Letters of credence were presented to the President of Russia by Sin Hong Chol (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), Frank Mushyo Kamanzi (Republic of Rwanda), Shafqat Ali Khan (Islamic Republic of Pakistan), Eitvydas Bajarunas (Republic of Lithuania), Meegahalande Durage Lamawansa (Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka), Juan Genaro Del Campo Rodriguez (Republic of Peru), Bala Chandran Tharman (Malaysia), Arni Thor Sigurdsson (Republic of Iceland), Antti Helantera (Republic of Finland), Mohammed Ahmed Al Jaber (United Arab Emirates), Georges Faber (Grand Duchy of Luxembourg), Milorad Scepanovic (Montenegro), Julio Antonio Garmendia Pena (Republic of Cuba), Marc Michielsen (Kingdom of Belgium), Abdulrahman Bin Suleiman Al Ahmed (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia), Alhagi Nyangado (Republic of The Gambia), Archbishop Giovanni d'Aniello (Apostolic Nuncio – Ambassador of the Holy See), Leon Dodonou-Punagaza (Central African Republic), Alexander Ben Zvi (State of Israel), and Aimone of Savoy-Aosta (ambassador of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta).
* * *
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, gentlemen,
I am delighted to welcome you to the ceremony for presenting letters of credence. Despite the well-known and necessary restrictions associated with the coronavirus pandemic, we considered it important to hold this event in the Kremlin, as usual.
I wanted to congratulate you personally on the official start of your work, your diplomatic mission in Russia and to wish you every success and fruitful work to develop cooperation between the countries you represent and the Russian Federation.
You can be sure that all your constructive undertakings and initiatives will always meet the most favourable response, support and assistance from government bodies, as well as from the business community and the general public in our country.
This year has been very difficult and unpredictable for all of us. As I said, the world is facing the coronavirus pandemic. This required the adoption of extraordinary measures both in Russia and in all your counties.
I am convinced that in the face of such an unprecedented challenge, the international community has no alternative but to join efforts. After all, the cornerstone is the fundamental value: the lives and health of our citizens.
As you know, Russia has developed and is already using the world's first vaccine against coronavirus, Sputnik V, and the second EpiVacCorona has also been registered. Now the most important thing is to ensure mass production in Russia and start a public vaccination campaign. Our third vaccine is also almost ready.
We are ready to share our experience with all interested states and international agencies. Together with a number of our foreign partners, we are working out the issues of launching the production of these vaccines locally at our partners’ production base.
The pandemic has aggravated problems in the global economy, in trade, the social sphere and environmental protection. But this does not mean that previous challenges and threats like international terrorism, drug trafficking and organised crime are gone. The entire system of international security, strategic stability and arms control is under very serious pressure.
Let me emphasise again that it is possible to search for optimal, satisfactory solutions to these problems only on the basis of equitable participation of all members of the international community, universal standards of international law and a coordinating, central role of the United Nations.
The anniversaries of the UN and the end of World War II are observed this year. Nazism was defeated and the ideology of aggression and hatred was crushed 75 years ago. The experience and spirit of cooperation and allied relations, as well as the realisation of the enormous price that was paid for peace and a shared victory allowed the world to lay the foundations of the post-war world order.
The allied spirit and a desire for honest cooperation among partners are especially in demand in the current situation. I am convinced that despite all the current difficulties and differences, it is necessary to vigorously remove them, move forward and promote a unifying international agenda.
We were guided exactly by this motive when we made an initiative to hold a summit of the UN Security Council permanent members, that is, the countries that bear special responsibility for global security and stability. We hope the summit will take place and we will meet offline as soon as the epidemiological situation allows this.
I would like to note that on a par with other countries this month Russia took part in major international events at top level in BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the G20 and the East Asia Summit. I hope that implementation of the agreements reached at these events will help us not only to overcome the impact of the pandemic but also improve the global situation and ensure sustainable and predictable development overall.
