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12 Dec, 2009 06:30

“‘Politically binding’ resolution could make Copenhagen conference a success”

A proposal by host county Denmark to adopt a “politically binding” resolution at the Copenhagen Conference could possibly make it a success, said Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrey Nesterenko.

In his weekly address to the media, Nesterenko also touched upon the outcome of a Russia-NATO Council meeting of foreign ministers, the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the results of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Moscow, Russia’s establishing diplomatic ties with Vatican and other issues.

RT presents the full transcript of Nesterenko’s briefing on December 10, 2009.

Human Rights Day

Dear colleagues, ladies and gentlemen!

We continue our meetings to explain our stance on the most important international issues that have occurred since the previous briefing.

First of all, I must say that today, December 10, the world community is celebrating Human Rights Day. On this day in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, one of the fundamental international documents, was adopted. The principles laid in this document reflected humankind’s aspirations to build a newer, more just world order in which human life and dignity would be the main values.

Supreme Council of the Russia-Belarus Union State

At the moment a session of the Supreme State Council of the Union State is being held in Moscow, timed to coincide with the 10th anniversary of signing the Treaty of Establishing the Union of the Russian Federation and Belarus. The president of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Medvedev and president of the Republic of Belarus, Aleksandr Lukashenko, are holding the session. Prior to the session, the two presidents had a separate meeting.

To mark the 10th anniversary of the Supreme State Council, it is planned to sign a Declaration that will reflect both the main results achieved in the development of integration ties and future goals and tasks in the field. The agenda addresses multiple issues of cooperation in the fuel-and-energy sector, trade and economy and mutual effort in providing equal rights to citizens of both countries.

Following the session, more detailed information will be released.


On December 11, regular prime minister-level sessions of the EurAsEC [European-Asian Economic Co-operation] Interstate Council and Supreme Council of the Customs Union will be held in St. Petersburg.

During the session, the heads of governments will discuss joint measures to overcome the impact of the world financial crisis upon the EurAsEC countries.

The meeting is expected to approve the intergovernmental target program titled Innovative Biotechnologies, proposed by Belarus, which will become a tool of implementing the strategy and priorities in the development of science, technologies, and machinery in the member states. The program will also contribute to the coordination of interstate and inter-industry ties in biotechnology and, consequently, to sustainable growth of economic efficiency, standards of living, and welfare in the countries involved.

Also to be signed is the agreement on fundamental principles of the currency policy within the EurAsEC member states in regard to regulation and control of capital flow operations, which will determine the principles of currency policy to be pursued by member states, and an agreement on cooperation in education which will provide guidelines for the interaction of EurAsEC member states in the area of education. The heads of governments also mean to coordinate the EurAsEC Food Security Concept.

At the same time, it is planned to approve concepts of strategically important intergovernmental target programs such as “Remediation of EurAsEC member state territories subjected to the effects of uranium production” and “Creation of a methodology and information support system to facilitate the implementation of the unified export control procedures across EurAsEC member states.”

The prime ministers will consider the issue of establishing an interstate database on labor migrants in the EurAsEC member states, as well as the possibility of ratifying the corresponding Concept during the session.

Also, as part of the session of the EurAsEC Intergovernmental Council (which is the supreme council of the Customs Union), the prime ministers will make a number of resolutions in the aftermath of the Minsk summit on November 27, required to launch the Customs Union on January 1, 2010. The resolutions will deal, in particular, with the regulation of indirect tax levied on import and export, technical regulations, application of sanitary, veterinary, and phytosanitary measures in the Customs Union, systems for transferring statistical data on mutual trade to the Customs Statistics Centre of the Customs Union Commission, and the creation of an integrated data system for foreign and domestic trade of the Customs Union.

Thus, in accordance with the previously agreed plan, the necessary conditions have been created for the Customs Union to begin operation among Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia from January 1, 2010.

European and Asian media forum

On December 10-11, a Forum of European and Asian media was held in Moscow, attended by representatives from 14 countries of Europe and Asia, nearly 140 media executives from the CIS and the Baltics. It was the fourth forum of its kind for media representatives to discuss media trends in the years to come and how the media will evolve and interact.

As you may know, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Communications Minister Igor Shchegolev attended the opening ceremony.

