Unanimity among G8 countries gives hope for co-operation – FM spokesman
RT presents the full transcript of Andrey Nesterenko’s briefing from July 3, 2010.
Visit to the US by President Dmitry Medvedev
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev paid an official visit to the United States from June 23 to 25, 2010. The first leg of the visit was California, where the President met with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, visited the offices of leading science-based and innovation companies in Silicon Valley, the largest high-tech center of modern times, and met with people from Russia working in the valley. At Stanford University, Medvedev met with representatives of the public, academic and business circles of the USA. Then the President of the Russian Federation headed to Washington, where he had talks with US President Barack Obama. The Russian-American dialogue ended with the adoption of ten joint statements. Medvedev also met with representatives of Russian and American business circles and with senior officials of the Senate and House of Representatives of the US Congress. Details of the visit are on the site of the President of the Russian Federation.
Outcome of the G8 summit
Overall, we assess the outcome of the Canadian Muskoka summit of the Group of Eight positively. It took place at a time when the world economy is only beginning to recover from the global financial and economic crisis, which has sped up the long-overdue changes of the “co-ordinate system” in international relations.
In this regard, the summit had an informal discussion on the reform of global governance. The leaders agreed on the value of both the G8 and G20 formats, and on the need to use the comparative advantages of each. The Group of Eight remains an important mechanism for developing common approaches to the political agenda and responding to new challenges to international peace and security.
The subject of UN reform was touched on. The President noted that the Organization remains unique in its universality and legitimacy. He also called for continuing the joint search for ways to improve its efficiency.
It was also stressed that the main condition for successful reform of the global architecture of the world is the involvement of the so-called “new economies” in tackling global problems.
The central topic of the discussion on political issues was the problem of the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The leaders welcomed the signing of the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty as an important step in strengthening global stability. They reaffirmed their commitment to the decisions taken during the recent Washington Conference on Nuclear Security and the Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The summit examined the situations surrounding the nuclear programs of Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Russia reiterated its support for resolving them through dialogue. Sanctions are considered by us only as a forced measure to give impetus to a politico-diplomatic solution to the situation. The President stressed the importance of preserving the unity of approaches by the G8 members on the basis of relevant UN resolutions and the proposals agreed upon within the six-party mechanisms.
We attach great importance to the summit's statement on combating terrorism. It sends to the international community a clear signal of the G8’s solidarity and willingness to increase its contribution to international counter-terrorism efforts. The statement reflected such priority issues for Russia today as the provision of transport security, suppression of the financing of terrorism, counteraction against violent extremism and radicalization and so on.
Other forms of organized crime were also discussed – including drug trafficking and piracy, particularly in the context of the need to assist countries in raising the effectiveness of their state institutions responsible for combating new threats. In order to provide such assistance, the summit adopted an initiative to reinforce security systems that includes three components: the formation of a corps of civilian peace-building experts, training of police personnel for peace-keeping operations, and the adoption of security measures in coastal areas.
The President particularly stressed the need for a global strategy to combat the threat of drugs, confirming the suggestion made at a recent conference on combating narcotics from Afghanistan.
The leaders discussed a number of regional conflicts. The President of Russia opened the discussion on the Middle East. He emphasized the significance of the ongoing proximity talks and that they should eventually lead to direct dialogue between the parties. He informed the partners about the contacts with Arab leaders aimed at restoring Palestinian unity. The G8 also called for the resumption of humanitarian and commercial supplies to the Gaza Strip.
Much attention was paid to the difficult situation in Afghanistan. The G8 members confirmed their readiness to continue efforts to enhance the capacity of the Afghan state, helping Kabul with the struggle against the threat of terrorism and narcotics and with the solution of socio-economic problems. The participants in the talks backed up the transition strategy adopted by ISAF contributors, and the initiative to develop co-operation in the Afghan-Pakistani border area.
In an extended format (involving seven African countries) the summit discussed G8 international development assistance (IDA) activities with a view to meeting the Millennium Development Goals.
