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Straw's "gilded" visit to Moscow

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  • bir46@yahoo.com
    http://www.interfax.ru/exclusive_en.html?lang=EN&tz=0&tz_format=MSK&id _news=3044261 30.10.2001 18:39 A golden age sets in relations between Britain and
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 2, 2001

      30.10.2001 18:39

      "A golden age" sets in relations between Britain and Russia" - Jack
      Straw said

      British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw is arriving in Moscow on October
      31 on his first visit to Russia following his resignation from the
      post of home secretary and his appointment as foreign secretary in
      June. On the eve of his visit to Russia, Jack Straw gave an exclusive
      interview to the Interfax news agency.

      - What issues will you discuss during your visit to Moscow? How do you
      assess bilateral relations between Russia and Britain and the level of
      cooperation between Moscow and London in the international arena?

      The appalling events of 11 September mean that the fight against
      international terrorism will be at the top of the agenda for my talks
      in Moscow. How to deal with the aftermath, and ensure that such
      atrocities cannot be repeated, are key subjects for us all. But those
      events have also changed the nature of international relations more
      broadly. Old certainties have been shaken, and patterns of cooperation
      challenged.There are openings for new partnerships and new ways of
      working together. The Cold War's lasting legacy of instinctive
      distrust, which has endured for too long, has been pushed aside by the
      urgent and common threat we face. To make a start on dealing with this
      new world, and what it means for the normal subjects of diplomatic
      exchange - European and global security, regional affairs,
      multilateral institutions, bilateral negotiations - will be the key
      task of my discussions here.

      - Are there international issues on which Russia and Britain differ?

      Relations between the UK and Russia have never been better in this
      century or the last. This is a grand statement to make, but I think it
      can be justified. Even before 11 September, which, as I have said,
      transformed the international scene, the bilateral relationship had
      reached a new high. Very strong personal links at the very top of both
      our political systems have been reflected in a range of links across
      government, at all levels. This network of contacts provides a firm
      basis for discussion of all issues, which will inevitably include
      areas of difference, as well as substantial areas of agreement. The
      key is to ensure that the relationship is sufficiently strong that
      disagreements do not derail our links across the board, or sour
      cooperation elsewhere. After a long period of difficulty, we have
      reached that stage in the bilateral relationship between Russia and
      the UK.

      Chechnya has long been an area where we have had frank debate with
      Russia. We recognise that Russia faces a serious security problem
      there and condemn the very real threat to Russia's territorial
      integrity. (*) The links between some extremist groups in Chechnya
      and Usama Bin Laden are clear, and must be broken(**). At the same
      time, to remove the threat of terrorism, it is necessary to deal with
      the circumstances which terrorists exploit.

      - How do you see Russia's role in the anti-terrorist coalition headed
      by the US?

      Russia is a crucial partner in the fight against terrorism. Like the
      UK, the Russian people have suffered from terrorism. The talks between
      President Putin and Tony Blair in Moscow on 4 October showed the
      solidarity with which our two nations approach this common problem.
      The support which President Putin announced on 24 September, covering
      a number of important areas, was very welcome, and confirmed that the
      international community was firm and united. Practical and detailed
      cooperation, which has followed on from that statement, is moving us
      closer to the fulfilment of our shared objective of ending the threat
      from international terrorism. I am sure that this theme, of building
      an international coalition determined to defeat terrorism, will be a
      crucial part of my talks. I very much look forward to discussing all
      of this with Igor Ivanov.

      - Does Britain envisage that the anti-terrorist military operation in
      Afghanistan might spread outside the borders of that country? How much
      truth is there in western media speculation that the next targets will
      be Iraq and Iran?

      We are not speculating on the involvement of anyone other than Usama
      Bin Laden and the al Qa'ida network in the terrorist attacks on the
      US. Our immediate objective is to bring to account those responsible
      for the events of 11 September, and our military action in Afghanistan
      is based on clear and compelling information that Usama bin Laden and
      al Qa'ida were responsible for those attacks. Our overall objective is
      to eliminate international terrorism - this international effort will
      require a long term campaign. Current military action is directed at
      UBL's terrorist networks and the Taliban regime which has harboured
      and supported them. Our action is based on evidence and we have no
      evidence against others. Iran has expressed its outrage over the 11
      September attacks, closed its borders with Afghanistan and made clear
      its commitment to the international effort to eradicate terrorism and
      its sources. Our Iraq policy will remain focused on containing the
      very real threat which the Iraqi regime continues to pose to the Iraqi
      people and the region.

