Official Visit of Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov
to the Republic of Turkey
(31 May – 1 June 2006)
Mikhail Kamynin, the Spokesman of Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Answers Media Questions Regarding Upcoming Visit of Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov to Turkey
Question: On May 31-June 1, Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, will reportedly pay an official visit to the Republic of Turkey at the invitation of Turkish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah Gül. What is envisaged by the visit's program?
Answer: Talks are scheduled to be held in Ankara at the level of the Foreign Ministers of the two countries, as well as Sergey Lavrov's meetings with President of Turkey Ahmet Necdet Sezer, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Parliament Speaker Bulent Arinc. In Istanbul the Russian Minister is planning to visit the headquarters of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization, the duties of whose Chairman-in-Office Russia will perform from May to October this year, and hold conversations with the Secretary General of the Organization and leaders of the organizations which form the BSEC system.
Question: How are relations evolving between our countries at this stage?
Answer: Relations with Turkey occupy an important place among Russia's foreign policy priorities. Our summit and high-level dialogue actively evolving over the recent period bears this out.
In the joint Political Declaration Towards the Deepening of Friendship and Multifaceted Partnership between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Turkey signed by the two countries' Presidents in December 2004, the task is set of taking bilateral relations to a new, higher level, that of a comprehensive multifaceted partnership.
The six meetings of President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin with Turkish leaders over the last eighteen months have imparted a powerful impulse to the bilateral Russian-Turkish ties dynamically evolving in various fields.
Question: What does Russia expect from the upcoming visit in the first place? What themes will turn out to be the focus of attention in the course of the talks?
Answer: The upcoming visit of Sergey Lavrov will offer an opportunity to do the necessary comparing of notes on the entire range of bilateral relations and pressing international and regional problems before the scheduled official visit soon to Russia of Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, to which the Russian side attaches high importance.
In the course of the present visit important regional problems are expected to be discussed, in particular, the prospects for Iraq and Middle East settlement, the situation around the Iranian nuclear program, conditions in Transcaucasia and Central Asia, and the Cyprus problem. An exchange of views is scheduled on the fundamental questions of the formation of a multipolar world pattern, strengthening of the UN's role, the fight against the new challenges and threats to peace and stability, and the ensuring of the principle of the supremacy of international law.
Special attention during the talks is planned to be paid to the theme of enhancing cooperation in the struggle against international terrorism, including that in the context of the situation in the North Caucasus, against organized crime and against the illicit drug trafficking.
Both sides advocate establishing favorable conditions for the further development of multilateral and bilateral cooperation in the Black Sea region. In this connection it is planned to examine the prospects of engagement in the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization, as well as concrete steps to intensify its activities, taking into account the Russian chairmanship.
It is also borne in mind to discuss questions pertaining to the activities of the Black Sea Naval Cooperation Task Force (Blackseafor) and the prospects of Russia joining in the Turkish Navy's Operation Black Sea Harmony.
Topical questions of the trade-and-economic ties intensively developing in the last ten years will figure prominently on the agenda; their detailed discussion will occur during the upcoming Seventh Meeting on May 29-30 in Istanbul of the Mixed Intergovernmental Russian-Turkish Commission on Trade-and-Economic Cooperation. In 2005 the reciprocal trade turnover stood at 12.6 billion US dollars (Russia firmly holds second place in Turkish foreign trade).
Question: In what other fields is Russian-Turkish cooperation being developed?
Answer: Collaboration continues to expand in the energy field. The volume of Russian natural gas supplies to Turkey in 2005 exceeded 18 billion cubic meters, including 5 billion cubic meters via the trans-Black Sea gas pipeline Blue Stream, which Russian President Putin, Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan and President of the Italian Government Silvio Berlusconi in November 2005 in Samsun took part in the official opening ceremony of.
The activity in Russia of Turkish building contractor companies has reached impressive proportions: several hundred contracts worth a total of more than 12 billion US dollars have been accomplished over the last fifteen years or are in the stage of implementation. The amount of accumulated Turkish investment in Russia stands at about 2 billion US dollars.
A considerable engagement potential exists in the domain of military technological cooperation and in the aerospace field.
Contacts are actively evolving between people and between public organizations of the two countries. Qualitative shifts are occurring in the sphere of tourism and humanitarian and cultural links. Preparations are under way for the signing of an intergovernmental Program of Cultural, Educational, Scientific, Youth and Sporting Exchanges and the holding of "exchange years" of culture. About 2 million Russians visited Turkey in 2005.
