“Russia-Japan: towards reaching a compromise”

It would be optimal to develop Russian-Japanese relations and search for mutually acceptable solutions for a peace agreement, said Andrey Nesterenko, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, at a regular media briefing.

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We will continue to comment on major events that took place in the last seven days, that is, since our last meeting.

Let’s begin with the results of President Medvedev’s working visit to Turkmenistan.

First of all, I’d like to point out that both Russia and Turkmenistan are pleased with the results of the visit. The presidents of the two countries discussed a number of key vectors in Russian-Turkmen interaction and expressed their coordinated views on how the potential of this bilateral interaction can be further increased.

Much attention was devoted to resolving the issue of resuming deliveries of Turkmen gas to Russia. The parties coordinated their basic approaches to this problem, which emerged as a result of the global financial and economic crisis. The companies involved in this dispute will be instructed to continue talks for the purpose of working out concrete agreements. During the visit, a product-sharing agreement was signed between Russia’s ITERA and Turkmenistan’s State Agency for Hydrocarbon Resources regarding Block 21 of the Caspian Sea’s Turkmen sector.

The two parties were pleased to note an increase in trade turnover despite the unfavorable situation on the global market and expressed their intention to step up their cooperation in the fields of fuel and energy, machinery trade, and to further develop their ties in the spheres of transportation, agriculture and education.

The presidents of the two countries noted the increasing role played by the Russian-Turkmen Intergovernmental Commission on Economic Cooperation in developing bilateral interaction and expressed their confidence that its fourth session, which will take place in Moscow in early October, will be successful.

The meeting between Mr. Medvedev and Mr. Berdymukhammedov in the Turkmen capital Turkmenbashi was informal and friendly among other things, due to the fact that they, together with Kazakh President Nazarbayev, took part in the opening ceremony of the last leg of the Silk Way Rally 2009.

The four-party meeting between the presidents of Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan
, which took place in Aktau on September 11 and 12 on the initiative of President Nazarbayev, was informal. Its goal was not to achieve any “breakthrough” political decisions, but rather to give the leaders of the four countries an opportunity to exchange their views on pressing issues of bilateral and regional cooperation at a casual meeting in a quiet environment.

As you know, Russia and other three countries are working towards important goals in the spheres of trade, economy, oil and gas, transit, transportation, and protection of the environment. Corresponding projects are either being implemented or being developed. That’s why the meeting in Aktau was a timely and useful opportunity to coordinate positions.

On the eve of the meeting, many media outlets pointed out the fact that all the all Caspian states will be at the gathering in Aktau, except for Iran. Some speculated that there might be a hidden political aspect to this. They were wrong.

Russia believes that any decisions on Caspian Sea problems, including the question of the Sea’s legal status, must be addressed in the format of the Caspian Five. Incidentally, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev emphasized this point at the summit, and the leaders of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan supported him. Such an approach is important in view of the upcoming Third Caspian Summit in Baku. It helps bring closer together the parties’ positions and orients them towards seeking mutually acceptable solutions for a wide range of issues related to our interaction on the Caspian Sea.

We are pleased with the results of the Sixth Russia-Kazakhstan Interregional Cooperation Forum, which took place in Orenburg on September 11 and was attended by the two countries’ leaders.

The forum offered an opportunity to discuss the development of bilateral cooperation in the fields of fuel and energy, nuclear power, hi-technologies, peaceful space exploration, transportation, education, and cultural and humanitarian ties.

The two presidents noted the positive dynamics in trade and economic cooperation between the two countries. They pointed out that Russia and Kazakhstan work together as neighbors and allies to overcome the global economic crisis.

Many of the issues discussed at the forum will be examined in detail at the next meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission for Cooperation between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Kazakhstan, which will take place in October.

As was reported earlier, three intergovernmental documents were signed at the forum.

The forum’s results will definitely help further expand cooperation between the two countries and strengthen the strategic partnership and alliance of Russia and Kazakhstan.

The CIS Economic Council met in Moscow on September 11 to discuss and approve the agenda for the Council of CIS member states’ heads of government, which will take place in Yalta on November 20.

