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5 Sep, 2009 08:40

“The idea of a conspiracy between Stalin and Hitler makes no sense”

Attempts to belittle Russia’s role in fighting Nazism is unacceptable, said Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrey Nesterenko during his latest regular media briefing.

He also elaborated on Russia–US relations, cooperation with South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the Iranian nuclear program, and many other international issues concerning Russia.

RT presents the full transcript of the address.

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, good day.

Welcome to our regular briefing at the Russian Foreign Ministry. We have had a short pause in connection with the summer vacations and we are now resuming our work. We will share with you our information on the most pressing issues and problems of contemporary foreign policy.

Let me start with the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War Two.

Seventy years ago on September 1, 1939, the world saw the beginning of one of the greatest tragedies – the Second World War. The death toll was more than 50 million people, servicemen and civilians, with 27 million being citizens of the Soviet Union. It was one of the cruelest and bloodiest wars in the history of humanity.

This day we commemorate those killed in this war.

And, of course, we cannot help but raise the question of why it happened in the middle of the civilized 20th century and how it can be prevented in the future.

The main cause of the conflict was the aggressive nature of Nazism and the policy of the Axis countries. The invasion plans of fascist regimes throve on the conniving attitude of the leading world powers of that time who tried to solve the problem of their own security, as the Munich agreement showed, at the expense of other countries’ security and sovereignty. The atmosphere of mutual distrust and suspicion characteristic of Europe of that time also facilitated Hitler to take advantage of the wish of Western democracies to redirect aggression to the East.

Soviet policy was part of the political picture in Europe on the eve of World War Two and should not be considered separately. The only thing that was different is that Soviet diplomacy up to 1939 was more active and consistent than that of other countries in terms of its wish to counteract the aggression jointly. And this is not Moscow’s fault that it did not work out.

The attempts to shoulder the responsibility for the war either on Hitler’s Germany nurturing aggressive plans, or on the Soviet Union only acting on the defensive, are unacceptable, blasphemous, and anti-historic to the core. Assumptions about a conspiracy between Stalin and Hitler and a common identity of Nazism and Communism make no sense. Such assumptions are offensive to Russia, as they defame millions of our citizens who were killed fighting fascism.

Such approaches reveal the wish to blame the innocent, to rewrite the history of World War Two, to defame Russia and to belittle its role in the defeat of fascism and to conceal their own behavior before and during the war itself. It is for this reason that those who are for rewriting history according to their liking try to conceal Hitler’s policy of appeasement and its disgraceful climax – the Munich agreement, which let the aggressor off the leash.

Who is interested in such a revision of history, which can confuse people and lead to clashes between peoples and aggravate them?

It’s time to forget the argument about who the victory belongs to. It is the pride of everyone who contributed to effective resistance to Nazism. Nonetheless, there is no doubt about the decisive role of the Soviet Union that suffered most from German aggression striving for victory and trying to free the humanity from the Nazi plague, no matter how much anyone tries to raise doubts regarding this.

Today, Europe faces a choice again. An effective response to new threats and challenges require new approaches and transformation of the existing security system in Europe. What is needed is the joint effort of people of goodwill, an open and honest dialogue without political rhetoric in it, which rules out tragedies similar to World War Two.

In connection to this, Russian proposals on a single European security architecture based on a legally binding agreement should be considered more closely. We hope that this initiative will be appreciated by everyone who values peace, security and beneficial cooperation.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s visit to Poland

On September 1, 2009, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visited Gdansk in Poland where he participated in international events on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the beginning of World War II and also held bilateral talks with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk. The memorial events in Gdansk predetermined the tone of speeches of the head of the Russian government. It is generally acknowledged that the Soviet Union made a decisive contribution to the defeat of fascism and the liberation of Europe, including Poland, where 600,000 Soviet soldiers perished on the battlefields.

More than fifty thousand Soviet soldiers were killed Saving Gdansk itself. In this context, the Russian prime minister insistently put through the idea of the need to fix in the minds of the global public the real objective causes and lessons of World War Two, to categorically denounce attempts to both glorify Nazi accomplices and falsify the common European history of the 20th century. There are still attempts to distort history, smear at true heroes and justify criminals. This is an insult to the memory of those who saved the world from Nazism. Assessments of the situation in Europe on the eve of World War Two, the imperfect European security system, the behind-the-wings attempts of Western democracies to buy off Hitler and to redirect his aggression to the East are set forth in an article by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin published in the Polish daily “Wyborcza” on the eve of his visit to Poland.

