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Interview of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey V. Lavrov for the news agency "RIA Novosti", newspaper "Moscow News", magazine "Russia in Global Affairs", Moscow, November 8, 2012

19-11-2012, 14:00



Question: What does Barack Obama's victory in presidential election in the United States mean for Russia?

Sergey V. Lavrov: We refer to this as to the choice of American people and the will of the voters.

I read about various inconsistencies and violations of the rights of voters. But no one is going to challenge the announced results of the American elections. Naturally, we will continue to work with the administration, which will be updated likely. In particular, Hillary Clinton said that she unlikely remained as the United States Secretary of State. During meeting in Vladivostok she also confirmed it to me «in the margins» of the APEC summit.

We are ready to work with the United States on the basis of equality, mutual benefit and mutual respect. Our countries have many shared interests. At the same time there are differences on some issues - it never manages without this. We will be ready to go as far in the deepening of cooperation, how the United States administration will be ready for this.

Question: Sometimes it seems that regardless of the persons of the President of the United States and the United States Secretary of State, we are stuck in a range of issues that have been discussed for many years. However, currently there is new, very different agenda, which is not connected with the heritage of the past. There are new challenges in Asia and the Arctic. Are we ready to propose new agenda, and are Americans ready to discuss it?

Sergey V. Lavrov: Mostly we are already discussing it. Long ago Russian-American relations have not been limited to mutual counting of warheads. Although the START-3 is definitely the important document and we are quite satisfied with the way it is implemented now in practice, and, as I understand it, the Americans are satisfied too, but the relations between Russia and the United States are much richer. At the meeting of Presidents Vladimir V. Putin and Barack Obama in Los Cabos, in June 2012 the emphasis was made on the need to strengthen economic «cushion» of relations. It is shame to have such volume of mutual trade and investment. Russian President proposed to think on mechanism creation that would allow tracking problems with the investment climate faced by Russian companies in the United States and the United States companies in Russia. For obvious reasons of the pre-election period this idea has not been dressed up in something concrete, but it remains on the agenda, and as soon as the administration in Washington will be regrouped and will be ready to work, we go back to the idea.

The good progress in the direction, which is virtually absent for a long time - it contacts between people, observe in Russian-U.S. relations. We signed the agreements on visa facilitation for businessmen and tourists, which simplify traveling conditions for these categories of citizens. Here, I also mentioned the Agreement on cooperation in the field of international adoption came into force last week. This topic has created and continues to create large stimuli in public opinion. I hope that the implementation of the Agreement will allow removing of the roughness and avoiding of unnecessary polemics emotional outbursts. The main thing is to restore order in the way adopted children feel themselves in new foster families and what is the relation to them.

Certainly, backbone factor in bilateral relations is the Russian-American Presidential Commission. Now it contains 21 working groups that deal with various issues - from agriculture to space, from fighting with terrorism to promoting of innovations. This is the valuable tool. After the completion of the election battles in the United States, when there will be the possibility of peaceful operation, we want to activate it, because it went to work passively last time. The mechanism is really very useful, we have never had such. Commission Al Gore – Viktor S. Chernomyrdin functioned, but it did not attend the economy. But here – there are almost all conceivable areas of bilateral cooperation including international issues.

I think that all of this together creates a good foundation for the deepening of relations in all directions not limiting the issues of international security and strategic stability. Of course, the Asia-Pacific region is attracting more and more attention. President Obama almost announced it as the main geographical and geopolitical direction of American foreign policy efforts. We also emphasized its importance by APEC summit conducting in Vladivostok this year and proved that want to actively integrate the Far East and Eastern Siberia of the Russian Federation in the Asia-Pacific region, use its potential for the solving of internal problems for the rising of the territories of Russia, at the same time contribute to the integration processes in this region and connect to the integration cooperation, which is rapidly increasing pace in a variety of formats. These issues are discussed with their American colleagues bilaterally and on multilateral forums. We talked about it with the United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the meeting in Vladivostok «in the margins» of the APEC summit.

