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SPEECHES, INTERVIEWS, ARTICLES

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.

Firstly, it will be about dialogue. That doesn’t mean we will always agree. In fact, if we do, that would be a failure. Scientists need to argue, but through that process they make progress – and anyway they generally make up and reach consensus.

Secondly, we should embrace the unexpected outcome. Russia and the UK have very different education systems, which gives rise to different thinking and the ability to consider problems from different angles: But isn’t that exactly what we want? Real scientific progress happens when problems, the big problems, are addressed using a combination of different approaches. If we always look at issues from the same perspective we are unlikely to achieve the best results – there is a growing appreciation that scientific co-operation across borders is more productive than co-operation within.

Courtesy of Aleksei Zotov (British Council)

Thirdly, we will need to make a bit of a splash, a bit of a noise, to grab people’s imaginations. Well we’ve started in the best possible way. The first external mention of the UK-Russia Year of Science and Education was during the unveiling, at the London Science Museum, of British Astronaut Tim Peake’s Russian re-entry module – a great event that also demonstrated the increasingly close relationship between our Space Agencies and museums. The next day we officially launched the Year of Science and Education in Moscow at the TASS news agency. British Council are leading the UK contribution and their Chief Executive, Sir Ciarán Devane spoke at the launch. Following remarks by Russia’s Deputy Minister for Education and Science, Ludmila Ogorodova, I added my bit and importantly delivered a message of good-will from the Foreign Secretary who said that “when the UK followed British Astronaut Tim Peake’s journey into space on board a Russian-made spacecraft, alongside his Russian cosmonaut colleagues” it was “a reminder of what can be achieved by working together.”

Courtesy of Aleksei Zotov (British Council)

Finally, it must be about young people. We will have a number of events aimed at developing links between the next generations of Russian and British scientists. That doesn’t mean we ignore all the great achievements of previous collaborations. Of course, ‘celebrations of excellence’ are part of the way we encourage activity, including that by younger people. There will be a number of events where we look back. For example, at an event looking back at Mendeleev’s 19th century work on what he termed the Periodic System, later expanded into the Periodic Table, we shall also celebrate last years’ brand new additions to the Periodic Table.

We do not yet know just how many events there will be during the Year. Last year’s Year of Language and Culture had just about 100, so we ought to try to beat that! And, before you say that it’s about quality not quantity – agreed – it’s always nice to aim for both! Certainly we have great supporters for events: The Royal Society and the Royal Society of Chemistry are already planning activities, as is the Natural History Museum.

There are always lots of stories about how we came to where we are in science, which almost always come down to person-to-person relationships. So, as we embark upon the UK Russia Year of Science and Education, clearly this is not so much the beginning of a relationship but another opportunity to remind ourselves of the great things we have done, are doing and shall do. And will it be beautiful? Well beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so let’s re-visit it in a year.




LATEST EVENTS

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.


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.


30.11.2016 - Speech by Russian Ambassador, Alexander Yakovenko at the Russian-British Business Forum (30 November 2016, London)

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”.


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.



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