Russia’s envoy to UN: G20 won’t overshadow the UN

Russia’s Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin spoke to RT on the foreign policy directions set by President Dmitry Medvedev during his meeting with the country’s leading diplomats.

RT: Thank you for joining us, Ambassador Churkin. The President says there is room for talks with Iran. Hasn’t this moment passed as world frustration mounts and Teheran’s resolve grows?

VC: First of all, this is a meeting which takes place every two years and, frankly, I wouldn’t want you to focus entirely on the issue of Iran, though it has a important place in the remarks made by the President. Eessentially the President called for renewed international efforts now that another round of sanctions was passed by the Security Council a couple of months ago.

But I think the overall message or messages, which were addressed by the President of the country towards its diplomatic corps were very interesting and very important. First of all I was quite impressed when President Medvedev started by emphasizing that the two years that had passed since the previous similar meeting of ambassadors had been event-packed and, in fact, had been longer than any two-year period in the previous recent history of our country and its diplomacy. There was a very powerful message on modernization in what President Medvedev had to say; a powerful message about the need to cast aside all stereotypes and have a fresh look at the international arena, looking for opportunities for cooperation between our country and other international players, and some very important lines about the United Nations, which is certainly particularly important for me as a UN Ambassador.

RT: Iran's nuclear program is a long-running issue, with several rounds of sanctions. Why hasn't diplomacy yet been able to achieve the desired result, and will sanctions actually work the way President Medvedev wants them to?

VC: Of course, everything we’ve done has been done in order to achieve a diplomatic solution. So, if you are referring back to the Iranian issue, I do believe that the sanctions may have the effect they are desired to have, that is, focus the attention of the leadership in Iran on the need to cooperate fully with the international community, IAEA and the Group of Six which is trying to initiate diplomatic negotiations with Iran.

We think that the chance exists to have those talks started, which would lead to satisfaction in the international community that the Iranian nuclear program is completely peaceful. And then we’ll open up all those possibilities for Iran in its relations with the outside world, which have been outlined by the well-known document of the Six.

RT: What about Russia’s economic and military cooperation with Teheran? How will these be affected by either further sanctions or a push for more diplomacy?

VC: I don’t want you or your viewers to have an impression that this meeting was focused on or completely occupied by the discussion of the issue of Iran. In fact, of course, this is only one of the problems, one of the sort of diplomatic crisis situations internationally. There are so many other things happening in the world, so many opportunities for Russia to develop its international relations.

I think the meeting ended on a very powerful note, with President Medvedev having awarded some of our distinguished diplomats with orders or medals of the Russian Federation. He ended his meeting with the ambassadors with a very powerful message of pride in our country and renewed confidence that we are up and coming and we need to work even harder in order to realize the full potential of our country in international cooperation.

RT: The President also spoke about the role of the UN – how does it need to evolve to keep it a relevant global body for the 21st century?

VC: It was interesting, because in every statement by our political leaders, almost every major statement by the President of Russia, there is a reference to the key role of the United Nations as the fundamental, most respected and legitimate international institution in dealing with international issues. But today I was first of all quite pleased and impressed that President Medvedev emphasized the economic potential of the United Nations and its various economic institutions, because recently one may have had the impression that the United Nations was sort of overshadowed by the G-20, the new reformed group of the most developed countries dealing with the current financial crisis and beyond. But rechecking the potential of the United Nations under these circumstances, I think, is particularly important.

And then another important new element that I don’t think has been addressed before in any statements by our political leaders is the importance of cooperation between the United Nations and various international regional organizations. And this is a very timely reference, in particular because of the fact that in the past year we were able to fully develop the legal basis of cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of the Treaty of Collective Security and between the United Nations and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. So, now those organizations and, I think, maybe the CSTO in particular, are well-positioned to fully exercise their potential in their spheres of competence and geographic areas in full cooperation with the United States and with the backing of the United Nations.

We’ve had both the resolution passed by the General Assembly on cooperation between the United Nations and the CSTO and the declaration between the Secretariats of the CSTO and of the United Nations.

So, we’ve done, I think, what we could in the past few months in order to set up this meeting and in order for President Medvedev to be able to emphasize the crucial importance of this aspect of the work of the United Nations, its cooperation with various regional organizations.