May 30, 2006
Transcript of Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov Interview to Turkish Media, Moscow, May 29, 2006
Question (newspaper Sabah, television channel ATV): Mr. Minister, much has been occurring around the Black Sea Region over the recent period, including American plans. What do you think can soon be expected from this region, given also the fact that Iran is situated nearby?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: The Black Sea Region, I think, is objectively very promising, geopolitically and economically. Therefore, probably, we shouldn't be surprised by the interest different countries are showing in it. It is needless to say that, as with any other region, we firmly stand for the real parameters for cooperation to be fixed here by the countries which are located around the Black Sea, the coastal states.
The countries of the Black Sea Region have long since formed the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization, in which Russia is now the chair and within the framework of which we are building up a very good potential, both in terms of work already done and especially as regards the prospects outlined. They are quite concrete, and the Black Sea countries can well shoulder them.
The issues of economic development, energy, transport - they are all on the agenda of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization. On all these issues there are concrete projects and we are keen to have them implemented. Furthermore, BSEC is not a closed organization. Many countries can participate in it as observers. Recently, for example, Belarus and the US were admitted to the BSEC in such capacity.
As to security issues, in this regard, too, the Black Sea coastal countries have set up the organization that is called Blackseafor and which is designed to combat contraband and other violations of the Black Sea regime. A decision has been taken recently to extend it to the struggle against terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and drugs. It is important to implement these decisions. We note with satisfaction that Russia and Turkey are active supporters of that approach.
We regard the Turkish initiative 'Black Sea Harmony' as a step in the formalization and creation of a reliable Black Sea security system based on Blackseafor. Russia has already decided to join this initiative. In the near future we expect to be practically engaged in this format.
These are all the real thrusts in the promotion of cooperation on all aspects of the Black Sea Region. We will strongly advocate a further greater engagement in these formats. With regard to the quite abstract forums being convened with a fuzzy agenda, with an attempt to encompass the Black and the Caspian and the Baltic Sea on the basis of unnatural, divorced from reality, criteria, we are very skeptical about this. We believe that they can only either distract attention from real problems or politicize the real work to tackle the real tasks.
But of course, you've mentioned Iran. We are convinced that cooperation in this region should include Iran as a full-fledged participant. We should all look for forms which would be acceptable to all countries of the region. Hopefully, the situation around the Iranian nuclear program will be resolved by negotiation, because a different solution is nonexistent, and Iran will full-fledgedly join in cooperation in this extensive region, which borders the Black Sea and includes the adjacent countries.
But of course, for that to happen it is necessary that the Iranian leadership take the path of full cooperation with the IAEA in accordance with the decisions that were adopted in the IAEA Board of Governors and backed up by the UN Security Council.
We are actively trying to assist the forging of a direct dialogue of all interested countries with Iran and consider attempts to artificially isolate Iran from its lawful right to participate in cooperation projects in this region counterproductive.
Question (newspaper Sabah, television channel ATV): Regarding the Iranian theme. Have you considerations on the Montreux Agreement, on its change in connection with the Iran question?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: I haven't heard of such proposals. What changes have been suggested?
Comment (newspaper Sabah, television channel ATV): We mean that the Americans have recently proposed that the Black Sea Region be made a democratic oasis, if one can put it that way, and suggested achieving this by softening the provisions of the old Montreux Treaty.
Foreign Minister Lavrov: Softening the provisions of this Treaty for those countries which somebody deems to be democratic? I haven't heard of any such proposals, I think because they are hardly credible. They're fantasy. I do not believe in the workability of such an approach. Generally one should approach processes in the world with due regard to the fact that all countries have a different history. The world is diverse. It's impossible to make one model a criterion for all states without exception. All countries are moving along the path of democracy and market economy, but do this each country will on its own. Each people must themselves decide the depth, scale and pace of such transformation, otherwise all this will have a bad end.
The Montreux Convention must be preserved. Its regime needs to be strengthened, all are interested in this, I believe. Of course, with regard for the legitimate concerns of Turkey over the ecological situation in the straits area. On that score the mechanisms exist which should be used for considering all these concerns.
Question (newspaper Sabah, television channel ATV): The energy dialogue between Russia and Turkey. How is it going to be developed in the near future?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: I think that we have a very constructive and, most importantly, productive dialogue and cooperation in the energy field. This theme, undoubtedly, is currently moving to the fore in international affairs. Relations between Russia and Turkey in the energy field, I think, are one of the models of mutually advantageous and mutually respectful cooperation.
