There are no unsolvable problems in the Arctic – FM Spokesman

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrey Nesterenko, the Arctic presents no unsolvable problems or problems that might require a military solution.

RT presents the full transcript of Andrey Nesterenko’s briefing from September 30, 2010.With the increased attention to the Arctic and the importance that the Arctic has for Russia, and Russia – for the Arctic, it is only natural that our country has lately become a venue for major international forums dedicated to this region. Just now, on September 22-23, the First International Arctic Forum, “The Arctic: Territory of Dialogue,” was successfully held in Moscow. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin delivered an important report there. From October 1-3, Murmansk will host the Second Arctic International Economic Forum, the focus of which will be socio-economic development and the expansion of economic co-operation in the Far North. Dialogue, international law, and goodwill – these in our view are the foundations on which all issues are being tackled and will continue to be tackled in the Arctic. In particular, an agreement to this effect was reached at the first ministerial meeting of the five Arctic coastal states at Greenland’s Ilulissat in 2008, and this agreement is being successfully implemented in practice. The latest example: the recent signing of the Russia-Norway Agreement on Delimitation and Co-operation in the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean, an event whose significance extends far beyond bilateral relations and which serves as a positive precedent for our other partners in the region.

There are no unsolvable problems or problems that might require a military solution in the Arctic. We are satisfied that co-operation has become the predominant feature of the development of the situation in the Arctic. This is fully consistent with our national interests as set forth in the Principles of State Policy of the Russian Federation in the Arctic for the Period up to 2020 and beyond, approved by President Medvedev in 2008, and Russia will do its utmost to strengthen this trend. All questions in the Arctic can be solved through co-operation. And an artificial “sharpening” of Arctic problems most frequently comes either from a lack of knowledge of the reality, or, as noted by Prime Minister Putin, from the desire of some people to “fish in troubled waters.” With regard to the exploitation of Arctic resources, one of the main requirements here – for obvious reasons – is special attention to protecting the fragile Arctic ecosystems. And this is an important specific area of international co-operation in the Arctic, particularly within the Arctic Council.

The official visit to China by President Dmitry Medvedev

President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev paid an official visit to China from 26 to 28 September, 2010. During his visit Medvedev traveled to three cities: Dalian, Beijing and Shanghai. Details are posted on the website of the President of Russia.

Sergey Lavrov’s attendance at the 8th Summit of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), Brussels, October 4-5, 2010

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will attend the 8th Summit of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) to be held on October 4-5 in Brussels. The summit will officially formalize the accession of Russia, as well as Australia and New Zealand to this group. ASEM was founded in March, 1996, and now consists of 45 members – the 27 EU member states, the European Commission and 16 Asian States (the ten ASEAN members plus China, Japan, Korea, India, Pakistan and Mongolia), as well as the ASEAN Secretariat. ASEM was formed as a mechanism for inter-regional, multi-sector co-operation, within which the participating countries engage in collaborative activities in the fields of politics and security and in the financial, economic and socio-cultural spheres. The agenda of the forum covers areas such as overcoming the effects of the global financial and economic crisis; combating international terrorism and trans-frontier organized crime; WMD non-proliferation; energy security; sustainable development; climate change; combating the spread of infectious diseases; human rights, etc. Russia's joining the activities of this unique dialogue mechanism is a confirmation of the interest of the ASEM members in deepening the partnership with Russia, a Eurasian state, a “bridge” between Europe and Asia, whose participation in this forum is an objective fact. We are actively co-operating with the countries of both continents and developing dialogue partnerships with the EU and ASEAN. We regard the upcoming accession of Russia to the ASEM as an important step in pursuing the line set by the President of the Russian Federation on strengthening the position of our country in the Asia-Pacific Region and building up Russian participation in multilateral regional associations. Russia intends to make a real practical contribution to the work of ASEM for the development of multilateral regional co-operation. It primarily concerns the creation here of a transparent and equitable security and co-operation architecture, which would be based on collective principles, norms and principles of international law and due consideration for the legitimate interests of all states in the region. We believe that the move toward this goal should proceed through the development of multilateral network diplomacy and the creation of a partner network of organizations and forums. Russia's joining in advance ASEM’s multidisciplinary activities and contacts with the forum participants gave us the opportunity to effectively and usefully prepare for entry into ASEM. We support the agenda proposed by Belgian organizers, under the overarching theme of how to ensure greater prosperity and more dignity for all citizens. Sergey Lavrov will speak on the “Global Challenges” theme. We look forward to a fruitful discussion on all important issues: overcoming the effects of the global financial and economic crisis; sustainable development; global and regional issues; human contacts; and streamlining ASEM activities. In Brussels, Sergey Lavrov will also have a number of bilateral meetings with foreign participants of the summit.