Our two countries have a common interest in the development of relatively new mechanism of cooperation - East Asia Summits (EAS), which were initiated by ASEAN member countries and their key partners. Russia and the United States have become EAS members two years ago. The agenda offers a fairly wide range of topics, where we can prosper together. The problems include non-proliferation of nuclear weapon, the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking, piracy, which is the serious trouble in the Asia-Pacific region, cooperation in various fields of social and economic interaction between states.

We are also the participants of the annual activities of the ASEAN Regional Forum on security. One of its tools is the Council of Defense Ministers of the ASEAN countries plus partners, in which Russia and the United States take part.

The accumulation of formats, where our paths cross, where we are involved together with the Americans, gives us a good political weight that we try to build positive joint actions, while maintaining differences on a number of issues for the region development. Certainly, we do not prejudge the region for countries, which they would like to see their part of the world, but contribute to the elaboration of collective approaches.

For example, we think that it is time to seriously take up the prospects of building of collective security architecture in the Asia-Pacific region, and in the there it is no it in APR. In Europe, there is the «loose» and problematic OSCE, which includes all countries of the Euro-Atlantic. But in the Asia-Pacific region this «umbrella» structure does not exist. ASEAN processes are developing there building on the need for joint accepting of the principles of interaction. We support them. The military-political units with the participation of the United States and its closest allies - Japan, South Korea and Australia - are functioning in parallel. Our interest is that unit obligations will not compromise the security of the region as a whole. This became apparent in that, in particular, in Asia, as in Europe, there is the unfolding of the global United States ballistic missile defense components, which, of course, will create risks for other countries in the region. All this must be spoken frankly.

The same applies to the Arctic, where the situation is not that hard in terms of military units, which are not there (though some of our partners are trying to call NATO in there). We object to that. We believe that this step will be a very bad signal to the militarization of the Arctic, even if NATO just wants to go there and get comfortable. Militarization of the Arctic should be avoided by all possible means.

In general, we have established good cooperation with the United States on the Arctic affairs in the framework of Arctic Council, which includes eight states. The interest to this structure is increasing, since it proves that it is quite able to effectively solve the issues available here. One and a half years ago (May 14, 2011 in Nuuk) legally binding intergovernmental Agreement on cooperation in the aviation and maritime search and rescue at sea in the Arctic was accepted. Now for adoption at next ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council, which will be held in the spring of 2013, it was the preparing of multilateral intergovernmental agreement on the prevention of oil spills at sea with the stringent requirements for those, who are engaged in oil exploration and oil production there. In parallel to it there are important discussions. Also agreements on other aspects of environmental protection, preservation of the life way of indigenous peoples of the North, etc are produced.

Of course, the Arctic Council has great prospects. Its participants try to solve the remaining problems on dividing of the continental shelf in full compliance with international law, in particular with the Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982. It is said in the declarations adopted by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Arctic Council. We cherish this principle. We have no discrepancies there.

So the Russian-American agenda has enough new items. I think it will include more.

Question: Sergey Viktorovich, you have just returned from the Middle East, where you have made some drastic and serious statements, in particular, assessing the prepared UN Security Council resolution on Syria. What was the primary cause of such statements?

Sergey V. Lavrov: At the moment, no resolution had been prepared. But we are always reproached that Russia is blocking the adoption of the resolution in the UN Security Council. What is the resolution? The answer is obvious - the resolution with the threat of sanctions against those, who will not stop fighting and armed activity. In addition, our partners giving us these accusations say that Bashar Assad must go without any variants and under all circumstances, and the opposition must continue to resist him. In this case, it publicly declared that the opposition will continue to receive financial, material and military assistance in the form of weapon supply.

We want to understand, how the calls for the adoption of the resolution, which will be addressed to all the warring parties in Syria with the requirements to stop doing this and stop the bloodshed, combine with unreservedly position that Bashar Assad must go, but the opposition has yet to receive full support until it does not achieve this goal. There is no answer to this question. In this situation, we conclude that we are being tried to lure in the discussion in the UN Security Council, as the result of which the Security Council would support one side of the conflict. We have been through this and know how smart some of our partners are able to interpret the UN resolution and as they do that it is not allowed in these resolutions. Therefore, the current situation is very clear for us.

