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18 Nov, 2009 12:14

“Europe should overcome inertia in politics and mentality”

Europe should overcome dividing lines and prejudices of the past and work towards a common security platform for the entire Euro-Atlantic region, said Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrey Nesterenko.

He added that Russia will continue promoting the idea of European security treaty which would help to attain this goal.

In his weekly address to the media, Andrey Nesterenko touched upon Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s Address to the Federal Assembly, his participation in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Singapore and other news and issues.

RT presents the full transcript of the address.

Dear friends and colleagues, good afternoon!

Welcome to our briefing at the [Russian] Foreign Ministry. First, I would like to start by giving you some information that has probably been of key importance for us, I mean the Presidential [state-of-nation] Address to the Federal Assembly. It is particularly important for us at the Foreign Ministry, in terms of the objectives set.

The foreign policy section of the President’s Address to the Federal Assembly set some specific goals to create a favourable international situation for the modernization of Russia. As you may remember, this was listed as a priority in the Concept of Russia’s Foreign Policy that the President approved last year. Now this objective has been explained in detail as regards the things our country urgently needs for its internal development. The same may be said about pragmatic and “smart” foreign policy.

The President emphasized that Russia’s foreign policy is consistent, constructive and cooperative, not confrontational. He reaffirmed that our country seeks a fairer world order by strengthening multi-polarity and the legal framework of international relations. Accordingly, Russian diplomats were instructed to ensure Russia’s full participation in the processes of reforming the global financial architecture and the international security system. At this stage, when nations are joining their efforts to overcome the global crisis, it is particularly important to work effectively together with our G-20 partners.

Our foreign policy must help us effectively use the opportunities we have to work together on global problems, address common threats and challenges, and work out a positive, uniting agenda in international affairs. This applies to such key areas as strengthening the UN’s central role in the international system and developing other multilateral formats of leading states’ equal partnership and collective leadership.

For Europe to provide a strong impetus to global development at the post-critical stage, it is necessary to put European affairs in order. To overcome the dividing lines and prejudices of the past, to overcome inertia in politics and mentality, we need to establish a common security platform for the entire Euro-Atlantic region. We will continue promoting Russia’ proposal to sign a European security treaty, which is in line with these goals. The Russian side thinks it’s imperative to make the fundamental and practically systemic principle of indivisible security in the Euro-Atlantic region an integral part of international law.

It is equally important to achieve common understanding on how nations’ mutual responsibilities based on this principle should be implemented. The past 20 years, including the crisis in the Caucasus last August, have taught us not to be complacent about these things.

While all aforementioned areas are important, we realize that the President has put the main emphasis on the need to conform our foreign policy more to our country’s economic needs, especially as regards modernization. To continue the systemic expansion of our work as mentioned by the President, we will strengthen our coordination and interaction with the Russian government’s economic agencies, its industrial and scientific institutions, and, of course, with Russia’s regions and business community. For this purpose, the Foreign Ministry will actively use its Business Council, the Governors’ Council and the Regions’ Consultative Council for International Ties and International Trade. Based on this, we will prepare a program for using foreign policy factors for Russia’s long-term development.

We realize that to attract investment and latest technology to Russia more effectively, the Foreign Ministry needs feedback, needs to know the specific needs of various industries, regions and companies. The President instructed the ministry to work out clear criteria for assessing our diplomatic efforts in this area.

The Address sets a common goal for Russian diplomats, Russia’s Armed Forces and government in general – to modernize the essence and methods of their work to protect our national interests based on modern-day needs. Russia’s diplomatic staff has everything necessary to achieve this goal.

APEC Summit in Singapore

The summit of leaders of 21 economies participating in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum took place on November 14-15 and went under the slogan ‘Sustaining Growth, Connecting the Region’. Russia was represented by President D. Medvedev, who presented a speech to the regional business community on the opening day titled "The Global Economic Agenda: Priorities for Action".

Three interconnected issues were in the focus of the APEC summit: coordination of efforts to overcome the consequences of the global crisis, acceleration of regional economic integration as a key means of fighting recession, strengthening various aspects of security in the Asia-Pacific region as a prerequisite for economic growth.

The negotiations allowed coordinating approaches to solving urgent problems faced by APEC countries. It is deemed expedient, without ceasing state support of economies, especially the manufacturing sector, to focus on developing the optimal post-crisis model for balanced, comprehensive, and sustainable growth. In practice, we are talking about further liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment in the region, structural reformation of economies, expanding interaction on the problems of climate change, and focusing on the social aspect of economic growth. Those directions of action are in line with our anti-crisis strategy.

