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Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov on intermediate and short-range missiles, February 11, 2007

Transcript of Replies to Questions from Russian Media on Topical Foreign Policy Issues by Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov, Abu Dhabi -Moscow, February 16, 2007.

Question: Your comments please on the statement of Baluyevsky on intermediate and short-range missiles?

Foreign Minister Lavrov: Yuri Baluyevsky said nothing of the kind that would not be known, because it is a fact that since when the USSR and the USA signed the Elimination of their Intermediate-range and Shorter-range Missiles Agreement it has been a bilateral agreement, a bilateral commitment, and both countries have been abiding by this treaty. But the situation has been evolving quite intensively in the sense that no other country has assumed such commitments and has no restrictions whatsoever in this connection. Ever more states are developing missiles of just this range. It is not the first time that we have drawn attention to this, but simply as to a fact. Of course, we have to take into account the developments in the strategic situation around our borders, and as we do so, determine what measures it is necessary to take to be able to maintain strategic stability in practice. I see no grounds for speculation here. We have heard the statement of the United States that they are concerned by these remarks of Baluyevsky. But we were also concerned when the Americans were unilaterally withdrawing from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. In this case, I repeat it, the question is not one of a decision already made definitively. We just state the real situation.

Question: Many journalists believe Russia holds a tougher position on short- and intermediate-range missiles because the West is not ratifying the adapted CFE Treaty. Is that so?

Foreign Minister Lavrov: These are different things. Because the regimes for limitations on short- and intermediate-range missiles are not determined by the CFE Treaty, which regulates conventional arms and conventional forces. Honestly, the distortions that have arisen in the CFE scope of operation are already falling beyond bounds from the vantage point of a reasonable balance of interests and capacities to ensure security.

With the disintegration of the Warsaw Treaty Organization and with the accession of most of its members to NATO, the entire CFE concept has simply become meaningless. An attempt to remove this meaninglessness was made by developing the Agreement on Adaptation of the CFE Treaty to the new conditions, but, unfortunately, no one except Russia and Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Belarus has ratified it. Under farfetched pretexts. Many analysts presume that the reason is not at all the limited number of Russian peacekeepers in Moldova and Georgia, particularly since their presence there has no relationship to the adapted CFE Treaty, but that our CFE partners have concluded that they do not need the adapted CFE Treaty. This is exactly the impression we have formed. If this is so then probably it's necessary to cease playing these games. Let each country independently decide on how it intends to use its own territory for placing its own armed forces and weapons.

Question: May the removal of monuments to Soviet soldiers, if there is a precedent in Estonia, become an epidemic?

Foreign Minister Lavrov: In each society there are people who adhere to extremist and radical views. The task of any responsible authority, be it legislative, executive or judicial, is not to allow these radical extremist sentiments to prevail. Unfortunately, the Estonian parliamentarians had not realized this responsibility of theirs, although the decision was passed by narrow odds. So that Estonia too has sensible politicians and parliamentarians. But a bad example is contagious. Of course, when something like this takes place in one state, in Estonia in this case, their sympathizers elsewhere begin to raise their heads. This is extremely dangerous. I consider the passivity of the authorities, in this case those of the EU and NATO member states, because this takes place in member states of these organizations, inexcusable. If we allow sentiments in favor of the heroization of SS members and a revival of fascism to gather momentum in Europe, the consequences will be most deplorable.

What distresses me is that while the President of Estonia has taken a principled stand - hopefully he will not abandon it - leaders in many European countries who so actively championed the Baltic states' accession to the EU and NATO and gave us assurances that this would calm down all phobias there, and in practice we see the opposite taking place, observe what is happening in Estonia quite placidly. But there are exceptions. In the Belgian parliament, for example, deputies demanded that the foreign minister explain what was happening in Estonia and why Belgium did not raise its voice against attempts to rewrite history, to consign the heroes to oblivion and to extol the nazis. I hope that our appeals to prevent that will be heard.

Question: You said we have "principled disagreements" with the US on Kosovo. Does Russia have a position on the resolution which the UN Security Council is due to adopt on Kosovo?

Foreign Minister Lavrov: The disagreements are truly principled - as distinct from any other conflict. Say, in the Middle East we want that the Palestinians and the Israelis would establish peace, and that the UN Security Council decisions on all aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict, including the Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese tracks, are implemented in full. On Iran's nuclear program we concur on the necessity to prevent a violation of the nonproliferation regime. On Iraq we have a common position regarding the necessity to preserve the territorial integrity of the country, end violence, and not allow it to become a hotbed of terrorism. The same holds for Afghanistan and practically for any conflict.

As to Kosovo, we are convinced that granting this province independence will have the most negative consequences both for this region and for Europe as a whole. Our Western partners are convinced of the opposite. So that, as you see, even the ultimate aims are absolutely opposed here, whereas in all the other situations it is rather a question of tactical nuances. As to immediate practical steps, the UN Security Council, in the final analysis, should not adopt anything. Our Western partners are somewhat obsessed with introducing a resolution as soon as possible which would approve the Ahtisaari plan. We will be able to consider that proposal only when we have understood that the Ahtisaari plan or its modification is the subject of agreement between Pristina and Belgrade.

Question: Are there any other countries supportive of this position of Russia?

Foreign Minister Lavrov: There are quite a few countries, including China, both within and outside the UN Security Council, who absolutely agree with us that a solution to this conflict, just as to any other, can be based only on the parties' agreement.

Question: Will Russia oppose sanctions against Iran at the next meeting of the UN Security Council?

Foreign Minister Lavrov: A report of the IAEA Director General on how the latest resolution on Iran is being implemented must be presented on February 21. So far it is being poorly implemented - everyone understands that. We are seeking through our extremely intensive contacts with Teheran to get our Iranian colleagues to respond l to the appeals of virtually the entire world community after all and take a pause in their uranium enrichment activities so as to allow us all to start necessary talks. So far these results have yielded no result, but some time is still there. But when the report is presented to us, of course, we are going to study it and will be ready to consider proposals submitted to the UN Security Council.

It is not about taking a stand on new sanctions. Sanctions are an instrument of last resort. Sanctions have already been imposed. We are convinced that it is necessary to look for ways to resume talks with Iran. If the next resolution helps this, we are ready to support it. If there is a more effective way to arrive at talks which would help solve this problem and not inflict any harm upon the nonproliferation regime, we will, of course, choose this more effective method.

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

© 2007 The Acronym Institute.