I talked about this in Egypt and Jordan, because the Syrian crisis was one of the central themes of my talks in Cairo with the President of Egypt Mohamed Morsi, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohamed Amr, League of Arab States Secretary General Nabil al-Araby, Joint Special Representative of the UN/LAS on Syria Lakhdar Brahimi, in Jordan - with King Abdullah II, Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Judeh, as well as former Prime Minister of Syria, who is now a member of the Syrian opposition Riad Hijab, who is currently in Amman. I had the meeting with him, as we meet with almost all opposition politicians abroad and in Moscow urging them to implement the agreements reached in Geneva on June 30 of this year by permanent members of the UN Security Council, the Arab League, Turkey, the European Union, the former Joint Special Envoy of the UN/Arab League on Syria Kofi Annan. The purpose of efforts is to make everyone - the government and the opposition to end the violence, go to the negotiating table after appointing of the negotiators, accept the parameters and other aspects of the so-called «transitional governing body» and its composition on the basis of mutual agreement. It is recorded in the Geneva communique.

We are doing exactly this in our contacts with the government and the opposition demanding the same of both sides. Unfortunately, some other members of the Geneva meeting do not want to talk with the government. But they say to the opposition «Your cause is right, proceed to the bitter end».

I have already spoken on this issue. If the main priority is to stop the violence, then we need to do what was agreed in Geneva without any resolutions. Each external player has to «pounce» on the Syrian side, on which it has the influence. It is necessary that we do it in-sync with the same sincerity and pressure forcing them to stop firing. I am convinced that it is in our collective best. But it is possible, if the real priority is the saving of the lives of Syrians.

If the priority is, figuratively speaking, «head of Bashar Assad», his departure or overthrow - the proponents of this approach should be aware that they will pay for it, but not with their lives, and the lives of Syrians. Because Bashar Assad is not going anywhere and will not go away, no matter who says him. He can not be persuaded to such step. He hears how he is characterized by Western leaders, some Arab countries, neighboring states, which threat every way possible. He, as well as the opposition, wants to fight to the bitter end. Opposition is adjusted to this by the West, and Bashar Assad himself is set to fight to the end in this situation - even though there can be no victory. Just yesterday, the Security Council heard the information about the situation in Syria from the UN Secretariat. Presenting its estimates and assessments, by which Lakhdar Brahimi went at this stage, the Secretariat concluded that the two sides set out to continue the military confrontation in return for achieving of the victory.

Simultaneously Lakhdar Brahimi concluded that there victory can not be there. So there will be the war of attrition, killing of people, cultural values, ancient architecture monuments, such as Aleppo, which, in a sad irony, is under the protection of UNESCO. That's all that can be said on this subject.

We all must be honest in the performance of what we negotiate. Resolution - this is from «the evil one». If you do not want to make all those, who are fighting, stop doing it, and similar is replaced by call to adopt the resolution, we understand, what kind of resolution will be discussed and how its supporters are going to use this resolution. This is something we honestly say to our partners.

I do not think that, as you put it, it is a kind of sharpness. This is the honest and outspoken position. We do not want half-truths and just declare it. Our partners mask their approach a bit saying that Russia does not want to accept the resolution. Likely it sounds seriously: there is the wish to adopt a resolution, and there's nothing wrong, but Russia does not want. In fact this is the case, as I talk.

Question: It seems that the relation to the Syrian opposition has being begun to change quite significantly in last two weeks in the West. On the one hand, it sounds frustrating that it is impossible to combine, on the other - fears are growing that in the number of regime opponents there is the domination of not those forces, on which the bet was made. Could this somehow change the position of the West?

During the trip You supported the idea of regional «four» composed of neighbors of Syria and most involved countries. Do you think that it is real to join Saudi Arabia and Iran in the same format?

Sergey V. Lavrov: We certainly believe that the opposition should be united on the platform of readiness to implement the call of Geneva «Action Group». Now it is being joined on the platform of the struggle with Bashar Assad until the bitter end. This is wrong.