      - Given Russia's negative stance on NATO enlargement, how can this
      issue be resolved? Could Russia become a NATO member? How do you view
      the idea of a wider political organisation including Russia, to
      replace NATO?

      NATO and Russia both have a role in maintaining European security -
      for instance in the Balkans, where our troops work closely together. I
      want to see this cooperation intensified, as agreed by Lord Robertson
      and President Putin when they met earlier this month. This sort of
      practical work together is the best way of pursuing concrete
      improvements in the NATO-Russia relationship now. The more distant
      possibilities, such as the question of whether Russia might itself
      join NATO one day, or the development of new structures for
      international security, are worth discussing. But the key task is to
      address the common challenges of European security together, through
      the structures for cooperation which we already share.

      The enlargement of NATO poses no threat to Russia, and the cooperation
      between the West, including NATO, and Russia after 11 September
      underlines how far we have traveled away from a relationship where
      confrontation is a possibility. The principle that all countries have
      the right to choose the security arrangements which suit them best is
      enshrined in several key European security agreements, including
      between NATO and Russia. NATO will issue invitations to new members at
      the Prague Summit next year - it is too early to say to which
      countries. NATO enlargement will promote stability in central and
      eastern Europe, not diminish it. Nor should it have any negative
      impact on the unique relationship which Russia and NATO have

      -How does Britain see developments in resolving the situation with
      Iraq? Does Britain intend to raise again the question of "smart
      sanctions" against Baghdad in forthcoming discussion in the UN
      Security Council on Iraq?

      We need to concentrate on the key issues in tackling the situation in
      Iraq. We all agree that Iraq's refusal to meet its obligations on
      disarmament, particularly its weapons of mass destruction programmes,
      means that it poses a threat to its neighbours. The UK's effort will
      therefore continue to focus on how we - the UN - can contain this
      threat, while minimising the effect on Iraqi civilians. We shall be
      looking for support in the coming weeks in the UN - particularly from
      Russia as one of the five permanent members of the Security Council -
      to meet these key objectives. We remain ready to implement our revised
      sanctions approach (as unanimously endorsed by the Security Council in
      SCR 1352) as soon as possible.

      Accorging to Mr Straw's interview, it looks like that under the common
      phrase "fighting the international terrorism" the UK and Russia are
      going to turn closer than ever, and it was even easier than nobody
      could foresee before, maybe due to the similar imperialistic
      nostalgies for lost colonies channeled anew against independence
      movements which threaten the present glory of the both collapsed
      empires in a dream of the desired rebirth. We remember quite well when
      Putin came in power Tony Blair from the very beginning created even
      closer ties with Putin than the other western leaders did, and further
      on, escorted Putin politically even to the USA in a way no other
      western leader would have done then.

      * No doubt the British will promote the Russian interests also in the
      Chechen issue and "condemn the very real threat to Russia's
      territorial integrity", which means they prohibite the rights of
      Caucasian peoples inside present Russian borders seeking freedom, in
      spite of the fact that those peoples were brutally overwhelmed or some
      even extincted almost as completely as the British colonists in their
      brave past carried out, for example, the Tasmanian aboriginal
      genocide, and then carried proudly their white man's burden

      ** Any assumption who exactly these "some extremist groups" are, and
      exactly by what means they "must be broken"?

      Because these interviews are usual diplomatic practises before every
      official visit of ministers, some political messages are always
      included in advance, too.

      So it' s tempting to speculate more about how the partners plan to
      share their interests, so what about a package of a mutual
      understanding including Iran, and Iraq and their oilfields to the
      west, as well as all Caucasian nations and oil, and finally poor
      Afganistan to Russia?

      Then what about those countries in Europe which do not yet belong to
      the NATO ?

      Sincerely BIR
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