The work of the 65th UN General Assembly session in New York

The 65th UN General Assembly session is continuing in New York. Please note, the text of the statement made by Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN Vitaly Churkin during the general debate is published on the Ministry website.

OSCE Review Conference

An OSCE Review Conference is opening in Warsaw today. It will precede the OSCE’s summit to be held December 1-2, 2010 in Astana, capital of Kazakhstan, chair of the Organization in 2010. There will be three parts of the Review Conference: in Warsaw (30 September-8 October), Vienna (18-26 October) and Astana (26-28 November). It will examine how member states are fulfilling their political commitments assumed in the politico-military, economic-environmental and humanitarian dimensions of security, and how effectively the OSCE executive structures do their job – its Secretariat, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, High Commissioner on National Minorities, the Representative on Freedom of the Media, and field missions operating in 16 countries in Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Central Asia and the Trans-Caucasus.The Russian delegation at the conference will comprise experts from the relevant ministries and agencies. Representatives of civil society organizations (NGOs) will also take part. Russia has faithfully fulfilled and will continue to fulfill all the political commitments it assumed within the OSCE. We urge all other member states to do the same. We call for reviewing the political commitments that have been unjustly forgotten, such as the freedom of movement/liberalization of visa regimes in the first place. We look forward to a thorough and constructive discussion on the strengthening of confidence building and security instruments in the military domain, and their adaptation to the new conditions and practice of military construction. We consider it necessary to begin serious work on correcting imbalances in the work of the OSCE institutions and field missions, which today, unfortunately, is characterized by a “selective” approach and focuses mainly on the countries “east of Vienna.” We consistently advocate transforming the OSCE into a fully-fledged intergovernmental organization that works according to clearly-defined, collectively-agreed rules. An important step in this direction would be the adoption of a Charter of the OSCE. The delegation intends to raise all these and other issues at the Review Conference that opened today. We believe if all OSCE states without exception, regardless of their participation in military alliances or other associations, equally and faithfully fulfill their obligations across the board, then we will be able to create a truly indivisible area of equal security and co-operation from Vancouver to Vladivostok. We hope that the Review Conference will contribute to the success of the OSCE Summit, the chief objective of which in our view is to reaffirm and strengthen the principle of indivisibility of security and to increase the relevance of the OSCE as a platform for dialogue and joint action in areas of common interests throughout the space from Vancouver to Vladivostok.

Russian Foreign and Interior Ministers’ joint appeal to their EU counterparts

Work on the draft Russian-Polish intergovernmental agreement on local border traffic, which aims to extend the simplified travel regime to the whole of Kaliningrad Region, as well as the adjacent areas of Poland, is now practically over. The only obstacle to its conclusion is the EU rule that sets border zone width at 30km. If mechanically applied to the Russian-Polish agreement, the approach would leave Kaliningrad Region divided into two parts, landing its residents in an unequal position, in terms of the regime for travel to Poland. In this regard, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev, guided by the tasks of further deepening Russian-Polish co-operation in various fields and expanding the range of measures aimed at the overall facilitation of contacts between citizens of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Poland and of Russia and the EU member states, sent a joint appeal to their EU counterparts and the European Commission calling for improvement of the existing internal EU rules governing local border traffic. The corresponding document is transmitted to the recipients through diplomatic channels. We count on a constructive response from the European colleagues and on an early positive decision by the European Commission.

The homecoming of Denis Khokhryakov

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Russian Embassy in Venezuela (our ambassador in Caracas is concurrently accredited to Santo Domingo), with the active co-operation of Children Rights Ombudsman Pavel Astakhov and officials from several other Russian agencies, have solved the question of the repatriation of Dmitry Khokhryakov, an underage Russian citizen (born in 1998), seven years ago taken by his adoptive parents to the Dominican Republic and then left there to the mercy of fate. Upon receipt of the documents, local authorities promptly and favorably responded to our request for the return of the child, for which Sergey Lavrov personally thanked the President of the Dominican Republic, Leonel Fernandez, during their bilateral meeting in New York on September 23. On September 27, Pavel Astakhov flew to Santo Domingo. He will accompany the boy to Russia (the flight to Moscow is scheduled for September 30). The head of the consular department of the Russian Embassy in Venezuela is also there now; he is rendering the Ombudsman all necessary assistance.

Russian-American consultations on adoption

The latest expert consultation in July basically produced the agreed text of a Russian-US adoption agreement, meant to provide reliable guarantees for the rights of adopted children. Now the parties are to complete internal interagency approvals for the draft. A final round of bilateral negotiations will then follow, resulting in the submission of the agreement for signature. Hopefully this can happen before the end of this year.