On the outcome of the summit, the Leaders' Declaration was accepted and their standalone statement "A New Growth Paradigm For a Connected Asia-Pacific in the 21st Century", which reflects APEC's common commitment to enhancing cooperation in the interests of sustained and secure development of the Asia-Pacific region. Such an approach fully meets Russia's political and economic interests in the region.

On the sidelines of the APEC summit in Singapore, a number of bilateral meetings between the President of the Russian Federation and leaders of APEC countries, including China, the USA, and Japan, took place.

A distinguishing feature of the recent summit was its precise and clear organization. We intend to use the positive experience of our Singapore counterparts in our preparations for Russia's APEC presidency in 2012.

Medvedev meets Hu Jintao

We value the meeting of 14 November, within the APEC Summit in Singapore, between Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Chairman of the People’s Republic of China Hu Jintao as positive. Russia-China relations have been on the rise, and the both leaders are determined to continue regular contact on a summit level, during which many important bilateral issues are solved and problems of constructive co-operation of both our countries on the international arena are discussed.

The meeting in Singapore is the fourth of our countries’ leaders this year, a year that has proven not only very rich but also quite productive. This concerns the talks during the official visit of the Chinese president to Moscow in June this year. The parties confirmed their high evaluation of the current state of Russia-China relations that are truly strategic and trustful and cover quite a wide range of co-operation issues.

The 14th regular meeting of the Russian and Chinese premiers in Beijing on 13 November also yielded important results that promoted practical co-operation between our countries.

The 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two counties, which our two countries celebrated in October, added positive tonality to the Russian-Chinese co-operation in 2009. Quite a number of joint events to celebrate this important date have been held, which duly reflect the high level of the bilateral relations.

It was noted how important it was to, as soon as possible, start implementing the Program approved by the heads of state on 23 September on Co-operation between the Russian Far East and East Siberia on the one hand and the North-East provinces of China on the other for 2009-2018. It is planned to work out a common order for its implementation and co-ordination. The governments of the both countries have been duly instructed.

The two leaders highly valued the results of the Year of the Russian Language in China in 2009. The successful events to mark the Year (200 in total) have yielded tangible results and helped raise considerable interest among the young people of China in learning the Russian language and culture. The sides expressed their certainty that the forthcoming 2010 – Year of the Chinese Language in Russia will be a success. Respective agencies of the both countries have been actively preparing for this important event.

Before the end of the year it is planned to hold one more round of bilateral talks on strategic security.

Medvedev–Obama talks

A few words on the meeting between Russian President Dmitry Medvedev with US President Barack Obama on the margins of the APEC summit on 15 November. The two presidents discussed theprogress made in implementing the decisions they made at the July summit in Moscow. They paid particular attention to the joint work on a new strategic arms reduction treaty. Having expressed their satisfaction with the negotiation process in Geneva, Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama said it was necessary to step up this work in order to bring Russia’s and America’s positions closer on the key elements of the future treaty, including the quantitative parameters of planned reductions and simplified verification procedures. They emphasized that intense efforts on both sides would greatly help prepare the text of the new document according to the schedule – by Dec. 5.

Also, the parties discussed the prospects of resolving the Iranian nuclear problem, including the fuel-exchange model proposed to Tehran, and Afghanistan’s problems.
In addition, the Russian and US presidents talked about a number of practical issues of Russia-US relations, including cooperation in trade and investment.

Medvedev meets Japanese Prime Minister

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev met Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama on the 15th of November “on the margins” of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

The leaders exchanged constructive and frank views on further progress in relations between Russia and Japan and expanding their mutual interaction on the international arena in compliance with the agreements achieved by them during their meeting which took place in September this year during the events of the 64th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.

In particular, it was stressed that it’s important to continue political dialogue, and at the high level as well. Some concrete achievements have been made in this field, including Japanese Foreign Minister Okada’s visit to Russia, to be scheduled through diplomatic channels.

Issues of trade and economic co-operation were discussed in detail. Special attention was paid to overcoming the negative impact of the financial and economic crises on the dynamics of bilateral co-operation in this field. In this context, it’s important to boost ties in the field of energy, first of all, in the areas of the Russian Far East and Eastern Siberia, as well as the necessity to reform the structure of trade and economic ties, activating interaction in the field of high technologies and development of industrial cooperation.

