Non-proliferation to top Russia-US summit

BRIC summit results, preparations for President Obama’s visit to Moscow and simplified procedures for obtaining Russian citizenship – these are highlights of a briefing by Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrey Nesterenko.

RT presents the transcript of the media address.

Ladies and gentlemen, colleagues,

Welcome to the weekly briefing at the Russian Foreign Ministry. We will tell you about the most important events that took place over the past week. I think it would be appropriate to start with the two summits, the SCO summit and the BRIC summit, which took place in Yekaterinburg.

SCO Summit in Yekaterinburg

The meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of State was, in our view, productive and intense. The common positions of SCO member states are reflected in the two political documents adopted at the summit, namely, the Yekaterinburg Declaration and the Joint Communiqué. Both are available at the Russian President’s website. One of the summit’s main results is the fact that SCO member states have expressed their readiness to strengthen cooperation in various areas and enhance interaction mechanisms within the organization.

The discussion focused on the issues of ensuring security and stability and fighting new threats and challenges, which remain a top priority for the SCO. A number of crucial documents which improve the legal framework in this sphere were signed in Yekaterinburg. These include the SCO Convention against Terrorism, the Regulations on Political and Diplomatic Measures and Mechanisms of Reaction to Situations Endangering Peace, Security and Stability, and the Agreement on Cooperation in Ensuring International Information Security. Particular attention was devoted to the problems of Afghanistan and to the global financial and economic crisis.

SCO member states have expressed their desire to support the development of contacts in the fields of culture, education and youth contacts. We have achieved substantial results here: it’s enough to mention arts festivals, our work to create the SCO University and the establishment of the Youth Council. The participants have also decided to grant Belarus and Sri Lanka the status of dialogue partners. The SCO Secretariat was instructed to prepare and sign the respective memoranda with the two countries, which will define the procedure and main areas of cooperation.

This summit was special to Russia, since it marked the end of the country’s year-long presidency of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. We are happy that our partners have positively evaluated our efforts. After the Yekaterinburg summit, the Republic of Uzbekistan has taken up the presidency of the Organization. Russia, for its part, is ready to provide assistance to our Uzbek friends.

BRIC Summit in Yekaterinburg

The SCO summit was followed by the first official BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) summit. It was attended by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Chinese President Hu Jǐntao, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The summit marked the successful completion of the crucial stage of establishing dialogue in this promising format.
During the meeting, the leaders of the ‘BRIC four’ had a candid and constructive exchange of views focused on the role of the BRIC countries in solving the fundamental, global problems and consolidating their joint contribution to international efforts to overcome the current crisis and to reform the world financial and economic system.

The leaders discussed in detail the progress of the crisis management process of the G-20, prospects of the dialogue between the G8 countries and their traditional partners, including Brazil, India and China, on a wide range of issues, such as reform of international financial institutions; global energy, food and climate security; and promotion of development.

The summit has set tasks, which, if solved, would elevate international cooperation in all the abovementioned areas to a qualitatively new level and make progress in the cause of building a fair world architecture. The parties confirmed their mutual interest in promoting four-sided cooperation in various multilateral structures and further deepening multi-dimensional cooperation within BRIC.

The summit resulted in the leaders adopting a joint statement. It reflects an integral vision of the current stage in world development and ways to overcome the consequences of the global crisis. A ministerial statement on global food security that was endorsed at the summit sets up a prospect for closer joint efforts of our countries at international forums, such as the United Nations and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), including the practical implementation of measures that were coordinated at the World Grain Forum in St. Petersburg.

The success of the first official BRIC summit in Yekaterinburg has established the existing demand for a mechanism which would combine the interests of the BRIC countries as important centers of world economic and political development in solving key issues on the global agenda. It has provided a new impetus for the strengthening of multi-lateralism and the rule of law in international affairs. A model of equitable dialogue and mutually beneficial cooperation is emerging among the world’s leading countries. It has also been decided to hold BRIC summits on a regular basis and to continue the practice of annual meetings of the foreign and finance ministers of the “BRIC four.” In their joint statement, the leaders of the four countries welcomed Brazil’s proposal to host the next BRIC summit in 2010.