Indeed, the approaches of Western and regional sponsors for the opposition as well as for the forms that can be taken by the desired unit are changing. Americans are known have said, they do not consider, that the head of this process should be Syrian National Council, which is supported by some countries in the region - Turkey, Qatar.

These days there is the meeting in Doha, where Syrian National Council and other groups, but not all, are presence. For example, the largest domestic opposition structures, such as National Coordinating Committee (NCC) in Syria, refused to go to Doha at the last moment.

I believe that the efforts of the opposition of foreign sponsors of the opposition for its integration will be continued, and they will take some time. We try to influence on this process. We are not present at these events, but meet individually with all of their participants and in Russia (heads of NCC should come us soon with next visit) and abroad (my yesterday's meeting in Amman with the former Prime Minister of Syria Riad Hijab) setting them on the dialogue with the government. It is necessary to unite on that basis. Now the majority of the opposition hears mantra that there can not be any negotiations with Bashar Assad. If it is so, then we are back to the logic, on which I have already said.

We believe that the initiative should be implemented by the countries of the region, in which peoples fraternal to the Syrians are living. LAS, which was quite actively trying to engage the Syrian crisis, although it is not without bias, is not heard and not seen now. I asked the League of Arab States Secretary General Nabil al-Araby about the reasons for this passivity. He answered that, according to the Arab League opinion, the Egyptian initiative should work for a while now. We agree with it. Egypt and President Mohamed Morsi himself proposed smart idea that Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran form similar group that would develop initiatives to solve the Syrian crisis.

I believe that the proposed structure is very successful. At least, the proposal corrects the error made in the preparation of the Geneva meeting, on which because of the United States position Iran and Saudi Arabia were not invited, but Russia insisted on it. Egyptian initiative compensates this omission.

At the meeting with the President Mohamed Morsi in Cairo I expressed Russia's position in support of this proposal. He confirmed that he considered it as relevant, it remained in force, and that the group of four regional countries was the «core», was able to grow with other participants. He noted that he would be interested in Russia's joining to the initiative. It can be thought.

Naturally, if we decide to connect, then it will need to do not alone, but with someone from the West and, of course, with China. Ideally the five permanent members of the UN Security Council could work together with the regional «four». But now the «four» can’t regularly meet in full composition. As you mentioned, the Saudis have contraindications for contacts with the Iranians. I think that we should get rid of ideological blinders. It is difficult to solve the problem without Iran, as well as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, with no neighbors of Syria and many other countries. Therefore consensus reached in Geneva is very important, which, despite the absence of Iran and Saudi Arabia, is supported by them, as gathered everyone, who influences on the situation from the outside. If we can use this great potential to improve the situation, force the parties to begin a political dialogue, translate the situation into the intercom channel, we will make very useful first step.

But there is no guarantee that the conflicting parties will agree. Opponents of this approach say that Bashar Assad must go first, argue that it's futile, because if Bashar Assad will remain and someone of his government would negotiate with the opposition, they will have a right of veto. Yes, they will have the right of veto, because the Geneva communique says that the outcome, «product» of such negotiations should be general agreement. But the opposition also will have a right of veto. And while we do not seat them at the negotiating table, we will not understand if there is the possibility to realize this opportunity.

Question: Sergey Viktorovich, 2014 is coming. Deadline is approaching, when the international contingent should withdraw most of its troops from Afghanistan. In this regard, the counterpoint of threats moves to Central Asia region, which is vitally important for us. How do you assess the major consolidation of Russia in this region after the visit of the President Vladimir V. Putin to Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan fixing the Russian military presence there. There is a common view among the elites of Central Asia that this step is supposedly a threat to the region, as in the Russian government some imperial tendencies revive - Moscow comes back to Asia by power. How would you respond to this question given that, according to press reports, Russia is ready to invest not finance, but arms and training with more than a billion dollars to refurbish Kyrgyz armed forces?

