Briefing by Russian MFA Spokesman Andrei Nesterenko, September 17, 2010
Dear colleagues, good afternoon.
We are renewing briefings by the Russian MFA Spokesman.
Since the beginning of September, President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev paid a visit to Azerbaijan, attended the global political forum held in Yaroslavl, and on September 15 in Murmansk met with the Norwegian Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg. In their presence, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Norway and Russia, Sergey Lavrov and Jonas Gahr Store, signed a treaty on maritime delimitation and cooperation in the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov over the past two weeks has carried out a visit to Poland, and participated in the Paris meeting of the Russian-French Security Cooperation Council.
On September 13, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov met with the Association of European Businesses in Russia (AEB). The Minister told his audience about the current state of relations between Russia and the European Union, dwelt on the main growth areas of our cooperation, and praised the potential of the Russia-EU initiative “Partnership for Modernization” in forging a strategic partnership and filling it with real content.
Yesterday the Russian Foreign Minister held talks with his Canadian counterpart, Lawrence Cannon, and then together with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Kostyantyn Hryshchenko, he conducted in Moscow the fourth meeting of the Subcommittee on International Cooperation of the Russian- Ukrainian Interstate Commission.
Details of the above visits, talks and meetings can be found at the Foreign Ministry website.
On Lavrov’s attendance at the 65th UN General Assembly session in New York
The 65th session of the UN General Assembly opened on September 14 in New York. The Russian delegation at the session will be led by Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov, who will visit New York from 19 to 24 September.
The Russian delegation regards as its chief goal at the session a deepening of multilateral cooperation to address the global challenges of our time, and the further consolidation of the universal role of the UN, which this year will celebrate its 65th anniversary.
In his speech at the UNGA general debate on September 24, the Minister will set out the main Russian foreign policy priorities, and approaches on global and European security, multilateral disarmament, the settlement of regional conflicts, including the Middle East and Afghanistan, UN reform, and global climate change.
The UNGA 65th session is to become an important step in assessing progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which will be the focus of a special high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly (September 20-22). In his speech on September 21 the Minister will confirm Russia's commitment to the timely achievement of the MDGs, and the country's undertakings to assist international development, more specifically to render aid to the needy CIS states and developing countries in other regions, especially in Africa.
The UN Security Council summit, under the theme of “Ensuring an Effective Role for the Security Council in Maintaining International Peace and Security,” on September 23 will discuss ways to improve the mechanisms and instruments of the Council in the field of preventive diplomacy, peacemaking and post-conflict peacebuilding. The Russian side proceeds from the immutability of the Charter prerogatives of the Security Council as the main body responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security and is ready to contribute actively to further enhancement of the efficiency of this body.
On the fringes of the session, apart from bilateral meetings, including a conversation with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Foreign Minister Lavrov will also attend ministerial meetings of the G8, the Middle East Quartet and the Six on Iran's nuclear program; a meeting of the five UN Security Council permanent members with the UN Secretary General; meetings of CSTO and BRIC Foreign Ministers; an informal meeting of the Russia-NATO Council, and high-level meetings on multilateral disarmament, human trafficking and the promotion of the Russian-Norwegian initiative “Business and human rights.” Sergey Lavrov will also have meetings with the EU Foreign Ministers, with the Troikas of the Nonaligned Movement and the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC), and other encounters.
During the 65th session the Russian delegation will again submit draft resolutions on disarmament issues – “Transparency and confidence-building measures in outer space activities” and “Developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security.” We expect that, as at the last session, these resolutions will be adopted by consensus.
In the context of the signing on April 8, 2010 in Prague, of the Russian-US Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, Russia jointly with the United States will submit to the UNGA First Committee a draft resolution on “Bilateral strategic offensive arms reductions and the new strategic framework.”
In 2010, mankind has celebrated the 65th anniversary of the Great Victory. Russia will continue to actively oppose attempts to revise the judgments of the Nuremberg Tribunal and make racial, ethnic and religious intolerance an instrument of political struggle. In line with these efforts, Russia will again submit to the General Assembly a draft traditional resolution on the “Inadmissibility of certain practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.” We urge delegations that have not yet backed up this initiative to join the countries speaking out against the glorification of the Nazis and their accomplices and actively discouraging the modern revenge-seeking manifestations.
A promising avenue in our view is building up UN interaction with regional organizations. As in last year, Russia intends to submit to the General Assembly draft resolutions on cooperation between the UN and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and between the UN and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). In addition, we continue to work to strengthen the position of and expand cooperation by the UN with the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC) and the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) Organization. We will actively support the adoption of the respective resolutions of the 65th UNGA session on UN cooperation with these organizations.