Russia-US Summit in Moscow

We are receiving inquiries about preparations for the Russian-US summit in Moscow. The preparations are intense and thorough. Before the decision about Barack Obama’s visit to Russia was made, the leaders of the two countries had a number of telephone conversations, exchanged messages and, of course, met in person in London on April 1 on the margins of the G-20 summit. All that made it possible to make quick progress towards a common view of the current Russia-US agenda and start preliminary work on its specific elements.
Even now, we can say that the two presidents will discuss practically the whole range of issues concerning relations between our two countries, regarding both bilateral relations and international affairs.

The problem of strategic arms reduction will be a crucial subject at the July summit. In keeping with the Joint Statement by the Russian and US presidents in London, an active negotiations process is underway to work out an agreement that would replace the START Treaty, which expires in December 2009. So far, two rounds of talks—May 19-20 in Moscow and June 1-3 in Geneva—have taken place, along with an experts’ working meeting June 15-16 in Moscow. The next round is scheduled to take place June 22-24 in Geneva.

The atmosphere at the talks has been constructive and business-like. We expect that the presidents will be able to announce preliminary results at the July summit. Naturally, goals for the future will also be set.

The two sides are working hard to fill the non-proliferation “basket” of the summit and to examine initiatives that involve regional aspects of security. Naturally, serious attention will be paid to such problematic issues as the US position on deploying elements of missile defence in Europe.

Also, good progress has been made in structuring, and working out an agenda for, the intergovernmental dialogue on developing cooperation in various fields, including trade and economy, under the auspices of the two presidents. Such a form of cooperation, combined with the active dialogue between business circles in Russia and in the US, should step up the development of our bilateral relations.
The program of the US President’s visit includes a business forum, which will be attended by representatives of the two countries’ business elites.

Naturally, humanitarian aspects of the cooperation will also be discussed. During the upcoming talks, the parties are expected to discuss in detail urgent international issues, with an emphasis on intensifying practical cooperation between Russia and the US in fighting new challenges—primarily, the proliferation of WMDs and means of their delivery, terrorism and piracy – and assisting international efforts to settle regional conflicts. Particular attention will be devoted to the situation in Afghanistan, where, taking into account the presidential elections scheduled for August, active coordination of efforts by the entire international community to stabilize the situation is particularly necessary. It is also important to step up cooperation between Russia and NATO, both in the bilateral and multilateral formats, especially in the UN Security Council and in the “quartet” of international mediators promoting the Middle East peace process.

In a word, intense preparations continue, and we hope the meeting in Moscow will be highly productive.

Belarus not attending CSTO Summit

I have been asked about the Russian Foreign Ministry’s reaction to Belarus not attending the CSTO summit.

As you know, Belarus did not attend the session of the CSTO Collective Security Council on June 14 in Moscow, saying it had to “consider steps which would make the economic and military aspects of security inseparable among the CSTO member states.” Accordingly, all the documents adopted at the session in the absence of the Belarusian side, including the ones on creating the CSTO Collective Rapid Response Force (CRRF), were not signed by Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenkо.

The real reason why our Belarusian partners did not attend the CSTO summit—as they themselves admit—were the problems with dairy exports from Belarus to Russia, which in our view are purely technical. As of today, I can tell you the negotiations were successful, and we are happy that this problem has now been resolved.

We proceed from the fact that the CSTO is a multilateral format of cooperation specializing in collective security problems, not in resolving bilateral economic disputes between member states. Such problems, as Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said after the session, should be resolved through bilateral consultations.

This demarche by Minsk clearly does not agree with its traditionally constructive participation in CSTO activities and, more specifically, with its active and positive contribution to the preparation of the materials which were discussed at the session, including those on the CRRF. At the same time, we noted the statement by the Belarusian side which says it “respects the documents signed by the CSTO member states during the Moscow session on June 14” and that it practically reserves the right to join them later.

As for our Belarusian colleagues’ opinion on the status of the CSTO documents signed at the session, we consider them legitimate. I would like to remind you that Article 27 of the CSTO Charter defines the mechanism for settling disputes. According to the article, “any disputes related to interpretation and application of the Charter’s provisions are to be settled through consultations and negotiations between the members involved. In case accord cannot be achieved, the dispute shall be considered by the Collective Security Council.”

As for the implementation of the Moscow agreements, especially those on the Collective Rapid Response Force, the CSTO member states that have signed the documents do not intend to postpone it. We will start proceedings according to national laws to ratify the CRRF Treaty and to take practical steps to establish the force and put it into operation. We also expect the pause caused by a delay on the part of our Belarusian partners in assuming their turn of chairmanship in the Organization will not be long. For the time being, the Russian Federation will function as an interim chairman.