The agenda includes such significant documents as the draft of the Concept of Energy Cooperation between CIS member states and the draft of the Plan of Top-Priority Measures for the Implementation of the Concept; the draft of The Main Vectors of CIS Member States’ Long-Term Cooperation in the Sphere of Innovations; the draft of The Agreement on Information Exchange and the Establishment of National Copyright Databases; and the draft of the Program for CIS Member States’ Joint Work Against HIV/AIDS.

Heads of governments will also review documents on financing the Plan of Events for the Implementation of the 2006-2010 Concept for Developing Social and Medical Fundamentals for Improving the Quality of Life of War Veterans, Participants of Local Conflicts and Peacekeeping Operations and Victims of Terrorism in CIS Member States in 2010. Also, they will consider financial allocations to create and develop a Joint Air Defense System of the CIS member states for 2010.

Also, the Council approved documents on finances for the CIS States’ common budget in 2009 and 2010.

The Council discussed a number of other issues as well.

I have been asked about our evaluation of the international conference “Modern State and Global Security” that took place this week in Yaroslavl. What did that forum contribute to solving the problems that Russia is facing?

We think that the Conference held in Yaroslavl was a massive effort of brain-storming that addressed a wide range of key issues of modern development and the modern statehood. The speeches given, including those by President Medvedev, Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero, French Prime Minister Fillon, and a number of leading experts, do show that the estimations of the world situation have much in common.

This convergence of ideas lays the ground for the convergence of approaches to running practical politics, which is essential to ensuring the controllability of the world’s development in post-crisis times. The lesson we have learned from the global crisis and the events that took place internationally over the past years is that the interests of different countries do come in tune with each other as we face common challenges and threats. As the poly-centered international system evolves, the agenda for consolidation becomes a vital issue which is carried out by such efforts as G20 summits.

The four discussion panels of the forum have also outlined the growing awareness of the fact that the new situation in the world impacts the subject matter and methods of diplomacy. In particular, the participants acknowledged the role of the multi-vector network diplomacy which allows maintaining flexible cooperation aimed at implementation of mutual interests. It has been acknowledged that the regional structures are going to grow stronger, thus contributing to a more sustainable global management system. Of key importance here is the necessity to stop using categories and biased judgments of the Cold War era. Instead, we require a fresh look at things, a practical and sensible approach.

Highlights of the speech by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov titled “International Cooperation and Efficiency of Global Institutions delivered at discussion panel # 3” are on the Ministry’s website.

In general, we believe that the Yaroslavl forum can develop into a regular event for discussing burning issues of world development that can serve as a ground to consolidate ideas for the benefit of international cooperation and respond to the changing times.

I have been asked about the Foreign Ministry’s opinion on the prospects of concluding the Framework Agreement between Russia and the European Union. What do we expect from the next round of negotiations between Russia and the European Union due at the end of September?

The new agreement is supposed to replace in many respects the largely outdated Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) signed in 1994. It is designed to become the basic document on which our long-term relations with the EU partners will be based. How soon we sign it depends on a number of factors, including the prospects of the Lisbon agreement on the EU reform coming into force.

But for us the document’s content is more important than the timing. In the negotiations with the EU our main aim is to prepare a high-quality agreement, which will really improve the Russia-EU partnership in every key-sphere of cooperation and which will contain the practical agreements reached on the most acute ones. What’s meant here is a political dialogue and cooperation in the sphere of external security, including crisis management. We plan to improve cooperation in the sphere of justice, the fight against terrorism, trans-national crime, narcotics and arms trafficking et cetera. Of course a lot of attention in the document will be paid to areas of economic cooperation, considering the fact that the EU is our major economic partner. The main lines of humanitarian cooperation (culture, education, sports, and so on) will be addressed in the agreement too. We will also try to advance in such issues as a visa-free regime between Russia and the EU.

The negotiations are not easy, but we and our EU partners hope they will be constructive. The subtotal of our work on the agreement may be presented after the upcoming round, which is taking place on October 16.

I have been asked to voice our position on the initiative of the Georgian delegation in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) about reviewing the scope of authority of the Russian Federation in this parliamentary body headquartered in Strasburg.

Based on the results of work of PACE deputies, it should be recognized that the Assembly remains the only body in the Council of Europe that continues to dismiss the new facts detailing new military and political changes in the Southern Caucasus. It fails to acknowledge that Tbilisi is officially responsible for unleashing armed hostilities, which led to major damage and bloodshed in South Ossetia in August 2008. Moreover, the shortfall policy of PACE officials is doing an ill service to the people of Georgia, who are suffering from an information blockade, which supports the idea that Mr. Saakashvili’s regime is supported globally. How this line of behavior corresponds with the fundamental principles underlying the work of the Council of Europe is up to you to judge. However, we hope that in the course of the upcoming autumn session, the assembly would come to its senses and withdraw support for the Georgian militarist position.

