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SPEECHES, INTERVIEWS, ARTICLES

30.11.2016

Speech by Russian Ambassador, Alexander Yakovenko at the Russian-British Business Forum (30 November 2016, London)

 

  1. Warm greeting to all participants of the forum (Russian-British Business Forum "Partnerships for Growth. New Strategies").

-I am pleased to witness the ongoing constructive cooperation between business communities of our two countries in spite of the unfavorable political situation. This year has seen a number of impressive business events, including those arranged by the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce (as it marked its 100th anniversary), “VTB”, “Moscow Exchange” and the “Russian-British Working Group for the development of the International Financial Centre in Moscow”.
This November only, “ACRA” (a Russian rating agency), and “Urals” (a brand of export crude oil) were presented in London – for the first time outside of Russia.

-Major Russian and British energy companies continue working together:
“BP” and “Rosneft” are developing large oil and gas fields in eastern Siberia, while “Shell” and “Gazprom” carry on their Baltic and Sakhalin-2 LNG joint projects. The contribution of “BP”, “Shell”, as well as a number of other major British companies, including “AstraZeneca” and “Unilever”, was specially noted at the October meeting of the Foreign Investment Advisory Council chaired by Russian Prime-Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

-Russia's economy has proved to endure the pressure of sanctions and is now recovering, having ranked 51st in Doing Business 2016 – better than China (84th) Brazil (116th) and India (130th). Russia’s GDP growth is expected to pick up in 2017 (up to 1 p.c. in annual terms), which increases interest in the Russian market as well as demand for business communication by foreign businesses.

 

2. I am often asked what Brexit means for the Russian-British trade and economic relationship. To my view, Britain may benefit from leaving the EU by becoming more competitive in a number of sectors, most importantly, from being free to trade on its own. Here is what I mean.

-Over the years the EU introduced a variety of antidumping and other politically motivated duties at the request of its members. Such policy was implemented in industries, where products may face competition from outside the European single market. Eventually it resulted in economic costs for the EU countries, including the United Kingdom, whose customers paid for certain products much more than they could. This applies to fertilizers, biodiesel, as well as agricultural products, leather shoes, bicycles and many other products.

-May I bring fertilizers as an example. At one time many years ago, the European Union imposed duties on all the types of fertilizers to protect their producers. However, a number of countries were exempt from these restrictions, apparently for political reasons – for example, former European colonies, such as Morocco and Tunisia. In addition to that, since the beginning of the 21st century, the European Parliament has made emphasis on environment and food safety. Now legislators consider limiting the use of phosphate fertilizers with high content of cadmium alongside with other heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, mercury and chromium, which are extremely hazardous to human health. For example, cadmium is known to cause cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

-At the same time, Russian-sourced phosphates – naturally clean fertilizers with only negligible traces of heavy metals – are subject to significant duties (up to 6.5 p.c.), while European-sourced ones, with heavy metals content hundreds of times higher, are traded without restrictions.

-Withdrawal from the European Union will allow the UK to make its own independent decisions on such important matters as health of the nation and preservation of land and water resources for future generations. In the case of fertilizers, this may mean introduction of severe restrictions on the content of heavy metals in imported fertilizers and abolition of duties on clean ones. Eventually, this will increase competition on the local market and improve the economy of British farming. This would enable the British government to guarantee the quality of agricultural products and reduce health risks without the European Union red tape dictated by economic interests of certain EU countries.

3. Russia is open for a renewed cooperation with the United Kingdom on a wide range of bilateral and international matters of mutual interest, as far as our partners in London are ready. However, the current state of political dialogue fails to meet strategic interests of both countries. In this regard, we urge British businesses to challenge the state of affairs by voicing their concerns to the British government. A closer cooperation of our countries could make significant contribution to addressing global challenges.

-This Forum offers a great opportunity to reinvigorate mutually beneficial ties between Russian and British businesses. May I wish you successful and productive work.




LATEST EVENTS

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.


05.12.2016 - Ambassador Yakovenko answers to media question regarding Russia’s efforts in Syria

Question: What is Russia’s position on a draft UNSC resolution on Aleppo recently presented to the Security Council? Answer: We believe that the introduction of this draft is utterly counterproductive. In the coming days experts from Russia and the United States are to begin their work on the withdrawal of all fighters from the eastern part of Aleppo and achieving an agreement on routes and timing of their exit from the city. After that the ceasefire will come into force.


25.11.2016 - Ambassador Yakovenko answers to media question regarding listing Ahrar al-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam as terrorist organizations

Question: What was the Western partners’ reaction as regards Russia’s initiative at the UN Security Council on listing Ahrar al-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam as terrorist organizations?


23.11.2016 - Answers by Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko to media questions after the demonstration near the Embassy on the 23 of November

1. Question: How do you see today’s demonstration in support of Russia’s policy in Syria? Answer: From the very start of the Russian operation in Syria we have seen a lot of support from Britons who see that the war being waged there is а war against enemies of the whole European civilization, including Britain. This support can be felt now as well, despite the Whitehall instigated campaign to accuse Russia of “war crimes”. News of civilian suffering are cynically exploited to hamper the defeat of terrorists and their allies, to undermine the political process. It’s good that more and more people come to understand this.


09.11.2016 - Speech by Russian Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko at the Reception at the Russian Embassy marking Russian’s participation in the World Travel Market

Russia has always paid a significant attention to developing tourist potential of the country and attracting foreign guests. This is the reason why Russia is well represented at the annual International Exhibition “World Travel Market” (7-9 November). I’m happy to have today here with us the representatives of two major Russian cities and tourist destinations - St Petersburg and Kazan, which are to make presentations of these two magnificent cities’ tourist and investment potential.


09.11.2016 - Russian Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's response to a question of the “Rossiya” TV Channel

Question: What is the attitude in Britain toward the present presidential campaign in the US?


27.09.2016 - Speech by Russian Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko at the RBCC Centenary Business Forum

Speech by Russian Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko at the RBCC Centenary Business Forum (27 September 2016 at 9:10, BMA House)


24.09.2016 - Why not give the Syrians a break? (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RBTH)

It was in the fertile soil of the ongoing civil conflict that ISIS expanded to Syria. Ever since, Russia has been urging the establishment of a common front of the international community against terrorists, including the al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra, which despite its recent rebranding continues to be a terrorist organization. We agree on that with our U.S. partners, as testified to by the Lavrov-Kerry accords, reached in Geneva along the lines agreed by presidents Putin and Obama. Russia insists on declassifying this deal, so that there is not the slightest whiff of secret diplomacy about it. Terrorists played a key and leading role in the fight against government forces.


21.09.2016 - UN convoy attack: questions to be answered (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The attack on the UN aid convoy near Aleppo has been widely covered in UK, prominently featuring the assertions that either Russia or the Syrian Government was behind the tragic event. Even though media did report the statement of the Russian Ministry of Defence that both Russian and Syrian warplanes didn’t carry out strikes against the humanitarian convoy, they omitted a number of details pointing to a highly suspicious nature of this incident.


02.09.2016 - Agenda: I pay tribute to the dignity and modesty of the brave sailors of the Arctic convoys (by Consul General in Edinburgh Andrey A. Pritsepov to Herald Scotland)

Tonight I shall host a gala reception on board the Royal Yacht Britannia to mark the 75th anniversary of the first Arctic convoy with the codename Operation Dervish. It is meant to be a special event: a solemn and dignified tribute to those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. More than 50 Arctic convoys veterans living in Scotland are attending the celebrations.



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