Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov: Russia, NATO must agree on equal, indivisible security in Euro-Atlantic region
Agreement regarding equal and indivisible security in the Euro-Atlantic region will bring Russia-NATO relations to a new level of partnership, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with Interfax"We have been developing the interaction with the North Atlantic Alliance despite the remaining difficulties," he said when summing up results of the outgoing foreign political year.
"Our dialogue with NATO centered on creating an equal and indivisible security architecture in the Euro-Atlantic region. We will attain a qualitatively new level of partnership if we settle the matter taking mutual interests into account," Lavrov said.
While speaking about Russia-EU relations, the minister said, "the successful settlement of the complex financial and economic situation in the eurozone would contribute to the general stabilization of the world economy and create new possibilities for deepening our strategic partnership with the European Union."
"The latest summit in Brussels confirmed a serious potential for broadening multifaceted cooperation between Russia and the EU," he said. "The joint work with the EU on simpler visa formalities, which is bound to promote visa-free travel, intensified."
"The startup of the first line of the Nord Stream pipeline displayed our readiness to strengthen energy security of Europe and opened a new page in Russia-EU energy cooperation," he said.
On prospects for Russian-U.S. relations, Lavrov said, in part: "The ability of Washington to hear our lawful concerns regarding the planned deployment of the U.S. global missile defense, which creates risks to Russian security in its current form, will be of paramount importance to our relations with the U.S."
The strengthening of interaction with the U.S. "was a key area of our foreign policy" in 2011, he said.
"A lot has been done in the outgoing year - the new START Treaty and the atomic energy cooperation entered into force, the Presidential Commission worked actively and the interaction in international matters, including the Russian joining of the WTO, broadened," he said.
"At the same time, there are some sensitive matters in our dialog, and our views do not coincide there," the minister said.
He considers that the progress of talks with Washington on missile defense doesn‘t directly depend on the coming presidential election in the United States.
"Clearly that the situation in the sphere will be significantly impacted by the home policy situation in the United States," the minister said.
"At the same time we don‘t think that the effectiveness of our dialogue with Washington on missile defense should be directly linked with the outcome of the future elections in that country. The U.S. approach is determined by a broad spectrum of factors that are not limited to the views and approaches of parties or individual politicians," Lavrov said.
"Russia wants our concerns related to U.S. plans of deploying missile defense components in Europe to be duly taken into account. Otherwise we will have to react as Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced on November 23 irrespectively of who is going to "at the helm" in the White House," he said.
"One can predict with a high degree of probability that in 2012 the issue of missile defense will remain a key item on the international agenda, primarily in Euro-Atlantic affairs," Lavrov said.
"The absence of progress on the matter does not add optimism. Nevertheless, the dialogue on missile defense between our countries continues. It is our objective to find a positive solution taking Russia‘s security interests in to account. We hope that common sense will prevail in the end in Washington as well," he said.
"In any case the election in the United States will be held only in November, so the incumbent president will remain the partner for the Russian leadership next year," he said.
"President Dmitry Medvedev and President Barack Obama have publicly confirmed many times their interest in preserving positive dynamics and a constructive direction of the bilateral dialogue," he said.
"There is great job ahead implying closer interaction on the innovative track, the formation of favorable conditions for humanitarian, educational, scientific and cultural exchanges," Lavrov said.
He argued that the United States should remove Russia fr om the list of nations subject to restriction in trade restrictions under the Jackson-Vanik amendment.
"Russia‘s entry into the WTO opens broad vistas for more intensive business contacts and a quality change of the entire economic relationship, naturally, on the condition the U.S. Congress repeals the notorious Jackson-Vanik amendment, which actually makes U.S. business its hostage," the minister said.
Russia "will continue to improve the atmosphere of bilateral cooperation and build confidence and mutual understanding. We aim for a fair dialogue even on the most difficult subjects," he said.
The Russian membership in the WTO is a totally new stage of the Russian integration into the world economic system, Lavrov said. "We are ready to promote global economic stability, efficient solutions to crises, and strengthening of international institutions."
The Jackson-Vanik amendment, which was adopted in 1974 and named after the two congressmen who sponsored it, banned most-favored nation regime for states limiting the emigration rights of their citizens. The amendment to the U.S. Trade Act was aimed against the Soviet Union, which ceased to exist in 1991. The amendment is compatible with the norms of the WTO, which Russia will join in 2012.
In comments on the Syria issue, the minister said Russia welcomes the League of Arab States (LAS) LAS monitoring mission in Syria.
The mission can protect the people of Syria and assist Syrian stabilization, Lavrov said.
"We welcome the signing of a protocol regarding the LAS monitoring mission in Syria, which can protect all Syrian citizens and stabilize the situation with the mechanism of independent onsite control," he said.
The main group of LAS observers, about 50 people, will come to Syria on Monday. They will start working on Tuesday.
The Russian draft resolution on Syria presented to the UN Security Council aims to protect the Syrian population and to promote stabilization, he said. "Its goal is to help end violence, no matter wh ere it may come from, and start a broad national dialogue," the minister said.
Lavrov made a comment on the general events in the Middle East and North Africa in 2011 and said that Moscow was working on the end of violence, the preservation of human rights, and assistance to the peaceful settlement of the conflicts through the national dialogue involving all the political, religious and ethnic groups.
He said Russia was prepared to develop partnership with the regional states on the basis of equality and mutual benefit.
"We object to the use of the slogan of the protection of the civilian population in the support to one side to a civil war, and to the use of the ‘Libyan precedent‘, which flagrantly breached UN Security Council resolutions, in the settlement of other conflicts," he said.
In comments on the Iranian nuclear program issue, Lavrov said the problem could hardly be solved in the near future.
"Alas, no quick solution is anticipated," he said.
Iran continues to ignore resolutions of the UN Security Council and the IAEA Board of Governors, and Western states are enhancing their confrontation with Tehran with new sanctions, "which go far beyond the non-proliferation tasks," the minister said.
"The threats to use force against Iran are mounting. Against this backdrop, we continue our active efforts to involve Iran in the political and diplomatic settlement of the situation around its nuclear program. We think there is no alterative, so we stand for a comprehensive and lasting solution of the problem in the dialog based on step-by-step measures and reciprocity," Lavrov said.
He also said the Russian Foreign Ministry would increase cooperation with civil society institutions, experts, business people and journalists.
"An important source of our work is the efficient engagement of all ‘soft force‘ elements in foreign policy. We think that increasing cooperation with civil society institutes, experts, businessmen and journalists will promote the consensus nature of the Russian foreign policy and improve results," the minister stressed.
"The outcome of the latest Russian State Duma election confirmed the adherence of Russian citizens to the policy of sustainable and dynamic development of our state," he said.
"This creates the necessary prerequisites for further progress along the democratic path, further work on development priorities, and creation of conditions for the reliable foreign political support to our national interests," Lavrov said.