During the meeting, the leaders tackled issues of preparing a peace treaty, including the aspect of border demarcation. The sides confirmed the importance of further dialogue aimed at the mutually acceptable settlement of this issue as well as the necessity to resolve it, moving away from extreme positions in conditions of expanding cooperation between Russia and Japan in all directions. It was also said that it’s important to create discreet and constructive ambience for further dialogue on this complicated and sensitive issue for our countries.

While discussing international issues, prominence was given to issues of providing security and stability in North-East Asia.

The talks in Singapore were held in a constructive and friendly atmosphere, ensuring a positive dialogue between Russia and Japan on a high level.

Slovak PM visits Russia

On 16 November, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico paid a working visit to Moscow. His talks with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin were held in a comprehensive and constructive key and traditionally friendly atmosphere. The sides expressed mutual satisfaction about the current partnership relations between the two countries, given high level of mutual understanding and trust. The countries have been conducting intense political dialogue aimed at good results at all levels. It’s possible to say that Russia’s and Slovakia’s interaction can serve as an example of relations between a big and a small country.

During the talks, both governments paid special attention to trade and economy as well as high technology. The strategic importance of co-operation in energy and providing energy security to Europe in a comprehensive sense was particularly singled out. It concerns supplies, transit and delivery of energy resources, and forming a legal framework to that end based on known Russian initiatives. The two sides confirmed a continuation of mutually beneficial co-operation in atomic energy as based on a long-term program signed recently.

Russia and Slovakia have agreed to step up implementing joint projects in transport, including building a full-gauge railway from Kosica to Bratislava and further to Vienna. Soonest completion of the building in Bratislava of the International Laser and Cyclotronic centres was set as a key task to form a promising science research and experimental design basis for the co-operation.
When discussing practical issues of co-operation between Russia and the EU, in the light of the forthcoming Russia-EU Summit in Stockholm on 18 November, the importance of making the negotiation process more dynamic on forming four common areas, including making the visa-free regime more realistic, was addressed.

Following the results of the talks, a Joint Declaration of the Russian and Slovak governments was adopted and published.

Russia-EU Summit

On 18 November the 24th Russia-EU Summit will be held in Stockholm. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will represent the Russian side; Fredrik Reinfeldt, President of the European Council and Prime-Minister of Sweden, José Manuel Barroso, President of European Commission and Javier Solana – Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union and High Representative for the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy.

The European Union is Russia’s major foreign partner in trade and economy, we complete each other in the economic sphere, and altogether we are responsible for the stability of the European continent, settlement of conflicts and crises, and solving current global problems.

The Summit will focus on co-operation between Russia and EU in solving current global problems: overcoming the consequences of the world financial crisis, providing for energy security (also in light of Russia’s initiatives to create a new legislative basis for international cooperation in the energy field), dealing with climate changes.

The whole spectrum of relations between Russia and the EU will be discussed, including the roadmap for forming four “common areas”, as well as talks on concluding a new basic agreement between Russia and the EU. The Russian side plans to pay special attention to important areas of development of Russia-EU relations, such as canceling visas for citizens, cooperation in managing the crisis, and strengthening energy co-operation.

We will continue our constructive dialogue about current problems in political, trade and economic relations with EU. The Russian side is seriously concerned with the problems of the Russian-speaking minority in the Baltic states, as well as the tendency to politicize history, which has become popular in some EU member countries.

The sides agreed to “compare notes” in the area of the European security architecture, including the Russian initiative to have a European Security Treaty. Our stand on this has not changed – security on our continent should not be divided and the interests of all countries should be considered. We also plan to touch on a number of the most burning international issues, i.e. Middle East settlement, Iranian nuclear program, situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and other regions of the world.

We expect that at this summit we will be able to not only confirm the strategic nature of the dialogue.

CIS Prime Ministers meet in Crimea

In a few days – to be more exact on 20 November – a regular meeting of CIS member-states’ prime ministers will be held in Yalta. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will head the Russian delegation.

The agenda has 25 items, comprising a wide range of topical issues on life within the Commonwealth, with the emphasis on economy and humanitarian issues.

The economic block focuses on anti-crisis measures. It is planned to discuss and approve by heads of state a Plan for Implementing Joint Measures of CIS member-states on Overcoming the Aftermath of the World Financial-and-Economic Crisis for 2009-2010.

Given that the co-operation in energy was determined as a crucial sector for CIS co-operation in 2009, it is planned to discuss and approve a Concept for Co-operation Between CIS Member-States in Energy and a Plan for Immediate Measures for Its Implementation.