The main outcome of the discussion on this subject was the decision to mobilize efforts to help developing countries reduce mortality among mothers and children less than five years old. This initiative largely overlaps with the decisions taken at the G8’s St. Petersburg summit in 2006. Russia has already outlined practical steps for its implementation. A program for the professional improvement of maternal & child health specialists from the CIS, Africa, Asia and Latin America is in place. For these purposes Russia will be holding a series of scientific and educational conferences from 2011 to 2015.
Deliveries of equipment and medicines are scheduled. Russia also confirmed its willingness to participate in the training of highly qualified personnel, including those in the field of exact sciences for African countries.
A monitoring report on how the G8 is carrying out the IDA obligations assumed (since 2005) had been prepared toward the summit. This document indicates an increase in the Russian contribution to help countries in greatest need – it grew from 220 million dollars in 2008 to 785 million dollars in 2009.
During the summit, the Russian side tabled several proposals to step up co-operation among the G8 countries in various areas, including IDA. Russia, in conjunction with Italy, took the initiative in strengthening international co-operation in the aftermath of natural and man-made disasters. Possible further steps will be discussed at a meeting of experts in New York in July.
Together with Britain, Russia submitted a proposal for international co-operation in the realm of sustainable environmental development. It is about closer collaboration in monitoring the state of the Earth, about a joint assessment of environmental risks, and about the employment of modern technology to devise concrete measures for the adaptation of economy and society to climate change. These issues will be discussed at an international conference in Russia in 2011.
Russia is also promoting the idea of establishing a Eurasian Center of Agrarian Policy, whose principal function will be advisory assistance to governments and businesses in efforts to increase food security in the Eurasian region.
The summit was generally marked by a high degree of unanimity among the G8 countries on the global agenda questions discussed. This gives reason to hope for the continuation of effective co-operation by the leading industrialized countries to strengthen international security and assist development.
Concerning outcome of the G20 summit
The G20 summit in Toronto took place in circumstances where the situation in the world economy has started to change for the better. Despite the fact that there remain serious risks and the danger of new debt crises, economic growth has resumed in most of the leading countries of the world. In these circumstances, it is important to sum up the interim results of the work done, and to discuss concrete measures to improve the mechanisms for global financial regulation and strategies for exiting the crisis in order to ensure sustainable development of the world economy and finance. All these themes were discussed at the meeting of the G20 from June 26-27.
It was possible to identify the principles and timing of fiscal consolidation in developed countries, as well as make recommendations on structural reforms in financial and economic policies. In particular, decisions were taken to reduce the budget deficit in half by 2013 and stabilize the level of public debt by 2016, which essentially repeats the parameters defined within the Russian Federation.
With regard to the introduction of tax on financial transactions, we believe that such a measure could eventually lead to higher costs for credit and is able to cause a drop in liquidity in financial markets, and that a large portion of the costs will then be passed onto consumers. We hold that the decision to impose such a tax should be taken by each country individually.
Featuring high on the agenda was the reform of international financial institutions. We commend the World Bank quota reform that brought about a 3.13 per cent vote increase for the group of developing countries and countries with economies in transition. The developing countries’ share at the World Bank now stands at 47.19 per cent of the total number of votes. Accordingly, the G20 decisions in this regard can be considered fulfilled. As to International Monetary Fund reform, the talk was about the need for more active work on the redistribution of quotas. This is another issue on which we have assumed obligations, and they must be fully accomplished. We expect that the procedure for the redistribution of quotas in the IMF will be determined toward the G20 summit in Seoul in November this year.
On the Customs Union between Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus
Creating a Customs Union is quite a task because it involves time-consuming and painstaking work on the harmonization of hundreds of items that directly affect the vital economic interests of the states forming the Union. In the European Union, for example, similar processes stretched over several decades. The practical realization of the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan has already advanced far enough and it is now important to ensure that companies, enterprises, and citizens of our countries could more quickly benefit from this work.
The timely implementation of the Action Plan to create the CU within the EurAsEC (2009-2010) indicates that the negotiators are set to a constructive and active work, the realization of the political guidelines of the heads of the states as set out in their statement of 19 December, 2009. Today there is an understanding: everyone stands to gain from the transition to a new, higher level of integration. We will patiently and consistently implement our common project in close co-operation with the CU partners. It is also crucial that the customs union being established is open for the other members of the EurAsEC, as they become ready to join.