On an informal meeting of foreign ministers from the Russia-NATO Council member countries
An informal meeting of foreign ministers from the Russia-NATO Council (RNC), with the participation of Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov, will be held in New York on September 22.
The upcoming meeting has great significance for the joint search for a constructive, unifying agenda in Russia-NATO relations, which largely predetermine the climate in the Euro-Atlantic space.
At the event it is planned to discuss priorities for cooperation in those areas where the security interests of Russia and NATO are objectively the same, and cooperation brings real “added value.” It is about confidence building measures; the fight against terrorism and WMD proliferation, response to natural and manmade disasters; cooperation on Afghanistan; the exchange of experience in reforming the armed forces, on the anti-piracy track, etc.
An exchange of views will take place on the preparation of NATO’s new Strategic Concept, which is scheduled to be approved at the alliance’s summit in Lisbon in November. It is obvious that the nature of our cooperation in the RNC will be largely determined by the vector of further evolution of the alliance, what benchmarks will be set for partnership with Russia. We still have questions about how its tasks and functions will be correlated with international law.
We presume that a real “reset” of the RNC will occur if the basic principles of our cooperation enshrined in the Rome Declaration of 2002 are observed, especially in regard to the indivisibility of security and working together in the Russia-NATO Council, on an equal basis.
A test of readiness for a truly equitable partnership and consideration of each other's concerns will be the missile defense plans being discussed in the alliance.
Nor are there to be overlooked themes on which we still do not see eye to eye at the meeting, such as the viability of the conventional arms control regime and NATO’s military infrastructure brought closer to our borders.
We believe it is important to arrange joint work with our partners on the RNC according to scenarios which would help overcome the dividing lines, and guarantee equal and indivisible security for all states of the Euro -Atlantic area.
On the meeting of the Middle East Quartet
On the sidelines of the 65th UNGA session a number of events dedicated to the Middle East peace process will take place. The central one is the Quartet ministerial meeting scheduled for September 21, with the participation of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
As we know, on September 2 direct Palestinian-Israeli negotiations were restarted in Washington, followed by their second round on September 14-15 in Sharm El-Sheikh and Jerusalem. Bilaterally and through the Quartet, Russia had actively facilitated the restoration of direct dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis. We call upon both sides to show a serious and responsible approach and a readiness to compromise; we urge them to avoid steps and actions that would prejudge the outcome of final status negotiations, in order to achieve a just and lasting settlement on the well-known international legal basis envisioning the creation of an independent and viable Palestinian state and its coexistence in peace and security with Israel.
We understand that given the contradictions existing between the parties and the troubled situation in the Middle East, to achieve this will not be easy. However, the current chance to reach a mutually acceptable agreement should be maximally used. The Quartet meeting at this crucial moment is to demonstrate the consolidated international support for Israeli-Palestinian direct talks, and generally for the establishment of a comprehensive peace in the region. This will also be the aim of the Quartet’s meeting with members of the Arab League’s Arab Peace Initiative Follow-up Committee to be held on Russia's proposal immediately after the ministerial meeting of the Quartet.
About the start of the work of the 15th session of the UN Human Rights Council
The 15th session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) started its work on September 13 in Geneva.
The session is scheduled to examine a wide spectrum of thematic questions of the promotion and protection of human rights, renew a number of thematic and country mandates under special procedures of the Council and adopt the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review of sixteen states.
Interactive dialogues of government and civil society representatives with the special rapporteurs of the HRC will be held. In particular, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, James Anaya, will submit to the Council a report on the results of his official visit to Russia in October 2009.
There are scheduled to be held thematic discussions on the elimination of discrimination against women and the integration of women's rights throughout the United Nations system.
For the first time, the session will feature a special interactive dialogue to assist Somalia in the field of human rights.
The Middle East subject is expected to traditionally become one of the most pressing issues. Four reports on this theme will be presented to the session, including a report from the international mission of inquiry into the attack of Israeli forces on the Freedom Flotilla, and the report of a committee of independent experts in the follow-up to the “Goldstone report.”
The session is scheduled to appoint two new experts to the posts of Special Rapporteur on torture and Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons.
Much of the focus will be on discussing matters related to the forthcoming review of the work and functioning of the Council.
More than 20 draft resolutions are expected to be adopted at the end of the session.
For its part, the Russian Federation will use the upcoming session to continue building an equal and mutually respectful dialogue on human rights, and to strengthen cooperation in promoting and protecting human rights in accordance with international legal principles and based on existing standards.