In general, we believe that comprehensive, close cooperation within the CSTO framework serves our common long-term strategic interests.

Russian foreign minister to visit Austria on June 22-24, 2009

Now, to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s upcoming visits and negotiations. On June 22-24, the Minister will visit Vienna to take part in the OSCE Annual Security Review Conference (ASRC) and will also make a working visit to the Republic of Austria.

The bilateral visit will include talks between Sergey Lavrov and Austrian Minister for European and International Affairs Michael Spindelegger, as well as meetings with Federal President Heinz Fischer and Federal Chancellor Werner Faymann.

Russian foreign minister to attend OSCE ASRC, Vienna, June 23-24, 2009

Following the bilateral visit, the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, will take part at the 7th OSCE Annual Security Review Conference (ASRC), which will also take place in Vienna. At the opening meeting, Sergey Lavrov will address the Conference as a guest of honour at the invitation of the OSCE Chairperson in Office, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis.

The ASRC is the main OSCE review event, where member states consider problems and obligations in the sphere of “hard” security, including matters of arms control and confidence-building measures, countering new threats and challenges and conflict settlement. Proposals and recommendation put forward by ASRC members may be used as a foundation for decisions made by the OSCE Permanent Council and Ministerial Council.

We expect that the ASRC will continue discussions about Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev’s initiative on preparing a legally binding European Security Treaty (EST). This dialogue within the OSCE framework started at the Council of Foreign Ministers in Helsinki (December 4-5, 2008) and was continued during the joint session of the FSC [Forum for Security Cooperation] and the Permanent Council (February 18) and the winter session of the Parliamentary Assembly (February 19-20).

We are not pleased with the current situation with “hard” security in the Euro-Atlantic region. It is evidenced by the serious crisis with the adapted CFE Treaty, stagnation in confidence-building measures, attempts to resolve regional conflicts by force, as clearly demonstrated by Georgia in August 2008, and also by the remaining threats of international terrorism, drug trafficking and other forms of transnational organized crime. The reason for the situation is that some basic principles of [international] relations no longer work in the Euro-Atlantic region, especially the requirement not to strengthen one’s security at the expense of security of others and the principle of the non-use of military force to resolve conflicts.

The goal of President Medvedev’s initiative on the EST is to correct this alarming situation. We suggest that the EST regulate problems of “hard” security, that both nations and main international organizations dealing with security in the Euro-Atlantic region join it, and that EST provisions be legally binding for all parties. We believe the EST should be developed at an independent negotiating platform, not in the OSCE.

During the ASRC, the Russian delegation intends to offer specific recommendations on further steps as regards the OSCE security agenda.
We expect that the ASRC 2009 will provide further impetus for the dialogue on security between nations and international organizations in the Euro-Atlantic region and the OSCE work to strengthen the Organization’s military and political dimension.

On the margins of the ASRC, Sergey Lavrov is expected to have meetings with the OSCE leadership and with leaders of national delegations.

Russian foreign minister to visit Switzerland

On 24-25 June, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will visit the Swiss Confederation. His working visit to Bern will continue the practice of regular meetings of foreign ministers from Russia and Switzerland. During the talks, particular attention will be paid to the preparations of the first ever, in the history of the bilateral relations, visit of the Russian president to Switzerland, scheduled for autumn 2009.

Minister Lavrov will discuss, with his counterpart, Federal Councillor [Michelline] Calmy-Rey, further steps on developing bilateral relations, both in political and other practical spheres. Among other things, the completion of intergovernmental draft agreements on the simplification of issuing visas and readmission rights will be discussed, as well as co-operation in science and technology, humanitarian emergency response, protection of geographical names and places of goods’ origins and mutual assistance in customs affairs.
The initiative on European Security Treaty development will be an important subject for discussion.

Within the context of the situation in the Trans-Caucasus, the parties will discuss questions concerning the functioning of the Section of Interests of the Russian Federation with the Swiss Embassy in Tbilisi as Russia and Georgia have no diplomatic relations. As of today, the state of the Russia-Swiss relations can be characterised as positively dynamic, with the political dialogue growing more and more intense at the summit and high levels. Switzerland is Russia’s major trade partner. In 2008, the bilateral turnover of goods was reported to amount 12.2 billion US dollars. Co-operation in humanitarian, cultural and scientific spheres is expanding.