The session agenda also has draft agreements on particular directions of economic co-operation and a number of joint action programs.

As the year 2010 – proclaimed as Year of Science and Innovation – approaches, Basic Directions for Co-operation of CIS Member States in Innovation as well as documents on creating an agency for inter-branch co-operation within the CIS in science and technology as well as innovation, have been prepared.

A package of international treaties ready for signing has been prepared.

Among other things, at the session it is planned to discuss organizational and financial issues, including the allocation of money for creating and developing a united air defense system for the CIS states in 2010 and adjustment of the financial document of the current year, as well as to approve the 2010 budget.

Kazakh Foreign Minister Saudabayev visits Russia

An hour ago [14:00 MOW] talks between the Russian foreign minister and his Kazakh counterpart, State Secretary K.B. Saudabayev ended at the Russian Foreign Ministry. Mr. Saudabayev is in Moscow on an official visit.

In Moscow, we know Mr. Saudabayev as a prominent state figure and diplomat and are positive about the fact that his first foreign trip in a new format is to Russia.
Both foreign ministers commented on the results of the talks in detail at a recent news conference, the transcript of which will be published at the Russian Ministry’s website.
Russian Foreign Minister to attend Karzai’s inauguration.

The day after tomorrow, 19 November, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will attend the inauguration ceremony of Afghanistan President Khamid Karzai, elected for a second term. During his stay in Kabul, the minister is scheduled to meet representatives from the Afghanistan leadership and some foreign participants of the ceremony.

German foreign minister to visit Russia

By the end of this week, on 20 November 2009, Germany’s Vice-Chancellor, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, will pay a working visit to Russia.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s talks with his new counterpart will be focused on analyzing the current state and prospects of the Russia-Germany relations.
They are to discuss and set a schedule for Russia-Germany political contacts for the nearest future.

Russia and Ukraine discussed European security on 16 November in Moscow. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Grushko and his Ukrainian counterpart Konstantin Yeliseyev had bilateral consultations in accordance with the agreement between the foreign ministries of Russia and Ukraine

They focused on the improvement of security architecture in Europe in the context of our proposals to sign a European Security Treaty. The parties reviewed progress in the disarmament field. They also exchanged views upon the relations of Russia and Ukraine with NATO and the European Union, taking into account the Lisbon Treaty, which is expected to come into force soon.

In general, the consultations made it possible to discuss a wide range of issues of mutual progress, including those where there are still differences.

The parties have agreed to continue the dialogue between the foreign ministries of Russia and Ukraine on the issues discussed.

Russia lends anti-flu humanitarian aid to Ukraine

Concerning Russia-Ukraine relations, I am glad to inform you, that today, on 17 November at 12:06 the Il-76 aircraft of the Russian Emergencies Ministry arrived in Kiev. It delivered about 6.5 tonnes of medication provided by Russia’s Ministry of Healthcare And Social Development. The medication is meant for Ukrainian residents who suffer from the highly pathogenic flu virus.

According to reports from our embassy in Kiev, the aircraft has arrived at the Borispol Airport.

World Food Summit

Concerning The World Summit on Food Security, taking place at the FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy between 16 and 18 November, 2009 at the proposal of FAO Director-General Dr Jacques Diouf aims to attract the attention of the world community, leaders of states, donors and citizens to this most pressing issue.

Russia holds the summit’s purpose in high esteem and considers it of utmost importance to have a complex analysis on the global food market situation; and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is to play the leading role in this task. The global community also needs to realize the new role that agriculture is to play in the process of finding solutions to the world’s pressing issues in the spheres of food and energy supplies, environment safety, and social security and stability.

The 2009 Summit is expected to provide guidelines aimed at eradicating hunger, developing agriculture, and improving the world food supplies trading system; but on top of this the world expects the Summit to help raise funds for creating an agricultural infrastructure and increasing production volumes of food supplies in developing countries. According to the FAO, the world’s effort aimed at eradicating hunger should focus on doubling the world food supply output by the year 2050, when the Earth’s population may reach 9 billion people.

Russia is ready to increase its input into the global effort to overcome the global food crisis by using, among other things, Russia’s natural resources – Russia owns 9% of the world’s cultivatable fields, 20% of global fresh water supplies, and produces 9% of world’s output of mineral fertilizers.

The sustainable solution to the hunger problem requires agriculture to be developed in countries with low food security levels. In line with this, Russia is taking part in the knowledge and know-how transfer to such countries.

