Interview with Yury Rubinsky

Yury Rubinsky, Director of the Centre for French Studies, spoke to RT about the possible outcome of French FM Bernard Kouchner’s visit to Moscow.

Russia Today: How is Russia likely to respond to those comments about the possibility of war over Iran’s nuclear programme?
Yury Rubinsky: I don’t think that it will be something that will be taken genuinely, so the problem of Iranian nukes is dividing now the members of the UN Security Council, including Russia and France. Until now, France was a part of tri-lateral approach to Iran with three leading members of the European Union – France, Germany and the UK. The results of the talks with Iranians were disappointing, and on the edge of these talks Russia has also taken an initiative to enrich the nuclear materials outside Iran, thus granting the peaceful character of the Iranian nuclear programme under the control of international bodies. So I think Russia wants to be more convincing – towards Iran of course.
RT: When you say convincing – do you mean tougher?
Y.R.: As I understand it, there should be both a stick and a carrot from the Russian side. For Russians the carrot perhaps is more important than the stick.
RT: But having said that, the stick policy is a little bit more harsh from France’s point of view.  Will there be agreement with Moscow, will Moscow agree for harsher sanctions or harsher measures against Iran?
Y.R.: It will be of course a common decision of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. And these five members are divided into three ‘Westerners’ on the one side, and Russia and China on the other side. To my mind, the French Foreign Minister is coming to Moscow not to push the dialogue between the ‘Westerners’ and Russia and China to something like break. It will be something counter-productive, I think.
RT: Let’s leave the Iranian nuclear issue at the moment, because there will be other issues discussed during Mr Kouchner’s visit…
Y.R.: I’m deeply convinced that the Iranian nuclear programme will not be the principle item of these discussions.
RT: Surely. Another issue to be discussed will be Kosovo…
Y.R.: Surely. Mr Kouchner knows this problem very well because he was a UN commissioner in Kosovo. If I’m not mistaken he is a supporter of Martti Ahtisaari’s plan, which would eventually lead to the independence of Kosovo supervised by the European Union.
RT: So there is a disagreement between France and Russia over this issue?
Y.R.: If independence is pushed in the UN Security Council, that will be the case. What I know is that the bilateral relations between France and Russia are very good despite the change of the President of France recently. I was in France during the elections, and the dominant mood in the country was to push for the change. I think that the winning candidate, Mr Sarkozy, symbolised the change better than his rivals.