Forthcoming informal meeting of foreign ministers on Korfu

On June 27-28 this year, an informal meeting of foreign ministers from OSCE member countries will be held on the Island of Korfu, Greece, following an initiative by Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis. Besides the foreign ministers, heads of international organizations, including the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, CIS, NATO, the EU and OSCE, are due to take part, too.
[Russian Foreign Minister] Sergey Lavrov will head the Russian delegation.
We consider the forthcoming meeting as an important event which can have an impact beyond the OSCE.

Although the meeting will be informal, which rules out passing any decision, it may provide a good opportunity for frank and unbiased “think tank” discussions on all aspects of the European Atlantics security and co-operation.

We propose to hold an official meeting of heads of the five organisations (OSCE, CSTO, NATO, EU and CIS) operating in Euro-Atlantics, in 2010, to discuss their respective security strategies adopted by them, and work out coordinated approaches with an aim to form an indivisible security space in the region.
The agenda of the meeting makes it possible, in our view, to touch upon any issues. Should a discussion on the so-called mild security emerge, we are going to draw our counterparts’ attention to the drawbacks of the unfulfilled obligations in the human dimension of the OSCE, some of which have been wrongly forgotten.

We are intending to draw attention to Russia’s initiatives on transforming the OSCE into a comprehensive international organisation and putting its activity on solid basis. We believe that should this first meeting prove a success, it will begin a Korfu Process of informal discussion between foreign ministers from European Atlantic states on a wide range of issues of co-operation and security.
During the Korfu meeting, a number of bilateral meetings by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov with his heads of international organisations and foreign ministers from their member states are planned.

Russia-NATO Council talks

Mr. Lavrov and Ms. Clinton made a statement about a possible meeting of the foreign ministers at the Russia-NATO Council on Korfu.

The foreign ministers of the Russia-NATO Council (RNC) have decided to hold an unofficial RNC session on 27 June 2007 on the Corfu Island (Greece) within the foreign ministers framework of the meeting of the OSCE member states.
Considering the unofficial character of the upcoming event, a fixed agenda and approval of documents are not implied.

We’re expecting an open discussion of issues that raise concern in the Russia-NATO relations, prospects of renewing the political dialogue and practical co-operation in the RNC format, as well as opportunities for discussing ways of improving the architecture of the European security.

EAPC expectations

A security forum of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) will be held in Astana, Kazakhstan, on 24-25 June. The forum’s general subject is ‘Security through Partnership’. Three groups that will work on the sidelines of the forum will discuss how to bring the situation in Afghanistan back to normal, security in Central Asia and in the Caucasus as well as prospects of cooperation in the Caspian and Black-Sea regions in the energy security context.
It’s in our interests to enable the Central Asian states to develop in conditions of stability and security and solve complicated political, economic and social tasks which they are facing.

We hope that the participants in the forum will have a useful exchange of views on ways of neutralizing a threat of terrorism and extremism coming from the territory of Afghanistan.

Another key issue that calls for discussion and consensus is Afghan drug trafficking. Our concern is clear: Central Asia remains a key transit route for delivering Afghan drugs to the CIS countries, especially Russia, and further to Europe. Also of interest is our vision of the security situation in Central Asia and in the Caucasus, and new cooperation prospects in the Caspian and Black Sea regions within the framework of the EAPC agenda.
We believe that the debates will help in finding new approaches to the above-mentioned issues. The Russian delegation will be headed by the first deputy foreign minister.

Quartet in Triest

On 26 June a meeting of the Quartet on the Middle East will be held in Triest to discuss Middle East settlement issues.

The meeting is timed to a consensus developed in the world towards the need of a quick resumption of peace talks, first of all on the Palestine-Israeli track of the Middle-East settlement. The main efforts are directed at creating favourable conditions for resetting the above mentioned political process. Russia is actively working in this direction, both bilaterally and at various international forums.
The UN Security Council meeting in New York on the Middle East, carried out on 11 June following Russia’s initiative and under Russia’s presidency, was an important step in that direction. We consider the confirmation of the international legal basis of the peace process, and the principle of “two states”, first of all, to be the main result of the session. This principle will lead to creation of an independent, viable Palestinian state, co-existing with Israel in peace and security.

Also in the course of these collective efforts, we consider the forthcoming meeting in Triest, during the eight-party ministerial meeting of the Middle-East Quartet scheduled for 26 June, as well as the contact group of the League of Arab Nations.