Elections in Venezuela

The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela held elections to the National Assembly on September 26. Supporters of the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) won a majority of seats in the supreme legislative body of the country. We note with satisfaction that the polls, witnessing voter turnout of more than 65 per cent, passed in compliance with democratic norms and principles, in a peaceful and transparent manner. Representatives of the Russian Central Election Commission and deputies of the State Duma, who were in friendly Venezuela as members of the Program of International Election Monitoring, underscore the competent preparation and good organization of the voting process. We commend the responsible attitude of the main political parties of Venezuela, which have accepted the results of the expression of the people's will.

On the upcoming parliamentary elections in Kyrgyzstan

In recent months we have been following the dynamics of the complicated situation in Kyrgyzstan with special attention. On October 10, citizens of the country will elect deputies to the Zhogorku Kenesh – the Parliament of the Kyrgyz Republic. Of course, this is a major event in social and political life, and a landmark moment in the evolution of the democratic process in Kyrgyzstan. We would hope that the elections will be held in a relaxed atmosphere, fairly and transparently, and will make it possible to form the highest legislative and then executive bodies of power in the Republic capable of coherent, efficient operation. At the invitation of the Kyrgyz side, it is planned to send Russian election observers on behalf of the Central Election Commission of Russia, the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly, EurAsEC, the SCO, and as members of the monitoring mission of the OSCE/ODIHR. As previously noted, the Russian side at the request of the Kyrgyz partners is providing all necessary assistance in selecting and equipping polling stations in several Russian cities for the voting of citizens of Kyrgyzstan staying temporarily in the territory of our country. We are talking mainly about Kyrgyz labor migrants. Those in Russia, according to the Federal Migration Service, number about 300,000. If necessary, we would be willing to make additional voting facilities available to this category of Kyrgyz citizens who wish to use them. On the working trip of Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs/State Secretary Grigory Karasin to Kyrgyzstan and his meeting with the co-chairing Troika of Geneva Discussions on Security and Stability in the Trans-Caucasus

Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs/State Secretary Grigory Karasin made a working trip to Kyrgyzstan on September 27-29. During his trip Karasin visited, apart from Bishkek, the city of Osh and met with representatives of several political parties and movements of the Republic. On September 29, in Moscow, he met the co-chairing Troika of Geneva Discussions on Security and Stability in the Trans-Caucasus representing the EU, UN and OSCE. They discussed the political and military aspects of the situation in the Trans-Caucasus, and preparations for the 13th round of Geneva Discussions, scheduled for mid-October.

On the situation surrounding the extradition of Tajik opposition leader Iskandarov

I was asked by Reuters: “How can the Russian Foreign Ministry comment on the situation with the extradition of Tajik opposition leader Mahmadruzi Iskandarov from Russia, while the European Court of Human Rights found that his removal was unlawful and fined the authorities of the Russian Federation?” On September 23, 2010 the Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights rendered its judgment on the merits of the Iskandarov vs Russia complaint, in which it ruled that the Russian authorities had violated Article 3 (prohibition of torture) and Article 5 (right to liberty and security) of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Procedurally, the Court ruling is not final. In accordance with the provisions of the European Convention, an ECHR Chamber judgment comes into force in three months if neither party appeals against it to the Grand Chamber. Currently, the ruling is being scrutinized by competent Russian agencies, in particular, in the Office of the Representative of the Russian Federation at the ECHR and in the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation.

World Thematic Conference of Compatriots, “The Contribution by Compatriots to Russia’s Modernization. Opportunities for Developing Partnerships"

The World Thematic Conference of Compatriots will be held in Moscow from October 7-8, 2010. Its organizers plan to invite 150 representatives of the Russian intellectual and academic elite from the near and far abroad, as well as 70 guests from Russia, including representatives of the Russian Presidential Administration, the Federal Assembly chambers, the apparatus of the Government, federal and regional executive bodies, research and development institutions and other organizations, and members of the Russian and foreign media. Discussions at the Conference will be held in plenary meetings and in four sections: Section 1 – “Politicians, businessmen and heads of organizations of compatriots” Section 2 – “Scientists” Section 3 – “Healthcare” Section 4 – “Culture and book publishing” During the Conference, a regional meeting of compatriots living in the Trans-Caucasus is also scheduled to be held on October 8 in the afternoon. For journalists the presentation is planned of a project being implemented under the auspices of the Government Commission for the Affairs of Compatriots Abroad, for the publication of books under the general title “Russians in …”, as well as a final press conference. The Conference will end with the ceremony of bestowing on compatriots of the Honorary Compatriot Badge and the Commission’s Honorary Diplomas. Venue: Moscow, Olympiyskiy Prospekt, 18/1, Renaissance Moscow Hotel, Conference Room “Theater”.