From July 1, a very important stage begins – the Customs Code enters into force, having been ratified by Russia and Kazakhstan. We will welcome Belarus joining this process. Now it will be important to ensure the effective implementation of this document. This will require considerable effort, a smooth transition to a new system of interaction for economic operators in the framework of the customs union.
Russia aims at the early implementation of the next integration phase, that of creating the Single Economic Space which implies a higher level of integration with the free movement of goods, capital, services, and labor. This will give additional opportunities to stimulate economic growth, industrial co-operation, to create new jobs, and to implement large-scale projects.
Sergey Lavrov’s visit to the Middle East
In the past two weeks Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has made a number of important foreign visits. From June 21 to 22, he traveled to Belarus; on June 23 to Paris, where he attended a meeting of his opposite numbers in the Weimar Triangle, which includes France, Germany and Poland; on June 28-29, Lavrov visited Israel and the Palestinian National Autonomy. On June 30, Sergey Lavrov returned from Egypt.
As to the Middle East tour of the head of the foreign affairs agency of Russia, I’ll note the following: we consider the talks held very important and timely in terms of continuing vigorous efforts by Russia to restore a full-fledged peace process in the Middle East.
The focus of attention was on the task of moving Palestinian-Israeli proximity talks into direct dialogue so as to achieve a comprehensive peace in the region on the well-known international legal basis – in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, the Madrid Principles, and the Arab Peace Initiative.
We believe that the chance for resuming substantive negotiations, without mediators, is there and it must be used. In this case at all meetings our side has stressed that this calls for the creation of the appropriate conditions and, in the first place, the avoidance of any unilateral steps which would prejudge the outcome of the negotiations, primarily settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem. To advance the peace process, of course, the right atmosphere is needed, one not burdened by provocative acts, terror and violence. In other words, we must build bridges of confidence between the parties, and Russia will continue to contribute to this.
One of the key issues discussed in the region was also the restoration of Palestinian unity. The significance of this is increasing with each passing day. We reaffirmed our support for the Head of PNA Mahmoud Abbas and the efforts of the Palestinian National Authority to lay the foundations for Palestinian statehood. Simultaneously, we have emphasized – and have seen a growing awareness among our interlocutors – the need for rapid reunification of the Palestinians on the basis of the well-known Egyptian document, commitment to the PLO platform and the Arab Peace Initiative.
Russia continues to provide assistance to the Palestinians. In the next few days 50 armored personnel carriers will be delivered to Jordan, which will then be transferred to the Palestinian security forces in the West Bank. Humanitarian aid is also being provided, primarily to the population of Gaza; 10,000 tons of Russian flour has been shipped through the World Food Program.
The Minister’s visit to the Middle East has also contributed to strengthening and expanding our bilateral relations with Egypt, Israel and the PNA in all fields. The main directions of co-operation have been outlined more clearly and specific projects and agreements have been discussed.
On the situation with Russian citizens in Kyrgyzstan
During the active phase of the ethnic conflict in the south of the Kyrgyz Republic the immediate task of Russia’s Embassy in Bishkek and Consulate General in Osh was to move the Russian citizens there on short-term trips (vacationers, business travelers and so on) out of the conflict zone.
All in all, from June 14 to 26, Russian Emergency Ministry planes took almost 200 Russian citizens out of the country. To ensure their safe transportation to Osh Airport, Kyrgyz Defense and Interior Ministry personnel were enlisted.
In the case of the 10-year-old daughter of a Russian service member who found herself in the blocked village of Narim in the Osh Region, our Consulate General officials established contacts with leaders of the opposing sides, which made it possible to rescue the young Russian girl from the zone of armed clashes.
At the Consulate General, 24-hour hotlines operated, through which both Russians caught in the conflict zone asked for help and their relatives called, anxious to get information about them. Its officials were directly involved in ensuring targeted delivery and distribution of the humanitarian aid from Russia. Food and essential items were transferred directly to 800 Russian citizens. In all, humanitarian aid that came from Russia, with the assistance of our diplomats, was distributed among 15,000 Russians in the Osh and Jalal-Abad Regions.