We see the main result of the events in Gdansk as sending an important signal to Europe: the tragedy of 1939 should not be repeated. The governments and peoples should do everything within their power to strengthen peace and stability in Europe. This is precisely the objective of a Russian initiative, as I said, to conclude a new European security agreement. On the sidelines of the visit by the Russian prime minister, he also met German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the prime ministers of Ukraine, the Netherlands, Finland, Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovenia to discuss questions of mutual interests. More detailed information on these meetings is published on the Russian government’s website.

In connection with the above-mentioned subject, I would also like to draw your attention to an article by the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov titled “The World War Two Tragedy: Who is to Blame?” It is printed in the daily newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta on September 1st this year and also his lecture at the International Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) which he read on September 1st, marked as Day of Knowledge in Russia, which also dwelt on the aforesaid subject. The full texts of Sergey Lavrov’s articles and lecture are posted on the official website of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

And one more subject linked to what I’ve just said. Specifically, I am talking about the following question addressed to us.

On the “totalitarian heritage”

"How can the Foreign Ministry comment on the declaration of intentions to get an “honest and transparent” assessment of the common totalitarian European heritage of the XX century, which was adopted in Vilnius on August 23rd this year by the prime ministers of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia?"

From our point of view, the only way to talk about history is to talk about it clearly and transparently. This approach to the events of the past will allow us to come to the right conclusions that have value to the modern age as well.

It’s particularly important to avoid half-truth and one-sided interpretations of the historical facts. Unfortunately, the topic of the “totalitarian heritage” is being used by a number of politicians, including the representatives of the mentioned countries, to square historical accounts and to justify the relevance of their attempts to impose the distorted interpretations of the “high spots” in the last century of European history on the international society. Such actions, which are in many ways dictated by passing political conditions, can only result in new dividing lines between states and nations.

Indian President Pratibha Patil is on a state visit to Russia currently at the invitation of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. We are receiving information that they are holding talks in the Kremlin. The Indian president is being accompanied by her husband, state and government officials, and representatives of Indian businesses. The information on the talks, as I’ve just said, is being transmitted by the media online.

Russia’s Cooperation with South Ossetia and Abkhazia

As we know, on August 26, 2008, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree on Russia’s recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Over the past year we’ve witnessed a dynamic and advancing development of the traditionally friendly relations with the South Ossetian and Abkhazian peoples. The visits of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to South Ossetia and of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to Abkhazia in July-August this year and the high-level meetings that preceded those visits indicate that the given vector of the Russian Foreign Policy is exclusively important. Great attention is given to it both in terms of peace and security in the Trans-Caucasian region, as well as the energetic development of all-round cooperation with these republics.

Over the past year a great deal of work was done to establish full-fledged interstate relations between Russia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. On September 17, 2008, agreements on friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance were signed at a high level. They became the platform for subsequent development of a bilateral legal framework. At present, 14 and 13 interstate, intergovernmental and interdepartmental agreements in various spheres have been signed with Tskhinval and Sukhum respectively. Thirty-five bilateral agreements with South Ossetia and 42 documents with Abkhazia are in the stage of being coordinated – first of all, in the fields of developing and strengthening military cooperation, assistance in the restoration of the infrastructure, the deepening of trade and economic cooperation and the establishment of normal social assistance. It is natural that the ministries and agencies in our countries at various levels conduct an intensive dialogue on a wide spectrum of issues.

The agreement that we signed on April 30 this year on joint efforts to protect the state border with Abkhazia and South Ossetia is a weighty contribution not only to our bilateral cooperation, but also to the strengthening of regional security on the whole. Russian military contingents have been deployed in the territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Each of these contingents should have up to 1,700 servicemen. There were 3,700 servicemen in each of the two republics at the initial stage.

The most urgent thing for our interaction with Abkhazia and South Ossetia at this moment is to implement the principles set down in the agreements on assistance in socio-economic development signed in August this year. They are aimed above all at assistance in the restoration of destroyed infrastructure and housing in the two republics.

Branch agreements and projects for the trade and economic bloc are in process.

Since August 2008, a comprehensive plan has been in force to restore housing, social amenities, utilities, energy supplies, communication and mass communication, as well as to revive education, public health and transport in the Republic of South Ossetia, including 586 actions.

In 2009, the Russian budget fund will be used to restore 22 secondary schools, 10 kindergartens, 10 public care establishments (a hospital, a city polyclinic, and district hospitals), and 261 municipal houses.