Among the questions planned to be discussed is the Arab peace initiative adopted, as is known, at the All-Arab Summit in Beirut in 2002 which says Arab-Israeli relations will be normalized if Israel leaves the Arab territories occupied in 1967. We believe that this initiative, backed by practically the whole of the Arab- and Muslim world and also actively backed by Russia, has a huge potential that could be in great demand in the current conditions. Our partners within the Quartet stick to the same opinion.

The practical implementation of the new US administration’s declaration is very important, with emphasis on the priority of overcoming the longstanding Arab-Israeli stand-off and seeking a diplomatic solution of the conflict based on a dialogue, collective actions and the principle of peaceful co-existence of the two states, Israel and the future Palestine. All the steps within the course of the generally recognized international legal basis for the Middle-East settlement, to help out the Arab-Israeli relations from the stalemate, will be hailed by Russian diplomacy.

Higher terrorist risks in Yemen

According to media reports, on 11 June nine foreign nationals, including seven citizens from Germany (a couple, three children and two nurses), British and South Korean citizens, were kidnapped in Yemen. Some of them are members of an international humanitarian mission. Unfortunately, the Yemen side reported that three of those kidnapped have been found dead, while the fate of the others remains unknown.

We express our condolences to the families of the victims. The practice of kidnapping human beings is totally unacceptable, more so, kidnapping and murdering of innocent people on a noble humanitarian mission deserves the utmost condemnation. This contradicts the morals and norms, as well as religious concepts of all peoples [inhabiting Earth].

We reaffirm our solidarity with the efforts by the Yemen authorities to counteract terrorism. It is essential to make the fight against this evil in all its forms and manifestations more active. Our contact with the Yemen side goes along this track, and more efforts are made to provide security to Russian citizens who stay in Yemen.

G8 foreign ministers

Coming back to the planned meeting of G8 foreign ministers in Triest on 25-27 June, let me tell you that it is an important stage in preparing the G8 summit in Aquila to be held on 8-10 July 2009. The ministers will discuss a political agenda of the G8, will pass decisions within their competency and prepare proposals for a political discussion at the summit level. This year Italy presides at the G8. It proposes an agenda and various initiatives for the attention of the ministers invited to the discussion. I would like to note the very active and fruitful work of the Italian presidency and the perfect interaction which is developed with the Italian side on the whole range of G8 issues.

Future of OSCE mission in Georgia

Russia is for a continuation of the OSCE’s ground activity in Georgia and South Ossetia, including the work of the observers at the Georgia-South-Ossetian border.

Taking into account the new international legal and political realities that have developed in the region after Georgia’s aggression in August 2008 and the existing differences in the OSCE on that matter, this work can be continued on a neutral basis in terms of the status and in close co-ordination with the receiving parties – Tbilisi and Tskhinval.

Unfortunately, the draft documents that are proposed projects for settlement by the OSCE were not neutral as for statute and proceeded from Georgia’s territorial integrity in its previous borders. We regret that the Russian amendments to those draft documents dated 20 April and 12 May aiming at fixing those drawbacks were not accepted.

We also regret about the decision of the Greek presidency at OSCE of 14 May to suspend talks on the respective mandates. We believe that a compromise decision would be possible about them. The negotiations can be continued, and Russia is ready to take part in them. On 30 June the authority of the OSCE observers’ work in Georgia’s areas adjacent to South Ossetia is expiring. After that, the OSCE is planning to wrap up its ground work in the region.

Despite that, we hope the OSCE will not leave the region for good. There are still possibilities for the OSCE’s specialized institutions to work in Georgia, including the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, Representative on Freedom of the Media and High Commissioner of National Minorities), as well as to carry out project activity through the OSCE Secretariat (Office of the Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities, Strategic Police Matters Unit, Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and Action against Terrorism Unit). We are certain that those structures are capable to usefully contribute to rendering assistance to the governments of Georgia and South Ossetia.

We hope that sooner or later the OSCE will also manage to reach a decision acceptable for all concerning a resumption of its ground activity in the region.

North Korea response to sanctions

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea says it will retaliate following the UN Security Council’s sanctions and is ready for military actions. What is the Russian side’s reaction to North Korea’s statements? First of all, I would not be so straightforward in interpreting the statement by the Foreign Ministry of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea dated 13 June this year. Although there are indeed such expressions in it, their practical implementation is conditioned by rather serious circumstances.