I would like to quote our president as saying while addressing the forum that well-developed media, backed by good technology and equipped with professionals are a sign of a sovereign state.

I am certain you are well informed of what the president and the two ministers who attended the opening of the forum said. Their words have been published on relevant websites.

OSCE Council of Foreign Ministers

On December 1-2, Athens hosted a regular session of the OSCE Council of Foreign Ministers, attended by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

During the session, a number of useful bilateral meetings were held between Mr. Lavrov and his foreign counterparts, as well as the OSCE leadership, including OSCE Secretary General Marc Perrin de Bricshambaut, OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Knut Vollebaek, and others.

I would also like to draw your attention to the joint declaration adopted in Athens this year by the foreign ministers of Russia and France, the US deputy secretary of state and the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia on the Nagorno-Karabakh Settlement.

More details on the result of the session can be found on the website of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Lavrov visits Greece

Following the aforementioned session of the OSCE Council of Foreign Ministers, on December 2, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov paid a working visit to the Hellenic Republic.

Mr. Lavrov had substantive talks with Greek Prime Minister and Foreign Minister George Papandreou. The two sides confirmed the high level of current development of Russian-Greek relations backed by the long and amicable relationship between the two countries. The entire spectrum of bilateral relations was discussed, including the situation in practical areas of cooperation, such as energy and military-and-technical co-operation, including a number of major joint energy projects.

The sides exchanged opinions on a wide range of international issues of mutual interest.

During the visit to Athens, Lavrov addressed a meeting of representatives of the Greek public on the situation in Euro-Atlantic region and Russian-Greek relationships. Before the visit, Lavrov had been interviewed by well-known Greek newspaper, Kathimerini.

For more details about the above meetings and interviews, go to the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website.

Russian Foreign Minister at Russia-NATO Council

After his visit to Greece, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited the Belgian capital, Brussels, where he took part in an official meeting of the Russia-NATO Council at the level of foreign ministers. The meeting held in Brussels was the first after Russia and NATO had unfrozen their political contacts.

The ministers discussed prospects of further development of Russia-NATO political dialogue in the interests of strengthening Euro-Atlantic security and in the context of advancing the initiative of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to draft and conclude a European Security Treaty within the framework of the Russia-NATO Council.

Priority areas for practical cooperation between Russia and NATO, including in the military sphere, were outlined. Russia and NATO will continue interaction with an aim to stabilize the situation, including that in Afghanistan, in the context of joining efforts in the struggle against terrorism and the drug threat.

A working program of the Russia-NATO Council for 2010 and a document on improving its work were adopted. An agreement was reached to start a joint overview of common challenges and threats of the 21st century.

In the run-up to the meeting of the Russia-NATO Council, Sergey Lavrov had held a separate meeting with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. They discussed a number of questions related to Rasmussen’s forthcoming visit to Russia.

Indian PM in Moscow

The main outcomes of the official visit of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Moscow are reflected in the Joint Declaration between the Russian Federation and the Republic of India on promoting strategic partnership to combat global challenges, adopted on December 7, upon completion of top-level negotiations. This document reflects Russia's and India's approaches to a number of urgent international issues and emphasizes one important fact: the two states are indeed committed to strengthening their bilateral strategic partnership.

Important intergovernmental and interdepartmental documents were signed during the summit. The list speaks for itself: an Agreement on the Program of Military-Technical Cooperation between Russia and India from 2011 to 2020; an Agreement on post-sale service of Russian armaments and military equipment supplied to India; a Protocol to the Bilateral Agreement on cooperation in development and production of a multipurpose transport aircraft; a Program of Cultural Cooperation for the period of 2010-2012 between Culture Ministries of Russia and India; and a Loan Agreement between Vneshekonombank and Export-Import bank of India. In addition, they initialed an Agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of the Republic of India on cooperation in the sphere of using atomic energy for peaceful purposes. They defined the areas of priority in cooperation for a period ahead.

The visit of M. Singh to Moscow concluded the year of India in the Russian Federation. Large-scale events within the framework of the Year of India have provided unique opportunities for cultural projects, as well as facilitated contacts in economic, scientific and technical areas, deepening connections between the young people of our countries – and we see this as a token of friendship and mutual understanding for years to come.

You can find the materials of the Russian-Indian Summit on the web-site of the President of the Russian Federation, where the full text of the Joint Declaration can be found as well.

