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SPEECHES, INTERVIEWS, ARTICLES

27.09.2016

Speech by Russian Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko at the RBCC Centenary Business Forum

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Exactly one hundred years ago (23rd October 1916) the RBCC was incorporated into Joint Stock Company in London aimed at “promotion of commerce between the British and Russian Empires”. It is remarkable that the RBCC has survived not only the two Empires but also two World Wars and the Cold War.

          Despite the fact that the Cold War has been made history, the Russian-British relationship in the recent years have been, regrettably, far from satisfactory. Let me be frank: a number of confrontational steps taken by the former British government has had a negative impact on trade and economic co-operation in general (bilateral trade declined by 50 percent in 2015 to US 11,2 bn).

Notwithstanding external pressure and unfavorable market situation, the Russian economy has held ground and began to recover. That has been possible largely due to an anti-crisis program launched by the Russian Government. The main aims of the program are to optimise public spending, support import substitution, recapitalise the banking system. Russia ranks 51st in the 2016 World Bank Ease of Doing Business index, coming well ahead of China, Brazil and India (who ranked 84, 116 and 130 accordingly). We have succeeded in bringing inflation dramatically down to 6 percent. This will allow us to harness a wide range of domestic development mechanisms. Next year we expect a revival of the GDP growth (at about 1 percent a year).

Let me stress that Russia is still open to resumption of constructive cooperation with the United Kingdom on a wide range of international and bilateral issues of mutual interest. We expect the new British Government to adopt a more balanced approach to Russia in general. At least, the recent meetings between Vladimir Putin and Theresa May on the margins of the G20 summit in China and of Sergey Lavrov and Boris Johnson at the UN General Assembly Session in New York, which have been held in a constructive manner, have inspired hope for a gradual normalisation.

We are satisfied with the progress of our business cooperation. Around 600 British companies continue to operate in Russia. In the course of the 2016 St Petersburg International Economic Forum a number of important bilateral deals were signed, including between such top players as Rosneft and BP, who will start joint exploration of large oil and gas deposits in Eastern Siberia. And between Gazprom and Shell on their “Baltyiskiy” and “Sakhalin-2” joint LNG production projects.

Regular biannual meetings of the Russo-British Joint Liaison Group on Creating International Financial Centre in Moscow continue to take place. Heads of BP, Shell, Unilever, AstraZeneca and others regularly take part in the meetings of the Foreign Investment Consultative Council chaired by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev; the next one is to take place on 17th October. All these British companies are members of the RBCC.

To summarise, I would say that despite the variable climate of Russian-British political relations over last century, the RBCC has always continued to be successful in fulfilling its main mission – to effectively promote the development of mutually beneficial business ties between our two countries. In this endeavour, the RBCC may always count on the support of the Russian Embassy and Russian Government at large.

I wish all the participants of this RBCC’s Centenary Business Forum successful and fruitful work!




LATEST EVENTS

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.


12.03.2017 - Ambassador Yakovenko's interview for Sunday Express

Q: As a precursor to Boris Johnson's visit to Moscow in the coming weeks, what is your understanding of the nature of the visit and the purpose of the invitation - given that he will be the most senior UK Government official to visit the Kremlin in a good number of years? What message does Russia hope that the visit will send to the rest of the world? A: It is going to be the first working visit at Foreign Ministers' level in our bilateral relation over the past three years. We hope that it means that our British partners are interested in resumption of political dialogue.


28.02.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's speech at Defender of the Fatherland Day reception

On 23 February, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation celebrate their main holiday - the Defender of the Fatherland Day. This day is important not only for those who wear or used to wear military insignia, but also for all those who care about the words "Motherland" and "duty". Peace of our homes is guarded by those who serve in the country as well as abroad. Throughout history people in Russia respected military, which, according to Peter the Great, was "the first of the worldly affairs as the most important for the defense of the Fatherland". As the history teaches us – the stronger the army is, the safer is the world.


14.02.2017 - UK – RUSSIA YEAR OF SCIENCE AND EDUCATION: THE BEGINNING OF A BEAUTIFUL RELATIONSHIP? (Robin Grimes, FCO Chief Scientific Adviser, Part of Global Science and Innovation Network)

At the end of the classic film Casablanca, Rick says to the Chief of Police “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship”. So, as we embark upon a year of UK Russia Science & (Science) Education events, what do we expect our scientific relationship to look like 12 months from now? There are some crucial points to bear in mind.


10.02.2017 - UK worried about its place if US-Russia ties are repaired – Russia’s UK envoy (Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko for RT)

Hacking, destabilizing Western states, building up its military might, and weaponizing information – Russia is hitting the headlines and seems to be to blame for all of the world’s problems. One of the loudest anti-Russia voices is the United Kingdom, condemning Moscow’s actions and calling for economic sanctions against it. Most of the accusations are far from proven – so is there still room left for cooperation on vital issues between world powers? And now that the UK’s ally the US may be ready to change course and start making deals with Moscow, is there a chance for a change in tone? We ask Russia’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom – Alexander Yakovenko.


08.02.2017 - Ambassador’s Alexander Yakovenko speech at the opening of "Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932" exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts (February 7, 2017)

It’s an honour for me to be here at the opening of this impressive exhibition. The best Russian museums have provided masterpieces from their collections which give a fascinating insight into the drastic and violent transformation of culture and society in Russia 100 years ago. Our revolution was a complex, multi-dimensional phenomenon, a direct result of our common European catastrophe, which was WWI.


30.01.2017 - Alexander Kramarenko, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary for the “International Affairs” magazine (Moscow). Unaccomplished mission of Alexander Benckendorff and its lessons.

11 January marked 100 years since the death of the last Ambassador of the Russian Empire to the UK count Alexander Benckendorff, who was buried in the catholic Westminster Cathedral in London. This anniversary was a timely reminder of his unaccomplished mission in London, where he arrived in 1903. What was it and why is it still relevant now?


25.01.2017 - A visit to Syria by an independent group (31 August - 7 September).



13.12.2016 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's interview for The Daily Mail (full text)

Question: Does Russia hope for better co-operation (both political and military) with the UK and how can this be achieved/ what would this look like? Answer: Unlike MI-6 Director Alex Younger’s portrayal of Russia, I can assure you that Russia doesn’t view Britain as a strategic adversary, and it just cannot be. There is nothing strategic for us to contest. We hope for real cooperation, not war of words, primarily in the fight against terrorism, including military and special services cooperation, in political settlement in Syria and other international issues.



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