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16 Oct, 2009 16:17

"A milestone in the comprehensive strategic dialogue"

One of the major results of Hillary Clinton’s visit is the approval of the Russian-American Presidential Commission, said Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrey Nesterenko.

In this week’s media address, Mr. Nesterenko spoke about the results of Putin’s visit to China, Hillary Clinton’s trip to Russia, the SCO CHG meeting, the visits of the Czech and Armenian presidents to Moscow, and other topics.

Briefing of the Official Envoy of the Russian Foreign Ministry Andrey Nesterenko, October 15, 2009.

On the results of the Council of Heads of State and Foreign Ministers in Chişinău

On October 9, 2009, a regular session of the Council of Heads of State was held in Chişinău, preceded by a session of the Council of Foreign Ministers on October 8. The foreign ministers discussed a number of aspects of practical cooperation and important international problems.

Decisions regulating legal aspects of Georgia’s withdrawal from the CIS have been approved. They include international treaties made within the CIS, in which Georgia may remain a member. Relevant lists have been approved, too. A number of decisions on organizational and staff issues have been passed.

We value the results of the Council of Heads of State and the Council of Foreign Ministers as positive. We believe these events have confirmed the importance of the work aimed at strengthening the Community as an efficient and influential organization. During Russia’s presidency in 2010 we are going to pay due attention to this.

A very useful trilateral meeting has been held on the margins of the summit between the presidents of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia in issues of promoting the Karabakh settlement process.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has also held short meetings with Acting Moldovan President Mihai Ghimpu and an official candidate for president, leader of the Democratic Party.

On the results of Putin’s visit to China

At the invitation of Premier Wen Jiabao of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation Vladimir V. Putin paid an official visit to the People’s Republic of China from October 12 to October 14 2009. Within the framework of the visit, the fourteenth regular meeting of the heads of government of Russia and China was held on October 13. The heads of government of both countries attended an evening ceremony devoted to the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries and to the official culmination of the Year of the Russian Language in China.

In the course of his visit, Vladimir Putin held meetings with President Hu Jintao of the People’s Republic of China and with Chairman Wu Bangguo of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress and also took part in the meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization that took place on October 14, 2009.

Prior to the 14th regular meeting of the heads of government of Russia and China, the PRC hosted the tenth meeting of the Russian-Chinese Commission for Humanitarian Cooperation (October 10, Dalian), the fifth round of the Russian-Chinese Energy Dialogue (October 11, Beijing), and the 13th meeting of the Russian-Chinese Commission for the Preparation of Regular Meetings of the Heads of State (October 12, Beijing).

On the SCO CHG meeting

Some more details about the SCO CHG meeting. On October 14, a regular meeting of the Heads of Government of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation took place in Beijing, where head of Russia’s government V. Putin attended. All heads of governments of the SCO member states arrived at the meeting, as well as heads of observer states delegations, the First Vice President of Iran, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Mongolia, the Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas of India. The vice-president of Afghanistan attended as an invited guest.

To develop the agreements of the Yekaterinburg summit(June, 2009) the meeting in Beijing focused on improving economic and humanitarian cooperation in the framework of the SCO in the conditions of a global financial and economic crisis. The Joint Statement, providing anti-crisis measures in such fields as trade, transport, telecommunication, finances and agriculture, was adopted at the meeting.

During the meeting it was stressed that mutual efforts should be increased to provide security for social and economic development of the SCO member states, in particular, given the developing situation in Afghanistan

The Joint Communiqué defined guidelines for further promotion of trade and economic cooperation, including missions for corresponding ministries and departments.

By the Russian initiative the Joint Statement on fighting against infectious diseases in the SCO region was prepared and adopted during the CHG meeting.

In the presence the Heads of Government the Protocol among the customs departments of the SCO member states on cooperation in the field of training and raising the professional skills of customs officers was signed.

The parties also approved the budget of the SCO for 2010 and took decisions on other financial and organizational issues of the Organisation.

At one time with the CHG meeting the Trade and Industry Forum of the SCO took place in Beijing.

The next meeting of Heads of Government will convene in 2010 in Kyrgyzstan.

Outcomes of Czech President V. Klaus’s visit to Russia

On October 14, Czech President Vaclav Claus paid a one-day visit to Russia. President Claus met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. During the meeting they discussed mutual projects, in particular, in the field of power engineering, methods of tackling the global economic crisis considering the outcomes of the G20 Summit in Pittsburg. Also, the presidents discussed international issues of current importance, such as the creation of the European security architecture, Russia-EU relations, and preparation for the forthcoming summit. During the negotiations, attention was also paid to cultural and humanitarian cooperation.

