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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski on missile defence, January 21, 2008

Transcript of Remarks and Replies to Media Questions by Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov at Joint Press Conference After His Meeting with Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Radoslaw Sikorski, Moscow, January 21, 2008.

Foreign Minister Lavrov: Good afternoon, honorable colleagues.

Today Mr. Sikorski and I have had very constructive and specific talks on a broad range of bilateral relations and international affairs.

The talks have borne out once again that Moscow and Warsaw are interested in normal good-neighborly relations and that both sides are ready to exert efforts to create a favorable political climate. We discussed in detail specific bilateral issues along the lines of the preparation for the upcoming visit in February to Russia of the Polish Prime Minister, Mr. Donald Tusk. We noted the progress achieved in our political dialogue. This is already our second substantive meeting with Mr. Sikorski. At the level of our deputies a concrete mutually respectful dialogue is under way on missile defense problems, and concrete shifts have been achieved in tackling the issues connected with the export of agricultural products from Poland to Russia. Two rounds of consultations will take place in Moscow in the coming days: one on consular matters, on the issues of mutual trips of citizens after Poland's accession to the Schengen Area; the other on navigation arrangements in the Kaliningrad, or Vistula, Bay. We are both satisfied with the rapid growth of our trade turnover, now at nearly 15 billion dollars, but not satisfied with the practical absence of investments: both Russian in Poland and Polish in Russia. We expect that the situation can be rectified with the resumption of the work of the Intergovernmental Commission on Economic and Trade Cooperation, which we agreed upon today.

We are keen on expanding people-to-people contacts and on bolstering diverse ties between Russia's regions and Poland's voivoidships. Of course, the Kaliningrad Region holds a special place in this regard, having established and maintaining close contacts with the adjacent Polish areas. We've got traditionally stable links in the cultural and humanitarian sphere: Russian cultural seasons passed off successfully in Poland last year; Polish cultural seasons will this year open in Russia.

We also agreed today to step up the work of the Public Forum of the two countries. We share a common interest in advancing the partnership between Russia and the EU; we appreciated our conversation with the Polish colleagues on this topic today. We also examined a number of practical matters that are being discussed in the Russia-NATO Council format and discussed the state of affairs surrounding the third missile defense position area and the CFE Treaty. We share a common interest in bolstering stability and security in Europe, and we look forward to further interaction with Poland as an important member of both NATO and the EU. A further examination of all these matters is envisaged in the 2008 Plan of Consultations between the foreign ministries of the two countries that was approved by us today. Thank you.

(Speaks after Sikorski)

Question: How are we as a state to take a decision on missile defenses so as in no way to worsen the just-warmed relations between Poland and Russia? Is it possible to get Russia's agreement for that decision?

Foreign Minister Lavrov: Russia has no veto power on decisions the Polish side makes. We want that our position would be understood. We have appreciated the readiness of the new Polish government to hold consultations on this matter. We are not going to put any pressure on Poland or other participants in the talks on the creation of a third position area. We simply want that our concerns, real, not artificial concerns, would be heard and understood. As in approach to any other problem, especially one that affects security aspects, in this case those of European security, we have always said that before taking a final decision there should be held consultations dedicated to joint analysis of the risks, of the threats which it is planned to overcome or neutralize by this or that decision. I repeat we are satisfied that such consultations are taking place.

I today told Mr. Sikorski that we are perfectly aware that Poland will take a final decision by proceeding, first and foremost, from the interests of its national security. Simultaneously I expressed the hope that, in so doing, the Polish side will also take into account the interests of pan-European security. Mr. Sikorski reconfirmed that this is part of the intention of the Polish side.

Question: How do you assess the results of the elections in Serbia?

Foreign Minister Lavrov: I assess the results of the first round of elections as the expression of the will of the Serbian people. A second tour is now due; as in the case of the first, international observers will be present there, including Russian observers. We'll wait to see what decision the Serbian people take.

Question: Should Poles fear for their energy security in connection with the Nord Stream construction? How could Moscow soothe those fears and what could it offer Poles in relation to Nord Stream?

Foreign Minister Lavrov: I think that neither Poles nor other Europeans should fear additional Russian energy export routes: whether Nord Stream or something else. No one is going to close the pipeline along which Russian gas flows through Polish territory; no one is going to reduce the volume of gas being transported via this pipeline. It is a question of an additional pipeline system that will diversify the export routes for energy carriers to Europe and which will enhance the energy security of Europe as a whole. Don't forget that the Nord Stream project has long since been included by the European Commission in the list of priority energy projects.

We were always, and still are ready to hold consultations between Russian and Polish experts to discuss any questions that the Polish side may have in this connection.

Question: How will you explain just this paradox: Poland and Russia have almost ideals relations with some countries while the trade and economic relations are considerably weaker; there are many problems between Russia and Poland, yet at the same time their trade turnover is at record level. Thank you.

Foreign Minister Lavrov (speaks after Mr. Sikorski's reply): We, as I've said, agreed to intensify the work of the intergovernmental commission and endeavor to create the most favorable political climate for reciprocal investment. And in general, we in our relations with foreign states stand for as deep and broad mutual penetration into each other's economy as possible, regarding this apart from purely commercial benefit also as a major safety net against political conjuncture fluctuations that sometimes occur.

(Speaking after Mr. Sikorski's reply)

I have heard a call to finally shift in settlements with all countries to market prices. We are dealing with this matter without any politics. There will be no discounts for anyone. Gradually, of course, so as not to create any difficulties, but in the end there will be a market price for all.

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

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