We are also actively participating in the global effort to provide humanitarian food help via UN channels, in the first place via the World Food Program.

The food security problem is often discussed together with the issue of bio-energy development. We plan to focus on developing the so-called “second generation” technologies that produce bio-fuel out of non-food stock such as paper pulp, animal waste and solid domestic waste. Russia owns 18% of the world’s forests, so pulp-and-paper industry waste recycling alone could satisfy both domestic and international growing demand for bio-fuel.

We believe that the Food and Agriculture Organization and its Food Security Council are to remain the major organizations for discussing and decision-making on the world's food security issues. As a modern agriculturally developed country, Russia will be actively involved in the process of working out solutions to the food problems run by these organizations.

US Envoy on Afghanistan and Pakistan visits Russia

On 15-18 November Richard Holbrooke, US Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, paid a working visit to Russia. His visit proved rich in results. Mr. Holbrooke met top officials from the Security Council, the ministries of foreign affairs, defense, finance and emergencies, as well as from the State Committee on Controlling Narcotic Drugs Turnover in Russia. He focused on issues of the current situation in Afghanistan after the presidential elections as well as on future coordination of diplomatic efforts of Russia and the USA. During the meetings, the sides stressed that the international community should consolidate their efforts as Afghanistan faces its new stabilization phase, which proves to serve a solid foundation for long-term development of Afghanistan as a sovereign country.

Russia and the USA intend to increase practical interaction with Kabul to face its current objectives on issues of economic reconstruction and strengthening of the Afghan national army forces and police.

Middle East

We are getting many questions related to the current situation in the Middle East, as to what’s going on there and where the situation is developing.

I would like to say the main thing. The situation in the Middle East, and the Palestine-Israeli track in particular, remains rather complicated. It requires well-balanced and precise reaction. I mean, not words and declarations are necessary but, first and foremost, particular actions aimed at easing the atmosphere, overcoming the mistrust and restoring the negotiating process. This is what Russia has been doing by intense contacts with all the parties concerned.

Our work continues with our partners in the Middle East Quartet of international mediators. Following the instructions from their leaders, the Russian and other special envoys of the Quartet had a meeting in Israel on 13 November. Other contacts will also be held in this format soon. The main vector of the efforts lies in assisting the parties to grope for ways for resumption of the dialogue. However, it’s also up to them to manifest a thoroughly thought out and flexible approach as they are aware that a deadlock in the settlement may turn into new violence in the Middle East. This kind of development cannot be allowed for it would not meet the vital interests of the peoples in the region.

On Hobert case

It has been reported that a ruling by the Munster court is to come into effect on 19 November. The court has ruled that Thomas Hobert, now ex-teacher at the German Embassy to Moscow, is to receive a suspended sentence of 12-months’ imprisonment. Thomas Hobert was found guilty in the car accident that occurred on November, 30, 2008 and caused death of two Russian citizens, Andrey Kamynin and Aleksander Yevteyev.

Being a member of the German Embassy’s staff, Mr. Hobart was protected by diplomatic immunity, and therefore his prosecution was effected by the German law enforcement system, upon the request issued by the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Russian Federation and passed over to Germany via the international legal cooperation channels.

Considering the grave consequences of Mr. Hobert’s offence, such a mild sentence is unpleasantly surprising and unacceptable. It can only be considered highly disputable and inappropriate in the degree of its severity.

As far as we can see, the Munster court chose to apply the minimum possible sentence to Hobert’s case within the framework of German law. In doing so, the court did not take into account the fact that Mr. Hobert had previously committed major traffic violations, such as driving at 69 km/hour in excess of the allowed speed limit, crossing into oncoming traffic, and refusing to undergo medical sobriety tests.

The Russian Foreign Ministry had reported the above-mentioned violations of the Russian law committed by Mr. Hobert to the German Embassy in due time; and Russian law is to be respected and observed by diplomats of other countries in accordance with the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic Relations of 1961. Unfortunately, the German authorities undertook no appropriate measures, although the court was provided with copies of the diplomatic notes issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry on the said cases.

It will soon be a full year since the tragic death of Andrey Kamynin and Aleksander Yevteyev. We offer our condolences to their relatives, deeply regret their loss, and share their indignation at the inappropriateness of the sentence given by the German court to the person guilty of this tragedy. We are going to apply for the restoration of justice by means of available legal procedures and political negotiations with the German authorities.

On Human Rights commissioner report on North Caucasus

We have studied in great detail the report produced by CoE Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg upon his visit to Russian North Caucasus that took place from 2 to 11 September, 2009.