This way or another, the fact that a UN member state is demonstratively declaring its refusal to fulfill a UN Security Council’s resolution cannot but cause deep regret. This resolution was adopted according to Chapter VII of the UN Charter, being therefore mandatory for all UN member states.

It is also necessary to emphasize that Resolution No. 1874 is well balanced. In many respects, thanks to the efforts of Russia and China, the sanctions it stipulates are applied exclusively according to Article 41 of Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which does not envisage using military force. Besides, the resolution has a clear and positive alternative and clearly defines prospects of lifting the sanctions.

We hope that our partners from the PDRK will perceive the will expressed by the international community correctly and choose in favour of a politico-diplomatic way, search for mutually acceptable settlements at the six-party negotiating table, within the context of continued process of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula according to the Joint Statement of 19 September 2005 and the provisions of the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

Azov-Kerch-Black Sea problems

On 16-17 June, the 31st round of talks on the Azov-Kerch-Black-Sea problems was held in Moscow. The sides suggested that the options for selecting source data for estimating the lengths of the coastal lines of Russia and Ukraine should be coordinated. This estimate will be considered when determining the place of the state border in the area of water in question.

The delegations confirmed their stances on how the issues of the Kerch Strait should be solved, as well as on delimitations of the territorial waters, the continental shelf and the exclusive economic zones of the Russian Federation and Ukraine in the Black Sea. The next round of talks in the format of delegations is scheduled for October 2009 in Kiev.

Russia’s FSB active in Black Sea navy in Ukraine

According to recent media reports, the Russian FSB activity is operating within the Black Sea Navy of the Russian Federation deployed in the territory of Ukraine. We’ve already given many comments concerning the deployment of the Black Sea Navy of the Russian Federation in Ukraine.

Just to remind you, on the 28th of May in 1997 the corresponding agreements were signed, namely: The Agreement on the status and conditions of deployment of the Black Sea Navy of the Russian Federation in the territory of Ukraine, the Agreement on the parameters of the Black Sea Navy division and the Agreement on mutual payments linked with the Black Sea Navy division and deployment of the Black Sea Navy of the Russian Federation in the territory of Ukraine and later others as well.

Currently, practical issues are being solved between Russia and Ukraine. They concern the provision of proper conditions for full operation of the Black Sea Navy of the Russian Federation and its deployment in the territory of Ukraine. The Subcommittee of the Russian-Ukrainian intergovernmental commission is working on this. It held its meeting in Kiev on June 10th this year, and it was successful, in our opinion. During this meeting, they didn’t discuss any matters concerning the activity of the Russian FSB representatives within the Black Sea Navy.

In fact, in recent days some Ukrainian officials have made some statements on this. There is even a corresponding note. We are considering them.
In the meanwhile, we’d like to say that all the units and services of the Black Sea Navy are deployed in Ukraine in accordance with bilateral agreements. We assume that all the issues will be discussed in a legal field and at the negotiating table, and we have due mechanisms for this.

Normandy landing anniversary

On the 6th of June, a ceremony marking the 65th anniversary of the landing of the allied troops in Normandy took place at the American military cemetery near the city of Colleville-sur-Mer, in France. At the ceremony, together with President Nicolas Sarkozy were present US President Obama, prime ministers of Great Britain and Canada, Prince Charles, veterans and diplomats. According to varied evaluations, on the whole, the military and memorial event was pretty festive – memorial praying, ceremonial cannon fire, hymns, speeches of heads of states, talks with veterans and so on.

Against this background, particular attention has been paid to a peculiar interpretation of the victory in World War II given in almost all speeches of the participants. The American president was the only one who mentioned, I quote “Russians who suffered the biggest losses at the Eastern front”. Nicolas Sarkozy underlined that “the battle for Normandy decided the outcome of the war”. The British prime minister has called the 6th of June in 1944 “the day of triumph of good over evil, because Normandy is the only place, where from Europe could be liberated after five years of the total war and 40 million perished.” The Canadian leader said about “the turning point in the war” and even “the history”, about “the salvation of the mankind”, about “the beginning of Europe’s liberation and salvation of the civilization from fascism”.

And in the mean time, not a single word was said for the decisive role in the Victory of the Soviet Union, which faced the most dreadful blow of the Hitler army and suffered the largest human losses. The ceremony marking the 65the anniversary of the landing of the allied troops in Normandy, the very liberation of Europe would have not been possible, but for millions of our soldiers hadn’t paid for it by their blood and life, fighting against the best units of the Hitler Wehrmacht, but for our army, which by Churchill’s words had broken the backbone of the military machine.

