visit to Moscow by Lawrence Cannon

Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, will pay a working visit to the Russian Federation on April 18-19.

During his stay in Moscow, Cannon is scheduled to hold talks with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in which they will exchange views on topical issues on the international, regional and bilateral agenda. The visit aims to further strengthen political dialogue between our countries and contribute to the practical advancement of mutually beneficial cooperation and collaboration in various fields.

Russia regards Canada as an important partner in the international arena. The level of contacts between the two countries has steadily increased. Bilateral political dialogue, including by top leaders, senior officials and ministers, has been regular and confidential. A firm foundation for this is the similarity or identity of our states’ positions on most key issues of our time, which enables working closely on ways to address them within the UN and other international bodies. Russia and Canada are in favor of creating a democratic multipolar world based on the principles of international law, respect for sovereignty and consideration of the legitimate interests of all countries, and share a belief in the need to strengthen the authority of the UN as a universal mechanism for preserving peace and strategic stability.

The visit to Moscow by Abdurrahman Al-Attiyah

The Secretary General of the Co-operation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC), Abdurrahman Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, is arriving in Moscow on April 20 for a working visit. On April 21, he will meet with Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov, First Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Alexander Torshin and President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Yevgeny Primakov. Talks also will be held with Alexander Saltanov, Russia's Special Presidential Representative for the Middle East and Deputy Foreign Minister.

During the upcoming meetings the parties will discuss issues relating to the development of Russia's ties with the GCC, as an influential regional organization, in various areas.

First of all, it concerns the strengthening of political co-operation on major international and regional issues. Particular attention will be given to stepping up joint efforts towards the settlement of conflicts in the Middle East and ensuring security and stability in the Persian Gulf. Questions of co-ordination in the area of dialogue among civilizations and in the fight against transnational terrorism and other challenges will be considered.

The parties will identify prospects for enhancing economic, commercial and investment co-operation between Russia and the GCC, in the framework of which large-scale regional projects are being carried out. In this regard, opportunities are opening up for the involvement of Russian companies in the construction of mega projects in energy, infrastructure and other sectors.

We regard the visit of Abdurrahman Al-Attiyah as an important event in line with Russia’s consistent policy of developing friendly relations and mutually beneficial co-operation with the Arab Gulf states and the organization unifying them – the GCC.

The situation in Kyrgyzstan

We are continuing to monitor closely the developments in Kyrgyzstan, where the situation is still far from stable.

We believe that today the most important thing is to prevent the escalation of violence, with the threat of civil war, to restore the ability to govern and to legitimize the institutions of authority.
Following requests from the interim government of Kyrgyzstan, concrete parameters of our humanitarian assistance to its population are being established.

Yesterday, April 14, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin held a meeting with cabinet members. It was decided to allocate $20 million to Bishkek for social support and to provide a soft loan of $30 million. In addition, the republic can receive up to 25,000 tons of oil products and 1,500 tons of seeds so as not to disrupt the sowing campaign. It is also possible that Russia will purchase more vegetables and fruits from Kyrgyzstan than usual. This is also a form of assistance.

I must also note the following. A major concern is the fact that in the last few days, the Russian Embassy in Bishkek has been receiving numerous complaints from citizens of the Russian Federation and Russian compatriots about raiders’ grabs of and attacks on the offices of their companies and homes, the manifestations of everyday nationalism in Bishkek and other regions of Kyrgyzstan. However, local authorities and law enforcement agencies often do not respond to requests for help and protection. In this regard, the Embassy of Russia on April 13 approached the relevant authorities in Kyrgyzstan urging them to take immediate measures to ensure the safety of resident Russian-speaking citizens.

The development of the situation around Artyom Savelyev

Seven-year-old Artyom Savelyev, whom his adoptive American mother Torry Hansen rejected and “sent” back to Russia, is currently undergoing medical examination in a children's clinic in Moscow. The boy’s general condition, according to doctors, is satisfactory.

The Russian side, as you know, immediately and strongly reacted to the incident with Artyom Savelyev. After the Embassy of Russia in Washington asked the United States’ Department of State and Department of Justice for clarification on the situation, the American side indicated its intention to send to Moscow a State Department delegation headed by the principal deputy assistant secretary of state, Michael Kirby, to discuss the entire range of problems associated with the adoption of Russian children in American families.