We are appreciative of the Commissioner’s unbiased and non-politicized approach to the task of assessing the situation in the North Caucasus, which is far from being simple, as well as his striving to stay away from stereotypes and take into account national, historical, and cultural peculiarities in development of the North Caucasus republics.

We would like to emphasize that Mr. Hammarberg’s assessment of the situation in the domains of security, economics, and human rights in the Chechen Republic and Chechen Republic is objective and unbiased.

We share the Commissioner’s opinion that among top priorities are the necessity to secure the social and economic human rights, the need to fight corruption and organized crime, as well as efforts in improving cooperation between local authorities and the representatives of civil society in the Russian North Caucasus republics.

We are paying due attention to Mr. Hammarberg’s advice for the federal and regional governments and undertaking actions to implement them.

On Venice Commission requirement to Georgia’s draft amendments to the Law on occupied territories of Georgia

We have studied the interim conclusion of the European Commission for Democracy through Law, otherwise known as the Venice Commission in regard to Georgia’s draft amendments to the Law on occupied territories of Georgia, submitted by Georgia as a follow-up on the relevant resolution by the CoE Parliamentary Assembly of January, 28, 2009.

In general, we share the Venice Commission’s assessment in part of its requirement that Georgia should continue its work on the law in order to bring it into compliance with European standards and remove clauses that are violating human rights and impose limitations on the activity of international humanitarian missions in the area of the Georgian–Ossetian conflict of 2008.

The amendments proposed by Georgia are essentially such that they retain the key clauses of the Law which impose limitations on the access of humanitarian missions to Abkhazia and South Ossetia from any region/country other than Georgia, and also impose limitations on real estate property deals and the possibility for foreign countries to run economic activities in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, etc.

We also believe that the proposed criminal liability for breach of this Law is also at great odds with the pro rata principle, the nullum crimen sine lege principle, and the prohibition for retroactive application of the law.

We also could not leave without attention to Georgia’s absurd proposal to enhance the law with the statements of Russia’s liability for having allegedly caused economic and cultural damage to Abkhazia and South Ossetia and having allegedly violated human rights of their citizens.
On Abkhazia’s use of the Russian telephone codes.

I have been asked to comment on Abkhazia’s use of the Russian telephone codes and a corresponding protest note delivered by the Georgian Foreign Ministry to Russia via the Embassy of Switzerland.

New telephone codes have been implemented upon the request of the Abkhazian leadership. Over the last ten years, Abkhazia has had its communication via Georgia, and such a system was not reliable, to put it mildly. The Abkhazians experienced technical problems. Besides, they couldn’t trust such a means of communication.

The codes of the Russian reserve system have been provided to Abkhazia in compliance with the Memorandum signed by the Russian Ministry of Communications and the Abkhazian department of information and communications on September 28, 2009. In general, we view the introduction of new telephone codes to Abkhazia as an internal affair of a sovereign state.

As for the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, its position is predictable. Instead of recognizing new realities and conducting constructive dialogue with Russia and Abkhazia, the Georgian leadership still continues to politicize the situation, seeking to draw the attention of the world community to non-existent problems.

On Georgia’s refusal to grant Russian citizens entry

The Russian Foreign Ministry has been requested to comment on Georgian authorities having refused to grant entry to the country to the Head of the Moscow branch of the World Congress of Georgian People A. Kintarae, and literature theorists M. Guseva and A. Veligonenko, who arrived at a Georgian airport with the purpose of taking part in the presentation of the local branch of the World Congress of Georgian People and David the Builder Literature Prize.

Our reply is as follows. The Tbilisi authorities indeed go beyond the limits. The reason lying behind the refusal to a group of Russian intellectuals is obvious: Saakashvili’s regime promotes the campaign to eradicate everything that is binding Georgian and Russian people culturally, spiritually and historically. Nothing else could be expected after Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze made a straightforward statement that his country had better forget all about Russia’s existence.

I have already released information about the facts of the prosecution of Russian citizens that have taken place in Georgia, due to which innocent people have been imprisoned on falsified charges. People arriving in Georgia in order to see their relatives have been literally chased down. Now it appears to be the turn of literature theorists and historians.

Tbilisi has a horror for supporters of improving and normalizing relations between Russia and Georgia. The authorities there like to claim that they in no way prevent people and non-governmental organizations of our two countries from cooperating. Yet the refusal to grant entry to Georgia to Russian intellectuals makes it clear that such statements are not true.

