Address by H.E.Mr.Gleb A.Ivashentsov

Ambassador of the Russian Federation

at the Korea National Defense University

(Seoul, March 27th, 2008)

 

 

Todays Russia and the Russian-Korean Relations

 

Dear friends!

 

I am glad to be with you today here at the Korea National Defense University. This is the third address I do here. Your invitation testifies the interest in my country. This is great. Russia and Korea are close neighbors and we have to know each other better. Geography and history have destined our countries to jointly resolve quite a few common tasks.

This year is a special year for Russia. In December 2007 the elections in the State Duma the Russian Parliament took place, followed by the elections of the President of Russia on March 2nd. These two crucial campaigns reaffirmed that the people of Russia adhere to the course aimed at the modernization and strengthening of the country in political, administrative and economic spheres, as well as to social reforms serving the majority of the population, in other words, to all the values rightly connected in our peoples consciousness with Vladimir Putins presidency.

Indeed, a lot has been done in the last few years.

Russia has returned to the world arena as a strong state, a state capable of defending itself and worth to be regarded. We have accumulated a considerable foreign policy capital, now working for the country's development, protecting interests of our citizens and national businesses. Let me present just a few figures for you. Within last 8 years the accumulated volume of foreign investments has grown not by just a few percent, but 7-fold. I have to remind you that in the previous period the net capital outflow totaled to US$ 10-15-20 or even 25 billion a year. In 2007 Russia has experienced an all-time peak total capital inflow of US$ 82,3 billion.

Our trade volume with foreign countries grew more than 5 times. More than 6 million of our citizens travel abroad every year.

Each of these figures identifies Russia's qualitatively new position as a modern country opened to the outside world including business and fair competition.

Last year we reached the 8,1% GNP growth which is the largest figure in 7 years.

According to the international experts' evaluations in 2007 Russia surpassed such G8 countries as Italy and France in GNP volume based on parity purchasing power thus entering the world's 7 largest economies.

Large-scale projects in energy, transport infrastructure, machinery production and housing have been launched, as well as structural reforms in aircraft and shipbuilding industries. Considerable investments are drawn into automobile and railway machinery production.

State corporations with vast financial and management capabilities have been formed for the spheres considered to be most sensitive for the country. There are also some positive dynamics in agriculture.

Our children will not have to pay for our obligations as our national foreign debt has come down to 3% of GNP, which is considered one of the lowest in the world.

Significant financial reserves have been accumulated which protect the country from external crisis threats and guarantee our social obligations in the future. Russia's financial position is being strengthened as our gold and currency reserves storm the mark of half a trillion US$.

Macroeconomic stability and financial self-sufficiency of the country are generally ensured. As a result of that in last two years Russia has been witnessing a real investment and consumer boom.

Last year we have also broke a 25-year record in birth rate growth the largest number of children in 15 years were born.

Positive changes in education, science and healthcare are also taking place, the state has resumed its attention to the issues of national culture..

The democratic institutions are getting strengthened. A beneficial effect on their development is provided by the rapid expansion of our information and media space. The last four years have seen a 40-percent increase in the number of the registered print media, and an almost 2.5 fold increase in the number of electronic media outlets. But the leader for growth is without question the Internet. The number of Russians regularly using the Internet has increased more than four fold over this period and now exceeds 25 million people.

***

With her internal consolidation Russia once again is turning into an influential and independent factor in the world politics and economics. Without Russia and despite Russia, not a single international problem of any significance can be solved.

The world has changed from what it was just a few years back. Today it is becoming not simpler, but harsher and more complicated. We are sometimes witnessing sovereignty of states and even whole regions being destroyed under the cover of battle-cries for freedom and opened society, and the growing protectionism in the most advanced countries to go hand in hand with loud declamations of free-trade and investment .

But there is no doubt that the one-polar world has failed to materialize. It was to much extent due to present regaining by Russia of her foreign policy independence as well as the appearance of new non-Western centers of global influence and growth like China, India, Brazil, etc., when for the first time in last 15 years the world order idea market is starting to experience some real competition.

An important new feature of the situation is that the West is losing its monopoly on the processes of globalization. Hence perhaps the attempts to present the events as a threat to the West, its values and life-style. Thus it is not accidental that in the West it is becoming more and more in vogue to challenge Russia and Russian foreign policy with overstated, one-sided demands.

