25 April 2018
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SPEECHES, INTERVIEWS, ARTICLES

19.12.2012

Ambassador’s Notebook: The Continuing Arab Spring – Managing Sectarian Tensions

The mainstream opinion on the Arab Spring in Britain seems to be quite reasonable. First, we should not make the mistake of viewing the Arab Spring through a sectarian lens, second – we should not view sectarian politics as the defining issue affecting the region’s security, third – all countries in the region have a common interest in defusing sectarian tensions, and, finally, fourth – that sectarian tensions can only be defused and overcome by peaceful political means. What is missing, however, is the reality of outside interference.

Take Syria, for example. For decades it has been one of the strongholds of religious tolerance, with the Sunni population accounting for approximately 74% of the population, 13% Shia, 10% Christian (in absolute numbers that means about 2.5 million Christians). Further, Syria used to be a secular state. Now, all of a sudden, “sectarian tensions” appear. To me, these emanate from the broader historical context of the region.

One shouldn’t dismiss off hand the fact that the first wave of mass awakening in the region, in the 1950s, was subverted by outside forces. This outside presence didn’t help those nations evolve organically. In fact, as a factor, it distorted their development. And now, that outside strategic oversight of the region is all but destroyed, attempts are made to apply templates from European history to the situation, including the notion of revolutionary violence as an instrument of societal transformation. This encourages violence instead of discouraging it. It left the external players helpless in the face of the efforts by certain regional powers to create a firewall of sectarian tensions in Syria to stop the tide of Arab Spring before it reaches their borders.

We are strongly against outside interference in developments in Syria. We are doing everything within our power to stop the bloodshed, to bring the parties to the negotiating table, which is where the Syrians must agree their future. Only moderate politics and policies can help manage the situation in a positive way – all the more so since they represent the positive aspects of Europe’s historical heritage.

This is what the leading countries agreed on at the meeting in Geneva on June 30, 2012. We are working closely with the Syrian government and all opposition groups to implement these agreements. We believe that all other external actors that have influence over Syrian affairs also should ensure that all the Syrian parties agree on the approach to be taken to the implementation of decisions made at the Geneva meeting. That was precisely the goal of the preliminary contacts between Russian and American representatives with UN Special Envoy Brahimi.

However, Brahimi’s mission will only be successful if he sticks to what was agreed in Geneva. Setting out preconditions makes dialogue meaningless for the Syrian government. That is what the recognition of the “National Coalition” as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people effectively does. This makes the opposition feel that they have more to gain through their current strategy than through dialog. As for Assad, where is his incentive to negotiate? This policy of outside players only leads to more violence.




LATEST EVENTS

21.04.2018 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's talking points at the Press Conference, 20 April 2018

Since we met last time a lot of events took place: - Military strikes of the United States, UK and France against Syria in violation of the international law - Mission by OPCW inspectors to Douma - Speech of Prime Minister May in Parliament in support of the British aggression against Syria - Special meeting of the OPCW Executive Council (18 April 2018) - New developments in the classified case of Salisbury poisoning of Skripal family - No meaningful developments on the Glushkov case - and Cyber security threats I plan to comment all these issues. And I will be happy to answer all our questions, if you have any.


17.03.2018 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's interview for "Mail on Sunday" (full text)

Q: Bearing in mind that the US, France and Germany have said they agree with Britain that all the evidence suggests the attacks in Salisbury were the responsibility of the Russian state, what credibility can be placed on the denials issued by the Russian Government? A:We don't know if UK presented any evidence to US, France and Germany - highly likely none - but if they did, why not present it through the channels outlined in the Chemical Weapons Convention? Universal legal principle is presumption of innocence, and the burden of proof lies with the British Government. Its record includes the Iraq WMD dossier - you will remember that at some point doubting US and UK claims was considered a wild conspiracy theory. It is not any more.


