20 Dec 2010

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov: Foreign political results of 2010

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has summed up foreign political results of 2010 and spoken about diplomatic tasks for 2011 in an interview with Interfax.

Question: Mr. Lavrov, do you think 2010 was successful for Russian diplomacy? What foreign political events seem most important to you?

Answer: The work of Russian diplomacy, in line with President Dmitry Medvedev‘s instructions, centers on achieving certain results intelligible to our citizens, assisting in the country‘s comprehensive modernization, and putting its economy on an innovative track. One must say that the development of international relations over the last year was in general favorable for successfully accomplishing these tasks. The understanding that collective approaches to key global and regional problems, as well as the search for common answers to common challenges, have no alternative and have grown stronger under the influence of the world economic and financial crisis. These trends tune everybody to a pragmatic wave, as well as reject the ideological prejudices of the Cold War, which were reflected in the activities of many multilateral organizations, in particular the United Nations, G20, G8, BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China), the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) and other structures.
One of the most important results of 2010 was the comprehensive strengthening of the integration process in the CIS on a pragmatic basis of modernization imperatives common for our countries. The Commonwealth was and is a foreign political priority to us. Russia as the CIS chairing country assisted in increasing all spheres of the Commonwealth‘s activity. Four summits (the CIS, CSTO, EurAsEC and Customs Union) all took place in Moscow in December and summed up the results of our intense and beneficial work.
The July launch of the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan being formed within the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC) was a breakthrough. An important step was made toward the next integration stage - the Common Economic Space of the “troika” (involving the free movement of goods, services, capital and labor) which is open to other states. The December meeting of the Customs Union presidents, at which a package of interstate agreements forming the legal base for the Common Economic Space (which comes into force on January 1, 2012) contributed greatly to this work. The final declaration of the Moscow summit stresses that the launch of the Common Economic Space will impel closer integration and the rapprochement of the member states’ economies aimed at accelerating socio-economic progress for the three countries and increasing the welfare of their peoples. By developing the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space the countries are moving toward the creation of the Eurasian Economic Union, which serves the purpose of securing balanced, complementary and mutually beneficial cooperation with other countries, international economic organizations, and the European Union.
The demand for the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) as a key collective security structure in the CIS region was confirmed. The CSTO Collective Security Council session was marked by beneficial results. Changes to the Organization’s basic documents that will enhance its efficiency, including during crises, were made.
The positive dynamics of our interaction with Ukraine assisted in the strengthening of healthy trends in the CIS. The new policy of Ukraine‘s leadership toward Russia allowed us to form a businesslike and confidential atmosphere of mutually-beneficial cooperation and reach certain weighty results.
On the whole one can say that the global situation has been normalizing with the processes of the emergence of a new polycentric international system becoming more intensive. These changes rest on the replacement of the international relations paradigm based on confrontation and conflict with one based on cooperation. This has been vividly seen on the Euro-Atlantic space, where steps toward partnership based on the principles of the indivisibility of security, mutual trust, transparency and predictability were made. President Medvedev took part in the Russian-NATO summit in Lisbon, as well as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) summit in Astana, the first one in 11 years.
The onward development of Russian-U.S. relations was a considerable positive factor in the Euro-Atlantic zone and the world in general. The leaders of the two countries signed the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty which will become a base for the stable and predictable development of Russian-U.S. interaction in the strategic sphere and will set a standard for equal cooperation based on mutual benefits and respect for each other’s interests.
The year of 2010 was marked by the active strengthening of Russia‘s interaction with states and organizations in the Asia-Pacific region. Russian-Chinese cooperation reached an unprecedented height. Cooperation with India, South Korea, Singapore, Japan, Australia and New Zealand which were called upon to assist in achieving Russia‘s technological modernization priorities has been developing broadly as well.
Naturally, we by no means want to paint a rosy picture of the international situation. Unfortunately, there is no reason for that yet. There still are quite many forces in the world that for various reasons are dissatisfied with the lower demand for conflicts and are afraid of taking the decisive step from the past to the future. We can see attempts being made both in the U.S. and some European states to reverse global politics. Tensions continue escalating in the Middle East, the Korean peninsula and in the broader Eastern Asian region. In this context the political signal of imperativeness to form a unifying and positive agenda that was brought by the celebrations of the 65th anniversary of the victory over fascism and the events dedicated to the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II in the Far East.

Q.: What are the areas the Foreign Ministry will focus on next year?

