Interview of Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov on the Questions of Russia's G8 Presidency
Journal Diplomat No. 1 (141), 2006
Question: Much esteemed Sergey Viktorovich, in 2006 Russia is to chair the G8 for the first time. What main tasks do you see in this connection?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: Russia's G8 Presidency is, undoubtedly, among major foreign policy events of the year that has begun. We are to determine the main thrusts in the work of this major forum. It is about the elaboration of collective approaches to major international issues and global problems of human development. On the G8 lies a special responsibility for the solution of pressing political, socioeconomic and humanitarian problems. By virtue of this the international community's closest attention is riveted to it. From the Group the world justly expects mighty political impulses to really facilitating effective counteraction against such challenges of our times as ensuring the sustainable growth and development of all countries of the world; overcoming hunger, poverty and disease; preserving the environment for future generations; combating the terrorist and narco-threat; resolving world economic and financial problems, and many others.
It is our task to hold an intensive, content-rich and productive summit. The G8's suggestions and ideas on a number of key issues of our time are to be supplemented and enriched. It is important to ensure the efficient work of all the G8 bodies and structures and create conditions for the successful work of the leaders at the summit in St. Petersburg. The Presidential Administration, primarily the Organizing Committee for the preparation and ensuring of our Presidency and the team of Russian Sherpa Igor Shuvalov, and many ministries and departments are already working on the solution of these tasks. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is involved in virtually all the areas of the preparation for the summit.
Question: What are the priority areas of the G8's work during our Presidency?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: Considering the important role the G8 plays in many world processes, we have approached with particular thoroughness the selection of the themes to be offered to the partners as the main thrusts in the Group's activity in the current year. They are energy security, the struggle against dangerous infectious diseases, and the questions of education. Such themes, in our opinion, are relevant not only for the G8 countries, but also for the entire world community. On the solution of the many problems in these fields the content and dynamism of the economic and social development of the world as a whole, and the way and quality of life of each of us largely depend.
An integral and important component of the Group's activities is the political ingredient of its agenda. The bar of the work in this sector during the Russian Presidency will not be lowered. Intensive work will be continued and acquire new facets in such key areas as the fight against international terrorism and against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the resolution of acute regional conflicts and crisis situations, primarily in the Middle East and Iraq, and the stabilization of Afghanistan. Of course, the G8 in the period of our Presidency will not remain aloof in the event of the origination of new crisis situations with worldwide implications, though let us hope nothing of the kind will happen. On all these issues effective mechanisms of cooperation with the G8 partners at all levels are in place.
Traditionally the Foreign Ministers and Political Directors carry out the main work on the political component of the Group's agenda. In the course of our Presidency, for example, I have two meetings scheduled with my G8 counterparts - in the summer, shortly before the summit, and in the fall, within the framework of the next session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Already a saturated schedule of working meetings of the sherpas, their deputies and of thematic working groups has been agreed upon.