Russian Foreign Minister talks to Palestinian counterpart

On December 9, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held talks with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) Ryad al-Malki who was on a working visit to Moscow. The ministers signed a protocol on political consultations between the foreign ministries of Russia and the PNA.

The parties discussed in detail the current situation in the Middle East Settlement, first of all on the Palestinian-Israeli track. Minister Lavrov expressed serious concern over the remaining deadlock in the regional peace process. He informed his counterpart about Russia’s attempts on bilateral levels, in the UN and within the Quartet of international mediators aimed at the resumption of negotiations contacts between Israel and Palestine. Their result could be a creation of an independent, territorially integral and viable state of Palestine within the 1967 borders, living in peace and security with Israel.

Deputy foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine discuss politics

As planned earlier and informed by us, on December 7, a regular session of political consultations were held between Secretary of State, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Georgy Karasin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Vladimir Khandogiya.

International and regional issues of key importance and mutual interests in Russia and Ukraine were discussed.

For more details, go the Foreign Ministry’s website.

Foreign Ministry holds regular session on interaction with Russian Orthodox Church

Also on December 9, the 24th session of the Working Group of the Russian Foreign Ministry on Interacting with the Russian Orthodox Church was held.

The group summarized its achievements since the previous session held on June 29 this year, and discussed various aspects of importance of interacting between the ministry and the Church.

Following the session, priorities of cooperation were defined.

Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize

Today, some media are commenting on the awarding of US President Barack Obama with the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo today. I can note that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sent President Obama his congratulations, which, among other things, says the following:

“I consider this step of the Nobel Committee as a sign of a realistic vision of the dynamics of global evolution. I hope this decision will serve as an additional incentive for our joint efforts on forming a new climate in international politics, promoting initiatives fundamentally important for global security. I want to reaffirm our readiness for further constructive dialogue based on equality, mutual respect and consideration of mutual interests for the benefit of universal peace and stability.”

US-North Korea talks

I have been asked how the Russian Foreign Ministry assesses bilateral US-North Korean talks that have started in Pyongyang in the context of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

As you know, the DPRK leader Kim Jong-Il has confirmed his readiness in principle to continue multilateral, including six-way, negotiations on the Korean nuclear problem on the condition that these bilateral contacts will transform the bilateral relations between the DPRK and the United States from hostile to peaceful. We are happy to note that the sides have promptly gotten down to a meaningful dialogue.

We would like to confirm that the Russian side has a positive attitude to contacts on the nuclear problem of the Korean peninsula, which can be held in any format, and understands that they contribute to the resumption of the 5+1-party talks. We hope that the American and Russian colleagues will be quick in finding a common language. That will make it possible to continue the six-way process in the foreseeable future.

For your information, the three-day visit of the US Envoy to North Korea, Stephen Bosworth, was the first official contact between Washington and Pyongyang under Barack Obama’s presidency. According to an ITAR-TASS news agency report, Bosworth told reporters at the Airport of Sunan he considered the talks “very useful”. So far he had restrained himself from disclosing any details of the talks, but would do so upon his arrival in Seoul, where he is now heading.

UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen

According to the Bali Road Map adopted at the COP13 [the 13th Conference of the Parties] of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in December 2007, an international negotiation process was initiated aimed at working out a new global convention on climate change mitigation beyond 2012 (post-Kyoto period). It was planned to coordinate the convention agreement by COP15 in Copenhagen, running currently from December 7–18, 2009.

After two years of talks within the UN, the parties failed to coordinate the draft treaty due to polarization of the positions between the developed and developing countries.

Taking into account that these differences in addressing the common task persist, the prospect of adopting in Copenhagen of an internationally binding document defining international interaction on fighting climate change beyond 2012, in our view, is yet not seen.

During the UN Climate Change conference in Copenhagen, the parties managed to have prepared only 13 multi-page working documents, summarizing the different approaches to the main topical issues of climate, including a joint view on long-term tasks, financing, transfer of technology, and climate change mitigation and adaptation.

It appears that the parties will be able to reach an accord only on basic principles for further actions and envisage particular steps on further progress at future talks.