The Blue Stream is excellently functioning; there are the possibilities to build a parallel line, if the demand in the southern part of Europe and in the Mediterranean as a whole justifies this. There are also good contacts between our respective agencies and between our companies regarding construction of various pipelines which could help reduce the load on the straits.
Question (newspaper Sabah, television channel ATV): My last question, Mr. Minister, is connected with the Cyprus and Karabakh themes. Is Russia going as a country close to and watching these crisis places to undertake new steps to solve these two issues? To Turkey they are also close. Especially on the Cyprus theme our country is looking forward with impatience to hearing the position of Russia.
Foreign Minister Lavrov: I think that the citizens of Turkey have had this opportunity more than once. The position of Russia is to see and understand these two conflicts. They are hard to compare, but they are united by the fact that to settle them is possible solely on the basis of the sides' agreement. Russia is not simply watching them, but in both cases participates in the appropriate international efforts. In the case of Cyprus - it is the format of the UN Security Council and the leading role of the five permanent members. In the case of Nagorno Karabakh - it's the cochairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group, Russia, the US and France. In both cases the main efforts are directed at ensuring a direct dialogue with the aim of arriving at a mutually acceptable result.
On Cyprus we are for the earliest possible resumption of the mediation efforts of the UN Secretary General, which will make it possible to get the parties back to the negotiating table. In any form we consider it important to achieve this.
Meanwhile we actively support the promotion of contacts between North and South Cyprus, primarily in the humanitarian field, and advocate fostering economic cooperation between the two parts of the island. Practice shows that such contacts are quite helpful towards improving the atmosphere at the talks and strengthen trust. Russia is ready to help improve the economic situation in the North within the framework of the principles which are set in the resolutions of the UN Security Council. We're observing contacts between economic organizations. In particular, the delegation of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry last year visited Cyprus; it was also in the North. We are awaiting the representatives of the economic circles of North Cyprus in Russia, as I understand, under the auspices of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. In this case, of course, it is important to carry out such contacts, always bearing in mind the task of preserving and strengthening the single economic space
of Cyprus itself as a basis for further political settlement.
Question (newspaper Sabah, television channel ATV): There has been speculation of late that Turkey may become a nonpermanent member in the Security Council. How is Russia viewing this - positively or not?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: This depends on the Turkish government: if the candidacy of Turkey is submitted, then, of course, we will view it very favorably. But you'll have to come to an agreement with the European group of countries as well. The guys there are tough in terms of competition. We consider that Turkey is a leading state - simultaneously European and Asian. In this sense our countries are also close. We want that the voice of Turkey in the world arena would be significant.
May 31, 2006
Transcript of Remarks and Replies to Media Questions by Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov at Joint Press Conference Following Talks with Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah Gül, Ankara, May 31, 2006
Foreign Minister Lavrov: I am indeed very pleased to state that the present talks are being held in the conditions when Russian-Turkish relations following the visit in 2004 of Russian President Vladimir Putin, following the talks that have since taken place between our leaders - including those last autumn in Samsum between President Putin and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey, following regular contacts between the leaders of the two countries by telephone have reached a qualitatively new level. Today we confirmed this with satisfaction.
Yesterday talks passed very successfully in the framework of a regular meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission on Trade-and-Economic Cooperation. Mr. Turkish Foreign Minister gul has just mentioned several figures which characterize our economic ties, including the investment of Turkish business circles in the Russian economy. These are mutually advantageous processes. Russian companies are also interested in investment, primarily in the field of energy, including the gas sphere, electric power and nuclear power. We think that the talks held yesterday and today lead to the soonest mutual advantageous implementation of a whole array of new projects.
Today we briefly discussed practically all the main issues that are now on the international agenda and concern states and regions, the countries of the world as a whole. I think that there is not a single one of these questions on which Russia and Turkey would not think identically. On a number of questions, moreover, we not only identically assess the situation, but also act in the same direction.
We consider the emerging multifaceted partnership between Russia and Turkey one of the major factors of stability in the region.
I am certain that the entire range of our relations - bilateral as well as in questions connected with cooperation on the world scene - will be examined during the soon-upcoming visit to Russia of President of Turkey Ahmet Necdet Sezer, and that as a result of this visit our partnership will advance further still.
Question: During today's meeting - was concern felt over a likely outcome of the talks on Iran, including those in the course of tomorrow's meeting in Vienna?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: Minister gul and I stand shoulder to shoulder behind one rostrum, and our views on the possibility of resolving the Iranian nuclear problem are identical.
