The Singaporeans consider the Russians to be Asian
Question: What was discussed at the ASEAN Regional Security Forum meeting today?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: At the security forum that brings together the ASEAN countries and their 17 partners, questions were raised today to improve cooperation in this format, especially in the areas of: strengthening security and combating such threats as terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime. In the final political declaration, these questions are presented in the sense of principle for us, namely that the international community should unite its efforts to defend against the new challenges.
I would also like to point out that the documents adopted today emphasize the importance of the SCO among the multiple structures that operate in the Asia-Pacific region.
Today we have succeeded not only in defining important principles of cooperation, but also in promoting practical cooperation. A mechanism has been created that will deal with the fight against terrorism and cross-border crime on an ongoing basis. It is planned to organize a direct exchange of specific information between the law enforcement agencies for this purpose. Russia intends to chair intermediate meetings with an ASEAN country in 2010 for these issues and has submitted the relevant request. This suggestion was supported.
We will also participate in the work of the ASEAN Permanent Mechanism for Marine Safety which is being established. This work is being carried out at the level of the representatives of the ASEAN Defense Agencies and their partners.
We also dealt with various conflict situations in the region: the nuclear problem of the Korean peninsula, the situation in South Asia, including relations between India and Pakistan, and many other issues.
Some participants could not resist the temptation to deal with their own problems in bilateral relations with specific partners at this multilateral forum, and even tried to see the solution of these problems as a prerequisite for everything else. In my opinion this is not correct. There have always been bilateral problems, there always will be. But for their solution, appropriate formats should be used, especially direct negotiations. And multilateral forums should deal with the questions relevant to all, look for ways to develop practical cooperation, and thus increase confidence and improve the atmosphere. Ultimately, bilateral issues are also resolved faster and more efficiently.
Question: What do you expect from the SCO and the meetings that are to take place?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is developing successfully. Tomorrow we will be actively working on preparing for the next summit at the end of August.
Question: Did you deal with energy security issues today?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: Yes. The questions of energy security are also on the agenda in our dialogue with ASEAN. They will also be covered at the ASEAN Regional Security Forum. Four years ago, on our initiative, a number of important documents were adopted at the Jakarta Forum in Indonesia. Including documents on anti-terrorist security in traffic. This has to do with energy issues, because at that time traffic was viewed very broadly, including the delivery of hydrocarbons. A special mechanism will be created in the ASEAN Regional Forum. This should prepare a basic document which should define the principles of cooperation in this area.
I also want to say that the energy dialogue is playing an increasingly important role in bilateral relations between Russia and many ASEAN countries. It is not only about HC material deliveries, such as liquid gas, but also about nuclear energy. The interest in this energy is increasing worldwide, because in view of the scientific achievements it is today the only safe alternative to the liquefied hydrocarbons. Everyone is well informed about our plans in this area. Rosatom - the Federal Agency for Atomic Energy - is ready to follow the interests of our partners and to inform about our possibilities in this area. Such contacts are already planned with some countries.
Question: What does ASEAN think about the Russian position that a new security structure should be created in the world? And anyway, what do the ASEAN states think about the Russian attitude towards the multipolar world?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: I can say without exaggeration that our position on international affairs is understood and supported by most of the countries, not only by the ASEAN countries, but also by the other participants in the Asia-Pacific Security Forum. As I have already said, the approved security documents support the collective approach to ensuring stability in the region. This is fully in line with the Russian Federation's foreign policy concept, which was recently approved by the President of the Russian Federation, Dmitri Medvedev. The SCO proposal, which was presented at the summit in Tashkent and is known as the "Tashkent Initiative", is also being increasingly understood. According to this proposal, all the numerous structures that deal with security issues in the Asia-Pacific region should establish operational relationships with one another And the SCO has already established relationships with several such organizations at the secretariat level, including ASEAN. There is still a lot of work to be done in this area. We will probably soon be building a regional security system. Today there are many structures in this area, often with the same members and with identical agendas, so today we discussed the need for such a structure. This approach was supported by some of our colleagues, including the Australian and Chinese Foreign Ministers For their part, colleagues have e presented in an unofficial document setting out proposals for the principles of this universal Asia-Pacific cooperation for stability and security in the region. I believe this will be one of the key issues in this format for the next few years.
Question: How can it be explained that two meetings will take place in Dushanbe tomorrow: first in a narrow circle, then in a broader one? That is my first question, and the second: Can the principles of work that have long been used in ASEAN also be used in the SCO?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: On the first question. Meeting in a narrow circle, and then meeting in a wider circle - this is a normal practice in almost all international mechanisms in which Russia participates: in the CIS, the CSTO, EURASEC and the SCO. In the SCO, the heads of state always begin their work in a narrow circle. This is particularly convenient to have direct discussions about the further activities of the organization without having to give long politically correct explanations, also for the press. Then the results of these discussions are determined in a broader circle. Our Tajik partners who organized this event suggested this format and we see no reason to reject it.