Results of the OSCE Annual Security Review Conference
The OSCE Annual Security Review Conference (ASRC) took place in Vienna from June 14-16, 2010. Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko headed the Russian delegation.
We have consistently advocated for raising the profile of ASRC as the focal point of activities in the first basket of the OSCE (military and political issues).
This year, on our initiative, the duration of the conference was extended to three days, thus constituting a step forward in correcting the imbalance between the formats of activities pursued by the OSCE on the various security dimensions (politico-military, economic-environmental, and humanitarian). The intensive and fruitful discussion that transpired at the conference has fully confirmed the correctness of the decision.
We are satisfied with the growing attention of the OSCE to combating terrorism, illicit drug trafficking and other forms of transnational organized crime. We have consistently advocated for increasing the input of the OSCE into international efforts in these areas that would have a substantive and real “value added.”
There was a lively discussion at ASRC 2010 on conflict prevention and resolution. Certainly, the primary responsibility in this area is borne by the state parties in conflict. International organizations, their structures and institutions cannot replace them. However, the international community can and should encourage the parties in conflict to sit down at the negotiating table and reach a peace accord. In this regard, the Russian delegation once again called upon the OSCE participating States to develop uniform principles for preventing and resolving conflicts and strictly follow them in their actions. It is important to understand, however, that a guarantee of success for the OSCE in this field is a firm adherence to the core principle of consensus for this organization, which ensures the unity of purpose of all its members.
Restoring interest in the issues of arms control, confidence building measures and security continues to be of major importance, both for States and for the OSCE's role. In the future, the OSCE should establish a system of interrelated legal and political commitments in this area. The adoption of a relevant action program in the OSCE could be helpful towards this.
The exchange of views held at ASRC on the situation in Afghanistan and the threats emanating from there was important for finding the OSCE’s optimal niche in the international assistance effort in Afghanistan, which has the status of “partner for co-operation” with the OSCE. As it was previously agreed at the OSCE Ministerial Council, this organization will continue to offer projects of assistance to the Afghan partners within the territories of OSCE participating States.
Discussions on police activities made it possible to update the list of major challenges faced by law enforcement agencies in the OSCE participating States and to outline the work guidelines for the Organization to promote interaction between them.
Outcome of the meeting of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Organization
The 34th session of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (PC CTBTO) has concluded its work in Vienna.
The speeches by CTBTO Executive Secretary Tibor Toth and the representatives of CTBT member states confirmed the high role and importance of the CTBT in the international security system and the need for its early entry into force. Further progress was noted on the road towards universalizing the CTBT – to date, 183 states have signed and 153 have ratified it.
Session participants praised the NPT Review Conference in New York and the emphatic support for the CTBT that was reflected in its outcome document.
The Commission reviewed the draft 2011 program and budget of the organization and introduced amendments to the rules of procedure of the PC CTBTO concerning the status of observers, which allow for the granting of such status to Palestine.
It adopted a number of decisions on personnel issues, in particular, on the appointment of Russian representative O.V. Rozhkov to the responsible post of Director of the On-Site Inspection Division of the Provisional Technical Secretariat of the Commission.
Outcome of the sixth plenary session of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism
We are satisfied with the results of the annual plenary meeting of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT). It was attended by 82 states, as well as observers – the EU, the IAEA, Interpol and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.
President Dmitry Medvedev sent greetings to the participants of this meeting, noting, in particular, the special importance that the development of effective mechanisms for precluding the unauthorized acquisition of nuclear materials and technology has at this stage. The President of Russia also emphasized the increasingly constructive role of GICNT and that the Initiative is firmly on track towards practical realization.
The plenary meeting in Abu Dhabi took decisions aimed at more effective implementation of the Initiative. In particular, renewed Terms of Reference for Implementation and Assessment were approved that more clearly define the tasks of the partners, lay down specific organizational procedures for interaction, and envision reactivating the Implementation and Assessment Group, designed to ensure the overall monitoring and co-ordination of GICNT activities. Spain was elected as coordinator of the Group until 2013.