It is worthy of special mention that Russia has been making considerable efforts as an intermediary in the settlement of a lingering conflict. We acted energetically to stop the hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh, which had claimed the lives of thousands of people in Azerbaijan and Armenia, both of which are Russia’s friends.
While doing this, we acted in accordance with the main agreements reached by the OSCE Minsk Group, in particular, its co-chairs: Russia, the United States and France. Our most important achievement is that we have stopped the bloodshed and put the ceasefire agreement on paper in a trilateral Statement by the Presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan and the Prime Minister of Armenia.
The Russian peacekeeping force, which has been deployed in the region in accordance with this Statement, is monitoring compliance with the ceasefire, ensuring the safety of peaceful civilians and accompanying the returning refugees and humanitarian deliveries. Overall, the situation is stabilising.
The Russian Humanitarian Response Centre will start working to provide assistance to people in the affected areas, rebuild infrastructure and create conditions for a normal peaceful life. We hope that specialised international organisations will provide considerable assistance to these efforts.
We believe that all these efforts will create prerequisites for a lasting and full-scale settlement of that protracted conflict on the basis of justice and in the interests of the Azerbaijani and Armenian people.
By tradition I would like to say a few words about Russia’s relations with each of the countries you represent.
We favour further consolidation of neighbourly relations with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The 75th anniversary of its liberation was also marked this year. Red Army soldiers fought for its freedom and independence shoulder to shoulder with the Korean patriots.
We are ready to continue developing the entire range of bilateral ties, as we agreed during the Russia-North Korea summit in Vladivostok in April 2019.
As for the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula, our position on it is well known: this problem must be resolved only by diplomatic efforts, through negotiations.
Our relations with the Republic of Rwanda are developing in a friendly spirit. Our Rwandan colleagues took an active and interested part in the first Russia-Africa Summit held in Sochi last year. In accordance with the agreements reached at this summit, Russia and Rwanda are expanding their cooperation in power engineering, including the nuclear power industry and geological prospecting. We continue training Rwandan civilian and military personnel at Russian universities.
We are going to further strengthen our mutually beneficial ties with the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in developing the economy, trade and power engineering and in ensuring regional security. We are satisfied with our partner cooperation with Islamabad at the UN and the SCO, which rests on our commitment to international law and close positions on the majority of key foreign policy issues.
We believe our cooperation with Lithuania could be more active and varied, all the more so since we are next door neighbours. We are ready to cooperate on the principles of neighbourliness and respect for each other and would like our Lithuanian colleagues to adopt the same approach.
We have good relations with Sri Lanka. We are determined to further expand mutually beneficial cooperation in trade, the economy and culture. Our countries interact constructively in the international arena, in particular, as part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, where Sri Lanka has the status of a dialogue partner.
We maintain partnership relations with the Republic of Peru. We work together at the UN and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. We stand in solidarity on important international issues such as countering terrorism, drug trafficking and organised crime.
We sincerely hope that the leadership and citizens of Peru will successfully overcome the current internal political differences acting within the framework of the constitution and law.
We are interested in advancing the political dialogue and strengthening trade and economic interaction with Malaysia.
Last week, I participated in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, which was chaired by your country. Despite the pandemic-related difficulties, our Malaysian partners did a great job and drafted a large package of final documents for approval by the leaders, including a joint statement on the long-term development guidelines of APEC to 2040.
We are determined to further strengthen constructive ties with Iceland, both bilaterally and as part of multilateral formats. Incidentally, Iceland is now chairing the Arctic Council and will hand over the chairmanship to Russia next year.
We see good opportunities for implementing joint projects in fishing, fish processing and shipbuilding, as well as innovative technologies, geothermal energy and agriculture.
We traditionally maintain close and truly neighbourly relations with our northern neighbour, the Republic of Finland, both in terms of political dialogue and cooperation in trade, the economy and other areas. President Sauli Niinistö and I regularly and constructively discuss current bilateral and international matters, including ways to improve stability and security in the Baltic Sea region and Europe in general.