Such a meeting will be held in the coming days with the participation of officials from the Education and Science, and Justice Ministries, the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Duma Committee on Family, Women and Children, the Office of the Presidential Commissioner for the Rights of the Child, and specialized departments of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

The fundamental question which the Russian side intends to raise in the consultation is the need for the urgent conclusion of a bilateral treaty with the US on international adoptions. Russia already has experience in developing similar agreements.

According to the Russian side, only such a bilateral treaty that contains effective mechanisms for monitoring the living conditions of adopted children from Russia by our and American competent bodies, including the possibility of monitoring by officials of Russian consular agencies, will provide reliable guarantees of a non-recurrence in the future of tragedies similar to those that had already taken place in the US.

Further adoption of Russian children by American citizens, which is currently suspended, is possible only in the event of such an agreement.

On the publication in the Moroccan daily Aujourd’hui Le Maroc of cartoons about the terrorist attacks in the Moscow Metro

We already touched upon the subject of such publications during our last briefing.
In this regard, we regret to note the appearance of offensive cartoons about the terrorist attacks in the Moscow Metro on March 29, 2010, in the Moroccan daily Aujourd’hui Le Maroc.

Of course, such an outrageous step, contrary to journalistic ethics and generally accepted standards of morality, was not ignored by the Russian Embassy in Morocco, which sent letters to the editor-in-chief of Aujourd’hui Le Maroc, as well as to the Minister of Information of Morocco and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the country indicating the inadmissibility of such actions.

This course of action had its effect: Aujourd’hui Le Maroc published the full text of the Embassy’s letter and, in a commentary to it, expressed its total rejection of violence and extremism in all forms and assured “the Russian friends of its good will, compassion and empathy.”

Signing of a Joint Declaration on Cooperation between the Secretariats of the UN and the SCO

Muratbek Imanaliev, Secretary General of the Shanghai Co-operation Organization, and Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General, signed a Joint Declaration on Co-operation between the Secretariats of the UN and the SCO in Tashkent on April 5.

The Joint Declaration provides a legal basis for co-operation between the Secretariats of the UN and the SCO on issues related to international peace and security under Chapter VIII of the UN Charter, particularly in such areas as conflict prevention and resolution, counter-terrorism, WMD non-proliferation, combating transnational crime and illicit drug trafficking, and on a number of other issues of mutual concern.

The signing of the Joint Declaration bore testimony to the growth of the international prestige of the SCO and to its focus on developing external ties and shaping a partnership network of multilateral organizations and forums.

On the Polish and Norwegian Foreign Ministers’ joint initiative to impose restrictions on tactical nuclear weapons in Europe

We noted the joint statement issued by Norwegian and Polish Foreign Ministers, Jonas Gahr Store and Radoslaw Sikorski, in Oslo on April 9 about the need to extend the nuclear disarmament process to tactical nuclear weapons (TNW). We note that the problems associated with TNW have recently attracted ever greater attention. This is only logical against a background of reductions in strategic offensive arms, undertaken in the first place by Russia and the US. Tactical (also known as “sub-strategic,” “pre-strategic,” etc.) nuclear arms are an important element of the defense capabilities of states and military alliances, influencing the evolution of the balance of power at the global and regional levels. We consider the opportunity to discuss their reduction as one of the areas of disarmament efforts, based on equal and indivisible security. We have repeatedly issued calls as the first step on this path to follow the example of the Russian Federation and to ensure the universal return of TNW to the territory of those states to which they belong. We believe that this kind of decision would positively influence the overall climate in Europe and help strengthen confidence and security on the continent.

On the notification sent by the International Maritime Organization to member states about the illegality of shipping in the Abkhaz territorial waters without permission from Tbilisi

The Russian Federation and several other states have recognized the Republic of Abkhazia as an independent state. In this connection we proceed from the fact that Georgia now has no right to exercise sovereign rights or jurisdiction over the territory of the Republic of Abkhazia, including its internal waters, territorial sea, exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, even though the marine spaces between Georgia and the Republic of Abkhazia are not yet delimited.