There are plans to build 323 individual homes, build or repair 220 kilometers of highways, restore sewage installations in Tskhinval, as well as gas and energy supplies.

It is noteworthy that on the day of celebrations of the first anniversary of Russia’s recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, in August this year, a Dzurikau gas pipeline was launched. It connects the Republic of North Ossetia in Russia with Tskhinval.

A similar comprehensive plan for promoting social and economic development is being implemented in the Republic of Abkhazia. Its second stage covers the years 2010-2012 and provides for the allocation of 11 billion roubles. Its guidelines are aimed at the creation of a transport logistical centre for speeding the delivery of cargos, including for the construction of Olympic facilities in Sochi; the creation of tourist and recreational zones in Abkhazia, the restoration of administrative, social and cultural spheres, utilities and housing as well as other infrastructure.

The implementation of a set of comprehensive plans will make it possible to render significant assistance in rebuilding the economy and infrastructure, increasing the output of goods and services, people’s incomes with simultaneous cuts in unemployment. To launch and ‘set motors’ for independent productions in the two republics is the essence of the comprehensive aid plans.

Russia’s main objective is to stabilize the situation in the region and bring the lives of the brethren peoples of Abkhazia and South Ossetia back to normal.

Just a few words about the Georgian draft resolution of the regular session of the UN General Assembly on the position of internally displaced persons and refugees from Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

We consider the Georgian initiative to be counter-productive, firstly from the point of view of prospects for the solution of problems which it is allegedly designed to solve. It is obvious to us that, in this way, Tbilisi’s instantaneous political interests is raising an old humanitarian subject without caring for the thousands of Georgians, Abkhazians, Ossetians and citizens of other nationalities who suffered from the adventurous policy of the Georgian leadership.

Even the adjusted version of this document, which was corrected with the European Union’s help and which seems neutral only on the surface, is catastrophically far from reality which is that two independent states have emerged in the region – Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Both the Georgian leadership and its patrons will have to take this fact into account sooner or later. It is being dictated by the entire logic of the recent events in the Georgian-Abkhazian and Georgian-South Ossetian relations.

For our part, we are ready for constructive work with all the parties concerned with an aim to balance the draft resolution so that it takes into account the geopolitical changes that have taken place in the region and would contribute to improving the position of internally displaced persons and refugees not only in words but also with deeds.

I’ve received a question: “Since the beginning of the year the Georgian border guards have detained 23 vessels, allegedly for various violations in Abkhazian waters, including, as they say, the violation of the rules of entering the territorial waters of occupied territories. How could the Russian Foreign Ministry qualify these actions?'''

I’d like to say that the Georgian Navy has captured and detained many ships in Abkhazia’ territorial waters and subsequent arrests by the Georgian authorities of merchant vessels of third countries in the area of Abkhazia open sea coast is nothing more than a flagrant violation of the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea and an act of international lawlessness. The leadership of the Republic of Abkhazia had a tough reaction to these actions. They warned, I quote, that “Incessant pirate actions on the part of Georgia will entail an adequate response”

Not only do such actions by the Georgian leadership violate international shipping rules and are an attempt to impose a sea blockade on Abkhazia’s sea coast, but they also aggravate the military and political situation in the region and may result in serious armed incidents. It confirms once again the fact that the Georgian leadership hasn’t given up its militaristic plans and intentions to settle territorial disputes by force since its last August aggression against Abkhazia and South Ossetia. We can only regret such a short-sighted and dangerous stance. All the responsibility for possible unpredictable consequences in this connection lies on the Georgian side.

On Georgia’s withdrawal from the CIS

As we know, on August 18, 2008, Georgia declared its intention to withdraw from the CIS.
According to the Charter of the Commonwealth, Georgia officially ceased to be a member of this international organization a year after declaring its intention to do so – August 18, 2009.

Russia can only express regret about the decision of Georgian authorities on the withdrawal from the CIS, and consider this step to be emotional and opportunistic.

We think that Tbilisi is well aware of the negative consequences of this decision, which breaks with the interests of the multinational Georgian population. No wonder Georgia expressed its wish to renew its participation in the documents of the Commonwealth.

We would not like to dramatize the consequences of Georgia’s withdrawal from the Commonwealth, more so that Georgia has not been that active in recent years. The Commonwealth will continue going ahead on a solid political and legal basis, including the further development of the Policy of the CIS, the Economic Development Strategy of the CIS and other documents.