A.: The main task of Russian diplomacy will be to strengthen the positive trends in international affairs, which I talked about in answering the first question. We proceed from the fact that this suits the interests of all responsible members of the international community and fully complies with Russia’s course toward the creation of favorable external conditions for the multifaceted development of our country.
Obviously, an improvement in the Euro-Atlantic policy cannot be regarded as something irreversible, the success of this process is not guaranteed. As President Medvedev said in his address to the Federal Assembly, it will be crucial whether an agreement on full Russia-NATO cooperation on the European missile defense system is reached. Russia‘s initiative to conclude a European security treaty will continue spurring efforts aimed at the creation of a single space of peace in the Euro-Atlantic region. We are convinced that the time for this treaty will come sooner or later.
We intend to comprehensively support the strengthening of modernization partnerships aimed at assisting the acceleration of Russia‘s innovative development. It was confirmed at the Russia-EU summit in early December that there is a considerable potential to expand cooperation with the European Union, including in the framework of the Partnership for Peace program. Profound and multifaceted interaction with leading European states, primarily Germany and France, is an important external source of Russian economic modernization. One of the key landmarks of our interaction with the EU today is the simplification of visa procedures and prospects for their full cancellation.
Russia will continue contributing to the resolution of conflicts in various regions the escalation of which can seriously harm international security and stability. These primarily are the situation in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Korean peninsula, the Iranian nuclear program, and the restoration of the peace process in the Middle East, first of all the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations.
We are ready to develop long-term mutually-beneficial cooperation with all interested partners, including Latin America and Africa.
A common search for responses to transborder threats will be of particular importance. Particularly, we will continue promoting the Russian president‘s initiative to create an international mechanism for preventing and cleaning-up the consequences of sea shelf disasters.
We are going to improve ties with experts and civil society institutes. The formation of the Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Assistance Foundation and the Russian Council for International Affairs pursues this goal in line with the president‘s instructions.

Q.: How dangerous for the Russian-U.S. ‘reset‘, as well as for disarmament and non-proliferation in the world in general, is it to drag out the ratification of the New START?
U.S. media make suggestions that if the U.S. Senate refuses to ratify the document Russia may change its position on supporting sanctions against Iran, cooperating with international forces in Afghanistan and in general revise its policy of normalizing relations with the U.S. Is it so?

A.: Naturally, we closely follow the New START in the U.S. Senate, and we know about the difficulties that the Obama administration has in this respect. We can also see how actively members of the administration are working in pressing for the ratification of the treaty by the American legislators. We hope that this work will be successful and the Senators will show a responsible approach by supporting it. However, we are not in any way going to interfere in the process of considering the treaty on Capitol Hill - that is a U.S. domestic policy issue.
On my part I can just emphasize that the New START was developed strictly on a parity basis, in our view, it is completely in line with the national interests of Russia and the U.S. It cannot be ‘reopened‘ and become a subject of new negotiations. Additionally, its enforcement and full-scale implementation will help promote strategic stability, international security, the nuclear weapons non-proliferation regime, and a more extensive process of multilateral nuclear disarmament. This is not just our own opinion - dozens of states, including NATO allies of the United States, have called for its ratification. In effect, we can speak of an international consensus in support of this agreement
The ratification of the New START is no less important for Russian-U.S. dialog which in this case will receive a powerful impetus for further onward development. However, I would not say that the future of our bilateral relations is directly dependent on the outcome of the New START ratification hearings. Nuclear disarmament, although being a key avenue of our cooperation with the United States, is still not the only one. Our cooperation is many-sided. This is a considerable difference from previous years when Russian-U.S. relations ‘revolved‘ mainly around traditional arms control issues.
We have done a great job over the past two years of Obama‘s presidency and managed to considerably saturate the palette of our bilateral relations thanks to the activation of economic, scientific, technical and humanitarian ties. We have also managed to reach a true parity dialog on many international problems, such as the situation in Afghanistan, the Middle East, and the Iranian nuclear program. A lot has been done in the area of the modern fight against terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
I do not want to talk about negative scenarios. We are counting on the completion of ratification procedures in the near future. As for the New START, we will act synchronously and symmetrically with the U.S. side.
The second part of your question stems from the presumption of unprincipled exchanges in international relations. Obviously, this cynicism is encouraged with the content of documents posted by WikiLeaks. Russian diplomacy has many-century traditions of serving the Motherland, as well as intellectual honesty and respecting its partners. Moral covenants have never been a private matter in our diplomatic service. This is the sense of the Day of Diplomats celebrated annually. I can assure you that Russian foreign policy is based on clear, understandable and broadly shared principles of pragmatism, openness, the non-confrontational promotion of national interests and multi-vector system diplomacy. They are declared in our foreign political concept of 2008. The international situation has changed but the principles remain the same. They determine our approach to particular international problems.