We expect Georgia to refrain from any action that might violate the sovereignty of the Republic of Abkhazia with respect to its internal waters, territorial sea, exclusive economic zone or continental shelf, infringe on freedom of navigation and the safety of international shipping in the region or endanger the lives and health of crew members and passengers.

On the Iranian nuclear problem

We have received a lot of requests to comment on the discussion that has begun in New York on the INP at the level of Permanent Representatives of the Six, as well as on the dates of the commencement of a debate on the elements of a sanctions resolution in the UN Security Council and Russia's position on this issue.

Indeed, the six nations’ work on individual draft elements of a possible new UN Security Council resolution on Iran is already underway in New York. As to when this work may be transferred directly to the Council, it’s very difficult to say anything concrete. This could happen in a few weeks, maybe a few months.

I can only confirm that a meeting of the six countries’ permanent representatives to the UN was held in New York. After the meeting, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, said that “it was a very constructive discussion and the discussion will continue very soon.” Moreover, the permanent representatives agreed to continue exchanging views on possible actions in the UN Security Council with regard to Iran.

As to Russia’s stand on sanctions, it has been repeatedly voiced, including by President Medvedev during a press conference in Prague on April 8, and remains unchanged.
The full text of Medvedev’s remarks is given on the President’s website.

On progress in the Russian-American negotiations on poultry deliveries to the Russian market

On March 1-4, Moscow hosted a second round of bilateral consultations on the supply of US poultry meat to the Russian market. The discussion resulted in the parties agreeing to continue work by correspondence on a document seeking to ensure resumption of deliveries in accordance with Russian legislation prohibiting the use of chlorine solutions in poultry processing. Experts from Rospotrebnadzor and the USDA are now finalizing the wording of the document.

On the general elections in Sudan

Voting began in Sudan’s general elections on April 11. In accordance with the schedule approved by the National Electoral Commission, it will take 5 days (from 11 to 16 April), and its official results are expected to be announced on April 20.

As a result of the expression of the Sudanese citizens’ will, a President of the Government of National Unity, a President of the Government of South Sudan and state governors are to be elected; a new composition of the legislatures at the federal and regional level is to be formed.
Holding national elections on a multiparty basis is an important step towards government reform within the framework of the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), signed on January 9, 2005 in Nairobi between the ruling National Congress Party and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army, which ended the 20-year civil war and provided for a six-year transition period that would end in a referendum on self-determination of southern Sudan.
The presence of 340 international observers evidences the significance of the elections for the political life of Sudan and the situation in the region. Participating in the international monitoring from Russia are representatives of our Central Electoral Commission and a delegation of the Federation Council.

We hope that following the elections new bodies of executive and legislative authority will be formed in the Sudan in a short space of time, this ensuring the further advancement of the settlement process and democratic change in the country in accordance with the provisions of the CPA and in the interests of all Sudanese people.

On the parliamentary elections in Sri Lanka

Early parliamentary elections were held in Sri Lanka on April 8 in which, according to preliminary data, the pro-presidential bloc United People's Alliance for Freedom won. The final results will be announced after a re-vote in several constituencies.

The defeat of the separatist terrorist organization Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the restoration of the territorial integrity of the country made it possible for the first time in 25 years to hold nationwide elections to the Parliament of Sri Lanka in all regions of the island. The outcome of the presidential and parliamentary elections has revealed broad popular support for the policy of Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa, aimed at overcoming the effects of the protracted conflict.

The received mandate of trust will allow the country's leadership to begin to implement the plans for developing the country's economy, improving people's welfare, and creating conditions for the formation of a uniform civil society based on respect for the rights and interests of all ethnic and religious groups.

The opening of the Festival of Russian Culture in Japan – 2010

On April 13, Tokyo hosted the opening ceremony of the Festival of Russian Culture in Japan – 2010. It was attended by Sergey Naryshkin, the Russian Co-Chair of the Organizing Committee and Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office; Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation Alexander Avdeyev; former Japanese Prime Minister Tsutomu Hata, the Japanese Co-Chair of the Organizing Committee, and by representatives of the public and cultural figures of the two countries.