Our relations with the United Arab Emirates are making steady progress. I would like to mention that our state visit to Abu Dhabi took place in October 2019 and we had very successful talks with the UAE’s leaders. We hope to continue to maintain a sincere partner dialogue with this country. We have many areas for cooperation – investment, medicine and energy.
Russia’s cooperation with the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is being actively developed in politics and the economy, and in the cultural-humanitarian field.
Using this opportunity, I would like to express gratitude to Prime Minister Mr Bettel for his initiative to establish a monument to the Soviet citizens sent by the Nazis to the Grand Duchy for forced labour during the years of the Great Patriotic War. We are paying attention to this. Let me assure you that the Russian people appreciate this very much.
The peoples of Russia and Montenegro are tied by centuries-long traditions of friendship and spiritual affinity. We hope that our interstate relations will also develop in this vein. Russia is very interested in this.
The Republic of Cuba is Russia’s reliable partner. Our bilateral cooperation is of a strategic character. We are carrying out large joint projects in the energy sector, metallurgy, transport infrastructure and medicine where Cuba is a leader in many ways. We are also expanding our humanitarian contacts.
Cuba enjoys high prestige in the international arena and our dialogue on major foreign policy issues is distinguished by a high level of trust.
We are interested in continuing our practical work to develop trade, economic and cultural ties with the Kingdom of Belgium. It is important to maintain regular contact on urgent international issues as well. This is in our common interests.
Russia’s relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, one of the leading states in the Middle East, are on the upsurge. Recently, they have taken on a larger and more comprehensive nature, which was facilitated by our state visit to Riyadh in October 2019.
Russia and Saudi Arabia actively cooperate in the OPEC Plus format and make a joint contribution to the stability of world energy markets, for which we are very grateful to His Majesty the King, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, and the Crown Prince.
I would like to congratulate our Saudi colleagues on their successful organisation of the G20 summit recently. We understand what a complicated task it was. We will continue to work hard at implementing its decisions.
We have stable ties with the Republic of The Gambia. We continue to develop contacts on international issues and deepen our cooperation in different areas, including in the military-technical and education areas.
We maintain a meaningful dialogue with the Vatican based on adherence to traditional universal human values. Our cooperation in strengthening interethnic and interreligious peace and harmony, countering terrorism and extremism and any form of racial intolerance is expanding in the spirit of the agreements reached during my meeting with Pope Francis last July.
December marks the 60th anniversary of Russia's diplomatic relations with the Central African Republic. We sincerely wish for an early settlement to the challenging situation in your country and we support UN Stabilisation Mission activities in the CAR.
Our relations with Israel are mutually beneficial and multifaceted; we maintain a substantive political dialogue. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and I regularly talk about important items on the international and regional agendas. We are in constant contact.
Russia and Israel are united in their determination to preserve the truth about World War II, to counter attempts to falsify history or to forget about the Holocaust martyrs and other victims of Nazism.
Importantly, our countries’ specialised agencies have established cooperation in fighting the coronavirus, including the potential supply and production of a Russian vaccine in Israel.
We value our relationship with the Sovereign Military Order of Malta based on our unique historical ties and traditions of cultural and people-to-people interaction.
I have mentioned just a few aspects of Russia's relations with the states you represent. These are just small parts of the broad field of interaction we enjoy with your countries. We look forward to seeing these relations develop dynamically with your active participation for the benefit of the peoples of our countries and in the interest of international security and stability.
I sincerely wish you every success in your work in Russia, all the best and, of course – the most important wish today – good health.
Gentlemen, I think we will still be able, as is customary during the ceremony for presenting the letters of credence, to raise our glasses of champagne – of course, those of you whose religion allows it, and those whom it does not can talk and shake hands.
I want to wish you all the best once again. Despite the fact that right now the weather in Russia, at least in Moscow, might look gloomy at first glance, life in Moscow, including political life, continues unabated. I am sure that you will have a lot to enjoy, and that you will personally benefit from spending this period of your lives here.
Thank you very much for your attention.
All the best. I congratulate you on starting your work in the Russian Federation. Good luck.