I would like to stress that, despite the notorious decisions of the Georgian authorities, Russia confines to good neighborly relations with Georgian people and chooses to keep and develop the historical ties between Russia and Georgia.

Situation in Moldova

The new composition of the Moldovan parliament, which reflects the main spectrum of the country’s political forces, commenced its work on August 28 of this year. The day before, in line with the Constitution, the government of Moldova resigned, due to the expiration of the term of office set by the previous composition of the legislative assembly.

The process of forming the governing bodies in Moldova is not going smoothly. In that respect, we hope that the political parties represented in the legislative assembly will join their efforts to create an environment that is necessary to facilitate its constructive work and to form a stable power structure that will be able to focus on solving the acute social and economic problems.

We presume that, within the parliament, a stable political union – based on mutual compromises, which will prevent the country from sliding into a system-wide political crisis that could be accompanied by negative consequences for economical development of the Republic of Moldova, its foreign policy and the process of Trans-Dniester settlement – will be established.

We confirm that the Russian side is ready for further development of the bilateral partnership with Moldova in all of the priority areas.

Russia–US relations

I was asked the following the question – "At what stage are the negotiations on the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty now? What questions have been resolved?"'

On the whole, we are satisfied with the way our strategic dialogue is developing with the new administration of the United States. It is aimed at attaining positive results and a healthy pragmatic approach. In Geneva there was just the fifth round of Russian-American talks. It was held in a constructive and business-like atmosphere. Within the framework of the talks, they discussed the parameters of a future agreement with a special emphasis on the elements that were indicated in the US-Russia Joint Understanding on strategic offensive arms that were signed on July 6 this year during the Moscow Summit. The parties have discussed the actual text of the agreement. They have set up working groups to discuss specific items. In short, both sides are outlining their stance concerning the agenda of the meeting aimed at reaching the deadline that was set at the summit of the two presidents. The next round of talks shall be held on September 21 in Geneva.

On the subject of Russian-American relations, the following question has been asked.

"The previous administration used the “two plus two” format rather actively (talks between defense ministers and foreign ministers). Are Moscow and Washington planning to revive this mechanism, or has it proven to be ineffective?'''

First of all, I would like to remind you of the fact that the agreement on setting up a consulting “two plus two” mechanism with the participation of international political and defense agencies was reached back in 2002. However, the parties got back to such practice only in 2007. The George Bush administration saw only two rounds of negotiations in this format (in October, 2007, and in March, 2008) which comprehensively dwelled on Russian-American relations, putting special emphasis on strategic security and stability, on further cooperation and joint initiatives in different areas, and a discussion of vital issues on bilateral and international agendas.

We think that discussions in such a format were very useful and productive and contributed to a fruitful discussion of a Russian-American strategic agenda. One of the major results of the two-plus-two mechanism is approval of the Sochi Declaration on Strategic Relations adopted by the Russian and the US presidents in April, 2008.

Unfortunately, no more talks have been held in this format, as after the events in the Caucasus in August, 2008, George Bush’s administration in fact froze the discussion of the key military and political issues with Russia.

As for the renewal of the two-plus-two mechanism, this issue is currently irrelevant for our relationship with the Obama administration. And that’s not because of its ineffectiveness. The thing is that as a result of the summit in Moscow in June, the leaders of the two countries made a decision on setting up a bilateral Presidential Committee – a new comprehensive bilateral structure, which is to become a basis for further cooperation in all these areas. The Committee created a number of issue-related working groups, including those on arms control and international security, foreign policy, the fight against terrorism etc. A working group on cooperation between the military in the sphere of defense is underway.

Thus, through setting up this Committee, we hope to conduct the Russian-American dialogue on strategic issues on a more regular basis and to make it more structured, aiming at attaining specific results.

Japan parliamentary elections and Asian issues

Lately, in the world media, much has been said about the victory of the Democratic Party of Japan at the parliamentary elections that took place on August 30. We have published our commentary in connection to this on our website and declared that the result is the expression of the will of the Japanese voters, who have supported the political course of the Democratic Party of Japan.

Russia is disposed to establishing a constructive cooperation with the new government of Japan, which is expected to be formed very soon, for the further development of Russian-Japanese relations, especially in the sphere of trade and economical partnership. The full text of the commentary can be found on our website.

And about one more message that has to do with Asian issues.

Within the framework of regular contacts between the Party of Six on denuclearizing the Korean peninsula, the Russian Special Ambassador Mr. Logvinov will hold consultations with the leadership of the corresponding branches of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Korea on September 8 in Seoul. He is also to meet with the Chief Delegate of the Republic of Korea and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of the Republic of Korea Wee Sun Nak at the Six Party talks.