I would like to talk about another situation that shows how they deal with employees of Russian mass media in Georgia. This, we think, will also be interesting and useful for the ardent defenders of freedom of speech. A criminal investigation has been invoked in Georgia against the head of local RIA Novosti bureau, Russian citizen B. Pipiya. He is charged with falsification of documents, which carries a punishment of a fine or up to three years imprisonment. The journalist had to sign an undertaking not to leave the country.

It only takes one look at the details of this so-called “case” to see how far-fetched it is. The subject matter is that Georgian law enforcers “suddenly” found errors in a driver’s license that had been issued to Mr. Pipiya eighteen years ago by the Zugdidi Police Department (a license which he had never used, as he drove under his Russian driver's license).

The ridiculousness of these charges leaves no doubt about the political underpinnings of what is happening.

The Georgian office of RIA Novosti is known not only for its unbiased accounts of the events in Georgia, but also for its energetic efforts to sustain the dialogue between Russian and Georgian communities, especially in a time when intergovernmental contacts have been disrupted by the Georgian leadership.

Georgian leaders have vividly demonstrated their negative attitude towards such dialogue with their recent refusal to admit editor-in-chief of Izvestia newspaper V. Mamontov and TV presenter M. Shevchenko to Georgia. The sabotage of the Tbilisi-Moscow teleconference bridge, when the building where the translation was supposed to take place was simply cut off from its power, serves the same goal.

The politically motivated pressure exerted upon B. Pipiya pursues a goal not only to intimidate the media, but also all people in Georgia who disapprove of the ruling regime's determination to disrupt the traditional Russian-Georgian friendly neighborliness in all aspects.

And the last on this issue. On September 7, Georgian citizen Levan Gudadze applied to the Russian embassy in the Republic of South Ossetia, asking to grant him and his family the status of refugees in Russia. In Tbilisi, Mr. Gudadze was the head of ITN Exclusive, a news agency that was possibly the only Georgian mass medium to tell the truth about Georgia's attack on the sleeping city of Tskhinval. Because of that, Mr. Gudadze faced evident pressure from Georgian authorities and was accused of cooperating with Russian special services. Numerous threats that he and his family received forced the journalist to leave the country. At the moment, Mr. Gudadze is in Vladikavkaz, and his application for refugee status is being considered.

Concerning the development of the situation around the “package” of cooperation proposals submitted by Iran.

It has been released earlier that on September 9 we received a “package” of proposals for cooperation submitted by Tehran to the representatives of the six world powers and the European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana in regard to Iran’s nuclear programme. We continue processing these documents. We will be ready to discuss them, as well as to discuss the package of proposals made by the six world powers to Tehran in June 2008. We are sure that both sets of documents will prove to have much in common, thus satisfying the interests of both parties.

The main thing is that Iran’s “package” declares Iran’s readiness to be part of “open full-scope constructive negotiations with the six world powers.”

We’d like to note that these intentions of Tehran are confirmed by facts. It is well-known that on September 14, Mr. Solana and Iran’s Secretary of National Security Council Mr. Jalili had a phone conversation and reached an agreement to have a meeting on October 1. Political representatives of the six world powers will also take part in this meeting. We are satisfied that the situation is developing this way. More details of the Russian Foreign Ministry's position are available at our website.

We have heard many reports recently from the mass media about the Arctic Sea cargo ship after the fact that reporters from a number of TV channels arrived to the area where the ship is located.

On my part, I can say that Arctic Sea is still in the open sea off the coastline of the Canary Islands. Spanish authorities have not yet granted permission for the vessel to dock in the seaport of Las Palmas (a corresponding request was filed by the Russian Embassy in Spain to the Home Ministry of Spain). Talks are in progress with Malta as the flag state, and with the vessel owner to determine further activities around the vessel. As soon as we receive any new information, we will inform you promptly.

Concerning the elections in Afghanistan or, more precisely, on the preliminary results of presidential and provincial elections.