Sergey V. Lavrov: There are enough of «stirring up trouble» not only in those countries. Russia did not approve its military presence there; it was approved there many years ago at the request of these states. We agreed on the terms of staying extending of our military bases in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. These bases provide security interests, especially in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, as well as other countries in the southern borders of the Collective Security Treaty. And, of course, they are, for obvious reasons, in the interests of Russia's security - the threat of terrorism and drug flow from Afghanistan through Central Asia to us and then to Europe. To a certain extent, we also work to reduce the threats for European security.

I see no reasons, why any part of the regional elite sees the hidden meaning in our agreements. Because in addition to extending of the presence of Russian military bases on the territory of these two states, we approved a series of agreements on cooperation in hydropower, electricity, credit and financial sectors in Kyrgyzstan.

So let the skeptics or those, who express concerns about some «hidden intentions» in these arrangements, explain, how do the agreements on the economic development of Kyrgyzstan, solving of credit and financial problems support this or that part of the elite? In my opinion, it should be obvious for all that it is in the interests of the Kyrgyz people and the state. The same applies to the relationship between Russia and Tajikistan. Our countries are allies, we have mutual alliance commitments.

Yes, just around the corner in 2014, when the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) fulfilling its mission - what needs to prove (in my opinion, it is unprovable thing) - withdraw from Afghanistan. There will be an American military presence in the form, as it seems, of six quite powerful military bases with total quantity of about 25-30 thousand soldiers. This is considerable force.

We want to understand if the mission on elimination of the threats emanating from Afghanistan is completed, and forces are withdrawn, then, firstly, it is the need to report about this to the UN Security Council gave the mandate for the presence of ISAF there. Second, what is the purpose of remaining of powerfully equipped American bases there? While the United States colleagues were apparently busy by election worries, we received no reply. But it needs to have this, because we say about region, where many interests are intertwined.

We are primarily concerned with the interests of the Russian Federation, our allies, who live in the region. These bases and military-technical assistance, which will continue to be provided to Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, as it has being given for all these years - it will all be aimed at fulfilling of our mutual obligations recorded in the fourth article of the Treaty on Collective Security. It says that we are committed to protect the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Member States of CST. Therefore speculations that there is the preparing of replacement of Western forces on CSTO forces in Afghanistan are not serious for those, who more or less understand the policy and realize the situation in the region.

Question: I want to talk about trends in the construction of the Eurasian Economic Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. In some capitals, serious doubts are expressed that the trend toward the creation of supranational bodies, to which it leaned in Moscow is threatening the sovereignty or independence of these countries. How would you respond to these concerns given that this is a fairly substantial part of public opinion in these countries?

Sergey V. Lavrov: Let’s start with the fact that the main initiator of the Eurasian integration was the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nursultan A. Nazarbayev, who for many years with a slight reproach has expressed on the passivity of other members of the CIS in terms of depth and accelerated integration development.

Second, supranational powers have already delegated to the Eurasian Economic Commission (EAEC) set up to guide the processes in the framework of the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space on matters within its competence. This is not everything. But the terms of reference of EAEC contain a series of trade and investment issues. This is recognized by our partners in the WTO and the European Union, as Russia's participation in the World Trade Organization and the negotiations with the EU should be built according to this new circumstance.

The decision to delegate such authority to the EAEC was adopted by the presidents of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. This is all that we can now say on the subject. If we deepen the integration and reach the creation of Eurasian Economic Union to 2015, as it is written in the Treaty on Eurasian Economic Integration, which signed by the presidents of the three countries in November of 2011, the number of delegated issues to this new structure will increase in comparison with the volume, which is the responsibility of EAEC. It will be the sovereign decision of the three presidents.

We are not talking about the forced integration. I repeat, this was the idea of Kazakhstan, and it was actively supported by Russia and Belarus. I heard the doubts about the need «to exhaust» all in the single parliament from the fear that MPs are beginning to create something of their own out there, and the states within of this «three» are deprived of legal sovereignty.