During his stay in Seoul, Mr. Logvinov will also meet with the US Special Envoy Son Kim at the Six Party Talks, who is touring a number of countries in North-East Asia together with the US Special Ambassador for North Korean policy Steven Bosworth.

Apart from Seoul, Mr. Logvinov is expected to visit Beijing.

The main topic of the upcoming talks will be about how to resume the Six Party Talks, and prospects for forming a mechanism of peace and stability in North-East Asia.

On the Iranian nuclear program

Yesterday, September 2, Frankfurt hosted a meeting of the Political Directors from the Foreign Ministries of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (aside from that, the EU Political Director was participating as well), in the course of which the situation in connection with the Iranian nuclear program was discussed. From Russia, the meeting was attended by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Ryabkov. A joint statement for the media was signed for the media. It was posted an hour ago at the website of the Russian Foreign Ministry. The statement goes as follow:

“The political directors of the countries have once again pointed out the importance of solving the issue on the diplomatic level. They stressed that the way to a peaceful resolution of Iranian issue is still open.”

Political directors have also outlined Iran’s right to use nuclear power for peaceful purposes. Iran must understand the urgent necessity of restoring confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear program via full-scale cooperation with the world community.

You can get familiar with other excerpts of this statement on the website of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

At the consultations in Frankfurt, another meeting of the Political Directors of the Six, devoted to the situation in connection with the Iranian nuclear program, was held in Frankfurt. Among other things, the consultations touched upon the Iran report by the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Mahmoud El-Baradei, which appeared on August 28 of this year, as well as on the further scheme of actions on the negotiating trek in relation to Tehran.

The Agency confirms that everything declared by Iran is being controlled by the IAEA. The Agency has failed to detect any signs of there being a military component in the nuclear program that is being implemented by Iran. Moreover, Iran has agreed to apply a number of IAEA-requested transparency measures at its nuclear facilities.

The other day, Tehran declared its readiness for a detailed conversation with the Six, also mentioning the fact that it was going to submit proposals on interaction. If these statements are backed by concrete steps, there will appear, in the foreseeable future, a chance to arrive at the stage of full-format negotiations aimed at searching for an all-embracing settlement of the situation.

The comments made by the Information and Press Department of the Russian Federation state that the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation is glad to hear about the wish of Armenia and Turkey to start an internal approval process with a view of signing the Protocol on Restoring Diplomatic Relations and the Protocol on Bilateral Relations Development.

Armenia and Turkey are countries friendly to Russia. The steps towards restoring the relations between them are logical and long-awaited. We will be glad if the consultations, which are the internal business of these countries are a success, and substantial agreements arise.

Our comments also mention that there are mutual efforts by the Armenian and Turkish government to achieve rapprochement, which give a chance to change the current situation, to break the ice in the relationship, and to make it more constructive.

A more detailed view of the Russian Foreign Ministry can be found on our website.

"Arctic Sea" investigation underway

Concerning the captured “Arctic Sea” dry-cargo freighter.

At the moment, we can say with satisfaction about finishing the operative stage of resolving the situation connected with the seizure of the “Arctic Sea” freighter. At this given stage, our priority was to liberate the Russian citizens, the members of the crew. The Russian Navy brilliantly coped with this task without firing a single shot.

At the same time, by far, not all the questions have been answered, but the answers are expected to be given by the investigators.

We can say that the Russian Federation is striving to act completely transparent in cooperation with the interested states.

I can assure you that, in the field of international cooperation, the Russian Federation is acting not just in strict accordance with its international commitments, but quite often exceeds the necessary minimum. The talks have been held with official representatives of all the states that have the grounds to be establishing jurisdiction in connection with the seizure of the merchant vessel “Arctic Sea” by the pirates.

An especially close collaboration has been conducted with the authorities of Malta. We fully respect its interests, rights and obligations, stemming from the state, whose flag is on the vessel.

The official representatives of Malta are in Moscow now and we are holding talks – in particular, in the Investigative Committee at the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation – about some specific forms of collaboration.

The next stage is an inspection of the “Arctic Sea” by the investigators in a convenient place. This question is now being worked through.

The Foreign Ministry of Russia will certainly provide all the necessary assistance in reaching certain agreements with the authorities of the state for conducting an inspection of the vessel and carrying out further investigatory actions.

