Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov On the Session of the Council of Cis Foreign Ministers:
The Council of CIS Foreign Ministers will hold a session in Moscow on 21 April. The session's main theme will be implementing the decisions taken at the Kazan Commonwealth Summit, first and foremost in the humanitarian sphere. In particular, this stems from the agreement you and the other leaders of CIS member states signed on humanitarian cooperation. We have prepared projects with provisions for establishing a council for humanitarian cooperation to oversee cooperation in this sphere, and a fund for humanitarian cooperation that will support appropriate projects through a combination of governmental and nongovernmental contributions, that is contributions that are not from the budget.
It is very important that concrete projects concerning such cooperation be developed based on the recommendations that will result from the CIS Arts and Science Communities' Forum that was held recently in Moscow. At the Forum different workshops engaged in concrete work to define very interesting joint projects in the fields of culture, science, education and sports.
And so we shall examine these documents. And we will examine the Council of Wisemen's intermediate report on reforms in other spheres of the Commonwealth, as was decided at the summit in Kazan. They should present us with the final report at the next CIS summit in September. But we shall watch how their work is proceeding now and how this process develops.
MINISTER OF PUBLIC HEALTH AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT MIKHAIL ZURABOV ON THE CONSULTATIONS WITH THE HEALTH MINISTERS OF THE CIS MEMBER STATES:
Next week a meeting between the G8 health ministers is planned. One of the themes of the G8 summit between heads of state that will be held in St Petersburg is the prevention and struggle against infectious diseases. In connection with this, over the last few months we have been working actively with the G8 health ministers to agree on a joint statement on this issue.
Today we have completed this work with our colleagues. Today we started consultations with the health ministers of the CIS member states. Today the CIS health ministers are meeting in Moscow and we are going to discuss three fundamental themes.
The first concerns joint efforts connected with danger of the spread of bird flu and measures that must be implemented to prevent a future epidemic. The second theme is linked to the threat of an outbreak of a flu pandemic, including on the territory of the former Soviet Union. The measures that Russia is now proposing to implement are one of the themes that we shall actively discuss. They include financing a number of international projects and providing financial resources to assist the national health systems in the CIS. This afternoon we are also planning to hold a session of the Council of Health Ministers of the Eurasian Economic Community's Integration Committee, and we shall discuss these issues there as well. And in addition to the measures that have already been implemented, I think that we shall be able to develop an absolutely coordinated position and that next week we shall be able to organize a constructive discussion.
And one more detail. On Friday of this week we are planning to hold a State Council Presidium session that will also look at the spread of infectious diseases. For this reason the efforts that the Russian Federation is making this year will certainly draw the attention of the international community and be seen in a positive light.
MINISTER OF PUBLIC HEALTH AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT MIKHAIL ZURABOV ON THE CONTROL OF QUALITY OF DOMESTIC AND IMPORTED ALCOHOL PRODUCTS:
I will start with the fact that consultations with colleagues from Moldova are now taking place. Incidentally, the health minister of the Republic of Moldova is in Moscow today. Most likely, we shall discuss this problem one-on-one in the afternoon. But we must state objectively there are a number of instances in which wine products and wine materials that arrive on the territory of the Russian Federation are quite unsatisfactory. The task consists in more than just having the Moldovan and Georgian sides implement standards. Such requirements are now necessary concerning all the products imported into the Russian Federation. Such standards exist for wine, for cognac and the very widest range of products. The task consists in making sure that while preparing these products and cultivating the grapes our colleagues use only certified chemicals and technology and that the final product is of sufficient quality. This is what we are emphasizing today. However, today in the Russian Federation there is quite a large amount of these products whose quality is unsatisfactory. And in the future we are seriously proposing to restrict and prohibit certain products of unsatisfactory quality from the markets of the Russian Federation. We know these numbers. Every year 35,000 people die from alcohol poisoning by poor quality alcohol. Therefore, (and you, Vladimir Vladimirovich, you pointed us in this direction in your last year's Address [to the Federal Assembly]) tightening controls will take place both according to the new law that is now being implemented on the control of alcohol production and regarding imports of alcohol products into the Russian Federation.
Vladimir Putin: So this concerns both domestic production and imports?
Mikhail Zurabov: Certainly.
Vladimir Putin: The requirements are identical.
Mikhail Zurabov: Absolutely.
Vladimir Putin: Good.
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AND DEFENCE MINISTER SERGEI IVANOV ON PARTICIPATION IN THE UN PEACEKEEPING OPERATION IN SUDAN AND A JOINT COLLEGIUM BETWEEN RUSSIAN AND BELORUSSIAN MINISTRIES OF DEFENCE:
According to your Decree, in three days we will begin to transfer Russian aviation to the Republic of Sudan within the UN peacekeeping operation. In total our Russian aviation group comprises 117 servicemen: crew members, attendants, four Mi-8MTV transport and fighting helicopters with regular arms, ammunition, military technology and other necessary equipment, including logistical equipment.
The UN will incur the expenses for this operation, that is the Ministry of Defence is not bearing any direct costs. But at the same time I recall that within the G8 there are certain agreements whereby we plan to send one of the Ministry of Defence's heavy military-transport airplanes with tents, kitchen units, food products and blankets to help the local population who are, of course, living in extremely difficult conditions.
Of course we cannot yet talk about anything concrete regarding the end of the operation. As before – we participated in a similar operation in Sierra Leone – we plan to change our crew regularly. But I am almost convinced that the operation will not end this year.
In addition, on 21 April in Minsk a joint collegium between the two ministries of defence will take place and during this collegium we will look at the plan for carrying out large scale military exercises in the eastern European direction within the Collective Security Treaty Organization. These exercises are planned for June. The head of the General Staff of the Republic of Belarus' Armed Forces will oversee them. From our side the Moscow military district's land forces and various kinds of aircraft, including long-range aircraft and aircraft fitted with long-range radar, will take part in the exercises. At the same time, within the united air defense system and in these exercises, we already planning to implement previous decisions with respect to creating a united air defense system for Russia and Belarus.