In May of this year on the initiative of parliaments of the three countries there was the creation of the working group on the parliamentary dimension of the Eurasian economic integration. This is logical, since under the Customs Union a large number of treaties and agreements had been already signed. Single economic space required and still requires a significant amount of inter-state agreements subjected to ratification. If we are seriously talking about the Eurasian Economic Union, the number of contract documents will only increase. Therefore, docking of procedures used by parliamentarians, the development of common approaches including a timeline for the ratification of what is done and signed at the executive level is the clear need. It is no need to see this as the attempt to promote artificially parliamentary dimension of the Eurasian economic integration.

There are talks about the intention to do Eurasian parliament modeled on the European Parliament, which would elected directly in all three states. I have never heard on such plans. It might make sense to agree the issues that arise in connection with the need of the ratification support and integration processes, and the use of the creation experience of parliamentary assemblies, where parliaments delegate their representatives. Such assemblies have no legislative role, but serve as a platform for the exchange of ideas, information and approach mapping. The CSTO, EurAsEC and the CIS have such parliamentary assembly.

Question: Can the situation arise, when our position on the Syrian conflict, which is very clear, logical, and set up many times by you, is not understood and not shared by most Muslim countries? Do not we lose the traditionally good relations with the Islamic world given the complex processes taking place in Russia? Do we have the clear understanding of the strategic goals of Russia's relations with the Muslim world?

Sergey V. Lavrov: I do not feel the cooling in Russia's relations with the Islamic world due to the events in Syria. Our relations with the Muslim countries are not diminishing. We are expressed the understanding of the Russian position and our actions. Syrian issue is politicized and ideologized simply unprecedented in the global discourse. Underlying processes are going, on which few people want to say, first of all, because they relate to the situation in the Islamic world. I do not want to go into details, but we are concerned by the processes, as these processes are fraught with the splitting of Muslims.

Attempts of one school in Islam to dominate above all or encouraging the past to do the same will lead to the nothing right. All our interlocutors say about this confidentially and with great anxiety including those from the Middle East region, as well as other Muslim countries.

I think now Amman Declaration would be a very popular endorsed by the King of Jordan Abdullah II, who gathered all of the basic Islamic theologians under his chairmanship in 2005. The document declared all Muslims as brothers and contained the important policy statements of the need to avoid any attempts of a under carpet struggle within one of the world's great religions. There are people, who profess other principles on practice, and it is very sad.

Returning to the main question I would like to say that we do not stop the contacts with colleagues from the Muslim countries. They come to us with the same frequency as before. Just this year, for example, I met my colleagues from Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq. The Prime Minister of Iraq was on the visit and had the negotiations with the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir V. Putin and the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Dmitry A. Medvedev. Vladimir V. Putin held the meeting with the President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai «in the margins» of summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Similar contacts are planned for next year, the dialogue will continue.

Even during the negotiations with representatives of the Syrian opposition they begin to clarify their views by expressing of the belief that Russia should remain in the Middle East, and it is the balancing factor in the region, it helps to provide the stability and sense of comfort for the local states. And I think that is right. At least, we do not teach anyone, no lessons are taught by us. And they appreciate that we are talking with mutual respect and as equals. In such way we try to work with anyone, who is ready for this.

Question: Recently you were on the visit in Pakistan. Maybe, during the negotiations the strengthening of the role of Russia and Pakistan in the region was discussed. Can we expect that Moscow and Islamabad will develop enough trust relations including Afghan question?

Sergey V. Lavrov: We have been building fairly stable relationship with Pakistan long ago. We started doing this long before the tiff of Islamabad and Washington. I believe that the use of drones without the consent of the sovereign state for attacks on targets in its territory violates international law.

We develop relations with Pakistan not against anyone, not against the United States, but in the interests of renewal of our cooperation, which was enough branched. First of all, we want to restore it in the trade and economic sphere. Pakistanis have great interest to Russian companies can help to modernize Karachinsky Metallurgical Plant, which was created with the technical assistance of the Soviet Union.