Counteracting piracy

And now a few more words about the multilateral talks on the issue of fighting piracy.

At the given stage of cooperation of the international community in fighting piracy, the process of negotiations is being conducted as planned. In other words, the international contacts are conducted not on a basis of emergency or sporadically, rather they have become “routine” and have taken their place on the international agenda.

The main role in a number of negotiating formats that discuss the problems of counteracting piracy belongs to the Contact Group on counteracting piracy of the shores of Somali, which was set up in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1851. The Groups holds regular plenary sessions and also works in four subgroups that work on: solving the issues of coordination and information exchange between the Navy forces of different states; resolving legal issues; discussing the issues that come up in that respect in the important branch of economy of sea merchant shipping, and discussing diplomatic aspects of the Contact Group and providing the information for the public. All the above-mentioned subgroups are intensively working, each in their own line, and on September 10, in New York, the fourth meeting of the Contact Groups is going to be held.

The important aspects of jointly combating piracy have been also discussed at the meetings in Bahrain. There are also other multilateral measures, in particular – on the accompanying international-legal issues.

The Russian Federation is taking an active part in the international negotiating process.

Middle East settlement

Many questions have been raised over the past week, mainly by the Arabic media, regarding a conference on the Middle East Settlement in Moscow. How likely is that?

Unfortunately, the situation regarding a peaceful settlement is still difficult. There has been a pause in negotiations between Israel and Palestinians for quite a time now, which is due to differences in the positions of the parties regarding the key settlement issues. For this reason, indirect contacts between Tel Aviv and Damascus facilitated by Turkey in 2008 have been frozen. There has been no progress in the settlement of the Lebanon-Israel conflict.

At the same time, we cannot say that negotiations have come to a dead end. The main goal of the world community in the current situation is to bridge the gap between the parties and help Israelis and Arabs restart negotiations on all treks. This work requires a joint effort, as well as bilateral contacts with the protagonists, and it is carried out on a regular basis and starts bringing about preliminary results.

Russia and its partners proceed from concurrent positions that were established at the G8 Summit – which took place in May-July this year in L’Aquila – ministry meetings of the Quartet on the Middle East, of the UN Security Council, as well as the meeting of the Big Four with a contact group from the League of Arab States in Trieste. According to the general vision, the starting point of any negotiations is the universally recognized international legal base of Arab-Israel settlement.

What is most important now is that Israelis and Palestinians comply with the roadmap for the fight against terror and violence. Any unilateral actions impacting the outcome of the negotiations on the final status are out of the question. There are big reservations regarding this. The activity of Israeli settlements on the occupied Palestinian territories, which should be stopped immediately, arouses the greatest concerns. A consensus has been reached regarding this issue in the international community.

The conference on the Middle East in Moscow is a milestone in our joint efforts. There is an international consensus on this issue stipulated by the decisions of the UN Security Council, the Quartet and international partners. As for the time for the forum, different options are being discussed now, including the one about holding it at the end of this year. It has not been put off the agenda.

Speaking about this, the opinion of the participants of the conflict is the most important thing for us, as well as the issue of the content of the conference in Moscow. Everyone agrees that there is a need for it in the conference, and they are ready to visit it. Undoubtedly, the opinion of other partners is also very important, and we are staying in touch with them. Otherwise, it won’t be possible to make the forum in Moscow effective.

We hope that the discussion will be to the point, and that it will dwell on all the issues mentioned in New York, where a regular meeting of the Quartet is going to take place in September. It will be attended by the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Concerning the situation in Iraq after the pull-out of American troops from towns and settlements of Iraq and the transfer of power to the local authorities for maintaining security.

A number of large scale terrorist attacks in Baghdad that happened on August 19 this year were a serious attempt to destabilize the situation in Iraq after the redeployment of the main part of the US military contingent out of towns and settlements on June 30.

The Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Finance and other governmental buildings as well as houses were damaged. There were rocket and mortar attacks. About 100 people were killed, more than 300 were wounded. The Foreign Ministry of Russia has expressed its sharp condemnation of such actions.

Concerning this, the Iraqi leadership is taking steps to intensify security measures in Baghdad and other places.

On the whole, despite those mentioned terrorist attacks, the Iraqi power structures have managed to retain control of the situation in the area of security. As we have repeatedly said, Russia supports the efforts of the Iraqi government in suppressing terrorism and stabilizing the situation in the country. We firmly proceed from our principal stand that terrorism, no matter what slogans it is trying to hide behind, has not justification whatsoever.