Preliminary calculation results for 100% of votes cast in the course of the August 20 presidential and provincial elections have been announced in Kabul. Final results will be published after some part of all the bulletins is checked by the complaints commission. According to the Central Elections Committee of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, incumbent President Mr. Karzai has a significant lead over other candidates and has a good chance to be reelected in his position. We hope that all required procedures are finished as soon as possible, allowing the formation of a new Afghan government, which will face the big task of normalizing the situation in the country with the help of the international community under coordination from the United Nations.

The very fact of successful completion of the elections, despite attempts by extremist forces to thwart the expression of the will of the Afghan people, shows that the citizens of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan have confirmed their commitment to building a strong, independent, and democratic Afghanistan. We wish the Afghan leaders and people success in further stabilization of the situation in the country, its social and economic restoration, and improvement of living standards. We call upon all patriotic forces in Afghanistan to work together for the sake of future prosperity of their homeland. Russia will continue its contributions to those efforts. We confirm our readiness to actively cooperate with the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in political, economic, and humanitarian spheres, and in fighting terrorism and drug crimes.

As all of you probably know, Japanese diplomat Mr. Amano has been appointed the Director General of IAEA.

The Board of the 53rd session of the IAEA General Conference currently underway in Vienna (held from September 14 to 18, 2009) has officially appointed Mr. Amano, the Permanent Representative of Japan to International Organizations in Vienna, to be the IAEA Director General. We have already sent our congratulations to Mr. Amano this July.

We’d like to congratulate Mr. Amano once again, and our best hope is that the Agency’s efficiency and performance level will be maintained and increased during his office thanks to his expert knowledge and world-wide recognition. This will surely help the IAEA address its tasks effectively.

We expect to maintain a constructive cooperation with the new IAEA Director General.

I have been asked to comment on Japan’s Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s statement, made on the eve of his election to the post on September 16, about his desire to make progress in negotiations with Russia on the issue of the Southern Kuril Islands and to sign a peace agreement ‘within 12-18 months’.

First of all, I would like to congratulate Mr. Yukio Hatoyama on his new role as Japan’s Prime Minister. We’ve been attentively following his progress following the election victory of his Democratic Party, and we are glad to say that he has given time and thought to Russian-Japanese relations. We view it as a good sign that the new Japanese government considers developing relations with Russia a priority. Taking into consideration the fact that Yukio Hatoyama’s family is closely connected to the history of Russia-Japan relations (it’s well-known that they were restored in 1956 thanks to the active participation of his grandfather Itiro Hatoyama, the then-head of Government), we are counting on further constructive efforts on the part of the current Japanese Prime Minister in the promotion of cooperation between our the two nations.

Because Mr. Hatoyama mentioned his desire to sign a peace agreement with Russia and his intention to make progress in this issue over a short period of time, we would like to say the following:

We also support an early solution of all the problematic issues in our relations with Japan, which we inherited from the epoch of the Cold War. At present it is hard to say how much time this may take.

What’s important, however, is that the parties have a common view on the ways to solve this deep rooted problem. We would like to emphasize that, in our opinion, it would be optimal to develop Russian-Japanese relations along all the lines of our activity, strengthen mutual trust and improve cooperation in international issues. In other words, to uncover the rich potential of partnership between Russia and Japan, and to search for mutually acceptable solutions for a peace agreement.

In this regard, I would like to attract your attention to the words of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at the session of the Valdai Discussion Club on September 15 of this year. The president said that, on the problem of a peace agreement, “the parties’ views are formulated quite definitely, and the main issue is to bring these views together” and that “only in this way can the negotiations be a success” and we need to act by means of “stepping aside from the initial views towards reaching a compromise; we were always offering this method to our Japanese partners and I am ready to offer it to the new Prime Minister.” I think these words are the best answer to your question.

On the Russian settlement in California and Fort Ross.

What can I say in this connection? Due to acute budget deficiency, Californian Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger intends to cut down on expenses required to maintain a number of the state’s historical sites and parks, and Fort Ross is on this list.