Appeals to contain Russia are heard from podiums of different conferences as well as from Western media. What is the reason for that? It could be understood were Russia recruiting smaller Western states to a pro-Russian military bloc, were she trying to build her military bases on the European Unions on US periphery or were she financing political parties in the NATO counties which try to undermine the position of the existing governments.

But Russia is not involved in such type of activities. Todays Russian foreign policy does perfectly comply with the modern perception of international life standards. What are Russian activities in the world market that do not correspond to the concepts of a powerful country taking part in the international division of labor? Could it be asking to pay world market prices for our energy recourses? But it is our duty in the context of Russias joining international economic organizations. Or could it be deals we make to protect our national interests with other countries which also choose to develop according to their internal rules? But this is our duty to the present and future generations. And it is but natural that we take active position in the CIS affairs. Those countries are our neighbors, close neighbors, and who are to be our friends if not them? So we are sure to pay more attention to processes taking place in the region, and by the way, we are equally influenced by those countries. As for our not breaking off the relations with the so-called problem-states sometimes causing some negative emotions in the world community, we consider such policy to be our duty as well. For the most counterproductive way of doing things is to break the relations and switch to carpet bombings and I hope that everyone in the modern world realizes that.

What is the reason for the anti-Russian wave then? I do not think it is because they cannot forgive us our Communist past. A mighty and self-confident Russia is just not to the liking of some people in the West, be that Russia of the Soviet or of any other type. They liked the Russia of 1990-s not for her democratic character but for her preparedness to allow others to step on her toes. Many in the West clearly counted on long-term and irreversible weakness of my country.

And in this psychological conditions the strengthening of Russia became an unforeseen factor which has taken unaware those who have already mentally excluded her from the future world history. And such people are still uncertain about what to do. The Wests attitude to recent elections in Russia, consolidation of her administration and improvement of its controllability is extremely indicative in this regard. The bets are still made on destabilization, so called orange movements, defamation of the supreme power. And for that the necessary financing is being assigned, strategies are being developed, there are blocking-off laws and other measures implemented, all aimed at keeping Russia in check.

Under such circumstances it is important to stay firm and calm, not to let anyone to draw us into expensive confrontation, including some new arms race which could exhaust our economy and damage our internal development.

Our choice is clear we are a reliable partner for all of the international community in solving global problems. And we are interested in mutually beneficial cooperation in all fields such as security, science, energy, climate change prevention.

We are interested in the most active participation in both global and regional integration, close trade, economic and investment cooperation, promotion of high technology and its introduction into everyday life. All this corresponds to our strategic goals. And for reaching our national objectives we need peaceful, positive international agenda. That is what we will be striving for.

***

Let us now turn to Russias course in the region where the interests of our two countries directly meet viz Northeast Asia. The economic consolidation of Russia allows us today to take up the long-pending task of the integrated development of the Eastern Siberia and the Russian Far East the area of which is seven million square km or 41 percent of the territory of Russia.

I mean the more efficient integration of that vast area into Russias economy as well as into international markets, its development intended to create favorable business environment and decent conditions for life and work of the people. The needful corresponding programs have been approved by the Government of Russia. For instance, the Federal Special Program for the development of the Far East and trans-Baikal areas in the period up to 2013 adopted by the Government of Russia on August 2nd, 2007 provides financial allocations equal to more than US$ 22 billion for development of infrastructure which includes reconstruction of 22 airports and 13 sea ports as well as bridges, highways and power plants. About US$ 4,0 billion of that sum will be allotted to the city of Vladivostok which will house the APEC summit of 2012.

It is a great task but its realization will bring an even greater output. We believe that potentially the uplift of the Russian Asias vast territories and utilization of its natural and other resources could bring output which may be comparable or even greater than those of the development of the American West. The process will inevitably exert major influence on all civilizational processes in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.

In no other region are our internal and external interests so interconnected as in Northeast Asia. For it is necessary to guarantee external security for the economic development of Siberia and the Far East. And by Russias view such guarantees could be best provided by developing positive relations with her neighbors.