Under these conditions, an option that could possibly make the Copenhagen conference a success could include a proposal by Denmark, a country that presides at the conference, to adopt a “politically binding” resolution of the Conference. It could enable solutions on key problems and open a way for further development in 2010 of particular obligations, procedures and mechanisms to implement them. The supplements to the resolution, could, according to the plan, fix collective indices of [carbon] emission cuts by developed countries for mid-term (2012) and long-term prospects, guiding parameters and mechanisms of financial-and-technical incentives for developing countries for them to contain greenhouse gases and carry out adaptation measures, an overall list of steps by nations and of emission cuts targets by 2020, as well as modality and schedules for further negotiations.

As for Russia, it is consistent in attaching the new climate regime a comprehensive and, in fact, universal character, in terms of participants. We believe the talks should result in one internationally binding document.

Russia is ready to coordinate the final Copenhagen document in a package of politically significant documents of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Denmark announced a final stage of the conference in Copenhagen at a summit level (December 17-18) and is actively inviting all the countries to take part at the level of heads of state or prime ministers.

We are going to monitor the developments there.

Establishing diplomatic ties with the Vatican

On December 3, 2009, during his stay in Rome on an official visit, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev paid a short visit to the Vatican, where he held talks with Pope Benedict XVI. The parties made a decision to bring Russian-Vatican City relations to a full-scale diplomatic level with a Russian Embassy in the Vatican and Apostolic Nunciature in the Russian Federation.

This decision was finalized in the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation “On establishing diplomatic relations with the Vatican” and through the exchange of notes between the diplomatic offices of the Russian Federation and the Holy See.

The Russian side assumes that establishing diplomatic relations with the Holy See reflects the realities of the present day. They correspond to the existing level of Russian-Vatican ties and the standard practice of international relationships. This step will facilitate further development of constructive dialogue with the Holy See on acute issues of international development, with a special emphasis on cultural, civilizational and ethical aspects, including those within the framework of international organizations.

In order to implement this decision, the Russian Foreign Ministry will take all the necessary measures to assist the Representative Mission of the Russian Federation in the Vatican City.

Nagorno-Karabakh settlement

The Kapaz TV Channel of Azerbaijan asked me the following before the briefing: In the process of settling the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the parties involved – in particular, Azerbaijan – have expressed discontent with the actions of the Minsk OSCE Group in the negotiation process. Since Russia is a co-chairman, how does it see the early conflict resolution?

Russia, as co-chairman-country of the Minsk OSCE Group on the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement, connects the early conflict resolution to the speedy coordination of regulation principles between the parties.

Suggestions of the co-chairmen on formulating those principles are stipulated in the so-called Madrid Document, which was given to the parties during the meeting of the Council of the Foreign Ministers of the OSCE in Madrid on November 29, 2007.

Considering the discussions on those principles that the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia held over the past two years, the co-chairmen prepared a renewed variant of the Madrid Document, which will be passed on to the parties shortly.

Should the positive dynamics of the negotiation process, which was achieved this year during the six meetings between President Aliyev and President Sargsyan and three additional tri-lateral meetings with the participation of the Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, should this positive dynamics be preserved next year, we will then have the grounds to count on a rather speedy and final coordination of the basic principles of settlement and formulating a text of the peace agreement based on those.

As for the first part of your question, Russia did not receive any signals of discontent concerning the work of the Minsk OSCE Group and the mediatory efforts of its co-chairmen either from President Aliyev or from your Foreign Minister Mamedyarov. Rather, we have received numerous expressions of gratitude for the mediatory efforts.

Humanitarian aid to Somalia

Following an appeal of the Transitional Federal Government of the Republic of Somalia, the Russian government decided to allocate one million dollars in humanitarian aid to the population of Somalia through the Russian Emergencies Ministry. It is timed to the critical situation that has developed in the country in healthcare following a long internal armed conflict there.

The Somali side has expressed gratitude to the Russian government for the aid, which proved another manifestation of traditionally friendly ties between the two countries and a sign of Russia’s keenness in speedy normalisation of the situation in Somalia and establishment of peace and stability there.


