7 October 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.


05.10.2015 - Ambassador Dr Yakovenko's remarks at the evening of memories for Ekaterina Genieva

Today we are here for a sad occasion – to remember Ekaterina Yurievna Genieva whose image is still in our eyes – she was here for the last time in June, just 3 weeks before she passed away. Everybody knew she was very gravely ill, but yet she spoke so convincingly about plans for next year – and I hope they will be carried out by Mr. Duda who succeeded her.

23.09.2015 - In times of official sulk, culture and people lead the way (Ambassador A.Yakovenko for RBTH, 22 September 2015)

Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Alexander Yakovenko, about the biggest exhibition of Soviet space artefacts ever seen outside Russia.

19.09.2015 - Transcript of Ambasador Yakovenko's interview for Rossiya TV, 17 September 2015

It is difficult to overestimate the significance of Jeremy Corbyn being elected by an overwhelming, mostly young people's majority, the new leader of the Labour party and, thus, leader of the official parliamentary opposition. This is nothing short of a radical breakthrough in British politics of the last 30 years, which have never stepped beyond the so-called Thatcherist neo-liberal consensus of the establishment. In fact, the establishment, mostly under the pretext of the end of the Cold War and the disintegration of the Soviet Union, proceeded from the premises that the new era is one of single-option policies, particularly in social and economic matters. This absence of pluralism was all the more visible against the backdrop of an economic downturn as austerity was being enforced upon people despite the fact that, according to independent experts, it offered no solution to the crisis. Now financial inequality is on the rise, the middle class is shrinking, the post-war 'social contract', which aimed to build a social economy or what one might call capitalism with a human face, has been practically scrapped.

16.09.2015 - Ambassador A.Yakovenko on reception at the Russian Embassy to mark the opening of the “Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space age” exhibition

It’s a pleasure and honour for me to welcome you all at this reception to mark tomorrow’s grand opening of the exhibition “Cosmonauts: birth of the space age” at the Science Museum.

19.08.2015 - Russian Embassy to "Financial Times" on Ukraine

14.08.2015 - Comments of Minister-Counsellor of the Russian Embassy A.Kramarenko on some issues of WWII to the “Independent”

May I join the debate sustained by Anthony Beevor and Mick Hall (11 August). Nobody denies that crimes were committed. But what is not taken into account is the fact that the Red Army (unlike, let’s say, the Americans) saw what the Germans had done on their soil on their way from Stalingrad to Berlin. Almost every soldier and officer had personal accounts to settle. That is why strict discipline was enforced as the Red Army entered German territory, including by the security bodies nobody liked.

14.08.2015 - Russian Embassy comments for Russian media (ITAR-TASS Agency) on the state of Russo-British relationship (30 July, translated from Russian)

QUESTION: What would you say on the present state of our relationship with Britain? It looks like after the May parliamentary elections our countries resumed contacts at political level, if we take the phone call of Prime Minister D.Cameron with President V.Putin and Ph.Hammond and S.Lavrov's meeting in Veinna. Still, the same very tough rhetoric by official London at all levels against Russia over the Ukraine crisis is striking. I mean the statements on 'Russian aggression' etc, and all of it in company with the 'Islamic State' and hacking attacks. Where are things moving, and are there changes for the better?

07.08.2015 - Regarding the comment made by the Home Office on issuing visas to the Russian Embassy staff

We have carefully examined the statement of the Home Office concerning the terms of issuing visas for Russian diplomats and other Embassy staff. In particular, it was said (quoted by "Novosti" news agency) that "diplomats must have right documents to come into UK". Does it mean that the Russian diplomatic and service passports raise suspicions of the British side? Our main concern, however, is delays in issuing visas for the Embassy staff. The Home Office spokesman, avoiding a direct reply, referred to what was said on entry into UK territory by all Russian citizens, which is "making sure false representations were not used to obtain the visa, and no facts were withheld".

06.08.2015 - Russian Embassy comments on the “public inquiry” into the “Litvinenko case”

In 2014 judicial authorities of Great Britain suspended a Coroner’s inquest into the death of Alexander Litvinenko, wherein the Investigative Committee of Russia had the status of an “interested person”. In July 2014, against the background of the tragedy of the Malaysia Airlines plane in Ukraine, the British government decided to hold, instead, a “public inquiry”.

05.08.2015 - Reply by press-secretary of the Embassy of the Russian Federation to the UK to Russian media question on UK’s diminishing Russian diplomatic presence in Great Britain

Question: How do you assess the current bilateral relations between Russia and the UK on the visa track, have you advanced? Answer: The word “progress” means moving forward. That does not apply to the present picture of our bilateral relationship as the British side is trying to shape it.

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