In that we have already achieved a lot. Our strategic partnership with China has been considerably enhanced by the year of Russia in China held in 2006 and the year of China in Russia in 2007. Russias relations with Japan in recent years have been characterized by an intensive political dialogue at different levels motivated by both countries willingness to bring closer their approaches to settlement of many international and regional issues. To the DPRK Russia is linked with the Treaty of Friendship, Goodneighbourliness and Cooperation

The partnership with the Republic of Korea which is an integral component of the general strategy of Russia at the Asia Pacific direction bears an independent value to my country. Within last three decades South Korea turned from a poor developing country into an industrial and trade power of a world scale which is striving to establish itself as a strong foreign policy actor of its own right.

Within last two decades both Russia and the Republic of Korea have made transition to the democratic form of governance. Allegiance to democracy at home preconditions their mutual allegiance to the democratic ways in the international affairs as well.

Hence the similarity of the two countries approaches to major international issues which presents a substantial basis for Russian-Korean interaction. Both our countries consistently support collective development of measures to confront modern threats and challenges and to advance peaceful and democratic solution of global issues based on international law in the framework of the UN. They both oppose unilateral diktat, double standards and unjustified use of force. Russia and the Republic of Korea are united in the fight against international terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. They both support promotion of global energy security.

We in Russia welcomed the election of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon as the UN 8th Secretary General. We view that as a convincing proof of high appreciation by the international community of the constructive role the Republic of Korea plays in international affairs.

Russia and the Republic of Korea have common interest in eliminating the war threat in Northeast Asia. The main source of that threat is the more than half-century old military confrontation on the Korean Peninsula presently aggravated by the nuclear issue. My country actively participates in the Six-Party talks on the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula being confident that they offer at present the best format for working out a peace and security system in Northeast Asia. Such a system may be tentatively based on the following guiding principles.

The Six Parties will abide in their relations by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and generally accepted norms of international law, will respect the existing diversity of political, economic, social and cultural systems of the nations of the region, which is based upon their unique historical experience and national features.

The Six Parties will ensure the settlement of conflicts and crises through political and diplomatic means, with consideration of legitimate interests of all parties concerned. The Six Parties will refrain from the threat or use of force against each other.

The Six Parties will strive to promote better mutual understanding and mutual trust by expanding and intensifying dialogue and consultations on security matters (including joint analysis of existing and potential threats), will apply confidence-building measures and enhance military transparency. The Six Parties will focus on common interests, respect different points of view, strengthen coordination, avoid confrontation, will seek consensus through consultations.

The Six Parties will intensify cooperative actions to combat terrorism, organized crime, drug trafficking, piracy, illegal migration, the spread of dangerous infectious diseases and environmental pollution, will cooperate in alleviating the consequences of natural disasters.

The Six Parties will take efforts for greater openness and engagement among themselves in all fields of life, including development of economic cooperation, deeper understanding of each others cultures and traditions through dialogue, humanitarian and people-to-people exchanges.

The Six Parties will reiterate that they are open for interaction with all interested nations with the aim of strengthening peace and security in Northeast Asia.

Russia is prepared to make her contribution to the inter-Korean normalization as well. We constantly stand in favor of building bridges between Seoul and Pyongyang.

Russia has always been in favor of the moves by two Korean states aimed at peaceful unification through their own efforts. We believe that settlement of the nuclear issue of Korea as well as the normalization of the DPRKs relations with the key regional powers will be facilitated by the practical implementation of the large-scale tripartite partnership projects of Russia and North and South Korea, such as the international railway corridor Europe-Korea and the programs of creating in Northeast Asia an integrated electric power grid as well as a net of pipelines connected with the regions of the Eastern Siberia and the Russian Far East.

The settlement on the Korean Peninsula could become a major step to establishment of a comprehensive system of collective security in the Asian Pacific Area where a number of multilateral structures of authority have been already formed such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD), The Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia etc. Russia actively participates in all these forums.

I would like to single out the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The SCO which came into existence some years back as a regional antiterrorist and economic cooperation structure comprising Russia, China and four Central Asian States, is becoming today an important international organization of the broadest political capacity. The SCOs activities draw a tremendous interest form other countries and regions including Pakistan, India, Iran, Afghanistan and Mongolia which regularly send their top level observers to the SCO summits.