We are concerned with the escalation of terrorism in Pakistan which becomes a target for terrorist attacks almost every day. The militants have recently staged a series of large-scale terrorist acts in several big cities in the country such as Lahore, Peshawar and Rawalpindi. The terrorist attacks are directed both against military and civilian facilities. They cause scores of civilian deaths. The extremists are apparently using a method of intimidation to force the Pakistani government to stop a large-scale military operation in Southern Waziristan that has been under way since October 17 this year. Its aim is to destroy the strongholds of the Taliban Movement of Pakistan, the biggest terrorist organization in Pakistan linked to Al-Qaeda.

We present our cordial condolences to the families and relatives of the dead. We hope that the Pakistani government will do its best to stabilize the internal political and socio-economic situation in the country, and that it won’t allow the system of state government to be undermined and will put up effective barriers to Islamist radicals who are eager to seize power in Pakistan.

Bombings in Baghdad

According to incoming reports, a series of terrorist acts was staged in various parts of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, on December 8. Several bomb-strewn cars were blown up. As a result, more than a hundred people died and hundreds were wounded. Several ministries, agencies, residential buildings and cultural facilities were seriously damaged.

We resolutely condemn these inhumane and bloody crimes which cannot be justified. They are targeted against peaceful Iraqi civilians. We are presenting sincere condolences to the families and relatives of the dead and sympathize with those who were injured and their families. We confirm our staunch support for the Iraqi government’s efforts to root out terrorism.

The new splash of terrorism in Baghdad occurred in a crucial period of preparations for the forthcoming parliamentary elections to be held in Iraq early next year. We are convinced that terrorists will be unable to disrupt Iraq’s progress on the path of democratic development, the strengthening of its sovereignty and state institutions. Iraq’s efforts are meeting the support of Russia, other regional countries and the international community.

Russian trucks donated to Afghanistan

Under the Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation and the Russian Emergency Ministry, Russia has launched a humanitarian operation handing over 50 KAMAZ trucks and two fire tankers to Afghanistan.

According to the Russian Emergencies Ministry, the vehicles have been cleared through customs and are ready for shipping, planned the night of December 9-10. The trucks will be transported by train to the Hayraton station (Afghanistan), where the trucks will be handed over to the Ministry for Agriculture of Afghanistan, while fire tankers will be handed over to the fire service of the Balkh province. The estimated time of delivery to Hayarton is December 29-30 of this year.


Finally, I was again asked to comment on the situation around the Bushehr Nuclear Power Station. We expressed our stance on the subject matter more than once, also at my recent briefing on November 17.

Let me say this again. Our cooperation with Iran on building a nuclear power station in Bushehr has been carried out in full compliance with our international obligations. We fully advocate completion of the project. As it is known, Russia has already supplied fuel for the reactor to be built. At the moment, start-and-adjustment work is under way, whereas we pay particular attention to the operational safety of the reactor. When all the necessary technological operations and testing are completed, the reactor will be put into operation within the schedules agreed upon with the Iranian side, which means it is exclusively about technological issues that need to be solved by specialists, both from the Russian side and Tehran. There is no point in politicizing the problem, binding it with the current contacts with Iran concerning its nuclear program, in which the 5+1 group is engaged. So, these are absolutely two different questions: Bushehr and the talks on Iran’s nuclear program.

Questions & Answers:

Vesti. I have two questions. The International Court of Justice in The Hague is hearing the case on the legitimacy of the unilateral proclamation of independence by Kosovo. What is your perception of the prospects of this trial? And my second question is the following: it has been reported that the EU Foreign Ministry leaders are to discuss the plan of dividing Jerusalem. In your view, does the idea itself really exist and is it viable under current circumstances? Thank you.

Thank you for your questions. Indeed, the issue around Kosovo stays in the focus of the global community and the media's attention. The hearings take place from December 1 to December 11 in the UN International Court in The Hague. The process was initiated by the UN General Assembly which requested the Court for a consultative verdict on the matter.

The hearings opened with speeches of Serbian representatives and authors of the independence declaration. Apart from them, the Court will also hear a total of 27 states who wished to participate in the process. The Russian Federation presented its position on December 8. The complete English transcript of the speech given in Russian is available at the Court’s website. You are welcome to look it up there.

As is known, the Russian Federation considers the unilateral declaration of Kosovo's independence from Serbia to be a breach of the international law and, in particular, a gross violation of the UN Security Council resolution 1244 of June 10, 1999. Our stance on this matter has not changed.

