25 January 2020
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692 days have passed since the Salisbury incident - no credible information or response from the British authorities                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     684 days have passed since the death of Nikolay Glushkov on British soil - no credible information or response from the British authorities

SPEECHES, INTERVIEWS, ARTICLES

26.05.2017

Ambassador Yakovenko’s address at the RBCC Business Forum (25 May, “BMA House”, London)

It is my pleasure to welcome the participants of the annual Business Forum held under the auspices of the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce. Whatever the political situation, the Chamber has always been successful in its mission to strengthen bilateral trade and economic ties (“Russo-British Chamber of Commerce” was registered on the 23rd of October, 1916, in London as a joint-stock company with the aim “to promote trade between the British and Russian Empires”).
We are, indeed, going through interesting, stirring times full of challenges and opportunities. General elections will be held in Britain in two-week’s time. You will have a new parliament. Parliamentary elections are due in France and Germany. But key on the agenda for all nations, including Russia and the West, are issues of economic development. Our President has approved the Concept of economic security for the period of up to 2030. It provides for structural reforms and diversification. No doubt, those issues will be in the focus of our electoral campaign next year. People everywhere are concerned over standards of living and economic opportunities.
Today the political relationship between Russia and the UK, to put it mildly, is not at its best. Almost all major bilateral official mechanisms of cooperation have been frozen for the last three years. A proposed visit of British Foreign Secretary to Moscow was “postponed” and then cancelled early this year. Instead, the British side pushed forward an extravagant idea of imposing new sanctions against Russia on Syria at the G-7 ministerial in Lucca and failed.
A few words about Syria. Everyone in Europe is interested in finding a political solution to the Syrian crisis, not more conflict and confrontation. It should be remembered, that Russia intervened in Syria to prevent collapse of its statehood as a result of utter failure of the policies of the West and its regional allies for five years. We have to fulfill the plan of political settlement adopted by UN Security Council.
Lookindg at Europe and its landscape we see a lot of opportunities. Take Germany for an example of a constructive approach. Chancellor Angela Merkel recently had talks with President Vladimir Putin in Sochi. Our trade with Germany is up 43 % in January-February this year (33 % - in January-March). Hope the same attitude will ultimately prevail on the part of the British Government.
At the same time, which is noteworthy, businesses of Russia and the UK retain their direct and efficient contacts. In March, the 10th meeting of the Russian-British Joint Liaison Group on establishing the International Financial Centre in Russia took place in Moscow. Next week, the 21st annual International Economic Forum will take place in St.Petersburg, embracing leading British business associations and companies such as “City-UK”, “BP”, “Shell”, “Rolls-Royce”, “AstraZeneca” and others. More than 600 British companies keep on operating in Russia, whereas nearly all leading Russian companies are listed on the London Stock Exchange, and those include “Gazprom”, “Rosneft”, “Sberbank” and about 60 others.
I am pleased to note the recent positive trends in our bilateral trade. In the first quarter it rose by 18 % (against the drop by 8 % last year). In general, we are quite optimistic about the prospects of bilateral economic relations. And recovery of the Russian economy will contribute to this process. According to the IMF forecast, Russian GDP growth rate is to be 1,5 % this year, whereas the Russian Ministry of economic development predicts that this indicator will reach 2,0 %. We have managed to bring the inflation to its historical post-Soviet low of 4 %, which will enable us to set in motion a wide range of our own development instruments.
It is evident nowadays that the negative effect caused by the anti-Russian sanctions has turned out to be short-term and limited. But some countries lost our market in the process. It is enough to cite the fact that Russian energy companies have been successful in terms of replacing cutting-edge Western technologies in the area of production and processing with analogues of our own. Among the sectors, enjoying remarkably dynamic growth, are pharmaceutics and agriculture.
Russia is far from withdrawing into its shell. We are enthusiastic about various projects of multilateral economic cooperation. A vivid example in this connection is our attitude towards the New Silk Road initiative (“One Belt, One Road”), promoted by China. Given its natural compatibility and synergy with the Eurasian Economic Union, we can witness the emergence of a new large-scale economic configuration in Eurasia, with Russia being at the centre of this process. According to my contacts, British businesses consider Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union to be a sort of “door to Asia”, to say nothing of the opportunities, provided by economic and infrastructure projects in Siberia and the Far East of Russia.
The above bilateral cooperation on the creation of International Financial Centre in Moscow proves that efficient interaction in the economic sphere is possible even in the conditions of a political stalemate. The British Government was wise enough not to stand in its way. Let me seize the opportunity to invite British businesses to take part in the “RUSSIA CALLING!” Forum (London session will be held on the 20th-21st of June, 2017).
Unfortunately, besides purely political aspects, there are some other factors, contributing to the negative perception of Russia in the UK and, therefore, damaging the prospects for bilateral trade and economic cooperation. One of the most notorious of them is the so called “fake news” that casts a shade on Russia in various respects and aims at forging a “toxic” image of our country – a phenomenon that we encounter time and again in the British media. I wouldn’t speculate on masterminds and beneficiaries of the “fake news” mill. I’d rather stress that it is businesses that can play a significant role in providing the British society with an objective picture of Russia.
These are dark days marked by the appalling terrorist attack in Manchester. Let me once again express my deepest condolences on behalf of the Russian Federation to the people of the UK. In his letter to PM Theresa May President Vladimir Putin – in line with his previous repeated calls for creating an international united front against terrorism – expressed our willingness to build up counter-terrorism cooperation with the British partners, both on bilateral basis and within the framework of broad international efforts.
Russia is open to renewal of close and constructive dialogue and cooperation with the UK not only in the economic sphere, but also on a number of international issues. We’ll be waiting patiently until our counterparts in London are ready for it.
To conclude, I would like to recall the famous “I have a dream” speech by Dr. Martin Luther King. Like Dr. King, I have a dream as well. I dream of the time, when shackles impeding our bilateral trade and economic relations are cast off. I dream of the time, when all mechanisms, once devised to promote them, but frozen due to political whims, are restored (such as Russia-UK Strategic Dialogue “2+2”, Joint Steering Committee on Trade and Investment, High-level Energy Dialogue and others). And I also dream of steady increase in the number of members of the RBCC.
I wish the participants of the Forum successful and fruitful work to strengthen bilateral economic ties for the benefit of the peoples of our great nations.

 




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