On the visit of Armenian President Serge Sargsyan

On October 12, the presidents of Russia and Armenia met in Moscow to discuss the problems of developing trade and economic cooperation, strengthening the interregional interaction as well as military and technical cooperation and prospects of implementing major joint projects in the energy sector.

They discussed matters pertaining to the Collective Security Treaty organization, including such topics as the functions of the Collective Rapid Deployment Forces of the CSTO in light of the Collective Rapid Deployment Forces drill “Interaction 2009” in Kazakhstan.

Within the context of developing mechanism of counteraction to the global crisis developments and of facilitation the innovative progress, Dmitry Medvedev and Serg Sargsyan reviewed the results of the CIS summit that took place in Chisinau on October 9, and also exchanged views on the dialogue within the framework of EuroAsian Economic Community.

Signing Ceremony of Armenia-Turkey documents

On October 10, an outstanding event of international life took place in Zurich – Armenia and Turkey signed the Protocol on Establishing Diplomatic Relations and the Protocol on the Development of Bilateral Relations, which determine future actions of the sides concerning a general normalization of interstate relations.

We are sincerely glad about this fact. Armenia and Turkey have amicable relations with Russia.

In our view, the contents of the signed documents demonstrate a firm decision of both countries to proceed along the road. It should be noted that none of the foreseen steps can be interpreted as damaging to the third party.

Enhancement of relations between two neighboring states will revive trade and economic contacts, and positively affect the social and economic situation in Armenia and Turkey.

The Russian Federation, in its turn, is ready to support this process through further fulfillment of cooperation projects with Armenia and Turkey.

We support pragmatic and practical mutual efforts of Armenian and Turkish partners in settling complicated issues.

Signing of the protocols is the first step on the way to normalization of relations. The sides need to ratify these documents as soon as possible and start their practical fulfillment. You can find more details in the commentary for the Russian media by our Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on our website.

On U.S. Secretary of State's visit to Russia

On October 13-14, Hillary Clinton paid her first visit to Russia as US Secretary of State. Detailed information can be found on our website. We received a lot of messages from different sources. This major event of Russian-American relations has been covered by many different Russian, American and international mass media. As part of yesterday’s visit the US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. She also visited the city of Kazan. The program also included a number of other events that you are well aware of, I think.

I would like to stress that the visit has become a milestone in the comprehensive strategic dialogue that the Russian and the US presidents agreed to pursue on July 6 to July 8 in Moscow. One of the major results is the approval of the working procedure and the structure of the Russian-American Presidential Commission supervised by Mr. Lavrov and Mrs. Clinton. It will consist of 16 working groups dealing with all the issues of Russian-American relations, from international security and stability to bilateral humanitarian ties. Meetings of co-chairs of nine working groups have already taken place. The other meetings will take place soon.

I would like to draw your attention to the fact that October 12 saw the first meeting of the Russian-American working group on control over armaments and international security as part of the Russian-American presidential committee. The co-chairs of the group are Deputy Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation Mr. Ryabkov and Senior Deputy of the US Secretary of State E. Tauscher.

The meeting saw the discussion of the missile defense issues. Progress of a new treaty to replace the expiring Treaty on Strategic Offensive Weapons has been discussed.

Russian-American cooperation regarding nuclear non-proliferation has been discussed as part of preparations for the coming Nuclear Security Summit in April 2010 and for the Conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which is to take place in 2010. It has been pointed out that there is a need to step up bilateral cooperation regarding these issues.

Some European security issues have been discussed – namely the situation around the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe. The need to step up our efforts to resolve the existing problems has been stated. The dates of the next meeting will be announced later.

And the second example is the following: on October 13, Moscow saw a meeting of Deputy Foreign Minister Mr. Ryabkov and Senior Deputy of the US Secretary of State W. Berns, who are the co-chairs of the working group on political coordination as part of the Russian-American Presidential Commission.

The meeting tackled the issues linked to the work of the Commission. The partners have also dwelled on the Iranian nuclear program, on the bilateral dialogue on anti-missile defense systems, on the situation in Afghanistan and some other regional issues.

As we’ve received a lot of media requests to give an explanation on the functions of the Russian-American Presidential Commission set up as a result of the summit in Moscow in July this year, I would like to give you the following information, which has been approved by our American partners.

