1 February 2015
Moscow: 15:40
London: 11:40

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PRESS RELEASES

09.09.2011

One-day cricket can still make a good match (Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko’s speaking notes for the briefing with British media, London, 9 September 2011)

On 11-12 September Prime Minister David Cameron will be visiting Moscow at the invitation of President Dmitry Medvedev. There are scheduled talks between Prime Minister Cameron and President Medvedev, as well as a meeting with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and an extensive programme of business-related events.

We believe that this visit, which is set to become the fourth meeting between President Medvedev and Prime Minister Cameron, will reinforce the positive trends in our relationship which we have witnessed ever since the Coalition Government came to power in 2010. Our leaders understand each other and speak, so to say, in the same language. Of course, both Russia and Britain promote own national interests, but there are important common interests that can only be advanced through joint effort. And that has got to be done despite the existing bilateral differences.

In fact, we have more reasons to engage positively with each other than meets the eye. In this fast changing world, Russia and Britain are all the more destined to work together in the face of common threats, not least international terrorism, drug trafficking and international organized crime.

Of course, one of the gravest of these threats is international terrorism, a subject which is particularly relevant this weekend. Russia remembers and respects all those victims who lost their lives on 9/11. But the threat is global and ongoing. In Russia, the tragedy of the Domodedovo airport bombing earlier this year took lives of citizens of six countries, including one from Great Britain.

Currently our cooperation in counter-terrorism cannot be fully developed due to absence of contacts between our security services. We are waiting for a decision from the British side on reestablishing full cooperation with all the Russian law-enforcement bodies and special services.

The problems we face may not be entirely similar, but massive programmes of change are underway in both Russia and Britain. We should be able to talk with enough confidence to share best practices and develop a meaningful partnership for modernization. As the IISS 2011 Strategic Survey reminds us, strong economies are a vital strategic asset. So, issues of development are high on international agenda, making a positive, unifying part of it.

Both our countries are looking for solutions to pressing global issues, like the creation of a new world financial architecture and climate change, as well as geopolitical challenges like the tectonic shifts currently taking  place in the Middle East or the redistribution of world economic power.

The Russian Federation and the UK co-operate on a wide range of international issues. We work together at the United Nations, including in the Security Council, and as members of the G8 and G20. In the UN Security Council in particular, we co-operate closely on disarmament, non-proliferation, nuclear security and the many other topics.
Another topic of paramount importance is the situation in Afghanistan, where Russia is most concerned about the threat posed by drug trafficking. We have cooperation on drug eradication, but we need more robust action to stop the flow of Afghan heroin to Europe, including our two countries.

Two great countries like Russia and the UK, well-known for their, rich histories and cultures, cannot always have identical opinions on every issue. Nevertheless, this should not mean that Russia and Britain are unable to cooperate for our mutual benefit. During periods of global upheaval, our countries should focus on what unites us, as we did in the past, including in two World Wars.

We already cooperate in the sphere of space science and exploration, and there is a good degree of engagement between our Justice Ministries. Our cultural contacts are as good as ever have been, and we look forward to a number of high profile events in both our countries which will highlight the British interest towards all things Russian, and vice versa. This year we have already seen Russia as the Market Focus of the London Book Fair and the unveiling of a monument to Yuri Gagarin in the heart of London. We are actively sharing experience in our Olympic projects and hope to benefit from each other in the field of Olympic legacies.

The strong trade and economic ties between Russia and the UK serve as a backbone of our bilateral relationship as a whole. Britain remains one of Russia’s leading trade and investment partners.

Our bilateral trade is rapidly growing.  In 2010 it reached nearly $16 bln, and in the first six months of this year, the turnover expanded almost 50% on the same period of 2010 and reached $10.3 bln ($7.2 bln of Russian exports and $3.1 bln of imports from the UK, with the latter figure growing by 80%). As of July 2011, UK’s accumulated investment in Russia stood at $21.3 bln, with close to $4 bln in new investments coming to Russia in the first six months of the year. About $4.7 bln of capital is currently allocated by Russian businesses in the UK.

Over the last few years the bilateral Joint Steering Committee on Trade and Investment, set up by the two Governments, renewed discussions on priorities of our joint economic agenda, including with business participation. The next session, chaired by Deputy Chairman of the Government and Minister of Finance of Russia Alexey Kudrin and UK Secretary of State for Business, Innovations and Skills Vince Cable, is scheduled to take place in London in November. Within the Committee framework six areas were identified as priorities – energy cooperation and energy efficiency, financial services, high-tech and nanotechnologies, SMEs, “Olympic legacy” and business environment.

We expect that during the visit to Russia by the Prime Minister, who will be accompanied by a large group of UK business leaders, a number of commercially focused deliverables will be signed or announced.

In many areas, mutual confidence is increasing and co-operation improving. On the economy, we are valued partners with a massive stake in each other’s prosperity. 
It is co-operation not conflict, confidence not suspicion which now define the relationship between us and the forthcoming summit in Moscow is bound to strengthen that positive trend.

Answers to selected questions:

1. We certainly have specific disagreements, including political ones, though we are ready to patiently explain once again our position and listen to the British point of view. Regarding the Litvinevko case and the demands for Andrey Lugovoy’s extradition, we are confirming our position that the Russian Constitution prohibits extradition of Russian citizens. We have repeatedly suggested to our British colleagues that they give us the materials they have accumulated, to allow Russian prosecutors to make the necessary investigations, with British cooperation.

We reiterate our position that the over-politicization of this issue will not help solve it. Mr. Livinenko’s murder was an abhorrent crime which needs to be investigated, and those who planned and committed this crime must be brought to justice.

2. We also know that the UK Government does not share our vision of the situation in the Caucasus, and our recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. We believe that the new realities in the region, brought about as a result of Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili’s attack on South Ossetia in August 2008, are there to stay and that any dialogue should involve those newly independent nations.




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