2 December 2015
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Lavrov: Russia’s 2012 APEC chairmanship detailed and effective

Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Sergei Lavrov, interviewed by RIA Novosti, discusses Russia's readiness to host the September 8-9 APEC Leaders' Meeting in Vladivostok and prospects for subsequent work at the forum.

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- Events of the APEC-2012 Leaders' Week have commenced in Vladivostok this week. What main issues does Moscow plan to include in the forum's agenda? How successful, in your opinion, was the Russian Federation's tenure as APEC chair?

- The Russian Federation considers its chairmanship of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum to be a highly important aspect of the policy to involve Russia in regional integration processes and to promote fruitful and mutually beneficial cooperation with APEC member economies. The main purpose of this energetic and painstaking work is to create the required external conditions for Russia's modernization and innovation development, including the socio-economic growth of Siberia and the Far East.

Certainly, the final assessment of Russia's chairmanship will be formulated after the upcoming APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting but we can already say that it has been quite detailed and effective.

We have already held more than 90 events in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yaroslavl, Kazan and Khabarovsk, including ten APEC ministerial meetings. Our partners praised the level of their organization. Incidentally, 2012 is a record-breaking year in terms of forum events throughout its entire history.

Our work was also quite detailed in terms of its contents. In February 2012, the parties coordinated high-priority areas of cooperation, including the liberalization of trade and investment, regional economic integration, strengthening food security, creating reliable supply chains and fostering innovation growth, at Russia's suggestion. Russia submitted numerous initiatives and cooperation projects to the partners for consideration in line with each priority and other important items on the agenda. Almost 50 of our proposals were analyzed by APEC working bodies, supported at ministerial meetings and approved for subsequent implementation.

For instance, one can single out an agreement on measures to ensure maximum possible transparency of regional free trade agreements, which are being actively concluded. Russia, which is just becoming involved in this integration format, considers this to be particularly important.

Work has been invigorated within the format of APEC's Policy Partnership on Food Security. A similar mechanism in the sphere of innovations has been activated, and the APEC Innovation Technology Dialogue has also been launched.

We also consider cooperation in implementing Russia's common education space initiative to be important and promising.

Joint efforts to ensure top-quality protection for motherhood and childhood, to improve the healthcare system, to support entrepreneurship among young people and women, to promote a healthy lifestyle and to boost investment in human resources have received a substantial impulse.

We have worked with the APEC Business Advisory Council, which is headed by Russia's representatives this year, rather actively and in a well-coordinated manner. We have managed to move forward a number of useful cooperation projects based on the principles of public-private partnership.

The vast program of Russia's chairmanship will culminate in the September 2-9 APEC 2012 Leaders' Week. Meetings of APEC Senior Officials and the APEC Business Advisory Council, as well as the APEC CEO Meeting are scheduled to be held during the week. The 24th Ministerial Meeting involving foreign and trade ministers is to be held on September 5-6.

The September 8-9 APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting will become a key event. I am confident that specific agreements reached by us during Russia's tenure as APEC chair will serve as a solid foundation for a meaningful top-level discussion and will produce major practical results.

- In 1994, APEC leaders made a commitment to the common goals of free and open trade and investment for the Asia-Pacific region by 2020. What is Russia's contribution to creating this system? How feasible are these plans when experts predict the second wave of the economic crisis?

- I am convinced that my colleague Andrei Belousov, Minister of Economic Development, could give a more detailed answer to your question.

For my part, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the creation of a free and open trade and investment system in the APEC region ranks among the forum's key policy tasks. Consensus has been reached that the year 2020 is a guideline, or incentive, on the road toward liberalized trade and investment.

APEC member economies are making energetic efforts to accomplish this objective. Over 50 free trade agreements have already been enacted in the Asia-Pacific region. However, it is possible that the remaining eight years will not be enough time for these efforts to be fully successful.

Technically speaking, I see no reasons for concern. The liberalization of trade and investment is a complicated process, which requires an adequate assessment of the entire range of emerging factors. It is no coincidence that two years ago it was admitted that, as compared to the rest of the world, APEC member economies had scored impressive successes in the sphere of liberalization, although they did not create a system of free and open trade and investment activity in 2010, as had been agreed in line with previous decisions. In effect, APEC is moving confidently toward expanded regional economic integration. APEC member economies follow this main route, regardless of the worrying global economic situation.

Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization is our main contribution to liberalized trade and investment. Most regional economies are members of this highly important trade organization.

Moreover, we are actively negotiating liberalized trade relations with New Zealand and the European Free Trade Association. Consultations within the format of a joint working group to study the expediency of a free trade zone agreement between the Customs Union member countries, namely, the Russian Federation, Belarus and Kazakhstan, and Viet Nam concluded successfully some time ago. The official talks are to be launched by the end of the year.

We proceed from the premise that liberalized trade and investment are a fundamental factor for reinstating sustainable global economic growth, and APEC may serve as a driving force in this process.