We intend to attract the attention of the Council to the 65th anniversary being observed this year of two important historical events: Victory in World War II and the Nuremberg Trials. We will inform the HRC of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay’s official visit to the Russian Federation scheduled for February 2011, during which she will have a meeting with President Dmitry Medvedev.
The session will run until October 1.
Around the ratification of the New START Treaty
I was asked by Interfax news agency: “What is the situation around the ratification of the New START Treaty in the United States Senate and the State Duma of the Russian Federal Assembly?”
On September 16 in Washington an important step was taken towards the implementation of the plans to reduce strategic offensive arms. The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations recommended that Congress ratify the START Treaty signed in April by the Russian and US presidents. The necessary procedures on our part in general are going as planned – after a thorough review of the Treaty by relevant Duma committees a positive opinion was adopted concerning a draft federal law on its ratification. Up next is consideration of the bill at a plenary session of the State Duma.
With regard to the passage of the Treaty through the specialized commissions of the US Senate, we would like to stress that ratification is a purely internal matter and we cannot give here any assessments or recommendations.
It is obvious for us that the Treaty was developed on a strictly equal basis and meets the security interests of both countries. Moreover, the signing of this agreement is already having a beneficial effect on international stability and security in general. Its implementation will contribute to strengthening the nuclear nonproliferation regime and expanding the process of multilateral nuclear disarmament.
We hope that US lawmakers after a careful study of the substance of the Treaty will come to a conclusion about its balanced and mutually beneficial character, which will enable ratification of the agreement. In any case, we will be synchronizing the ratification process in our countries, based on the understandings reached by the presidents of Russia and the United States.
On the referendum in Turkey
I was asked by ITAR-TASS News Agency: How can the Foreign Ministry comment on the results of the September 12 referendum in Turkey on amendments to the Constitution?
According to available information, voting was orderly, in compliance with the laws in force. We hope that its outcome will contribute to deepening the democratic process in Turkish society and exert a positive impact on the further development of mutually beneficial Russian-Turkish partner relations.
On the course of the Transnistrian conflict settlement and the availability of progress in this direction
Russia is closely following the developments in the region, and in contacts with Chisinau and Tiraspol constantly touches upon the theme of the Transnistrian conflict settlement and on issues related to maintaining stability in the Dniester region. We believe that constructive approaches by the parties in conflict and their direct contacts are essential for a political settlement.
The next meetings of the political representatives of the Republic of Moldova and Transnistria with mediators from Russia, Ukraine and OSCE as well as observers from the EU and the US (the so-called Five plus Two) are scheduled for 20-21 September 2010 in Chisinau and for 27-28 September 2010 in Vienna. These contacts are informal. Formal negotiations were broken off in 2006 and have not yet resumed. A telephone conversation took place on September 15 between Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs/State Secretary Grigory Karasin and Transnistria’s political representative in the Transnistrian settlement process and Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Yastrebchak.
About press releases published on the MFA website
Please take note of the Foreign Ministry Spokesman’s comments regarding a media question concerning Russian parliamentarians’ refusal to attend the meeting of the PACE Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights in Tbilisi. Also posted on the website is the UN Security Council Press Statement on the deadly Vladikavkaz bombing, of 10 September 2010.
On the activities of the Federal State Institution “Fund for Mutual Understanding and Reconciliation”
I was asked: “How can the Foreign Ministry comment on the situation surrounding the Federal State Institution ‘Fund for Mutual Understanding and Reconciliation’ as it relates to plans to liquidate it. How will such a decision affect the implementation in Russia of international programs of memory of Nazi persecution and material support to Russian victims of Nazism?”
The Fund for Mutual Understanding and Reconciliation in its 15-plus years of existence has done extensive work in the interests of Russian victims of Nazism. Between 1993 and 2008, through the Fund, more than 500,000 citizens of our country, Latvia and Lithuania received compensations totaling about 600 million euros under the intergovernmental agreements with the FRG to compensate victims of Nazi persecution and former forced laborers and 25.9 million euros allocated for similar purposes by the Republic of Austria. Given the completion of the compensatory programs, the Fund cannot continue its activities in the current status.
However, currently the Fund continues payments to former Soviet prisoners of war from the funds provided by the German Society for relations with the countries of the former USSR “Contacts”, and accompanied by more than 30 cultural-humanitarian, medical-social, upbringing-and-education, exhibition and research projects in various regions of Russia, initiated by Germany’s “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future “ Federal Foundation and aimed at maintaining the memory of Nazi persecution and material assistance to the victims of Nazism.