Festivals of Russian Culture in Japan have been held annually since 2006 and have become a good tradition in bilateral relations. The appearances of Russian performers in various parts of the country have been visited over these years by about five million people who have had the opportunity to become acquainted with the best of Russian classical and modern art. Activities of the festival play an important role in deepening understanding and trust between the peoples of our countries and significantly contribute to their mutual rapprochement, as well as becoming a significant event in Russian-Japanese relations and greatly enriching their cultural dimension.
The program of the current, fifth Festival includes performances both by well-known and already internationally acclaimed performers and by the future of Russian art – up-and-coming bands and artists. In particular, tour performances of the Ballet Company of the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Academic Musical Theater are scheduled, as well as appearances of famous choirs, master classes of renowned Russian opera and ballet artists that are very popular among Japanese audiences, concerts of young performers and a children's choir, etc.

In Russia, we are always glad to see Japanese artists who perform in various cities of our country as part of the traditional Japanese Spring and Japanese Autumn Festivals. We believe that the broad and multifaceted cultural ties are an important tool for establishing good neighborly relations and mutual understanding between the peoples of our countries, without which it is impossible to take Russian-Japanese relations to a qualitatively new level and to build a genuine partnership on this basis.

On the days of historical and cultural heritage

Annually, on April 18 (International Day for Monuments and Sites) and May 18 (International Museum Day), in the framework of the Historical and Cultural Heritage Days held by the Moscow City Government, the Ministry’s Main Directorate for the Diplomatic Corps (GlavUpDK) agrees with the foreign diplomatic missions housed in the buildings having the status of cultural heritage (historical and architectural monuments) the possibility for organized groups of members of the Moscow public to visit them. In this way, acting within the scope of the part of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 concerning the receiving state’s strict observance of the inviolability of the office and residential premises of diplomatic missions, the Main Directorate helps to practically implement the principle of public access to heritage sites. In this regard, it has for several years now been successfully working with the Moscow Heritage Committee, which provides it with a list of sites of public interest and forms groups of visitors from among architects, artists, creative intellectuals, Moscow schoolchildren, pensioners, veterans and ordinary citizens interested in the history of their Motherland .

Cultural Heritage Days are being held for the tenth time.

Interest in visiting buildings of diplomatic missions is high enough. Over 7,000 Muscovites toured buildings of foreign embassies during the period 2001-2009. And this year more than 2,000 people will visit them.

In addition, the Ministry and the Main Directorate find the possibility of arranging in the framework f Historical and Cultural Heritage Days, visits to the Reception House of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation – the unique Savva Morozov Mansion (17 Spiridonovka Street).

On the situation in Thailand

We continue to be seriously concerned about the deteriorating situation in Thailand, especially in Bangkok where, on April 10, clashes between anti-government protesters and the forces of law and order took place. We regret that, as a result of these events, people were killed or wounded (no Russian nationals were among the victims). We express our sympathy to the bereaved families.

We hope that the violence will not recur and constitutional order will be restored in Thailand. We believe that the resolution of existing contradictions can be achieved exclusively by peaceful means, within the legal field.

Due to the deteriorating situation in Bangkok and other cities of Thailand, the Russian Foreign Ministry strongly advises Russian citizens to refrain from visiting the Thai capital until full normality is established and to make an informed decision about going to the Kingdom for vacation, guided by Ministry reports on the situation in that country.

About the “Klein case”

At the last briefing, ITAR-TASS news agency asked me this question: “In early April the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg condemned Russia’s decision to extradite the Israeli, Yair Klein, to Colombia, where he was sentenced in absentia for aiding and abetting terrorism. Colombia’s Foreign Minister during his Moscow visit expressed hope that Russia would appeal the Court’s decision. What can you say about further Russian actions in this matter?”

We learned with regret of the ECHR decision of April 1, 2010, whereby the Court forbade Russia to extradite Gal Yair Klein, a citizen of Israel, to Colombia. Two judges of the ECHR, elected from Russia and Azerbaijan, voted against it and expressed a dissenting opinion on this issue.