Indeed, we discussed the situation in detail, and found once more that we concur in assessments. We both hope that, during tomorrow's meeting in Vienna, we shall be able to elaborate proposals opening the way for a negotiated settlement. At this very crucial stage, it's very important that none of the parties one way or another involved in the situation should make abrupt movements and endanger the real prospect of using the chance of reaching an agreement.
Question: An important meeting will take place tomorrow. An article in The New York Times says that the United States treats favorably talks and a diplomatic settlement. In this setting, will Russia render support to Iran? Today materials came in from Vienna on the position of the Islamic Republic which note that the US could move to talks on condition that Iran gives up uranium enrichment. For that to happen, Iran demands effective support or guarantees from Russia and China in the UN Security Council.
Foreign Minister Lavrov: I would prefer not to comment on press speculations based on leaks, probably, from people who would like to complicate or scuttle the current extremely delicate consultations.
The consultations are being conducted with the main and only aim - to express a common position which would reflect the chief strategic task: of ensuring a nonviolation of the nonproliferation regime while observing and respecting the rights of all NPT member states to peaceful nuclear energy.
Attempts through the press to counterpose the approaches of the participants of the talks in Vienna, I think, do not aid the global work. Those probably undertake them who do not want the talks to succeed.
All six countries - the European trio, Russia, the US and China - are heading to Vienna in order to elaborate a common position. Let us help, not hinder them.
Question: What are the prospects for concluding new Russian-Turkish contracts in the energy sphere, in particular for building a second Blue Stream line, as well as a possible Russian participation in the construction of a nuclear power plant on the territory of Turkey?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: At the meeting between Russian President Putin and Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan last autumn in Samsun an agreement was reached in principle to develop further the energy partnership. As I have already said, our relevant companies are discussing specific projects, including those that you've mentioned, in the gas sphere, in the electric-power industry and in the field of nuclear power plant construction.
We very much appreciate the fact that at the base of Russian-Turkish energy dialogue and partnership lie the national interests of both countries, the coincidence of these interests, mutual keenness and readiness to consider the interests of each other when ensuring one's own and the absence of any attempts to politicize this aspect. We very much appreciate such a responsible and comradely approach.
Question: How do you assess the announcement of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that she is ready for talks with the direct participation of Iran?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: I did not see the announcement. Tomorrow the European trio, Russia, the US and China are meeting in Vienna in order to prepare proposals on talks with Iran.
I want to add that a good opportunity does not appear by itself. It appears as a result of very painstaking work. If these painstaking efforts cease, the opportunity may as easily disappear as it appeared. Therefore it is extremely important for all the participants of the six-nation meeting to seek continuous movement forward.
June 1, 2006
Visit of Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov to the BSEC Headquarters - the Permanent International Secretariat of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation
On June 1, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov as part of his official visit to Turkey visited in Istanbul the Headquarters of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization, which Russia presides over from May to October 2006.
Lavrov as the BSEC Chairman-in-Office discussed with the Secretary General of the Permanent International Secretariat of the BSEC, Leonidas Chrysanthopoulos, the Russia-proposed calendar of BSEC events and the procedure of engagement in their organization.
Lavrov took part in a joint meeting of the leaders of the BSEC related bodies (Business Council, Parliamentary Assembly, Black Sea Trade and Development Bank, International Center for Black Sea Studies ) and the BSEC Troika. Those also attending were the representatives of the BSEC member countries and observer countries - heads of the diplomatic missions of these states accredited in Turkey. The Foreign Minister stated the main propositions of the concept of the Russian chairmanship, and a constructive dialogue took place on the situation, priorities and development prospects of the BSEC.
Replying to journalists' questions following his visit to the BSEC Headquarters, Sergey Lavrov noted that the BSEC Organization integrally fits into the modern-day system of pan-European cooperation and into the integration processes on our continent. With due attention to the issues of increasing the practical dividends of its activities - which, in fact, the BSCE is now working on - the Organization can do a great deal to bring the peoples of the region closer together and find a balance of common interests in the Black Sea area.
June 1, 2006
Transcript of Remarks and Replies to Media Questions by Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov Upon Visiting the BSEC Headquarters, Istanbul, June 1, 2006
Foreign Minister Lavrov: It is a great pleasure to be in the Headquarters of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization. Russia is currently the BSEC Chairman, and I appreciate this opportunity to meet with the Secretary General of the Organization, its staff and the permanent representatives of the member and observer countries of the BSEC.