Certainly, Pakistan is one of the key countries, without which it is impossible to solve the issues of external efforts to help stabilizing of Afghanistan. We strongly encourage the Afghan-Pakistani dialogue, which still is not interrupted with varying degrees of intensity and impact. We also encourage the dialogue between India and Pakistan, and the normalization of relations between the two major countries of South Asia. And in Afghan affairs now the situation emerges, where all the regional states, which more or less can affect the processes in Afghanistan, one way or another involved in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (either as members or observers). And this fact is to be used. The SCO has the contact group on Afghanistan created at the time, when the President of Afghanistan participated in the summits of the Organization as the special invitee. Since 2012 Afghanistan has been granted the observer status in the SCO together with India, Pakistan, Iran and Mongolia.

This opens additional opportunities as the countries of Central Asia, Russia and almost all of Afghanistan's neighbors associated with the SCO. And if you take Turkey, which became the dialogue partner, there is quite interesting combination. There is common understanding that the «platform» of the SCO is need to use greater for promoting of collective regional approaches, which would be acceptable to the Afghans, but which are also important for the external support of processes taking place in Afghanistan.

Question: Congress of the CPC is opened in China. It is clear that likely it is impossible to ensure other systems and procedures, and the surprises there. However, there is very important process of coming to power of the fifth generation of leaders. China is changing, and his view on the world is also changing. Instability and turbulence are growing. In your opinion, can we expect from new generation of Chinese leadership some nuances or our relationship with China is so linear that all is clear for a long time to come?

Sergey V. Lavrov: The adjective «linear» is accepted to use for the designation of simplified approaches. In this case it is not so. We have very extensive, rich relationship with China, which has the nature of strategic partnership and collaboration, as it recorded in Russian legislative documents. These relationships will be deepened. We and the Chinese are interested in this. And we want to increase the high-tech component of our cooperation - this is the extremely important task.

As for new Chinese leaders, who will literally come in next few days, as I understand it, at the end of next Congress of the Communist Party of China, our dialogue with Beijing is traditionally built on almost all levels. In addition to the top echelon the contacts are developing, in fact, with all the members of the Political Bureau of Central Committee of the CPC, from the number of which the reserve for the nomination to the Congress is formed. So we do not expect surprises. We believe that Chinese side will continue to deepen the partnership with Russia, ensure continuity. We are ready to it, and we are interested in it.

Question: In the domestic traditions the relations with partners are such that we prefer to deal only with the official authorities. But Syrian precedent shows that we would have more opportunities to influence the situation, if before that we had maintained relations with the Syrian opposition. Can we expect that Moscow will relate with great attention to the political opposition of our partners including those in the CIS? Or is it our basic approach, and we deal only with those, whom we know?

Sergey V. Lavrov: We do not work against the current authorities anywhere else. This is the principle of inter-state relations, and we adhere to it. At the same time we are developing contacts with prominent political figures, which are outside the ruling circles, in most countries including the CIS - whether in Ukraine or Central Asian states. And that is fine, if the politicians are working in the constitutional field of their country being either the opposition or simply preparing themselves for entry into power. There may be a variety of variants. There are no restrictions, so on the contrary, we strongly encourage such contacts of our ambassadors and embassy representatives, as well as consulates general. We are interested that in CIS countries we really strengthen the communication between people, create favorable conditions for this. It is important to engage in a dialogue of all those, who represent different segments of the population.

When in Syria, as they say, it «broke», when riots and clashes, the application of not always proportional violence (and the force exerts a force) began, when the spiral swirled in the political arena, there was the appearance of opposition, then it turned out that we knew almost all. We had no trouble with them to make contact there. Many of them were from «sleeping cells» - they did not make any political statements, lived in Europe, America and elsewhere. We worked with the opposition situated in Syria. Current Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Kadri Jamel (Qadri Jamil) is the representative of such systemic opposition. Now he is working in the government. We have known him for decades. The same can be said about the leaders of the National Coordinating Committee: Hassan Abdel Azim lives in Syria, and Haytham Manna lives mostly in Paris.

The task of our ambassadors is to develop all sorts of contacts, but we do not use them to incite anyone. We just get the information, keep in touch. I think that this is useful.



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