The signing of the Bishkek Treaty on long-term Goodneighbourliness, Friendship and Cooperation in 2007 symbolized the beginning of strengthening political relationship between the SCO countries, as well as confirmed that the SCO is of a peaceful character and is not directed against any third countries. Among other significant results of the SCO summit one can mention the intention of its members to enhance practical interaction with the observer states in such fields as transport, power and energy, fight against drugs traffic and international terrorism.

***

The Russian-Korean relationship is steadily approaching today the level of comprehensive and trustful partnership. The heads of two states meet practically every year, there are active inter-Parliamentary ties, the Foreign Ministers as well as the heads of other Government Agencies maintain constant contacts. A necessary legal foundation for the bilateral cooperation has been established through conclusion of agreements on cooperation in trade, on protection of investments, on fishing, on prevention of dual taxation, on cooperation in defense technologies, in peaceful use of atomic power, on cultural exchanges etc.

The Russian-Korean Joint Commission on economic, scientific and technological cooperation functions on the Governmental level incorporating ten industry-wise committees and sub-committees. There is practically no such sphere of human activities in which our two countries do not interact. In addition to cooperation on land and sea cooperation in space is now developing. On April 8th the first Korean cosmonaut trained in the Russia Star City will be launched into space by a Russian spaceship and in coming December at the Korea National Space Center at the Oaenaru island in the South Cholla province, which is being built with Russias assistance, the Russian-Korean boost rocket KSLV-1, capable of taking up to 100 kg cargo to the orbit will be launched.

The Russian-Korean trade volume has been increasing steadily. In 2007 it approached the mark of USD 15 billion thus growing 1,5 times in a single year. This is surely much less than Korean trade with some other countries, but it is the growth tendency not the nominal figures themselves that counts.

We believe that realization of joint investment projects particularly in energy, as well as in petrochemical and automobile industries will lead to a much bigger growth in bilateral trade. It is in the interests of both Russia and the Republic of Korea that more such projects are started especially in the regions of Siberia and the Russian Far East.

A special attention in the Russian-Korean economic ties is given to the dialogue on energy which is aimed at determining the guidelines of joint work in the energy sector and strengthening the regional cooperation in energy in Northeast Asia. South Korean companies have received contracts worth billions of dollars for production of equipment needed for energy projects in Russia and modern oil and liquefied gas tankers.

Sakhalin Energy company developing the natural gas deposits on Sakhalin and the Kogas concluded an agreement on supply to the ROK of 1,5 million tons of liquefied natural gas from Sakhalin for the period of 20 years starting from 2008.

A Russian-Korean consortium with the participation of the leading Russian company, Rosneft, has started its work for gas and oil exploration on the Kamchatka continental shelf.

It is however unreasonable to view Russia only as a supplier of raw materials to the Korean market. Russia does export to Korea a good list of high-tech goods as well. For example about forty percent of civilian helicopters now being used in the Republic of Korea were made in Russia.

Russian companies provide an important share of the ROKs needs in fuel for nuclear power houses. There is a weighty number of commercial agreements already concluded or under negotiation on joint science-research and experimental projects, including those for space exploration or aimed at production of high-tech goods in the Republic of Korea under Russian licenses.

The former lack of information on culture and arts of two countries caused by their long separation from each other is today actively replenished by Russian and Korean sides. Quite a number of books on the Republic of Korea have been published in Russia. There is a good demand for South Korean films. On other hand the South Korean public enjoys regular performances of the best Russian musical and ballet groups.

The Russian Nights festival of the Russian culture presented in September 2006 in Seoul became a major event of the Russian-Korean cultural exchanges. A similar festival of the Korean culture was held in Moscow last August. It is a matter of joy that the Russian and Korean Youth show a good interest for such festivals. The young generation of both countries should better know each other to escape the prejudices and to overcome the negative clichés of the past.

Dear friends,

I hope that my address will help you better understand Russia and feel closer to her. The goals of the Russian foreign policy are clear and simple. These are to create favorable external conditions for safe and comfortable life of the people of Russia. The absolute majority of other states wish exactly the same for their peoples.

I would like to stress that we have no intention to use force to take anything from anyone. We do not put our eyes on others properties. We are a self-sufficient country. But we are not going to isolate ourselves from the outside world either. We will follow independent, pragmatic and responsible policy which will promote an image of Russia as a reliable and faithful partner in the international community.