According to UN Security Council resolution 1244, the issue with the status of Kosovo can be finally settled only through negotiations and upon approval of the Security Council. Obviously, unilateral proclamation of independence is at odds with this procedure.

Besides, the declaration of independence breaks one of the fundamental principles of the international law, namely the requirement to respect the territorial integrity of states, commitment to which was captured by the Security Council in the abovementioned resolution. In its speech in the Court, Russia also made a point that references to the right to self-determination of peoples in the case of Kosovo are unfounded.

Many states, including Serbia itself, China, Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Belarus, Azerbaijan, and others, expressed opinions similar to that of Russia's.

Among our opponents are the US, Great Britain, France, Germany, and a number of other European states. Their argument speaks for itself: knowing that international law is not in their favor, they either try to prove that international law does not regulate matters related to declaring independence at all or present the Kosovo situation as a unique case that falls out of general rule.

We are confident that the Court will duly evaluate the arguments of all participants of the process and will issue a consultative verdict that will become a milestone in establishing the supremacy of law in international relations.

As for the discussion around the division of Jerusalem and the statement of the EU Council published on December 8, I can only refer you to the Russian Foreign Minister’s statement he made yesterday at the press conference after the talks with the Palestinian Foreign Minister al-Maliki. Quoting: “The EU statement contains nothing new to what has long since been captured in the UN Security Council resolutions, the Madrid principles and statements by the Quartet. Therefore, frankly speaking, I do not quite understand the uproar around this EU statement.”

I returned yesterday from Israel where I held regular inter-ministerial consultations. I can say that this topic is widely popular these days with the Israeli and Arab media, but I am not authorized to make comments on this, I can only release the Ministry’s view of the EU statement that was published this Monday.

I have two questions please. On November 30 it has been a year since the day when two Russian students, Andrey Kamynin and Aleksandr Yevteev, died in a car accident caused by Benjamin Hobert, the former teacher of the German Embassy in Moscow. The Russian Foreign Ministry has already made statements about the inappropriateness of the Muenster Court’s verdict that came into power on November 19, 2009 to the severity of the committed crime. Has there been any progress made in regard to this, especially now that following their meeting with the German Ambassador the parents of the victims expressed their intention to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights? And the second question is the following – on December 6, a trial on the case of Ivan Demjanjuk started in Munich, and is to last until December 21. Could you comment on the progress of this trial?

Yes, indeed this issue is in the focus of the Foreign Ministry’s attention, and we are taking measures to address it. As for the “Hobert case,” I regret to say that there has not been any positive progress made in regard to this matter. But I can tell you how the situation is developing and what measures the Ministry has undertaken to facilitate it.

We proceed from the interests of the victims: Russian citizens Andrey Kamynin and Aleksandr Yevteev, and continue pressing for justice.

On November 30, exactly a year after the tragedy, Kamynin and Yevteyev's relatives had a meeting with the German Ambassador, Mr. Walter Schmid, in Moscow.

Unfortunately, we cannot say that any proposals have been made so far by the German Embassy in order to resolve the situation and take care of the legitimate interests of the victims' families. I would like to remind you that Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov passed over a message to Germany's Vice-Chancellor Mr. Guido Westerwelle during the recent talks in Moscow where he stressed the necessity of such measures. Also, a relevant letter was sent by the Russian Foreign Minister to the German Vice-Chancellor the other day reminding the latter of the importance of resolving this problem.

I would also like to note that the prospect for considering a civil lawsuit filed by German lawyers on behalf of their Russian plaintiffs depends today on a decision to be made by the Muenster court in regard to the possibility of extending government aid to the plaintiffs in covering the trial charges. We hope that the decision will be made in favour of the plaintiffs despite the fact that in this case the plaintiffs are not citizens of the EU, which is a pre-requisite for aid eligibility. Regrettably, the mentioned court costs may rise, as Mr. Hobert is willing to shoulder his trial expenses on the plaintiff, the mother of the teenager who died through his fault. Such behaviour of Mr. Hobert raises doubts as to whether he repents the committed crime and is ready to take up responsibility for its consequences. We think that this is another confirmation of the fact that the sentence by the German court is unreasonably mild.

We are determined to continue watching the situation closely and supporting the families of the victims. We will keep you updated on any new developments. In this connection I would also like to draw your attention to a number of media reports published today quoting the affected families’ comments and assessments of the actions undertaken by the German side of the incident.