It seems to me very important to translate the interest which is now being shown in the work of this Organization into the language of practical actions. Over the last fourteen years - and this is a relatively short period of time - a regional full-format structure has been established. There have been elaborated the mechanisms and areas of cooperation in it that encompass the spheres of economic and social development, transport, energy, and the combating of natural disasters and organized crime. Now it is necessary to pay the main attention - and in this we see the principal task of our Chairmanship - to the practical realization of the possibilities which have been created. Russia has a plan for its Chairmanship spanning the next few months. It consists of more than sixty events. The first of them will take place very soon - on June 6-7 in Sochi. A meeting of the ministers for emergencies will be held there. Hopefully, it will be productive. Also scheduled for this half-year
are meetings of other sectoral ministers. All in all, as I have already said, more than sixty events. We want that their benefits would be, first and foremost, in the form of agreements on large-scale projects in the Black Sea Region. The Russian Chairmanship has submitted relevant proposals: coordination of auto highways on the Black Sea coast, the resumption of passenger ferry service between ports, the elaboration of the question of interconnection of the power systems of the Western Europe region. But there are, of course, some other plans as well. There's heaps of work to be done. I hope that this visit to the BSEC Headquarters will contribute to the effective development of the Organization.
Question: Regarding the situation on the Russian-Georgian border. By which principle is Russia guided in contact with South Ossetia - the principle of the territorial integrity of Georgia and a recognition of the right of South Ossetia to self-determination?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: What is now happening there is a violation of all the agreements that were signed in 1992 and 1993 - after the bloodshed had been stopped at the cost of, among others, the lives of Russian servicemen. All the sides agreed that they would subsequently try to settle this conflict. South Ossetia is an internationally recognized conflict zone, therefore, of course, while stressing our adherence to the territorial integrity of all states, including Georgia, we cannot fail to consider the objective fact that control over this zone is beyond the capabilities of Tbilisi at this point, because it is a conflict zone, which it is acknowledged to be by the international community. There are the peacekeeping force there that consists of a Russian and a Georgian and an Ossetian contingent and which conducts rotation. That in the last few days the Georgian side has been grossly provocative, as it tried to prevent the scheduled rotation of the Russian contingent,
is seen by us as an attempt to exacerbate the situation and, perhaps, create conditions for its force-based solution, which, as is known, many politicians in Georgia have repeatedly called for. I think that this will be a gross mistake. The Russian contingent rotates in full accordance with the rules which have been adopted within the framework of the Joint Control Commission. In April and at the beginning of May in accordance with them the Georgian side had been notified of the upcoming rotation, so that there can be no complaints to us. At the same time the Georgian side has more than once rotated its contingent without notifying the control commission as prescribed, and within timeframes that do not fit into the established rules. Therefore our appeal is that the existing proposals, approved within the framework of the Joint Control Commission, on the elaboration of a joint plan of settlement involving both the South Ossetian and Georgian sides should be put into effect. Only in
this way can we restore trust and try to reach agreements so as to have the conflict finally settled. But, I repeat, the good will of all the parties is needed for that. It is necessary to stop all attempts to politicize any situation that evolves in the region, and to stop, of course, violating one's own obligations under the agreements which have made it possible over more than ten years to ensure calm and peace in this region. A resumption of bloodshed should not be allowed there.
June 1, 2006
Official Visit of Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov to the Republic of Turkey
On May 31 Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov paid an official visit to the Republic of Turkey at the invitation of Turkish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah Gül.
In accordance with the program of the visit, Lavrov had meetings in Ankara with President of Turkey Ahmet Necdet Sezer, Speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey Bulent Arinc, Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and held talks with Turkish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah Gül. In Istanbul the Minister visited the Permanent International Secretariat of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization, where he held a conversation with Secretary General of the Secretariat Leonidas Chrysanthopoulos and the leaders of the organizations which form the BSEC system, and he also attended the unveiling ceremony of a memorial plaque to the outstanding Russian diplomat and thinker K.N.Leontyev on the facade of the building of the Russian Consulate General in Istanbul.
During the talks with his Turkish counterpart and meetings with the other members of the top leadership of Turkey, matters pertaining to the state of, and prospects for bilateral relations, as well as pressing regional and international problems, in particular, the situation surrounding Iran's nuclear program, the prospects for Iraq and Middle East settlement, conditions in Trans-Caucasus and Central Asia, and the Cyprus problem were discussed.
June 1, 2006