President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Ladies and gentlemen!
The beginning of your official mission, working in Russia, has coincided with the beginning of a new year, 2009. And I would like to start by expressing my hopes that this year will be a successful one for your nations, and that your work in Russia will be interesting, effective, and fruitful.
It is true that this year, like last year, is not likely to be very easy for international relations or for our countries.
One of the most important outcomes is the fact that even local problems in our modern world can, at any moment, become global problems. And those local problems can affect many countries, sometimes even continents, and can go so far as to create problems of international law and order. That, unfortunately, is what happened as a result of Georgia’s aggression against South Ossetia, which led to increased tensions far beyond the borders of that region, and even the Caucasus.
The same can be said of the financial crisis, whose negative aftermath affects nearly every country on our planet.
The first week of this year did not turn out to be simple, either – in Europe, in any case, it was overshadowed by the gloom of the gas crisis. And in this case, unfortunately, the situation is similar, because as a result of actions to block the transit of gas, which in our view were wrong and, in essence, were non-contractual and lawless, Russian gas stopped flowing to European consumers, without a doubt creating problems for many governments.
I will not deny our having assumed that the questions of energy security which were raised repeatedly at international meetings, and even during the G-8 summit in St. Petersburg, had once and for all resolved the issue of supply safety in the transit of Russian gas to Europe. But, unfortunately, life had something else in store, and Ukraine continues not to allow Russian gas to pass into European countries.
In order to unblock this problem and to resolve this situation of a “gas famine”, I have suggested the idea of holding a summit on this topic in Moscow tomorrow [January 17] – the International Conference on Ensuring Russian Gas Supplies to European Consumers.
We are ready to look for long-term solutions; we counting on Ukraine to demonstrate a responsible approach, and on our European partners to contribute to the search for a urgent resolution, because unfortunately, this issue is no longer a question of bilateral relations and pure legal disagreements.
Another major world problem that occurred just at the beginning of the year is the conflict taking place in Gaza. Despite international efforts being made by the UN Security Council, taking place bilaterally, regrettably, the armed conflict continues.
What is most important today? Naturally, it is imperative to end the bloodshed – that is the most important task – and to end the armed hostilities from both sides. After that, with the help of negotiations, international mechanisms, and intermediary mechanisms, it is critical to reach a long-term ceasefire, a ceasefire which will be agreed upon by all sides and will be accepted by all participants in this conflict.
The events currently taking place in Gaza demonstrate yet again that these kinds of problems cannot be resolved through the use of military force, and should only be resolved through political means. Russia once again confirms its willingness to search for political resolutions. In this regard, we would like to emphasize that we are also ready for the meeting, which has already been announced, in Moscow on the Middle East.
One thing that will probably need to be done is to correct its agenda. In any case, this forum may become one of the steps on the way to re-establishing the peace process in the Middle East.
Ladies and gentlemen!
We are certain that it is impossible to achieve high-quality changes in international politics and the creation of a new and more just system of international relations without the united efforts of all governments. Only in that way can we count on our world being more stable, more successful, and more secure. And a particularly important role is played by bilateral relations and constructive bilateral cooperation.
Present here today are ambassadors from countries with which we are on friendly terms, and I would like to say a few words about our relations.
Russia is interested in strengthening our time-tested partnership with Algeria. The successful development of dialogue between our countries is a good basis for advancing future cooperation, particularly in the trade and economic as well as the military and technical spheres.
We place a great deal of value on the development of relations between ourselves and Pakistan – a state that plays an important role in South Asia. Our agenda includes the diversification of processes of mutual trade and closer work in areas of extreme importance to us, such as the fight against international terrorism and drug trafficking.
We value the traditions of friendship that we have with the Republic of Mali, and we are ready to continue to develop our economic contacts and search for prospects in joint projects.
We also count on constructive dialogue with the Republic of Estonia. We would like to increase our level of business cooperation, including, perhaps, the near-border regions in particular. Naturally, we must evolve our traditions of good neighbourly relations, with the understanding that we are all part of the same pan-European family, where all European standards should be observed.
We value our traditionally friendly relations with Bangladesh. It is in our interests to enlarge our cooperation on both bilateral and international issues.
The time-tested friendship and trust have become a strong basis for the development of relations between Russia and Cuba; certain new projects are also being created. This is the intent of agreements that have just recently been reached during my visit to Havana. I hope that the strong momentum to develop our bilateral relations will continue during the forthcoming visit to Russia by the President of the Cuban Council of State and the President of the Council of Ministers of Cuba, Raúl Castro.
Our relations with Cameroon also have positive momentum. We count on our business contacts and other contacts to grow from year to year.
Traditions of friendship and cooperation tie Russia with the Republic of Cyprus. The outcomes of a recent visit to Moscow by Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias confirm our mutual aspiration to actively work together both on bilateral issues and on the world arena, including, of course, to fairly settle the Cyprus problem on the basis of decisions made by the UN Security Council and agreement of all sides.
We strive to strengthen the spirit of cooperation in our relations with our Baltic neighbour – Sweden. The development of pan-European cooperation and economic, cultural, and humanitarian ties are in the overall interests of our nations.
Great Britain has been and continues to be an important European partner for us. Constructive cooperation between our countries has a direct effect on the political climate in Europe and aids in the resolution of even the most difficult international issues. On our agenda is the promotion of ties in the trade and economic sphere, which in recent times have been developing nicely, and our ties in the areas of culture, education, and tourism. We are in constant contact. Immediately after this ceremony, I will be speaking with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on the telephone.
We are determined to continue the development of good neighbourly relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran. We will create conditions to promote growth in trade, investment, and the expansion of humanitarian contacts. We also stand firmly behind the belief that the situation regarding Iran’s nuclear programme should be resolved solely through political-diplomatic means.
We are interested in developing cooperation with Sudan, and in the future, we are willing to help in resolving the problems that exist in Sudan and around it on the basis of regard for sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of the country.
Age-old bonds of friendship tie the Russian people to the people of the Republic of Abkhazia, whose independence Russia recognized in August of last year; we are intent on establishing all-round cooperation with Abkhazia as a sovereign, democratic government, and to help ensure its security and the building of a peaceful life.
The same can be said to the Republic of South Ossetia. Russia has, through its actions, confirmed its role as a protector of the South Ossetian people, having worked with them to fend off aggression coming from Georgian territory, and recognizing the independence of this republic. We will not leave our neighbour during times of trouble and in the difficult circumstances of a post-conflict period; we will jointly work to re-establish a socio-economic infrastructure in the republic and to strengthen its security.
I am sure that the international community’s recognition of the new realities in the region will help to establish peace and stability in the Caucasus. For its part, of course, Russia is willing to make its contribution to this dialogue.
Ladies and gentlemen!
I count on your professional, personal diplomatic experience to help develop and achieve the potential for bilateral cooperation between your countries and the Russian Federation even more. I am certain that your Russian colleagues will offer you the greatest possible assistance in this task.
Good luck to you, and all the best! Thank you for your attention.