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SPEECHES, INTERVIEWS, ARTICLES

07.07.2016

Russia – EU relations: between sanctions and broader European integration (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

There are three main questions that experts usually ask with regard to the sanctions against Russia. Are the restrictions fair and do they conform to the UN and WTO rules? Do the sanctions help attain the declared political goals? And finally, are the sanctions welcome by the Russian people as the country’s economy focuses on import substitution and strengthens business ties with the East? The answer to all these questions is no.
Russia’s position on economic sanctions is well-known. We oppose them as an instrument of foreign policy, especially bypassing the UN Security Council and international trade agreements. Russia’s policy to restrict agricultural imports from a number of countries is solely intended as a countermeasure. We are ready to revise it as soon as the Western countries lift their sanctions. The sanctions negatively influenced business interests of our foreign partners, including British companies operating on the Russian market.
In spite of an ongoing sanctions pressure and a fall in oil prices, Russia’s economy has managed to adapt to the new reality. Ironically, the current slowdown helped to boost such non-oil exports like wheat. Since exchange rate of the ruble has adjusted along with the country’s financial system, a weaker currency has made wheat purchases from Russia very lucrative. As a matter of fact, while Russian industry witnessed an approximate decline of 3.3 percent last year, the agriculture grew by 3 percent.
The fall of the main macroeconomic indicators has stopped or decreased to the minimum level. During the first half of the current year the amount of Russia’s international reserves has risen from $368 to 394bn as Russia’s corporate debt has fallen significantly. We are now entering a period of stabilization, a clear sign of which is a recent lowering of the key rate by the Bank of Russia. Major international forecasters see the Russian economy bottomed in 2016 and rise up to 1.5 % in 2017.
All of this has been possible thanks to the government anti-crisis programme, which included optimisation of expenses, promotion of import substitution, support for the banking sector. Significant attention is given to helping small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as reducing regulatory burden on the economy.
A great number of leading international experts also recognize that the Russian economy has managed to adapt, for key indicators have dropped much less than expected. It appears that the Russian economy has weathered the sanctions and low oil prices well, while the government has succeeded in implementing systemic changes needed to secure a sustainable long-term growth.
Europe’s geographical closeness to Russia offers huge economic benefits and more cooperation with Russia would be a natural choice. A Eurasian alliance would bring the EU closer to Russia, Central Asia and China economically. Such a Eurasian economic community, based on mutual respect, fair conditions and structural support for poorer states and regions – with no political strings attached – would also lead to a greater security for Europe and might become an important contribution to a peace in 21st century.
This is why Russia strongly supports eventual economic integration between the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the EU. Common goals, such as political stability, social justice and economic prosperity make the EAEU and EU natural partners. We believe that there are no contradictions between the two models of cooperation, since both of them are based on similar principles and norms, including those of the WTO. The two Unions could effectively complement each other. Direct dialogue and practical cooperation between the EAEU and the EU would contribute to the resolution of many urgent global and regional issues. In a volatile world with uncertain global development scenarios, regional integration based on pragmatic principles of a trade, customs and market union presents a most prudent and successful way to promote our common interests in the new global environment. So, there are positive choices in Europe, especially at our time of multiple crises. The outcome of the British referendum points in the direction of simpler forms of integration that are more easily understood and accepted by people, and have democratic legitimacy on their side.




LATEST EVENTS

24.06.2018 - Greeting by Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko for the Znaniye school Family Day (Ealing, 24 June 2018)

Dear friends and guests, I am delighted to welcome you at a Family Day celebrating Russia and the World Cup. Today, Russia is the place to be for the whole world. It is a great pleasure to hear fans from all continents appreciating Russia’s hospitality, friendliness and openness to everyone. Right now, people from virtually every country see the 11 host cities, from the Baltic Sea to the Urals on the border of Europe and Asia, and realize how diverse and beautiful our country is. We’d like to bring a bit of Russia and the excitement of the World Cup to Ealing, for those who couldn’t make it to the tournament. By the way, so far both our teams are doing very well, and let us hope they keep up this good work. We cheer for both Russia and England but I’m afraid this can change if both teams meet at the semi-finals.


20.06.2018 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions at the Primakov Readings international forum, Moscow, May 30, 2018

Mr Dynkin, Colleagues and friends, Ladies and gentlemen, I am grateful for a new opportunity to speak at the international forum named after Academician Evgeny Primakov, an outstanding Russian statesman, academic and public figure. It is indeed a great honour for me. I consider Mr Primakov, with whom I worked at the Foreign Ministry in the latter half of the 1990s, my senior comrade and teacher, as probably do the majority of those who crossed paths with him at one point. Holding this representative conference under the aegis of one of Russia’s leading academic institutes – National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO) that also bears Primakov’s name – has become a good tradition. The Primakov Readings have earned a reputation as a venue for serious dialogue of authoritative specialists on the most pressing issues of international politics and the global economy. Today, there is no lack of buzzwords used by politicians, experts and scientists to capture the current moment in international relations. They talk about the crisis of the “liberal world order” and the advent of the post-Western era, “hot peace” and the “new cold war”. The abundance of terms itself shows that there is probably no common understanding of what is happening. It also points to the fairly dynamic and contradictory state of the system of international relations that is hard to characterise, at least at the present stage, with one resounding phrase. The authors of the overarching theme of the current Primakov Readings probably handled the challenge better than others. In its title “Risks of an unstable world order’ they provocatively, and unacademically, combine the words “unstable” and “order”.


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.



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