Objectives of the Commission

The Russian Federation and the United States of America are reaffirming the fact that the epoch, when our two countries regarded each other as enemies, is long past. In acknowledging the community of many of our national interests, we are full of resolve to surmount the Cold War mentality and to call a new start to relations between our countries for the sake of securing for the future our common progress and prosperity. The Russian-American Bilateral Presidential Commission under President Dmitry Medvedev of the Russian Federation and President Barack Obama of the United States of America and with a coordinating role of Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov of the Russian Federation and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of the United States of America has been established to define vectors in cooperation and to implement joint projects and actions, directed at the strengthening of strategic stability, international security, and economic wellbeing, and at the development of ties between the Russian and the American peoples. Within the framework of the Commission’s working groups and subcommittees, we shall seek to intensify our cooperation through concrete actions and to take further steps designed to demonstrate joint leadership in confronting new challenges. The Commission’s activities shall be based on the fundamental principles of friendship, cooperation, openness and predictability, and we are fully determined to settle differences in an open and honest manner, in the spirit of mutual respect and acceptance of each other’s points of view.

Range of powers

The Bilateral Presidential Commission is designed to serve as a regular and structuralized mechanism for promoting the priorities in bilateral relations. The coordinators shall meet no less than once a year. The working groups and the subcommittees shall be composed of representatives of governmental establishments and shall regularly hold meetings, the frequency of which shall be determined by the co-chairmen as and when necessary.

Guided by the aims included in the Russian-American Plan of Action that was coordinated by the Presidents in July 2009, the co-chairmen of the working groups and of the subcommittees shall develop, before the end of this year, a primary set of priority initiatives and a roadmap for the implementation of said initiatives. Where appropriate, the working groups and the subcommittees ought to maintain contacts with the parallel structures to be formed by the business community and non-governmental organizations in order to take into account their recommendations. The co-chairmen of the working groups and of the subcommittees shall report the current state of affairs, the planned steps, and the outstanding problems to the coordinators, doing that no less than twice a year. The coordinators shall give an account of the general state of affairs to the Presidents, doing that no less than once a year.

The Commission’s composition may change as the tasks assigned become implemented or as new tasks are defined. The Commission shall neither restrict, nor prevail over the existing or prospective spheres of bilateral interaction, which lie outside of the Commission’s structure. The activities performed by the working groups and by the subcommittees shall be open to participation and representation by ministries or governmental agencies in charge of this or that concrete theme.

I would like to repeat that these materials have been approved by our American colleagues. In an hour they will be posted on the website of the Russian Foreign Ministry together with the English version.

Today a session of the Barents Euro-Arctic Region Council is closing in Murmansk. It was conducted by the Russian Federation’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. This is the 12th session of this council, called BEAC in short. It consists of Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Sweden and the European Commission. The agenda includes discussion of the results of Russia’s presidency over the council in 2007-2009 and prospects of further development of the Barents international cooperation. According to the rotation principle, Sweden is to preside over the council in the course of the coming two years.

The material of the press conference of the Ministers will soon be published on the website of Russia’s Foreign Ministry. At the moment I can cite a brief quotation from Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s address at the ministerial session: “At present we cannot state with satisfaction that the prevailing trend in developing events in the North and Arctic is an enhancement of cooperation and mutual understanding between the Arctic states. Our long experience, including the work of the two main interstate organizations in the region – the Arctic Council and the Barents Euro-Arctic Council – trustfully witnesses that our countries are able to solve the arising issues independently, without external interference, on the grounds of the international law, on traditions of cooperation which got stronger over the centuries. The history of the BEAC means the history of success. The international Barents cooperation, over 16 years held in such a format, demonstrates what could be reached if we proceed from real interests of states and regions. The main point of such cooperation is that it includes hundreds of small projects. It is vital that each project is maximally close to the practical interests of its participants.”

As part of the BEAC session in Murmansk the Foreign Minister has held a number of bilateral meetings with his colleagues of the council’s member states. Further information can be found on the website of Russia’s Foreign Ministry.

On Russia and the European Union

According to the schedule of the Russia-EU political dialogue, a regular meeting of the Permanent Russia-EU Partnership Council at the level of foreign ministers will be held in Brussels on October 19, 2009. The meeting will be attended by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov; Mr. Karl Bildt, the foreign minister of Sweden –which is holding the EU rotating presidency – and Mr. Miguel Moratinos, the foreign minister of Spain which will preside over the EU in the first half of 2010. Also present will be Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighborhood Policy Javier Solana and the general secretary of the Council of the European Union and the EU High Commissioner for foreign and security policy.

