26 November 2015
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Remarks by Ambassador Yakovenko at the meeting of the Scottish Parliament’s cross-party group on cooperation with Russia

Moving from the wider cooperation between Russia and the United Kingdom I'm glad to say that we always pay attention to promoting genuine and fruitful regional interaction.

Given its cultural and economic resources and the long historical tradition of interchanges, Scotland is no doubt an important partner for us, and there is a massive potential for cooperation here.

We have an increasing number of high profile contacts. This year, for example, Scotland was visited by the Russian Minister of Culture and the Russian President's Cultural Adviser, as well as senior delegation from our Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Meanwhile, local authorities develop their links. In 2012, the cooperation between Scottish town of Stirling and Russian town of Vyborg was finally underpinned by the formal agreement.

Strengthening parliamentary relations is our objective too, of course. Establishment of your group is a very significant gesture and I can't but praise it. As you may remember Holyrood was visited by the Russian parliamentary delegation in 2011. In this regard I would like to confirm that once you feel ready, we would be glad to elaborate on the visit of the Scottish delegation to Moscow.

One of the pillars of our partnership is culture. Maestro Gergiev has been a regular guest at the Edinburgh International Festival and is its honorary president since the last year. Just recently National Museum of Scotland hosted a marvelous exhibition from world-renowned Hermitage that I was, be the way, pleased to see myself. The Edinburgh International Culture Summit, which was a great success, was attended by our minister of culture Mr Vladimir Medinskiy. Meanwhile, following the meeting between the advise on culture to the President of Russia Mr Vladimir Tolstoy and Cabinet Secretary Fiona Hyslop a few projects are developed now between the Leo Tolstoy Museum in Russia and Scottish culture organisations.

Let's not forget educational and academic cooperation. Edinburgh University is a good example here. I have just met the Principal of the University Sir Timothy and glad to be the guest of the centre opened jointly by Scottish and Russian sides. We also appreciate and value the work performed by the Scotland-Russia Forum.

We are always open to the new opportunities to develop and diversify business links. This is the case with Scotland, of course. Both economies have much to offer today and would readily accept foreign contributions both in the form of markets and exports or investments. It's a pleasure to note the approach of the Scottish Government that welcomes and assists in strengthening economic ties of Scotland and promotes it as a rewarding economic partner and investment destination. Scottish companies' expertise and high-quality services, particularly dealing with oil and gas, are very much appreciated in Russia. At the same time we can provide our partners with the best practices, resources, unique goods and services in some areas.

I believe, developing tourism is very promising. Certainly, facilitation of the vise regime would contribute to increasing numbers of the Russian tourists. It will also make people-to-people contacts easier.

Finally, meeting the members of the Cross-Party Group on Russian today I'd like to express our appreciation to the Scottish Parliament and also to the Scottish Government for the support for the efforts at developing links with Russia.


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.

11.10.2015 - Answer by Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko to Russian media question regarding Syria

- Can you comment on the British media reports that UK Government has given the green light to RAF pilots participating in the operation against ISIS in Iraq airspace, to shoot down Russian combat planes? - These media reports are worrying, as they refer to senior Cabinet members. We have urgently requested explanations from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

08.10.2015 - Ambassador Yakovenko answers media questions on Syria

QUESTION: According to official statements the British Government intends to request Parliament's consent to extend anti-Isis air strikes to Syria. In another development, the 'FT' reported that the West and its allies in the region on the eve of 30 September were planning to establish so called 'safe zones' and no-fly zones to protect them behind Russia's back. What could you say on that? ANSWER: Britain is a sovereign nation and is free to make her own decisions. But it has to be noted that Russia's military assistance is provided at the request of the Syrian Government, i.e. fully in line with international law. Will Damascus request the British to assist in the same way, I don't know.

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