Russia and the US were re-elected as GICNT Co-Chairs until 2015. The next plenary meeting of GICNT will be held in 2011 in Seoul, Republic of Korea.
On the Russia-US Presidential Commission
A joint statement by the co-ordinators of the Russia-US Presidential Commission was released on June 24, 2010. The Commission was established in July last year with a view to expanding and deepening co-operation between Russia and the United States. Under the aegis of the Commission, over 100 meetings and exchanges have been held with the participation of more than 60 Russian and US government agencies, not to mention the ever-increasing number of business and nonprofit partners. The Commission has attracted new participants and introduced new issues into our bilateral agenda and opened up new channels of co-operation, whose purpose is to bolster strategic stability, international security, our mutual economic prosperity and strengthen the ties between Russians and Americans. More detailed information about the activities of the Russia-US Presidential Commission is available on the Russian MFA’s website.
Outcome of the latest round of Russian-US consultations on adoption
On June 14-17, Washington hosted the third round of Russian-US consultations on adoption. We would like to note their friendly and constructive nature, which made it possible to advance significantly in agreeing on a draft bilateral agreement on co-operation in the field of adoption of children.
In particular, a provision has been agreed upon that those in charge of the implementation of the agreement in Russia will be the Ministry of Education and Science, and in the US the Department of State. Thus, a centralized system of state control over the fate of adopted children is provided for.
The parties also agreed that adoption procedures will be carried out only through authorized agencies, accredited in both countries. This excludes the so-called independent adoption, which accounts for the majority of problem cases with foster children.
Prospective adopters in addition to the mandatory provision of information about their social and financial position, health status, including mental health, will now be required to take a special psychological and pedagogical training course.
It has been confirmed that adopted children shall retain their original nationality when they receive citizenship of the adoptive parents. Foster children shall enjoy similar rights to those that the adopters’ biological children have.
Questions of practical implementation of the rule on monitoring the living conditions of adopted children, as well as the extension of the agreement to adoptions that took place before its entry into force require additional discussion.
The parties agreed to soon exchange their proposals on possible solutions to the remaining problems. After this a final consultation should presumably take place in Moscow. According to the participants of the negotiation process, it is quite realistic to finalize the agreement even before the end of this year.
On the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan
The Russian Federation as a permanent member of the UN Security Council gives priority attention to raising the effectiveness of the sanctions of the UNSC 1267 Committee concerning Al-Qaeda and the Taliban and associated individuals and entities. We consider this sanctions regime as a unique and an essential tool of practical anti-terrorism co-operation at the disposal of the UN Security Council and the international community as a whole.
Over the past few years in the relevant UN Security Council resolutions adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, the activities of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban have been adequately evaluated by the world community as a source of direct threat to international peace and security, and the appropriate sanctions regime has clearly demonstrated the common resolve to combat the most dangerous and mobilized structures of international terrorism.
I would like to emphasize that according to our estimates the current military-political situation in Afghanistan so far, unfortunately, does not offer an objective basis for a positive review of these approaches of the UN Security Council.
In this regard, we have serious misgivings about the attempts of the Afghan leadership, with the backing of representatives from a number of Western states, to foster talks with Taliban leaders and build a mechanism of “national reconciliation” on this basis. We continue to insist that the possible pinpointed and careful work on the return to civilian life of repentant Taliban members should under no circumstances be substituted by a campaign to rehabilitate the Taliban as a whole and by the revival of a spirit of tolerance towards the terrorist ideology preached by the Taliban, which opens the possibility of its leaders’ return to power and the restoration of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Even more, we are against the use for these political purposes of the procedures of the sanctions regime approved by UNSCR 1267 (1999).
The line of the Russian side in this matter is well-known: we are ready to consider delisting individual entries from the “Taliban” section of the sanctions list, subject to a number of clear and obligatory conditions: such persons must lay down their arms, accept the Afghan Constitution, and finally sever all links with Al-Qaida and other extremist organizations.