We aren’t prone to undermine the meaning of “the battle for Normandy” and doubt the bravery of our allies’ soldiers, but we stand for correct evaluation of WWII and its results.

Russian Co-operation expats meet in Moscow

And the final issue..
Today, the meeting between the heads of representative offices and representatives of Rossotrudnichestvo is being concluded in Moscow. It is the first forum on such a large scale taking place in the framework of the Federal Agency for Commonwealth of Independent States, Compatriots Living Abroad and International Humanitarian Cooperation which was recently formed by the Decree of the Russian Federation President. Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Yakovenko read to the participants of the meeting the address of our Foreign Minister, heads of committees and commissions of the State Duma and the Council of Federation, Russian ministries, establishments and public organizations.

Yesterday and today at the meeting it has been discussed what Rossotrudnichestvo will have to do for the forthcoming presidency of Russia in the CIS next year. They set up the format of interaction with the authorities for conducting humanitarian activity abroad. They also discussed new approaches to the solution of common state issues, confirmed a specific role of the Agency in the issues on integration within the CIS territory, and determined the efforts for consolidation of compatriots in the boarding countries and abroad.

A special attention in the Agency’s activity was paid to the realization of the method combining programs and aims. Significant attention was also paid to the improvement of the work Rossotrudnichestvo’s representative offices operating abroad through spreading its network.

That’s it for the time being, with a brief report regarding the meeting of Rosssotrudnichestvo which is being concluded here in Moscow.
Thank you for your attention. I’m ready to answer your questions.

Questions from the media
[Q] What about our request to extradite Yevgeny Chichivarkin?

[A] Before the briefing I tried to get the latest information regarding this issue.
First of all, it should be noted that this person is on the international wanted list in order to be arrested and extradited. Due to serious charges, Yevgeny Chichivarkin is accused in accordance with item “a”, part 3 of article 126 (kidnapping of a person by violence with the threat to his health and life by an organized criminal group for selfish needs) and also item “a” and item “6 m”, part 3 of article 163 (extortion or request to hand over other people’s property by the threat of violence committed by an organized group for obtaining other people’s property and the right for property in extremely large amounts) it goes without saying, that this is due to the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. As you know, The Prosecutor General’s Office of our country has announced that due to Yevgeny Chichivarkin’s presence in Great Britain, Russia requests London to extradite this person. Russia hopes that London will take a quick positive decision regarding this matter. We’ll tell you how the situation will be unfold.

[Q] Could you comment the NATO exercise Loyal Arrow 2009 which took place in the north of Sweden this week?

[A] I can tell you that we’ve paid attention to large scale NATO exercises held in Sweden this June. It’s obvious that each country has a sovereign right to independently take its decisions. However, the conducting of NATO exercises within the territory of the country which traditionally declares the policy of military non-alliance and freedom from any military unions, cannot help but raising questions. That’s how I could comment on this situation now.

[Q] You mentioned that during the forthcoming talks between the presidents of Russia and the USA in July, the START Treaty will be discussed. Will the parties manage to finalize it by the Moscow summit?

[A] I can say that the talks in Geneva which will take place in the end of this month, as I’ve mentioned earlier, will make it possible to compare the stands of the two Presidents before the summit and decide where we are at solving this issue. During the summit, after experts brief the Presidents on how the treaty is coming along, the situation will be already shaping up. Let’s wait for the next round of negotiations in Geneva and then we’ll make some conclusions. It’s logical to make real conclusions after the experts report to the two Presidents during their meeting in Moscow about the work fulfilled.

[Q] Almost a year has passed after last August events in South Ossetia. But none except Russia and Nicaragua recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Does Russia’s leadership discuss with other countries the possibility to recognize the independence of these countries? Was this issue on the agenda in Yekaterinburg?

[A] You know, I cannot tell you whether this issue was discussed in Yekaterinburg or not, but I can tell you we never asked anybody to recognize independence of these republics, because each country with its leadership is free to take independent decisions on such matters. Therefore, we assume that currently many countries have revised the events of August 2008. I mean Georgia’s aggression against South Ossetia. I believe, when correct conclusions are made, they will determine both a general evaluation of the situation in the region, and the related attitude to South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which proclaimed their independence as a result of that aggression, as we’ve mentioned before and now can only reiterate.

Thank you very much.