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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

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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