Our priority is to preserve the unique tool for anti-terrorism co-operation – the sanctions regime of the 1267 Committee – whose main goal must remain the Security Council's capacity for a fitting and joint response of the international community to the large-scale real danger that Al-Qaeda and the Taliban still continue to present.
On the International Labor Conference decision on Georgia
The International Labor Conference (ILC), at its 99th session held in Geneva from June 2-18, heavily criticized the government of Georgia for the violation of international labor standards and fundamental principles. As follows from the conclusion of the ILC Committee on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations, a number of Georgian legislative acts, including the Labor Code contain many provisions that grossly breach the provisions of the International Labor Organization’s fundamental Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98). In particular, they significantly restrict the right of unions to collective bargaining, and give employers the rights that are clearly excessive.
It is not the first time that the issue of trade union rights and freedoms in Georgia has been considered. Two years ago, the ILO urged the Georgian government to bring national legislation into conformity with international labor standards. However, from the speech of the Georgian Minister of Labor at the current session it became clear that, despite the promises then given, the leadership of the country had ignored the decision of the supreme body of the international trade union movement.
Not surprisingly, none of the states participating in the conference supported the government of Georgia, and international and national trade union organizations, including those from Georgia itself, Hungary, Norway and the US subjected it to scathing criticism. As a result, the ILC Committee on the Application of Standards in its decision demanded that the Georgian government should until the end of 2010 inform the ILO of adopted specific actions to bring its labor laws into conformity with international labor standards, along with providing data on all cases of trade union discrimination and on the measures to punish those guilty.
Q: Regarding the fact that today the US began the trial of those accused of spying for Russia, could you tell whether officials from the Embassy, the Consular Section in particular, had been given access to the arrested, and how is the Russian Federation, in particular the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, going to protect their interests?
A: We do not yet have full information on this score. Comments on this story are posted on the Foreign Ministry website. As to protection of the interests of Russian citizens abroad, it is the bound duty of our diplomatic missions and consular posts in a particular country. So if it is needed, we will, of course, render it in full and will certainly provide you with complete information on what exactly happened.
Q: How will you comment on Russia's initiative to hold expert-level talks between Iran, Russia, USA and France?
A: A large number of comments on this matter are published on the Russian MFA site.
We are awaiting some explanation from Tehran on the issues of interest to both Russia and other countries of the Six. Let's wait for the meeting of the political directors of the six countries, to be held on July 2 in Brussels.
Q: How does the Russian Foreign Ministry assess the emerging intensification of relations between Tehran and Tbilisi after the Russian Federation’s support of the sanctions on Iran?
A: We respect the right of sovereign states, which Iran and Georgia are, to develop friendly and good-neighborly relations between them. This is especially important for the neighboring countries in this difficult region. We presume that the development of bilateral relations between Georgia and Iran will not be directed against third countries.
As to the problem of Iran’s nuclear program, it is unlikely that Georgia can play any role in this matter, given its low international standing due to the well-known voluntary actions of the current Georgian leadership, and in view of its lack of any real ability to influence this situation.
Q: Warsaw is waiting for the Russian Foreign Ministry’s consent to the arrival of Polish specialists at the crash site of President Lech Kaczynski’s plane to make excavations in search of objects and belongings of the victims. When will they be able to start work in Smolensk?
A: I know about this problem, but right now, unfortunately, I cannot comment in detail upon it. I keep abreast of the situation and will talk it over with experts directly concerned with this matter. We will necessarily inform you.
Q: The G8 leaders at their summit issued a statement condemning North Korea for the sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan. Does this mean that Russia agrees that the DPRK is to blame for this incident?
A: The statement was adopted, its contents are known to you. As to the investigation of this incident, our side has repeatedly pointed out that Russian specialists have had access to those objects that are relevant to this tragedy. They are now finalizing their conclusion, which will be reported to the leadership of the country, and then we’ll be able to tell you something more.
Q: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will wrap up her European tour July 5 in Georgia. How do you assess this visit and Barack Obama's recent statements of support for Georgia?
A: We must await the completion of the tour of the US Secretary of State. I think that after all the meetings and talks our American partners will share their assessments, which corresponds to the spirit and character of our relations with the new US administration. Then we can draw our own conclusions.