With this in mind, the further fate of the Federal State Institution “Fund for Mutual Understanding and Reconciliation” is now being considered, along with a possible successor organization in the realization of important humanitarian projects in the interests of Russian victims of Nazi persecution.
Q: As you know, Akhmed Zakayev has been arrested in Poland. What is the reaction of the Foreign Ministry, and will Russia seek his extradition?
A: A detailed answer to this question was given by Minister Lavrov at yesterday’s press conference. I can only add that we follow the evolution of this subject. As soon as we learn more, we will inform you. We monitor this situation and are in contact with the Polish authorities.
Q: What is the Foreign Ministry’s stand regarding the appointment of a new Foreign Minister of Japan, Seiji Maehara, a former transport minister. He has practically never showed himself in Russian-Japanese relations. What is expected from the construction of Russian-Japanese relations in general and from continued dialogue on the territorial issue in particular?
A: Appointment of a Minister in any country is a purely internal matter. Once the new head of the foreign affairs agency of Japan has been approved for such a high office in accordance with the procedures existing in the country, we will be ready to cooperate with him and discuss issues that are on the agenda of Russian-Japanese relations. He has just been appointed; let us wait for the first meetings and substantive talks.
Q: How can the Russian Foreign Ministry comment on the sale of S-300 systems to Azerbaijan?
A: The Foreign Ministry is not engaged in arms sales, for this there are a number of specialized government agencies which operate in accordance with the law and have appropriate subordination. On this subject I would recommend inquiring with them.
Q: What will be Russia's position at the upcoming New York meeting of the Six on the Iranian nuclear problem? President Medvedev and Minister Lavrov have spoken about a political-diplomatic resolution. What are the ways to achieve this goal in Russia’s view?
A: On the Iranian nuclear program, Minister Lavrov talked in great detail a week ago at a press conference in Paris following a meeting of the Security Cooperation Council. We believe you need to speak on those issues which are well known. This is the basis of our position.
Q: This week, Russia's ambassador in Warsaw confirmed that President Medvedev’s visit to Poland will take place before the end of the year. Can you tell us a more accurate date and the main themes of the talks between the two presidents?
A: The theme of the presidential visit was discussed during Foreign Minister Lavrov’s recent sojourn in Warsaw; he mentioned this at the press conference. I cannot say anything specific on the timing or agenda – this is the prerogative of the press service of the Presidential Administration. When the time comes, the details in this regard will be presented to the media.
Q: Going back to the theme of Zakayev, it is worth noting that a year ago Ramzan Kadyrov invited Zakayev to take up permanent residence in the Chechen Republic and offered him the post of theater director in Grozny. If a high-ranking Russian government official offers Zakayev public office, can we reproach Poland for allowing him to come into its territory?
A: As noted by Minister Lavrov at the press conference yesterday, we conveyed our position to the Polish colleagues, stressing that Zakayev is on the international wanted list and that the corresponding request has been registered with Interpol on our initiative.
As for the position of Kadyrov, it must be understood as part of a broader package. I understand that it was not about an immediate visit of Zakayev to the Chechen Republic, which is a subject of the Russian Federation. Methods of implementing this idea were much more complex.
Q: You said that work with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan will be built after the first meeting takes place and the position of the new Minister is clear.
A: I did not say that, I said that we need. I said that we simply have to first meet.
Q: Yeah, right. How can possible cooperation with the Minister be affected by the fact that as Minister of Infrastructure and Transport of Japan Maehara publicly said that Russia continues to illegally occupy the Kuril Islands?
A: If he said this in his previous capacity, then as Minister, he must be held accountable for his words. But as he has moved into a new capacity, then you need to meet, discuss and clarify his position on this matter as the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Q: NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has proposed holding the Russia-NATO Council in Lisbon. Is there agreement from the Russian side to its holding there?
A: Several reports were published yesterday that this meeting will be held in parallel with NATO’s summit in Lisbon. Later, there were references to the fact that Anders Fogh Rasmussen sent a letter with the relevant information to all potential participants in the summit. I cannot say whether we have received this letter, but to make a final opinion about this and analyze the possibility of our participation in this event we will be able after we have read it. Let us not rush things; you first need to wait for the physical receipt of the letter.
Q: What is the situation with Tula Region Traffic Police Head Igor Konovalov detained in Antalya on suspicion of attempted rape? Is consular assistance being provided to him? When will he be sent to the Russian Federation or is it assumed that he will serve his sentence in Turkey?
A: As you know, all consular offices and embassies of the Russian Federation in foreign countries are duty bound to protect the rights of Russian citizens who have found themselves in a particular situation. Of course, they are given all the necessary consular assistance. In the case that you mention, it is also being provided.