From the answers to media questions:

Q: The British side has said that the new British Foreign Secretary William Hague is to make a visit to Russia soon. How can you comment on this statement? A: I can confirm that we are waiting for the UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs William Hague in Moscow in mid-October. He will visit the Russian capital at the invitation of Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov. The upcoming talks will focus on the state of, and prospects for co-operation between Russia and the UK, in the bilateral sphere as well as on pressing international and regional issues. Given some recent positive changes in Russian-British relations and the intensified political contacts we hope that the upcoming visit of William Hague will help build on these trends. Q: The other day some Japanese media quoted the Foreign Minister of Japan as saying that he had handed to the Russian ambassador a request for the Russian President not to visit the Kuril Islands. Could you comment on these statements? Is it true that the Russian ambassador was summoned to the Foreign Ministry of Japan? A: In the past two days, we have seen many reports and comments on this matter. I can say just this. The President of Russia independently determines the routes of his trips on the territory of his country, and any “advice” here is inappropriate and unacceptable. Moscow has taken note of the fact that senior Japanese officials recently voiced publicly the well-known position of Tokyo on the question of sovereignty over the South Kurils, claiming that they belong to Japan. So we consider it necessary to once again state that these islands are the territory of the Russian Federation owing to the international legal reality that emerged following World War II and which is enshrined in particular in the UN Charter. We are convinced that in the interests of the sustained development of bilateral relations Japan should avoid counter-productively repeating dead-end positions in statements, take active steps to expand co-operation in key areas, strengthen constructive co-operation in international affairs, and quietly continue the dialogue on a mutually-acceptable solution to the question of the conclusion of a peace treaty and subsequent border demarcation. The Ambassador of Russia to Japan recently took advantage of an invitation from the leadership of the Japanese Foreign Ministry to present this Russian position. Q: On September 25 Minister Lavrov said that Russia had received an invitation to attend a Russia-NATO summit. According to him, a report is being prepared to President Medvedev. Is there any progress in this matter? A: Minister Lavrov has said a lot about this, and yesterday Deputy Minister Alexander Grushko gave a detailed interview to Interfax news agency detailing our arguments in this regard. Q: Chairman of the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, said that the question of Russia's refusal to deliver S-300 missile systems to Iran would be solved judicially, implying lawsuits among other things. What’s Russia’s reaction? Do you expect any lawsuits? A: Our position on this issue is exhaustively stated in President Medvedev’s Decree No. 1154 of September 22, 2010. It remains unchanged. With regard to possible actions by Iran, we need to acquaint ourselves with them in detail, and then we can make some conclusions and comments. Q: Could you elaborate on the outcome of the consultation in Vienna on Transdniestr?A: With regard to the outcome of the consultation we will soon publish an official comment on that. Q: How can you comment on the statement of US State Secretary Hillary Clinton during the RNC meeting in New York that all countries, including Georgia and Moldova have the right to decide the question of the presence of foreign troops on their territory, including in the context of Transdniestr? A: With regard to the RNC, its meeting was held behind closed doors. I haven’t seen any news reports broadcasting this or that statement. I am not familiar with this statement of Hillary Clinton, so I cannot comment on it. Q: Could you comment on the statement of Moldova’s Deputy Prime Minister that the evolution of the Transndiestrian conflict offers the possibility that the US and the EU could become mediators in this process? A: The current format is embedded in the relevant multilateral agreements. To change it, you need substantive consultation and the consent of all those who are part of this format. Q: What is the position of the Russian Federation with regard to Iran, which has expressed willingness to negotiate with the Six, as well as in respect of the US and Western countries that conduct unilateral sanctions against Iran? A: If Tehran's readiness is realized in practical matters, then it is welcome, because we have always called for a politico-diplomatic solution to the issue and waited for positive steps from Tehran. As to your second question, it has repeatedly been commented upon. There is nothing I can add to what Minister Lavrov said during his news conferences. Q: Is there any information that President Medvedev might visit the South Kurils during a trip to the summit of the Big Twenty and APEC in Japan? A: The President addressed this issue while on the Kamchatka Peninsula. I can add nothing more. Q: The Russian ship Lyubov Orlova, with 49 Russians on board, has reportedly been arrested at a Canadian port. The seafarers are trying to contact the Foreign Ministry. Do you have more information on this? A: Russia's ambassador to Canada informed us yesterday that he is in contact with Canadian authorities, who are taking the necessary legal steps to decide the fate of the ship. As for the crew, 49 Russian citizens are among those on board. Because they are in the territory of a foreign state, they will receive all necessary consular and other assistance to protect their rights. I repeat our Embassy is in touch with Canadians and with the representatives of the crew. The issue is being solved judicially.