The last question I was asked about Afghanistan was about the situation in Afghanistan after the presidential election on August 20.

The situation in the country has been tough after the presidential election in Afghanistan and the election of the provincial council’s deputies. The Taliban Movement’s terrorist activity is at a high level in most provinces of the country. A number of populated localities in Kunduz, Nangarkhar, Khost, Gerat and Kandagar have been shelled. Forty civilians in Kandagar and more than 20 in Mekhtarlam city in Laghman province were killed as a result of terrorist attacks by suicide bombers. More than 100 people were wounded. The South and the East of Afghanistan saw skirmishes between government forces and militants of the Taliban movement.

What chances does the current administration have of staying in power in Kabul?

There’s been special interest regarding this issue. We think that the chances of the current administration to stay in power in Kabul are realistic. Based on the calculation of 60.4% of the vote, according to the information we have, the incumbent president Hamid Karzai got 47.3% of the vote, while his main competitor, the former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah got 32.6%. Deputy Ramazan Bashardost got about 11.6%. Nonetheless, we cannot predict the final results of the voting. We cannot be sure whether one round of an election will be enough (i.e. whether the leader will get more than 50% of the vote), or another round will have to be held.

It is expected that the preliminary results of the vote will be announced September 7, and the official results on September 17.

I thank you for your attention. I am ready to answer your possible questions

Questions from journalists

Vesti TV channel: Mr. Nesterenko, could you please comment on the official refusal of Tashkent to delegate its military representatives to the CSTO joint military exercise that started on August 26?

A: It is known that the Republic of Uzbekistan hasn’t signed an Agreement on the Collective Quick Reaction Force of the Collective Security Treaty Organization and, consequently, is not taking part in its implementation. Nevertheless, we should note that it’s taking an active part in its development.

It is clear that the creation of the Collective Quick Reaction Force is a complicated integrated process that requires the solution of political, financial, organizational and technical matters. As far as we understand, our Uzbek colleagues need time for a more profound assessment of possible consequences of participation in the Collective Quick Reaction Force for their country. It should be noted that Uzbekistan has a common border with Afghanistan and, in view of the threats coming from the Afghan territory, is apparently interested in instruments that may strengthen its security.

Naturally, it is Uzbekistan’s sovereign right to decide whether to join the agreement, although we hope that it’s just a matter of time.

Japanese Informational Agency, Kyodo Tsushinsha: Mr. Nesterenko, I have a question about the victory of the Democratic Party of Japan in the recent parliamentary election in Japan. What are the comments of the Russian Foreign Ministry on remarks of the leader of the Democratic Party of Japan Yukio Hatoyama on the need to use in full measure the potential for cooperation between Tokyo and Moscow in the nearest future?

A: Thank you for your question. Understandably, we do have certain assessments regarding what has been declared. We certainly paid attention to remarks by Mr. Yukio Hatoyama on Russian-Japanese relations, which were made at a news conference shortly after the recent parliamentary elections in Japan, in which his party won. I have already given you a small excerpt concerning this, so I am not going to dwell on it now.

But what concerns the remark mentioned in your question, it is consonant with the approaches of the Russian leadership. To prove that I can quote some words from an interview given by the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to the Japanese media on the eve of his visit to Japan in May this year:

“Russia and Japan have a considerable potential for partnership in all spheres. Its implementation becomes particularly urgent in view of the ongoing global financial and economic crisis. We should act more boldly if we want to open a real perspective for elevating to a new level of mutual understanding, trust and effective cooperation, which make it possible to solve the most complicated problems.”

At the same time, it is important that the two sides, both of which hold such an approach, should also have a common understanding of the logic of our actions. We are against linking multi-dimensional problems, especially if the talk is not about joint efforts aimed at their solution, but about that some of them can be used to slow down progress in other spheres. Our logic – and we’ve explained time and again to the Japanese side – is that it is exactly joint efforts designed to develop all-round Russian-Japanese ties and strengthen mutual trust that will disclose the mutually beneficial potential of partnership and will help in creating an atmosphere that will make it possible to find a mutually acceptable solution to the problem of the peace treaty. We hope that Mr. Hatoyama will make the right choice just like his grandfather – Itiro Hatoyama – did in 1956 when he signed the Joint Declaration that restored relations between our two countries.

Interfax Informational Agency: Good day to you, Mr. Nesterenko. I have two questions for you. First, at the end of August, there were violent ethnical clashed in Kosovo. How does Moscow evaluate the situation in the region at the moment? And my second question is this: at the moment, there are court proceedings in Dubai on the murder of Mr. Yamadaev. What information have the Dubai officials given to Russia?

