29 June 2017
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London: 08:29

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SPEECHES, INTERVIEWS, ARTICLES

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.
Persistence of confrontational rhetoric towards Russia has already entailed a considerable cutback in visas, which means a decrease of tourist, business, cultural exchanges and contacts between people at large. From bad to worse, nothing is off limits to our British counterparts.
The point is that the British side has decided to stop extending diplomatic and official visas for those staff members of the Russian Embassy in London and Consulate General in Edinburgh who stay in their positions over five years, and to extend visas for others regardless of the requested period, quite arbitrarily.
Such a step cannot be considered other than a clear violation of international obligations, in particular, Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961. According to the Convention the functions of a member of the mission come to an end after a relevant notification is served by the sending state to the receiving state. The Convention does not provide the receiving state with the authority to limit the length of stay, with the exception of cases when a member of a mission is declared persona non-grata or an unacceptable person by the receiving state.
Thus, by implication, the imposition of time limit equals a declaration of a member of the mission persona non-grata, effected in contravention of Art. 9 of the said Convention. In practice it means expulsion. Such a step can be viewed as running counter to Arts. 7 and 10, which stipulate that appointment of a diplomatic agent, with the exception of the head of the mission, does not require consent of the receiving state and is done by notification.
Under Art. 25, the receiving state shall accord full facilities for the performance of the functions of the mission. We proceed from the assumption that “full facilities” mentioned in Art. 25 would, among other things, refer to issue of relevant documents enabling unrestricted entry and departure of diplomatic agents to and from the receiving state.
In spite of our repeated appeals, this British «know-how» has been already deployed by the Home Office in coordination with the Foreign Office. This is evidenced by the fact that our senior diplomat had to depart the UK last month because his visa was not extended, another diplomat left without replacement this month, two staff members would have to leave for the same reason. The extensions of their visas were made for three months instead of one or two years, in other words, that time was given «to pack up». It goes without saying that it is practically impossible to prepare and process a replacement within such limited period of time. And even if we succeed in doing that, the Embassy experiences prolonged delays in issuing British visas for our new staff members who cannot arrive to take up their duty. Besides, we incur substantial financial losses by paying rent for apartments of our staff while they are vacant.
Those attempts of the British authorities, and we have been told that this is their consolidated position, to degrade our ability to function as a diplomatic mission are aimed at diminishing and limiting the Russian diplomatic presence in the UK and to hamper our work in violation of the Vienna Convention of 1961.
Such an obvious attempt by the British side to wreck at its own will the established international order which testifies to a dangerous gamble by the UK in respect of the Russian diplomatic and consular missions. A lot to think about for all foreign diplomatic missions to the UK, which the UK has difficulties with in bilateral relationship.

 




LATEST EVENTS

15.06.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's speech at the British Library exhibition "Russian Revolution: Hope, Tragedy, Myths"

The exhibition "Hope, Tragedy, Myths" gives an excellent insight into the tragic events of 1917: why the revolution started, how it unfolded and evolved into the civil war. It explores the ideas behind the conflict and gives a comprehensive and accurate image. The exhibition gives a unique opportunity to see original documents related to the key personalities of the Russian history, and not only politicians - the section telling the story of the Russian emigration has valuable documents on Russian literature history.


13.06.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko’s speech at Russia’s National Day Reception (13 June 2017, London)

Your Royal Highness, Excellencies, Dear friends, It is a privilege to welcome you all at my Residence on the occasion of Russia’s National Day. Thanks God for fine weather. Hope you will enjoy the time at our place. Ever since my country embarked upon the path of radical change 30 years ago, we have had a difficult, even painful journey. It was the price of profound transformation of a society, aspiring for freedom and justice. We abandoned any ideology as alien to common sense and real needs of real people. We have been seeing those tough decisions bearing fruit.


26.05.2017 - Ambassador Yakovenko’s address at the RBCC Business Forum (25 May, “BMA House”, London)

It is my pleasure to welcome the participants of the annual Business Forum held under the auspices of the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce. Whatever the political situation, the Chamber has always been successful in its mission to strengthen bilateral trade and economic ties (“Russo-British Chamber of Commerce” was registered on the 23rd of October, 1916, in London as a joint-stock company with the aim “to promote trade between the British and Russian Empires”).


19.05.2017 - Ambassador Yakovenko’s remarks at opening of the "Travels in Holy Russia with the Temple Gallery” exhibition

Dear Ladies and gentlemen, Friends, It’s a real honor for me to be here today at the opening of exhibition of photographs: "Travels in Holy Russia with the Temple Gallery”.


11.05.2017 - The Worshipful Mayor of Southwark speech on Victory Day (May 9 2017, Imperial War Museum)

I welcome you all here today at the Soviet War Memorial as we remember those who gave their lives during the Second World War on the 72nd anniversary of the victory of the allied forces in Europe.


09.05.2017 - Ambassador Yakovenko’s remarks at the wreath-laying ceremony at the Soviet War Memorial (London, 9 May 2017)

Today we honour and remember men and women who fought heroically, sacrificing their lives in the fight against fascism. We also honour all those who selflessly toiled at factories to bring the Victory Day nearer. All those who suffered one way or another, went through all the hardships and tragedies of that war


17.04.2017 - Ambassador Yakovenko answers the Daily Mail questions (17 April 2017)

1. Theresa May said today (Thursday) that Russia was on the “wrong side of the argument” when it comes to Syria, what is your response to that? Answer: With all my respect for Prime Minister Theresa May I’ve got to say that the opposite is true. Even former British Ambassador in Damascus Peter Ford (on the BBC the other day) said that there is no moderate opposition alternative to the present government is Syria. That’s why there is urgent need for lasting ceasefire and political process among the Syrians, so that they can decide for themselves. It seems that our Western partners don’t like this approach and want to decide for the Syrians who will take part in the political process and who shall not. I think the reason is they know well what the choice of the Syrians is going to be after the 6 years of civil war.


10.04.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's opening remarks at Quantum Workshop (7 April 2017)

I am honoured to be at the opening the Trilateral Quantum Workshop organised by the Russian Quantum Centre. This is an unprecedented and very timely event. Even as somebody rather uninitiated in quantum science, I hear more and more about the advances in this area and find myself reading up on the basics of quantum technology. Luckily, wider public now has the benefit of learning more from Internet.


17.03.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko about learning Russian: talking points for BBC interview

Foreign languages are an essential skill in the modern world. For example, in Russia, English is taught in all schools, mostly as primary and sometimes as secondary foreign language (2 foreign languages are now mandatory). Russian, the language that has most native speakers in Europe, is equally important for economic, cultural and political reasons. Learning Russian is in high demand in Asia, including China. Today you don’t even need to physically attend classes – online education is available, in some cases even for free, by Pushkin State Russian Language Institute, Moscow State University and RT TV channel. In UK, the demand for Russian is high: 21% of British employers are looking for Russian-speaking staff – this is no wonder since 600 British companies are working in our country, and the prospects are good: GDP is expected to grow between 1 and 2 percent this year.


15.03.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's speech at Valentina Tereshkova concert (March 14, Ambassador’s Residence)

It’s an honour and real pleasure for me to welcome a legendary woman – Dr Valentina Tereshkova, Russian cosmonaut, engineer, politician, mother and friend. You are a real Russian star, our pride and a true example of patriotism.



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