As you know from the press conference held on April 6 at the Foreign Ministry, this topic was raised during the talks between Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Colombian counterpart Jaime Bermudez, who was on an official visit to Moscow.

At present, Russian competent agencies are studying the ECHR decision in order to decide in conjunction with the Colombian partners on our next steps, including the possibility of appealing this ruling.

Answers to media questions:

Question: What do you know about the recent anti-piracy action of the Netherlands navy off the coast of Somalia, which resulted in the release of three Russians?

Answer: Fighting pirates is an acute problem with an international dimension. It has been discussed at many levels. You know about the Russian President's proposals concerning the creation of mechanisms that would address issues relating to how to deal with the pirates who have fallen into the hands of international justice.

According to information received from the Ministry of Defense of the Netherlands, on April 5 the Dutch frigate “Tromp”, 500 miles east of the coast of Somalia, prevented the seizure of the German-flagged container ship “Taipan”. Among the mixed crew of 13, three were Russians. None of the crew members were harmed during this action.

In this connection we express gratitude to the Dutch naval sailors for the resolute actions to rescue the crew of the Taipan.

Unfortunately, acts of piracy and armed robbery in the area are continuing, and this poses a serious danger to international merchant shipping, the lives of seafarers and passengers of vessels and leads to substantial economic losses.

We believe that one of the most complicated aspects of countering the threat of piracy is the problem of determining jurisdiction over persons suspected of acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea, and the issues of the investigation and prosecution of such persons. In order to ensure the prosecution of persons suspected of piracy, in February 2010 the Russian Federation began consultations with members of the UN Security Council on a draft resolution on the establishment of an international anti-piracy tribunal, and in April submitted it to the UN Security Council.

Question: We received a question from RIA Novosti: How can you comment on reports that the UN International Court of Justice may issue an advisory opinion on Kosovo not in April-May 2010 as previously announced, but only by November 2010? Why the delay?

Answer: The General Assembly’s request for an advisory opinion on whether Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence conforms to international law came in to the International Court of Justice on Oct. 10, 2008. Until April 17, 2009 all states concerned submitted their written statements to the Court, and from December 1 to 11, 2009 the ICJ held oral hearings.
The Russian Federation was actively involved in this case; we participated in both the written and oral proceedings. As is known, Russia holds that Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia does not conform to international law and grossly violates Security Council resolution 1244 of June 10, 1999, which established an international presence in Kosovo.

Under Articles 107 and 108 of the Rules of the ICJ, the Court itself fixes the date for the reading of its advisory opinion and informs the UN Secretary General and the states concerned of this. A rigid timeframe for rendering an advisory opinion does not exist. Practice shows, however, that the ICJ takes about six months to hold hearings and render an opinion. There have been instances when it rendered its opinion fairly quickly, as in the case of Advisory Opinion on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in 2004 (4 months), but, for example, on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons, the ICJ took about eight months to prepare its opinion.

As of now, there has been no official information on the appointment and furthermore, postponement of the date for the reading of an advisory opinion on whether Kosovo’s UDI conforms to international law.

It should also be remembered that to date the International Court of Justice has a very demanding caseload of 15 cases, including the advisory proceedings on Kosovo. Accordingly, the preparation period will also depend on how busy the Court is with the other cases on its docket.

Question: The head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization said that the government of Iran is ready to exchange 1 ton of uranium enriched to the level of 5.3 per cent for 100 kg of 20 per cent nuclear fuel. What’s your comment on that?

Answer: I won’t comment on the technical details of the Iranian side’s proposal. They are the exclusive responsibility of experts. I can say that we can only welcome any initiative by any party relevant to the subject of multilateral negotiations, which is made in a constructive spirit.

Question: Tehran intends to hold an international conference on nuclear disarmament. Does Russia plan to participate?

Answer: The International Conference on Disarmament and Nonproliferation: World Security without Weapons of Mass Destruction will be held in Tehran on April 17-18.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov, on the Russian side, is due to attend it.
We regard this conference as one of the activities in preparation for the upcoming NPT Review Conference to be held in New York in May. We hope that the organizers will make a worthy contribution to ensuring the constructive engagement of the states parties to the Treaty at the forthcoming Review Conference to strengthen the NPT.