In response to this, the Russian Foreign Ministry, the Russian Embassy to the Unites States and Russian Consulate General in San-Francisco in cooperation with American public organizations are actively working on preserving this site of historical importance. Thus, Russian Ambassador to the US Mr. Kislyak issued a letter on this subject to Governor Schwarzenegger, and had a personal meeting with the state’s government and representatives of the state’s National Park Service. The future of this museum was also discussed by top officials of a number of foreign organizations in the course of meetings with Congressmen and Senators representing California in US Congress. In their turn, many Russian organizations, among them the Congress of Russian Americans and the Fort Ross Association, have issued their petitions to the Governor of California, requesting him to prevent the closing of Fort Ross for public access.

As far as we know, the US is considering a number of possible solutions that may allow for the continuation of financing Fort Ross. We also have high hopes for a public fund-raising campaign supported by prominent cultural figures and art celebrities. In its turn, the Russian Foreign Ministry will continue its active effort in securing the future of this unique historical site which commemorates the Russians who were part of exploring America.

I would like to remind you of the fact that from September 17 to 19, Romania will host the Eighth session of the World Coordination Council of Russians Abroad which will discuss the preparation works for the next World Congress scheduled for this December. This event will examine ways of increasing the involvement of young people in the Russians Abroad movement, while reviewing the celebration plans for the 65th Great Patriotic War victory anniversary.

The Council members are expected to visit the community of Russian Lipovans in Romania, who will share their experience of maintaining their ethnic identity and traditions. The World Coordination Council of Russians Abroad was established in accordance with the decision made by the World Congress of Russians Abroad held in October 2006 in St. Petersburg.

I was asked to comment on the Cyprus issue. Here is the exact question I was asked. Some statements by Russian leaders created an impression that Russia recognizes, or may recognize the occupied territories as a state separate from the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus. Is it true that the Russian position is changing, or does it just seem so? What is the current position of the Russian Foreign Ministry on the Cyprus issue? What can you say about the complicated negotiations process on the island?

The Russian position on the Cyprus issue remains unchanged; we are for compliance with the relevant Security Council resolutions, we are against imposing any solutions or settlement schedules.

Russian leaders have stated many times that the final conflict settlement can be reached only through agreement between Cyprus communities with the support of the international community, given the position of each side is taken into account, the negotiations and peacemaking mechanisms observed.

It goes without saying that Russian was never going to recognize the so-called “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus”.

We are closely watching direct negotiations between communities on Cyprus. The Russian Foreign Ministry is glad to see the results of the first round of Cyprus negotiations. Though the sides have yet to overcome a lot of major differences, it is important that the first round of negotiations resulted in agreements on a number of complicated issues that satisfied all the six negotiating parties.

We share the opinion of the UN Secretary General special advisor A. Downer on advances made during the first meeting of the leaders of the two communities held as part of the second round of negotiations.

And to the last point: concerning the Salonen case.

As we know, on September 15 this year Finland’s Prosecutor’s Office charged Rimma Salonen, who lives in Finland and has both Russian and Finnish citizenship, with kidnapping a child, freedom deprivation and fraud. The accusations refer to her taking her son to Russia after divorcing from Finnish citizen Paavo Salonen. I would like to remind you of the fact that on May this year Mr. Salonen secretly took Anton from Russia to Finland with the help of a former employee of the Consulate General of Finland in St. Petersburg.

The court hearing is scheduled for September 29 of this year. The embassy is keeping in touch with Rimma Salonen and searching for opportunities of additional legal support. The Finnish prosecution is set to sentence Rimma Salonen to seven and a half years in prison, which cannot but arouse surprise. Such cases are always complicated and sensitive. We hope that Finland is well aware of this. We will be watching the situation closely and sharing the information on the actions taken by law-enforcement agencies of both countries with you. Thank you for your attention. I am ready to answer your questions.

Q: Vesti TV-Channel. How can you comment on the last statement of Barack Obama on missile defense facilities in Europe? Does the decision not to install ABM facilities in the Czech Republic automatically mean that they will not be installed in Poland? Thank you.

Since this morning we’ve been receiving the information on the following. Quote. “There was a telephone call between the US President Barack Obama and the Czech Prime Minister Jan Fisher regarding the US decision not to deploy missile defense systems in the Czech Republic.”

A: As far as I know, the phone conversation has been confirmed by an official representative of the Czech government. Prague is now expecting an official notification by the United States. Obviously, it is the document containing a detailed description of the US position. We also received reports saying that the US Defense Minister Robert Gates was to give an address on the American position on the issue. However, we have not received confirmed information about that. We will have to wait for an official announcement on this issue relevant for the bilateral relations. Then we’ll be able to comment on the situation.