The agenda will focus on the state and prospects of Russia-EU relations, including efforts to create four common spaces (economic; freedom, security and justice; scientific research; and education, including cultural aspects) and preparations for the forthcoming Russia-EU summit to be held in Stockholm on November 18, 2009. Special attention will be paid to negotiations on the conclusion of a new framework Russia-EU agreement.

The sides will exchange views on several urgent international problems, including the initiative of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to conclude a new European Security Treaty; Iran’s nuclear program; the situations in the Caucasus, in the Balkans, in Moldova and in Cyprus.

The Permanent Partnership Council is one of the main working bodies of the Russia-EU cooperation. The Permanent Partnership Council gathers in the format of foreign and specialized ministers.

We consider the European Union to be our only natural strategic partner with whom we have mutually complementary economies, common, civilized approaches and values, history and future. Our aim is to develop further ties and seek rapprochement with the European Union with account taken of reciprocal interests of the two sides.

On the upcoming IAEA consultations

On October 19 this year, panel consultations of representatives of Russia, the US and France with an Iranian delegation are scheduled to take place at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). They will discuss technological aspects of supplying fuel for Tehran’s research reactor. Earlier, Iran has asked the agency for assistance in obtaining fuel for this reactor, which it uses for the production of medicinal isotopes. It’s suggested that low-enriched uranium accumulated at a plant in Natanz will serve as the original material. With Russian and French assistance this low-enriched uranium will be used for the production of fuel assemblies. An agreement in principle to implement this scheme was reached at the Geneva meeting of the “Six” with Iran on October 1.

We think that the success of this project will give positive dynamics to efforts aimed at settling the situation around Iran’s nuclear program. It will also become a major practical step to restore trust in the exclusively peaceful nature of Tehran’s nuclear activities. We are calling on all countries concerned to contribute to this process as much as possible.

I would also like to draw your attention to discussions on the situation in the South Caucasus. A meeting between Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Mr. Karasin and the co-chairmen of the Geneva discussions on security and stability in the South Caucasus – Special EU Envoy Mr. Morel, the UN Secretary General Special Envoy Mr. Werbeke and Special Envoy of the Acting OSCE Chairman Mr. Khristopulos – took place on October 13 this year.

The meeting focused on preparation for the meeting within the framework of the Geneva discussions on security and stability in the South Caucasus, scheduled for November 11 this year. Both sides expressed an intention to continue to work through the issues of the humanitarian situation in the South Caucasus, which are on the agenda of the Geneva discussions.

There was also a discussion on the current situation in the regions on the Georgia-Abkhazia and Georgia-South Ossetia borders. They have underlined an importance of proper functioning of mechanisms of preventing incidents and reacting to them with the participation of the UN, the US and OSCE representatives.

Concerning the case of Rimma Salonen

On October 13, the court of first instance in Tampere found Rimma Salonen, who has both Russian and Finnish citizenships and lives in Finland, guilty of kidnapping her own child and depriving her of freedom, when she took her son Anton Salonen to Russia in March 2008 without the consent of his father, who is Finnish. The verdict is a suspended sentence for a year and a half, and a number of compensation payments: 20,000 euros for the moral damage to her son Anton and 9,000 euros to her ex-husband Paavo Salonen to compensate the expenses when he searched for his son in Russia and cover court expenses.

Mrs. Salonen and her attorney announced that they are going to appeal against this verdict with a judicial authority of a higher instance – in the district court of Turku. Russian Foreign Ministry and our Embassy in Finland will continue to closely follow the situation and, if necessary, provide help for Rimma Salonen as a Russian citizen.

In conclusion, I would like to congratulate all the graduates of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations on the anniversary that the University celebrated yesterday. Thank you for your attention and I am now ready to answer your questions.

I have two questions. Would you please comment on the CSTO’s intention to sign the Memorandum of Cooperation with the UN? What is included in the text of this memorandum? And the second question is on how does the Foreign Ministry assess the launch of short-range missiles by North Korea on October 12?

Thank you for those questions. Indeed, there have been quite a lot of comments on both of the questions recently. Now, concerning the Memorandum of Cooperation between the Secretariats of the UN and CSTO.

The Collective Security Treaty Organization actively interacts with a number of international and regional institutions, including the UN. In December 2004, the CSTO received the status of observer in the General Assembly of the United Nations. Later on, contacts were established with the UN Counterterrorism Committee, the UN Office on Drug and Crime, the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination team. The need to formalize the interaction between the two organizations was becoming more evident, especially after the signing of the Agreement on Peacekeeping Activities of CSTO and the emergence of a new line of its operations – peacekeeping.