28.11.2015 - Bonds forged by the great game of football can help defeat terrorism (by Consul General Andrey Prisepov for Herald Scotland)

Two weeks ago, we all followed a rather special football game at Wembley: England playing France just days after the attacks in Paris. The innocent victims of these inhuman assaults were remembered with dignity and poignant tribute was paid by players and supporters. Thousands of people shared their passion for the great game and, equally, showed their compassion in a manifestation of unity and solidarity. Once again football embodied human spirit and an affirmation of life. History has numerous examples of what seems to be the inherent qualities of the game. Herald readers may have watched the 1980s film Escape to Victory starring Michael Caine. In the movie, allied prisoners of war play football against their Nazi guards, knowing they will be shot should they win.

26.11.2015 - Ambassador Yakovenko responds to Russian media question on Britain's renewed National Security Strategy

Question: The recent announcement by the British Government of the outcome of its 5-year Review of the National Security Strategy has attracted a lot of criticism. Russia features prominently in some key provisions of the document. What could you say on that? Answer: I'll start with Russia's place in it. Unfortunately, we witness what I would call inertia of the rhetoric, that is no longer reflective of the reality, which has been evolving fast. Still, it is now less categorical and diffuse, which may be a sign of changing attitude. Hope, it is going to be the case.

18.11.2015 - Syrian solution demands truly inclusive compromise (article by Ambassador Yakovenko for the Daily Telegraph supplement, 17 November 2015)

Upon Russia’s insistence, a truly inclusive multilateral process was launched in Vienna on Oct. 30 to help find a compromise solution to the Syrian crisis. Iran, a major player, took part for the first time, as well as China. All agreed to the U.S., Russia and the U.N. co-chairing the meeting. Heated exchanges took place on the issue of President Bashar al-Assad’s future. As was the case three years ago, this could derail the entire process. But ultimately it was agreed to disagree on that issue. Lack of agreement on this subject resulted in three more years of bloody impasse. We should know better than that this time. All the more so that those are the differences between the outside players. Why not leave it to the Syrians to decide?

17.11.2015 - Welcoming points at the Russian-British business forum, dedicated to the 95th anniversary of the establishment of the Russian Trade Mission in the UK (17 November, 9.00, Royal Garden Hotel)

Ladies and gentlemen! I am delighted to welcome you at the Russian-British Business Forum, dedicated to such a significant date – the 95th anniversary of the establishment of the Russian Trade Mission in the United Kingdom. It gives me special pleasure to congratulate our colleagues on this occasion, since this trade delegation established to promote trade links with the United Kingdom in 1920 and headed by People's Commissar of Foreign Trade Leonid Krasin became the first in history Soviet Russia's trade representation abroad. In fact, it set an example for a whole network of Russian trade missions abroad, which are still successfully operating. Ever since its establishment the Trade Mission has continued to work hard to promote business relations between Russia and Great Britain. It helps companies in both countries to find partners and enter each other’s markets.

29.10.2015 - Russian Embassy on the Times editorial

Your editorial, which accompanied Ambassador Yakovenko’s interview (26 October) is full of grossly misleading statements on Russia’s foreign policy. May I set the record straight before your readership?

23.10.2015 - Letter of Minister-Counsellor of the Russian Embassy A.Kramarenko to the “Financial Times”

Letter of Minister-Counsellor of the Russian Embassy A.Kramarenko to the “Financial Times”

21.10.2015 - Letter of Minister-Counsellor of the Russian Embassy A.Kramarenko to the “Guardian”

Letter of Minister-Counsellor of the Russian Embassy A.Kramarenko to the “Guardian”

19.10.2015 - Why Russia had to intervene in Syria (article by Ambassador Yakovenko published in The Independent)

Combating international terrorism has long been one of the top priorities of Russia's foreign policy. We have been consistently advocating genuinely global efforts in countering that evil. The fight against terrorism must be conducted on a universal legal basis, starting with the UN Charter. That is why Russia has been unable to join the US-led “global coalition” against Isis. The coalition was established in circumvention of the UN Security Council, and its operations in Syria violate the sovereignty of that country.

13.10.2015 - "Russian airstrikes won't solve the crisis" because they are Russian? (article by Andrey A. Pritsepov, Consul General of the Russian Federation in Edinburgh, published in "The Scotsman")

Having read your leader comments "Russian airstrikes won't solve crisis" from 30th September and "Effort needed to rein in lone wolf" from 2nd October I cannot help but notice that they represent a U-turn compared to your previous instalments (for instance, from 17th July "Conservatives made to look very bad again" and from 21st July "PM needs to do more to beat IS").

12.10.2015 - Letter to the Editor of The Sunday Times

On 11 October 2015 The Sunday Times published the article “RAF ready to shoot down Russian aircraft over Syria” which referred to “three senior Cabinet ministers and senior Defence sources”. Given clarifications from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence, stating publicly that “reports about RAF rules of engagement in Iraq are inaccurate”, one may conclude that your newspaper was spreading rumours, which could have grave consequences for our bilateral relationship with Britain, and far beyond.

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