26.01.2018 - Main foreign policy outcomes of 2017

In 2017, Russian diplomacy addressed multidimensional tasks to ensure national security and create a favourable external environment for our country's progressive development. Russia maintained an independent foreign policy, promoted a unifying agenda, and proposed constructive solutions to international problems and conflicts. It developed mutually beneficial relations with all interested states, and played an active role in the work of the UN, multilateral organisations and forums, including the G20, BRICS, the SCO, the OSCE, and the CSTO. Among other things, Russian policy has sought to prevent the destabilisation of international relations, and this responsible policy has met with broad understanding in the international community.


17.01.2018 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the unveiling of memorial plaque in Sayes Court Park

Dear Mayor, Dear Councillors, Lady Joan, Ladies and gentlemen, It is now 320 years ago that a truly remarkable man set foot in Deptford. As you know, the Russian Tsar Peter, later named the Great, visited Western Europe in 1697—1698 under the nickname of Peter Mikhailov, with his Grand Embassy. He was eager to find out about the latest achievements in science and technology and create new diplomatic alliances. Of course, England couldn’t escape his attention. He mostly studied shipbuilding at the famous Deptford Dockyard, but he also met King William III, and, reportedly, Isaac Newton. Peter’s landlord, the famous John Evelyn, was also a respected scientist – a founder member of the Royal Society.


13.12.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the Presentation of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia by Russia 2018 Local Organising Committee.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, I am pleased to welcome you to the Russian Embassy at the Presentation of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia by Russia 2018 Local Organising Committee. It’s a common knowledge, that football is the most popular game in the world. It is an honour for us to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup for the first time in the history of our country. I believe that those who come to Russia to support their national teams will leave with unforgettable memories.


08.12.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the Roscosmos "Sputnik" exhibition launch at Rossotrudnichestvo

Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the Roscosmos "Sputnik" exhibition launch at Rossotrudnichestvo (7 December 2017)


25.11.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the reception at the Embassy dedicated to Russian Film Week (24 November 2017)

Ladies and gentlemen, Dear friends First of all, I would like to pay tribute to the outstanding Russian opera singer Dmitri Hvorostovsky who passed away this week. In 2015 he gave a concert in this very hall. I am delighted to welcome you at our reception dedicated to the Russian Film Week and the environmental causes it champions. This year their charity partner is World Wide Fund for Nature, which runs many projects in Russia in coordination and with support of the Russian Government. Russia has a unique, fascinating wildlife. A number of this week’s films show the natural beauty of our land and are sure to raise awareness of how fragile this beauty is. We appreciate the WWF effort in Russia and worldwide and call on everybody to become a supporter, especially this year, marked as Year of Ecology in Russia.


20.11.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the launch of the Russian Film Week (19 November 2017)

Ladies and gentlemen, It is a pleasure for me to be at the opening of the second edition of the Russian Film Week here in London – which this year also spans to Cambridge and Edinburgh.


16.10.2017 - Unpublished letter to the Editor of The Times (sent 12 October)

Sir, If British MPs are free to speak out, wherever they wish, on any issue, why try to block their freedom of speech (“Helping Putin”, 11 October)? If a TV channel wants (and is legally bound) to present different points of view, why slam those who express these views? If the mere act of giving an interview to foreign media amounts to high treason, why does The Times interview Russian politicians without fear? And finally - while MPs critical of Russia are welcome guests on the Russian TV channel RT, does your paper give the same treatment to those critical of the paper’s owner? Konstantin Shlykov Press Secretary of the Embassy of the Russian Federation


25.09.2017 - PRESENTATION by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk at the Christian Future of Europe Conference 22 September 2017, London

Your Eminences and Your Excellencies, dear Mr. Ambassador, conference organizers and participants, I cordially greet all of those gathered today at the Russian Embassy in London to partake in this conference dedicated to the question of the future of Christianity in Europe. This topic is not only not losing any of its relevance, but is resounding ever anew. Experts believe that today Christianity remains not only the most persecuted religious community on the planet, but is also encountering fresh challenges which touch upon the moral foundations of peoples' lives, their faith and their values. Recent decades have seen a transformation in the religious and ethnic landscape of Europe.



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