We are closely following the trial in Munich which has special “significance” in view of the forthcoming 65th anniversary of the victory over fascism to be marked in 2010. It is particularly important for our country that carried the main burden of struggle against Nazism and suffered the biggest human casualties. There is no period of limitations for Nazi crimes. It is the principal position of our country and some other countries. This can be applied in full measure to accusations which were launched against Ivan Demjanjuk in Germany. He has been charged with complicity to mass extermination of inmates in a Nazi death camp where he was a warden. In this context Russia welcomes and highly appreciates the intention of the German justice to resume the consideration of this high-profile case that has been in the centre of attention of the international public for decades. The consistent position of the German side is particularly important against the background of a trend, growing in some countries, to falsify and rewrite history and the ongoing attempts, including at a state policy level, to seek rehabilitation and glorification of the Nazis and their accomplices.

We hope that the Munich trial will hold a thorough and objective investigation into Demjanjuk’s actions, give an all-round assessment of the completeness of evidence contained in the indictment and bring about a fair and legally perfect verdict. This kind of approach is being invoked by the need to pay tribute to the memory of millions of victims of Nazism and our irretrievable moral duty to them as well as common responsibility towards generations to come for the preservation of historical truth and the implementation of the principle of unavoidability of punishment for committed crimes.

In response to a request for international legal assistance sent by the Prosecutor’s Office No.1 of the city of Munich, the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office provided the German investigative bodies with copies of archive documents and procedural materials, including protocols of interrogation of witnesses linked to Demjanjuk’s case, which can be used in connection with the trial. In accordance with existing international laws and practice, interaction with the German side on this range of issues can continue in compliance with the norms and regulations contained in Russia’s relevant legislation.

Yesterday Mr. Lavrov said that the START treaty will be signed soon. Will you please comment on the course of progress on the document?

I can only add that the negotiations process is ongoing and we are working hard to finish it soon. I think that it is necessary to be patient and wait until the results are announced.

How can the Russian Foreign Ministry comment on the situation around the Turgenev museum near Bougival? Shall we see any steps to preserve the museum of the prominent Russian writer?

We are well aware of this issue. We are closely following the situation.

Since its creation in 1983 the writer’s country estate in Bougival (France) has been taken care of by the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Russian Embassy in France as a historic monument. We keep in touch with the French authorities, including the city council of Sel-Saint-Cloud (the owner of the building and the land lot), the French Ministry of Culture and the Association of Turgenev’s Friends headed by Mr. Zvigilsky.

In 2003, the local authorities that had met all the expenses on keeping the land lot and the buildings expressed its wish to sell the estate. Persistent efforts of the Russian side and of Mr. Zvigilsky brought about the understanding that the location of the Turgenev museum must be preserved.

The French authorities provided additional guarantees that they will meet their commitment to preserve the estate and the museum. They are stipulated in the minutes of the thirrd session of the Russian-French Commission on cultural cooperation (February 2007).

We are hopeful that this issue will be solved in the interests of preserving the historical monument which is so significant for the Russian people, and that this issue will be taken away from the agenda.

Does the comment in connection to Romanian President T. Basescu’s statements published on the Russian Foreign Ministry website show that Russia is disillusioned by the pre-election behaviour? The comment says those statements may harm the development of our bilateral relations. Will Russia take any steps regarding this?

It is not in our practice to take any steps in such situations. We understand the reasons for T. Basescu making such statements very well. As usual, we communicate with other countries on the principles of mutual respect. We do not usually react emotionally to such actions if they do not harm our national interests. We would like T. Basescu to draw conclusions from our comment and to work out a respectful position regarding Russia and its foreign policy.

Russia has always been against applying sanctions against Iran. Has its position changed? Is Russia going to fulfill its obligations regarding S-300 deliveries to Iran?

As is well-known we have many times commented on these issues. I can only suggest to you my statements in the previous briefings. Together with our partners from the ‘Big Six’ we are for the use of political and diplomatic methods to solve emerging problems. The language of sanctions is not for us. Our position has been repeated by the Russian government many times at all levels.

As for S-300, our position announced by the Foreign Minister, and on the website of the Foreign Ministry, has not changed.