Those who claim to be so-called supporters of “young democracy” in Georgia are advised to make relevant conclusions and compare actions undertaken by Tbilisi to principles observed by such agencies as Council of Europe.

Situation around Red Army memorial in Czech Republic

Since summer 2007, Russia has repeatedly expressed anxiety and protest over provocative actions against the memorial standing on the burial place of 326 Red Army soldiers who died for the liberation of Czechoslovakia in 1945 on Kralovo Pole near Brno. The memorial obviously annoys someone; hence the relentless attempts to find excuses to demolish it. Local authorities do nothing to stop the more and more frequent acts of vandalism; their inaction is encouraging the vandals.

Recently, some enthusiasts, supported by local authorities, have been conducting dubious “electronic and technical” experiments to prove the absence of any remains there. This would "justify" any attempts to remove or demolish the memorial.

Russia has again filed a harsh note with the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs, demanding that local authorities be reminded not only of common moral norms, but also of bilateral international legal agreements – binding for both Russia and the Czech Republic – which formalize the parties' obligations to respect military burial sites and keep them in due order.

In view of the forthcoming 65th anniversary of the victory over Nazism in 2010, these obligations become all the more internationally meaningful and important. They have always been and will remain in the focus of attention of Russian leadership and public.

Moscow expects the Czech Republic to prevent any abusive action against Russian military burials, including the memorial to Red Army soldiers in Brno.

Moscow assistance to Transdniester veterans

On November, 12, 2009 welfare assistance from the Moscow government was issued to a group of WW2 veterans and invalids of Transdniester in Tiraspol. The action was held within the framework of the program to support Russian citizens living abroad and was coordinated with the Transdniester Union of Russian Communities.

Moscow plays a leading role in the development of Russian-Moldovan relations. Its particular attention to Transdniester is a homage paid to deeply-rooted historical traditions and a way to support the spirit of closeness and cooperation at a time when this region is facing serious social and economic difficulties.

There is no doubt that the Moscow government’s attention to the WW2 veterans who played a crucial role in the history of the multi-national Transdniester region will be received with enthusiasm.

Russian Language Festival in Tallinn

The 3rd Russian Language Festival was held at the Linnamäe College on November, 13, 2009. It was organized by the Pushkin Institute and Estonian Council of Teachers of the Russian Language and Literature and supported by the Russian Embassy to Estonia, Russky Mir (Russian World) foundation, and Estonian Ministry of Culture.

This festival is the country’s largest event dedicated to the Russian language. This year, a total of 215 school students from grades 9, 10 and 11 representing 40 Estonian schools took part in it. Of the total number, 130 students came from schools where the language of instruction is Estonian, while the remaining 85 were from Russian-language schools.

On Russian athletes’ visas

On Nov. 12, 2009, Russian Olympic Committee officials had a meeting in the ROC office with the staff of the Canadian Embassy in Moscow to discuss visas for Russian athletes taking part in the XXI Winter Olympic Games and the X Winter Paralympic Games in 2010, and for members of the official delegation and fans.

The Canadian side explained that Russian athletes and officials will be allowed to enter Canada without visas, based on accreditation cards provided by the organizers. As for fans, Canada encourages Russian citizens to apply for visas at the Canadian Embassy in Moscow now, seeing that Canadian entry visas remain valid for six months after they are issued.
We are pleased with the outcome of the meeting at the ROC office. We hope that, in order to avoid unnecessary complications, the Canadian immigration authorities will establish an efficient procedure to issue visas for Russian citizens.

Russian renowned diplomat turns 90

Lastly, as you may know, Anatoly Dobrynin, a Distinguished Diplomat and an Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Russian Federation, turned 90 yesterday. He is rightfully considered a legendary figure in the history of Russian diplomacy – during his long and successful career he was always in the forefront of foreign policy and made a significant contribution to enhancing the international prestige of our country. Our best wishes to Mr. Dobrynin on his birthday.

Thank you. I’m ready to take your questions now.

Question from journalists

Q: Two questions, if that’s alright. Firstly, Iran announced recently that Russia had failed to honor its obligation to supply S300 systems to Tehran and that Iran would start developing its own air defense system unless Russia resumed its supplies. Could you please comment on that? And secondly, could you please comment on a recent statement by a White House official, who said that since, due to objective reasons, the new strategic arms treaty won’t be ratified by Dec. 5, it is necessary to sign an interim treaty? Does Russia share this point of view? And is such a treaty really being prepared? Thank you.