When we were discussing the issue with our American colleagues, we were told that the new administration is considering this and some adjustments may be made. If it happens, our American partners shall notify us about it. I would not like to resort to reports by the media despite my deep respect to them. Let us wait for official documents from American administration.

What concerns parallels with Poland, let us not run before the hounds. First we need to see what is written in the American documents.

Q: Quite recently Russia’s Sberbank and Canada’s Magna got the right to acquire German car construction company Opel. Some experts think that Russia is pursuing political rather than economic goals by making this acquisition. Is that true? Are investments of the Russian bank into German car construction company economically viable?

A: This is a very important issue. Economy and politics are closely connected in today’s international relations. The Opel deal meets our economic needs first of all. However, its scale and the approaching election in Germany makes it political as well.

The acquisition of Opel is a mutually beneficial deal, which we hope will become the next step to integration of Russian economy into the European framework. This deal is a real milestone. It is a well-substantiated long-term market choice. It is socially responsible, as it has been done with a view to overcoming the crisis with the account of possible social consequences for all the participants of the deal.

The Opel deal’s advantages for Russia are obvious. It will not only allow Russia to extend mutually beneficial cooperation with our Western partners, but also to get access to cutting-edge foreign technology, as well as to modern management methods. It is inappropriate trying to find underlying political interests in the deal.

It is a well thought-over decision that did not come overnight. All the risks and many different factors have been taken into account, including the world financial crisis. As a result, experts of the two countries informed both governments on the fact that this was going to be a long-term deal and that it was going to help Opel grow and develop, as well as contribute to the bilateral relations between the two countries.

Q: The issue of building the Burgas-Aleksanrupolis oil pipeline interfered with the Greek election campaign after the opposition leader, who is the most likely candidate to become the future prime minister, characterized the intergovernmental agreement as unbalanced, with a major profit share going to Russia. He also expressed concern about the ecological consequences of the project. At the same time, he expressed certainty that the project will happen. What does the Russian Foreign Ministry think about it? Is there a possibility to review the achieved agreements? How does the Russian Foreign Ministry treat this new tendency, when opposition that comes to power questions the projects, in which Russia participates?

A: For Russia and for its bilateral partnership with other countries – and first and foremost with the European countries, for which Russia remains one of the main energy suppliers, the issue of energy is very important and we definitely follow all the mentioned commentaries about different oil and gas pipe lines and so forth. Over the recent years, partnership in the fuel and energy sector has become one of the key elements of the Russian-Greek economic ties. We’ve reached actual results in that line of affairs, like on such very important joint projects as South Stream and the Transbalkan oil pipe line Burgas-Aleksanrupolis (TBN), which are expected to guarantee a continuous supply of Russian natural gas and oil to Europe on conditions that are mutually beneficial.

As far as TBN is concerned, from what we know, the work on this project is being carried out without any changes or corrections. Now our main task is to finish all the necessary procedures that are necessary for the practical application of the project, without slowing down.

Moscow, of course, took notice of the content of the initial statement of the leader of the Greek opposition party “PASOK” G. Papandreu about a possible review of the already achieved agreements should he come to power as the result of the early parliamentary elections. At the same time, later he voiced an intention to bring this project, which was initiated during the time when “PASOK” was in power, to its practical realization. We count on the fact that Greece is still aware of the political and economic significance of this project that is aimed at providing a high level of energy security for the European continent and strengthening partnership relations as well as mutual understanding between Russia and the European Union, and its goal is also to help turn Greece into an important transport hub for delivering hydrocarbons to Europe. That’s why let’s hope that the work I’ve just mentioned will be continued in accordance with the existing agreements.

Q: Yesterday Poland published the text of a special resolution of the Polish Seym regarding the events of September 17, 1939, which is to be adopted by the Polish Seym without any voting. In this resolution, for the first time, the actions of the USSR on September 17 of 1939 towards Poland are defined as genocide. Would you comment on that?

