Interview of Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov, Granted to the First Channel (Pervy Kanal) on Themes
Related to Russia's Group of Eight Presidency, Moscow, December 30, 2005
Question: Next year Russia is going to preside over the Group of Eight. How will this reflect on the foreign and domestic policies of the country?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: I think that this will not bring any essential, visible changes in our foreign and domestic policies. Holding the G8 Presidency calls for particularly vigorous efforts to find compromises and mutually acceptable solutions with the partners. That's the way we shall have to act during our G8 Presidency. But herein lies the style of our diplomacy, of our foreign policy in recent years.
We are guided by the task of upholding our national interests. We are doing that firmly and consistently, but without any confrontation. Always we can discern reasonable offers and justified and legitimate wishes of the partners. In situations where their interests are understandable to us, we in most cases find mutually acceptable solutions which meet the interests of Russia and our partners alike. This will be the content of our work next year, as it was in the outgoing.
As to our domestic life, our domestic policy, foreign policy is subordinated precisely to it. We strive to use our international ties to improve the Russians' life, and to create more favorable conditions for the growth of our economy and the entry of Russian entrepreneurs into world markets. In this regard, what will be discussed in the G8 during 2006, undoubtedly, will be used by us to strengthen our efforts and positions on all these issues.
Let us take three basic themes. The first is energy security. It is clear that we shall be guided by the task of using our unique capabilities in this field. That's what President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin exhorted us to do at the recent meeting of the Russian Security Council, where this theme was discussed.
A second G8 theme is the fight against diseases, among them bird flu and atypical pneumonia. Here there's no need to argue that any steps to enhance the effectiveness of international cooperation in this area can surely be used also for the Russians' wellbeing - to prevent any such epidemics in our country. If, however, some cases should occur, then in order to fight them more effectively.
The theme of developing education also, probably, doesn't need any thorough exposition from the viewpoint of Russia's internal interests. We want our education to reach the level of world, European standards where this has not yet been achieved or where the lag that has occurred over the last 10 to 15 years is not yet eliminated. There are interesting and quite feasible projects here as well. I think that the result will be good, primarily from the vantage point of Russia's interests and also in the context of finding mutually acceptable deals by all eight states.
Question: Russia has declared its readiness to act as the world leader in solving global energy problems. How is this question being viewed in the G8 format?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: We have all the prerequisites for that. We are the largest hydrocarbons producer and one of the biggest hydrocarbons exporters. We seek to ensure that this resource benefits the country. To this end we are keen on maintaining our reputation as a reliable and responsible supplier of energy resources to world markets and on diversifying the routes of hydrocarbons supply to other countries. For the same purpose we understand that it is necessary to pay ever greater attention to hydrocarbons processing and ensure the export of oil products rather than crude. We are working on the projects to increase liquefied gas production. This also implies modern technologies. In the nuclear energy field we have a unique experience that only two or three other countries may also possess. Electric power generation is our strong point. Our country has geopolitical capabilities and colossal technological resources and a very considerable expertise here. We are engaged in developments which are meant to open the way to new sources of energy, to renewable energy sources and to the energies of the future.
All this put together permits us to speak of the very stable and strong positions of Russia in the dialogue on energy security, which, of course, concerns not only the eight countries, but practically all states of the world. That's why in the countdown to the summit in St. Petersburg we mean to hold a whole array of events involving also other non-G8 countries which are major producers and users of hydrocarbons and other energy sources.
Unofficial translation from Russian