A: The events you’ve mentioned represent, in essence, a repetition of the clashes between the representatives of the two national communities in April and May this year, which were caused by the attempts of Albanians to unilaterally begin to restore their houses in one of Kosovo’s districts without granting the same rights to the Serbs. As we know, the conflict was resolved with international help and the reaching of inter-communal agreements on restoring housings on a parity basis. The current clashes come as a result of Albanians moving away from those principles and because of their ambition of continue to reduce the Serbian ethnic space at all costs.

This occurrence shows that there remains a substantial conflict potential in the region and that there is a lack of any progress in overcoming the wall of alienation that separates Kosovo Serbs and Albanians. At large, the Kosovo problem remains one of the major security challenges in the Balkan region today.

In that respect, we consider it necessary to recall the responsibility for maintaining stability in Kosovo that lies with the international presence in the region. We expect that they will act without prejudice under current circumstances, preventing new anti-Serbian provocations.

Now to the question of the murder of Mr. Yamadaev. There have been a number of different reports from various sources over the last several days – apparently in connection with the lawsuit that has been launched in Dubai.

We do not think it is appropriate to comment on the hearings on the case of Yamadaev’s murder that started in the criminal court of Dubai on August 31. One of the suspects in connection to the crime is a citizen of Tajikistan, and the other is a citizen of Iran. They denied the accusations during the first session of the court. The next hearing is set for October 5 of this year.

We are interested in shedding light on the truth in this case that concerns a Russian citizen. We are following the development of the situation and we will share with you any new information that we will receive in this respect.

Alhurra TV-channel: How can you comment on the announcement that Saudi Arabia may buy two billion US dollars worth of military equipment of the Russian Federation? Is this deal realistic?

A: I have seen those reports that you mentioned. I can tell you the following: both Russia and Saudi Arabia are interested in military and technical cooperation. This is well-known. I would like to emphasize that it serves the interests of both countries and is in line with international commitments in this area. Certain steps are being taken in this connection. What concerns the reports in the media, we are not going to give any comments on the figures given by the media on the possible purchasing of Russian weapons by Saudi Arabia. Such talks, as you know, on such issues, especially those concerning the figures, are of concern to both countries, and they should not be placed before the public because of the confidential nature of this information. In certain cases, if agreed by both sides, it is possible. But in this case I cannot give you any figures concerning this deal. Thank you.

Q: Mr. Nesterenko, I have another question, if I may. It’s about a question of passports in Russia and also in the new states of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Will the new passports be issued? Could you comment on President Bagapsh’s recent statements concerning weapons and military issues?

A: What concerns your first question; I can tell you the following. It was clearly declared in the commentaries that they are independent states. We’ve seen the first anniversary of the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as sovereign states by the Russian Federation. They are independent sovereign states. And that is why they have the right to resolve the question, first of all, perhaps, concerning the passportization of the population of the republics. This is an international practice, of course. They have all the necessary rights for that.

What concerns the statement by President Bagapsh, we have taken that into account, but I would like to draw your attention to the fact that Mr. Bagapsh was speaking exclusively about the questions of the Naval Force of Abkhazia and had nothing to do with the Russian armed forces. Now what concerns the actions of the Georgian Navy, I already mentioned that they run counter to the Convention of the Law of the Sea. And here I cannot give you anything. Thank you very much.

“Le Figaro” newspaper, France: As you know, Germany is soon going to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Is Russia going to take any part in the commemorative events and is there a difference in the assessment of this event in Russia and in Germany? Thank you.

A: We have repeatedly said in our official statements that it is the Soviet Union, or the leadership of the Soviet Union, more precisely, that most actively participated in the unification of Germany. That is why the fall of the Berlin Wall was a major historical event in the life of the whole of Europe. And as for assessments of this event – they are well-known to all. I think they will not be reviewed. At the moment, Germany is developing as a single, unified state. We are building full-scale, bilateral relationships with this friendly state, which are developing very dynamically. This is reflected in the figures of our joint trade turnover, capital investments in the economy of Germany by the Russian businessmen and in the economy of Russia by the German businessmen. We also partner on in a number of humanitarian spheres and, perhaps, you are well-aware of the fact that this indicates that our relationships are of a new quality and are developing dynamically. We are sincerely hoping that in the future we will be having one of the most solid, so to speak, partners in the European dimension.

Thank you for your attention.