A: Yes, sure. From the website of the Seym of Poland we got the text of the resolution that is to be confirmed in the Polish Seym next week – on September 23, to be more exact. Without a doubt, we can’t but be disappointed by such a rendition of the issue that just recently was the subject of a very detailed discussion on September 1, in Gdansk, within the framework of a number of events on account of the beginning of the World War II. As for our relationships with Poland – and here I mean looking at historical issues and elements of our common history – as you know, we set up a special commission some time ago, which has started its work. These issues are discussed in detail by historians, by those people who discuss all those issues in detail. I can say that the attempts to draw analogies, like the ones that are provided in the resolution, are political. We can’t but regret this. And, I will repeat this again, it contrasts with the stance officially declared by the Polish party on September 1 in Gdansk, where the head of the Russian government Vladimir Putin took part in the events as well. In his speeches he talked about this in much detail. Such presentation of the problem doesn’t encourage the development of the Russian-Polish bilateral relations or the improvement of their quality. As an example, I can quote an academic and the director of the World History Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences Aleksandr Chubaryan, who has said today that “using the word ‘genocide’ in this case is nonsense. It seems to me that it’s an absolutely ridiculous usage of this international legal word that has an absolutely different sense and meaning. Genocide is the destruction of people based on their racial, national or other characteristics. It has nothing to do with what happened on September 17, 1939.” The words of the famous and respected historian once again prove that those who have put that resolution together were motivated by certain political reasons. And so, we very much hope that, during the days that are left until this resolution is considered by the Polish Seym, the Polish legislators will reconsider their stance on this resolution and make this document objective and in accordance with the content and the spirit of those discussions that took place on September 1 in Gdansk.

Q: Today the information and Press Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry placed the information on the Ministry’s website saying that Georgian citizens having Russian visas will not be able to cross the border between Azerbaijan and Russia. When will these restrictions come into force?

A: Thank you. Indeed, our website provides the information about Russia-Azerbaijan border crossing by foreign citizens. As is known, Resolution of the Russian government â„–1223 as of November 5, 1999 “On Measures against Russian Border Trespassing by the Members of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, Weapons Import and Subversion Means in the North Caucasus Region” introduced the procedure, according to which only citizens and vehicles of CIS countries may cross the land border between Russia and Azerbaijan (amendments introduced to the resolution also allow citizens and vehicles of Abkhazia and South Ossetia to cross the border, as well as railway vehicles of the Baltic States).
Georgia’s secession from the CIS on August 18, 2009 automatically excluded Georgian citizens from the list of foreigners allowed to cross the Russia-Azerbaijan border, which is in line with the current legal basis.

Russian subdivision at the Swiss Embassy in Georgia informs Georgian citizens having Russian visas issued on the impossibility to cross the Russia-Azerbaijan border.

I would like to stress that Russia has not introduced and is not introducing any special restrictions. In this case we are talking about one of the inevitable consequences of Georgia’s secession from the CIS. We regret the inconvenience caused to Georgian citizens, but Georgia’s decision to secede from CIS made these measures inevitable.

Q: Can we talk about a “deal” between Russia and the United States regarding the US decision not to deploy missile defense systems in the Czech Republic?

A: Indeed, some media have been claiming that we are negotiating with the United States on some kind of deal regarding missile defense systems. Let me tell you that this contradicts our policy, our approach to solving problems of any kind with any country, no matter how complicated and how sensible the issues are. These are just speculations.

We expressed our concern regarding the third missile deployment area in Europe, and our partners have taken this into account. I would like to repeat that the US administration is now analyzing and reassessing their view on missile deployment in Europe. In this regard we will build our relations on trust and we will be seriously discussing the issue. We will be informing the media on the agreements achieved.

Q: […]

A: I haven’t seen the address by Mr. Gates yet, but I know that it should take place soon. We need to see the text, to read it attentively and then we’ll be able to comment on it. Right now I can only say the following: If the US administration has rethought its position, this is a positive development for us. Our concerns about the plans of the previous administration have been fully eliminated. I cannot give any other comments right now.

Q: Yesterday a UN report on the accusation of Hamas in crimes against humanity was published. Special emphasis has been put on the Israeli operation in the Gaza strip in December 2008 – January 2009. Could you comment on this issue? Are the preparations for the international conference on the Middle East settlement in Moscow underway? Thank you.

A: I dwelled on our position regarding the preparations for the international conference on the Middle East settlement at the last briefing. What concerns your first question, I did not have a chance to familiarize with this report, but if you are interested in our position regarding this, I will put it down and we’ll get in touch with you. Thank you for your attention and good-bye for now.