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'[I]t is unclear to us why UNMOVIC and IAEA are not being informed,' Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Sergey Lavrov on Iraq, November 21

Statement by Sergey Lavrov, Russia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, at the Official Meeting of the Security Council on Iraq, November 21, 2003.

We thank Permanent Representatives John Negroponte of the United States and Emyr Jones Perry of Britain for their briefings. We take note of the efforts by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) to organize a normal life in the country and rehabilitate the economy and infrastructure. We note that the United States and the United Kingdom together with all the other UN Security Council members played an important role in securing the normal closure of the "oil for food" program and confirmed the CPA's pledge to carry through all the questions that so far remain unsolved under this program.

We also note with satisfaction that the International Advisory and Monitoring Board of the Development Fund for Iraq has at last been established. We expect that soon the SC will begin to receive reports on the work of this body, which in accordance with resolution 1483 (2003) is the key mechanism for ensuring the transparency of what is occurring in the financial sphere of the postwar reconstruction of Iraq.

Ambassador Negroponte spoke in detail also of the efforts to create an Iraqi army, security forces, a police and a border service.

At the same time in the course of the briefing it was acknowledged that the security situation in Iraq remains serious. By our appraisal, it continues to deteriorate. Terrorist and other acts of violence are increasing, as a result of which the civilian population suffers too. This requires condemnation and counteraction. We do not have information on how concretely the operations are being carried out against the organizers and perpetrators of terrorist acts, but we presume that any use of force should be proportionate. It is necessary to take all the measures to ensure that innocent civilians do not suffer.

We are grateful to Ambassador Negroponte that he mentioned the CPA's work on the problem of Iraqi WMD in his briefing. At the same time it is unclear to us why UNMOVIC and IAEA are not being informed of this work and why, for example, the report that the CPA search groups prepared in October cannot be handed over to the experts of UNMOVIC and IAEA. The more so as soon we will hear a regular report of UNMOVIC.

There was no mention in the course of the briefing of the topic of ascertaining the fate of the missing from the first Gulf war and Kuwaiti property. We expect to discuss these questions in December, when a regular report of the Secretary General on this subject will come in to the Security Council. Although we, of course, would like to know also about the results of the coalition's actions in these fields.

Like the colleagues who spoke before me, I would like to say a couple of words about the agreement which was concluded between the CPA and the Interim Governing Council (IGC) of Iraq. We do not know for what reason the agreement so far has not been officially presented to the Security Council.

Yet we are familiar with its text. We welcome the striving to impart to the political process new dynamics. Russia has always favored and continues to favor the acceleration of the transfer of power to the Iraqis and the restoration of the sovereignty of that country. At the same time we feel disappointed that the United Nations is not mentioned in the IGC-CPA agreement at all.

We are convinced - and the entire course of the last few months only confirms us in this - that for a successful solution of the Iraq problem there is a need, first of all, for the trust of the Iraqi people and, secondly, the most active participation of the international community. Like the representatives of France and Germany, Russia considers most noteworthy the idea of holding a UN international conference in which all the major political forces of Iraq, as well as Iraq's neighbors and other countries would participate. Proposing that a study should be made of this idea, we regard it as being capable of giving viability and generally recognized legitimacy to the political process.

Considering that the security situation in Iraq is degrading and that attacks are ever more often being made on representatives of new Iraqi structures as well, we do not rule out the option when that conference could be begun also outside Iraq, by analogy with the organization of Afghan settlement, of which Permanent Representative Gunter Pleuger of Germany also spoke.

Such a conference could form a truly authoritative and competent interim government of Iraq which jointly with the UN Secretary General and his special representative would work out practical steps in carrying out a comprehensive settlement effectively.

We also would like to ask a few questions regarding the text of the IGC-CPA agreement. This appears to us important for the CPA and IGC, as well as for the UN Secretariat and SC members, to take account of them in their further work.

In particular, whereas the timeframes for approval of a "basic law" (by February 28), creation of a transitional national assembly (by May 31) and formation of an interim government (by June 30) generally look justified, the subsequent steps - elections to a constitutional assembly (only by March 15, 2005) and a general election (by the end of 2005) - appear to be protracted. It would be more correct if the interim government and the transitional national assembly set the dates for elections to the constitutional assembly and for a general election. They will already be functioning by June 30, and it will be easier for them to make up their minds in this matter.

We discern a contradiction in the parts of the agreement that describe the procedure for the formation of organizing committees for subsequent election of members of the national assembly. On the one hand, the agreement says that the IGC will not play any formal role in the selection of national assembly members, and on the other - provision is made that the same IGC shall appoint five of its representatives to be members of each provincial organizing committee. So the IGC will after all play a role, and not formal, but quite real at that. Will this not result in some groups of population and political forces turning out to be outside the process of the formation of the new bodies of power?

The next question touches on the provision that before the end of March 2004 a security agreement will be concluded between the CPA and IGC, including the status of the coalition forces. The status of the coalition forces is already determined in existing SC resolutions, so it is unclear to us what new agreement the talk really is about. In addition, if this status agreement to be signed also is going to be drawn up for the period after June 30, then it is more logical to conclude it with the interim government when it is formed, not with the IGC, which will by then be dissolved.

We also would like to ask a question about how it is intended to ensure the political presence of the coalition nations in Iraq after the CPA ceases to exist on June 30. Will the coalition nations be present in Iraq through the usual embassies, or is it borne in mind to create some other structures?

We do not await immediate answers to all the questions, but thought it useful to ask them, because in the course of the upcoming big work for all of us all these and other aspects require clarification to agree upon a clear, understandable to everyone, picture of the postwar reconstruction of Iraq.

We hope for the UN role in this process not to be underestimated. It is obvious to us that the Iraq problem can be settled not so much by the adoption of new resolutions as through a radical change of strategy of the international community towards that country. By this we mean the need to enlist in the settlement process the greatest possible number of authoritative Iraqis, to use the potential of neighboring countries and to ensure the real participation of the UN in the political process, for which, by the way, IGC members have also been publicly speaking up.

We welcome the intention of the Secretary General to prepare suggestions for increasing the activity of the UN in the search of an optimal way for resolving the Iraq problem. We will be ready to assist the implementation of these initiatives of his.

We hope that the present debate will be useful and that the views of the members of the Security Council will be considered in the activities of the CPA and brought to the notice of the IGC and other political groups in Iraq.

Source: Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, http://www.russianembassy.org.

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