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SPEECHES, INTERVIEWS, ARTICLES

20.06.2013

Syria: Russia optimistic despite differences (by Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to UK)

In the run-up to the G8 Summit at Lough Erne, there was much speculation over the disagreements between Russia and the West on Syria: Claims of chemical weapons use, arms deliveries to the rebels and the prospects for a new Geneva conference.

But the talks in Northern Ireland – and the meeting between President Putin and Prime Minister Cameron in London the day before, in which I had the privilege of participating – have shown that their positions are much closer than they may seem at first.

The primary points of convergence are the absolute need to stop violence in Syria and the idea that only a political solution to the crisis is acceptable. Leaders have reiterated their strong support for a conference, proposed several weeks ago by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry. They were united in denouncing terrorist and extremist elements in Syria, and in declaring that, in the postwar period, the rights of all ethnic and religious segments of Syrian society must be upheld. Significantly, all G8 participants have condemned any use of chemical weapons and have called on the parties to the conflict to allow access to the UN’s investigating team.

It is already being widely commented that the summit has signaled a shift in Russia’s approach to the conflict. I would say that Russia’s approach is now better understood by our Western partners. In fact, the politics of consensus have carried the day.

For instance, the planned conference will pave the way for negotiations between the Syrian government and the opposition that the Russian authorities have been advocating since the crisis began more than two years ago. We remain of the view that the conference must bring together government representatives and a wide range of opposition groups. Only a truly inclusive representation can bring about a successful outcome for all Syrians. We continue to believe that the role of outside players is not to impose solutions – this strategy has proven wrong in many instances, including the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks – but rather to help Syrians by encouraging them to negotiate in good faith and by guaranteeing the arrangements that they may reach. Within this context, it is crucial to ensure the participation of all external players, including Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Turkey.

A broad discussion is under way on arming the so-called rebels. On that, we remain in disagreement with the UK and US. Sending weapons to the opposition means fueling the conflict rather than bringing it to an end. It would also create threats to other countries; cases in point include the sad experience of US help to the Mujahideen in Afghanistan and the recent case of weapons sent by France to Libya ending up in the hands of rebels fighting the French army in Mali. Perhaps more importantly, these discussions result in the opposition and government in Syria having expectations that make it harder to bring them to the negotiating table.

However, we remain optimistic on the conference’s prospects. The opinion is widely held that Moscow must bring Syrian President Bashar Assad to the talks. This may be considered done: Assad has declared his willingness to engage in negotiations, and has appointed a high-level negotiating team. We await the results of our US partners’ corresponding efforts in respect of the opposition. We wish success to our US friends, as they are probably the only power capable of persuading the opposition to participate in Geneva-2.




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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