As far as the working methods are concerned, they are actually very similar, even identical, in our SCO and in ASEAN. Above all, decisions are sought that are supported by everyone and that take account of the balance of interests. Such decisions are made primarily through respectful dialogue. This ASEAN culture coincides with the culture of dialogue that has developed in the SCO.
Question: Has Russia's full ASEAN membership also been dealt with?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: We are not applying for ASEAN membership. None of the 17 ASEAN partners asked this question either.
Question: Recently, US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice issued a two-week ultimatum to Iran. What is your point of view? And the second question: explain the Russian position on Sudan. Under what circumstances will Russia attempt to suspend the arrest of the President of Sudan?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: I have already said about Iran that this question and the nuclear problem of the Korean peninsula have been dealt with. The overwhelming majority of the participants in the debate advocate a solution through political-diplomatic means.
As far as the deadlines that a country wants to set for the response from Tehran to the six-party proposal, individual participants in this process should assume real life when making statements, political public statements that are likely to move someone to something Take into account the whole complex of conditions. We assume that there can be no artificial framework, so no deadlines - tomorrow or never. On the other hand, this must not drag on indefinitely. We believe that all immediate participants in the process recognize the nature and difficulty of the problem to be treated. We also understand how long a reasonable period of time can be to get a straight answer to a clear but comprehensive and therefore difficult proposal.
To the Sudan. You know, there is international law, and in this case the situation, i.e. the aggravation due to the decision of the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on the President of Sudan, should be dealt with on this legal basis. And the legal basis looks like this: There is a status of this court, according to which concrete actions of the public prosecutor can be suspended if the Security Council deems it appropriate. The corresponding proposal was made in the UN Security Council, we are dealing with it. We will start from the main task - to ensure progress in the Sudan settlement, including in South Sudan and the Darfur problem. It's like in the former Yugoslavia: there is the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. But some states insist that one, two or three suspects should be brought to the court in The Hague and only then will steps be taken to resolve problems related to the Balkans. The law must be spoken, including over those people who are accused of serious crimes against humanity. But one must not forget other no less important things - the stability of entire regions, be it the Balkans or Africa. Therefore, in my opinion, the right approach should not consist of ultimatums. Humanitarian questions, questions of the protection of human rights should not be presented in black and white and they should be contrasted with the questions of maintaining peace and stability. And most of the members of the Security Council, I believe, support this correct approach.
Question: What do you think of the interest of the Americans in the SCO and their intentions to approach this organization?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: Approaching? It's an abstract term. There are procedures in the SCO, including procedures for obtaining observer status. Tomorrow in Dushanbe we will deal with standard documents that regulate this process legally. Everything will be clearly put on paper. We will also discuss the possibility of introducing the dialogue partner's institute. Here we resort to ASEAN practice. I expect that we will vote on these proposals tomorrow and put them to the heads of state at the summit at the end of August for them to make the decision. Then the desire of a country to approach the SCO can be considered on the basis of a fixed procedure. In the rules that are drawn up for the observers and partners, certain conditions are laid down. And on the basis of these determinations, all official applications to specific questions should be dealt with.
Question: In the western media, the SCO is sometimes referred to as a threat to the current world order. Do you think it really isn't a threat?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: Today in the International Herald Tribune I read an article by a certain Milles - I do not know this rapporteur personally - who commented on our vote in the UN Security Council together with China, South Africa, Vietnam and Libya against the resolution on sanctions against Zimbabwe . This "rapporteur" wrote that we will regret it greatly because 750 million Africans south of the Sahara will "condemn" the Russian Federation. This is what the "International Herald Tribune" writes, a respected respectable newspaper. My first wish was to ask someone to write a reply for the editors or editors of this newspaper to publish. But then I understood that we didn't have enough writers available to respond to such articles. Any intelligent person understands that this is nonsense. It is precisely these 750 million Africans south of the Sahara or the heads of state of most of these countries, headed by the President of South Africa, who at the summit meeting of the African Union accepted an appeal to the world community not to take strict measures before the vote in the UN Security Council. Because this could undermine the efforts to dialogue between the President of Zimbabwe and the opposition. When voting against this absolutely unfounded decision, which is remote from the UN Security Council, we took this appeal into account, because we always consider it important to take states in the respective region into account when dealing with any conflict. Hopefully everything will now go as it should, because the dialogue between President Mugabe and the leader of the opposition is developing with the active mediation of South Africa and other African countries. I believe that it testifies to the correctness of our attitude. I gave this example in response to your question.
To the SOZ. You know that we have stated several times what this organization is doing. There is actually nothing to explain. There are statutory documents, there are resolutions that the SCO adopts. And it would be wrong to portray it in such a way that the SCO is a kind of response to NATO enlargement. The SCO does not lure anyone into its ranks. Countries that apply to the SCO to become a member of the organization understand that the SCO is outside the box. They understand that the SCO does not want to create military bases next to any other organization or country and that that organization deals with issues that are clear and in the interests of the world.
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