A session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the CSTO on June 14, 2008 ratified the project of Memorandum of Cooperation between the Secretariats of the CSTO and the UN. The Secretary General of the CSTO was told to conduct negotiations with UN Secretary General about working out mechanisms of interaction between the two Secretariats and, together with the Chairman of the Council of Ministers Mr. Lavrov, to take the steps required to include cooperation between the Secretariats in the agenda of the 64th session of the UN General Assembly.

Specifically, the Memorandum envisages interaction between the two organizations on issues of regional and international security, countering terrorism, illegal drugs and weapons circulation, organized transnational crime, and cooperation on disaster mitigation. The document emphasizes the importance of cooperation on the peacekeeping track as well. The document mentions regular exchange of information and opinions and training and education of personnel with regard to the specifics of each organization, their mandates, procedures, and potentials.

The document package has been officially handed this September to the UN Secretariat for consideration of its relevant departments, and the article on cooperation between the two organizations has been added to the Agenda of the current 65th session of the General Assembly.

In our opinion, the signing of the Memorandum will serve the uniting of the potentials of these two respected international organizations in the interests of maintaining security and stability.

On the launch of short-range missiles by North Korea

We watched closely another launch of short-range missiles carried out by North Korea.

Russia strictly complies with Resolution 1874 of the UN Security Council and calls on everyone to be cautious and avoid any actions that can aggravate the complicated political and military situation in the region.

Currently, the main task is to continue taking constructive steps towards the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and to resume Six Party talks as soon as possible. On our part we are set to facilitate fulfillment of these tasks.

How does the Russian Foreign Ministry assess the results of the Afghan elections in the light of the recent remarks of the head of the UN mission Kai Eide about massive election fraud during the presidential elections in Afghanistan?

Thank you for the question. Indeed, this topic has received a lot of coverage in mass media sources. Against the background of an extremely complicated military and political situation in Afghanistan, where the Taliban and other extremists have stepped up their activities on all fronts, so to speak, we think that the very fact that the elections of the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran and deputies to the Provincial Councils were held on August 20 this year is already a great achievement by the country’s government. Naturally, under such circumstances it is simply unrealistic to say that the vote process was impeccable and passed in full compliance with democratic electoral standards.

As for the extent of the fraud mentioned by Kai Eide, we will be able to pass our judgment only after the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) makes its final conclusions. At present, as we know, it is selectively checking suspicious ballot boxes (a total of 320 ballot boxes are to be checked). Again, from what we know, this check should be concluded in a couple of days and then we can talk about its results and completing the process.

In order to avoid further aggravation of the situation in the country, it’s necessary, in our view, to complete all election procedures as soon as possible and form a government that will get down to a practical solution of the problems facing Afghanistan.

Just yesterday, during the joint press conference of [Russian Foreign Minister] Mr. Lavrov and the US Secretary of State, Mr. Lavrov basically confirmed that Russia has granted airspace for the US military transportation planes heading to Afghanistan and the first flight has taken place already. Does it mean that Russia-NATO relations are moving to another, brand new level, and how is Russia going to control such flights? Thank you.

It’s hard to judge by only one step about moving to a brand new level. But the New York meetings of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and NATO Secretary General Mr. Rasmussen showed that there is an intention to continue collaboration on a number of aspects, including the Afghan issues, before the NATO countries decided to basically break our relations after last August’s events in the South Caucasus. We are ready to continue collaboration. Indeed, the issue of American aircraft transit to Afghanistan that you have mentioned is significant for the US. Hillary Clinton spoke about it in public during her visit to Moscow. The American side is planning on making those flights regular in the nearest future. They expressed gratitude to us for such collaboration, which is very important for those who take part in the operations in Afghanistan.

Soon, it appears that Russia and NATO will hold several joint events. They will touch upon certain issues, some of them are already being discussed, and our permanent representative Mr. Rogozin is taking part in those discussions. We hope this will be continued and our relationships will get back to normal and we will continue our large-scale collaboration on the issues that have been identified long ago and that are of interest to the Alliance and Russia – but we will do it on equal terms.

Starting with last week Ukraine has a new Foreign Minister. How will this appointment influence Russia-Ukraine relationships? And my second question, very briefly – now that the military doctrine of the Russian Federation on.