AN: Thank you. As far as your first question about S300 supplies to Tehran goes, the Russian side has commented on this issue more than once. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov presented our position in detail during a recent press conference.

All I can say is the Russian Federation has been exporting arms to Iran for many years, strictly abiding by its international obligations. Furthermore, Russia supplies only defensive arms, which cannot destabilize the situation in the region. The Russian side acts responsibly as regards its obligations in arms exports and will continue to do so.

As for your second question about the Russian-US talks in Geneva on a new strategic arms treaty and media reports claiming that such a treaty will not be ready in time, I can tell you that our delegation is continuing to work, as instructed, on agreeing the text of a new strategic offensive arms reduction and limitation treaty, not on some “interim” documents. The negotiators were instructed to complete the process by early December, and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev confirmed this deadline at his joint press conference with US President Barack Obama after their recent meeting on the margins of the APEC summit in Singapore.

Media reports about Mr. McFaul’s statements include both some statements he really made and some distortions. According to some, he said it would be impossible to sign the treaty by Dec. 5. In reality, Mr. McFaul said it would be impossible to ratify the treaty by this date.

Sergei Lavrov commented on this issue in detail today after his meeting with the Kazakh foreign minister. His comments have been published with the rest of the press conference transcript on the Foreign Ministry’s Web site. Thank you.

Q: Could you please comment on reports claiming that Russia won’t launch the reactor at the Bushehr nuclear power plant this year? Thank you.

AN: This is another issue we have commented on more than once, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke in detail on this issue as well during his press conference after the meeting with his Kazakh counterpart.

While cooperating with Iran to build a nuclear power plant in Bushehr, we fully comply with our international obligations. We are fully determined to complete this project. As you know, Russia has already supplied fuel for the reactor. Currently, preparations for the launch of the reactor are underway. We make every effort to ensure the reactor’s operational safety. Once all necessary technical procedures and tests are completed, the reactor will be launched according to the schedule coordinated with the Iranian side. So, it is a matter of some purely technical issues, which need to be addressed by both Russian and Iranian specialists. There is no need to politicize this problem, especially to link it to the contacts between Iran and the P5+1 regarding the Iranian nuclear program.

Thus, these are two completely separate issues: Bushehr and the talks on the Iranian nuclear program. Thank you.

Q: Vesti television channel. Belarus’ parliament will consider the situation in Georgia, South Ossetia and Abkhazia this week. What are the chances of Belarus recognizing South Ossetia and Abkhazia?

AN: Again, Belarusian officials have commented on this matter more than once. Belarus’ parliament, we believe, has included this issue in its agenda and will consider it. Let’s not speculate about the outcome. It is the Belarusian parliamentarians’ sovereign right to make a decision on this issue. They are free to consider any issue they like. Let’s not get ahead of things. Let’s wait until Belarusian lawmakers consider this matter and make their decision.

Q: Azerbaijani news agency AzeriPress. Mr. Nesterenko, could you please tell us where and when the next meeting between the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents will take place, if you have this information? Also, what can you say about Russia’s role as a mediator in the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement? As we know, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev attends almost every such meeting, and Russia plays an active role in the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement. What is the goal of Russia’s mediation? To strengthen the existing proposals? Or perhaps even to put forward some new proposals on how to put an end to Armenia’s aggression against Azerbaijan.

My second question is about the rapprochement between Armenia and Turkey. Are the processes of the rapprochement between Armenia and Turkey and of the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement interrelated? Do they complement each other? Can the progress achieved in each of these processes improve the general situation in the region and bring the region closer to peace and harmony? Thank you.

AN: As far as your first question is concerned, I’m not authorized to say anything on this issue, because it has to do with the dates of meetings between the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan. You should talk to the foreign ministries of Armenia and Azerbaijan about this.

As for your second question about Russia’s involvement in the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement, we on our part are doing all we can to help all parties solve the problem for the benefit of those living in Nagorny-Karabakh. This is not a new problem. It has many aspects, it is sensitive, and it involves emotions and the memory of those tragic events. By participating in the negotiation process, we on our part are doing all we can to achieve the result everybody is waiting for.

The normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey has its own value in the sense that these two countries have passed through a difficult period in their relationship. As far as we know, the issue of Nagorny-Karabakh was discussed in the course of negotiations between Yerevan and Ankara. Evidently, these matters are taken into consideration in this process. Let’s hope all these problems will be resolved according to existing decisions by international organizations and to the benefit of all countries in the region.

Thank you and goodbye.