Address by H.E.Mr.Gleb A.Ivashentsov
Ambassador of the Russian Federation
(Seoul, September, 17th, 2007)
I would like to thank the Suwon University for the invitation to address you on the foreign policy of Russia. It is very important for me as Ambassador of Russia to the Republic of Korea that the citizens of your country, especially the people specializing in international affairs, the representatives of academic, business and public circles have a clear understanding of the aims of Russia’s foreign policy. Two our states are close neighbours and active partners. History and geography have destined them to jointly resolve quite a few common tasks.
Today’s Russia is confident about its future. We have overcome the difficulties of the 1990-s “transition period”. Not only has Russia now made a full turn-around after years of industrial decline, it has become one of the world’s ten biggest economies. On quite a few economic parameters we have results which are superior to our partners’ performance. The country’s GNP has been growing rapidly for five years straight. During the 7 months in 2007 the growth rate equaled 7,9%.
The motive power of the economic growth is switching to the manufacturing industries, which have grown by over than 12%. The agriculture is also experiencing some positive dynamics. The volumes of foreign trade and investment have grown as the foreign capital inflow into the country totaled over $50 billion last year only.
Russia is a reliable and a stable financial partner. Since 2001 our economy has been developing under conditions of surplus: both in the country’s budget and the balance of payments. There is more to that: Russia has become one of the world’s three largest gold and currency reserves holders with savings totaling over $400 billion. All leading foreign agencies have raised our rating to the investment level.
People’s real incomes have more than doubled since 2000. The income gap between our citizens is still unacceptably wide but the measures taken over in recent years have cut the number of poor in Russia by almost half.
The growing demand for Russian products at the international market secured us huge currency reserves which made it possible to launch priority National Projects in education, health, agriculture and housing. By investing into human capital development we are improving the country’s demographic situation.
Based on the decision of President Vladimir Putin the 2008 is declared the Year of Family in Russia, although the work to solve the most important tasks in the field is already underway. In the framework of the National Projects the measures are being taken to improve medical care, social conditions of parents and the system of junior education.
Both state and corporative management, as well as tax administration are also being advanced in Russia. Aware of global trends we are promoting rational integration into world economy with a stress on expansion our industrial export potential, diversification in energy resources supplies and development of international transit.
As a world leader in oil and gas production Russia sees energy security as one of key topics in its interaction with foreign partners.
We have been consistently implementing our agreements, including those reached at the G8 summits, providing for guaranteed unrestricted and sufficient supply of energy resources to all countries interested. In the matter we share equal responsibility with energy resources suppliers, consumers and transit countries as well.
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.
Russia’s rich educational, scientific and creative heritage gives our country clear advantages for creating a competitive economy based on knowledge and intellect, an economy driven not by the rate at which natural resources are exploited, but above all by the ability to come up with new ideas and intentions and introduce them more rapidly than others into everyday life.
We have prepared the conditions for implementing precisely this strategy. The necessary laws have been passed and the necessary structures have been established.
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.
Earlier than many, Russia was able to comprehend the lessons of the Cold War and to give up the ideology in favour of common sense. Russia is opened for constructive dialogue and equal cooperation with all countries without exception. In our relations with many states, such as our CIS neighbours, China, India, Egypt, Brazil, the G8 members, we have achieved or are approaching the level of strategic partnership.
In the world as a whole forces are gaining momentum that are keen to see a powerful and sovereign Russia, powerful inter alia with the skill to “play in team” promoting the principles of multilateralism in the world politics and establishing a more just and democratic system of international relations.
The world has changed from what it was just a few years back. Many things have got cleared up. The main of them is that the one-polar world has failed to materialize. And it could not as the military, political, financial, economic and other resources were not sufficient for empire building in the conditions of globalization.
One-sided and forceful reactions have led to growing of conflicts in the world politics, the new problems overlapping the old ones what actually plays the mechanics of widening the conflict space in the world politics. The alternative to such a situation could be provided through multilateral leadership in the world politics and by building of a multipolar world order.
We do not view multipolarity as aimed at confrontation. That is a competition inter alia for natural resources. That has always been there and there is nothing fatal in it. It is competition which determines the prospects of the modern international relations including guiding lines for values and models of development. But it is not confrontation.
There is the new feature in the situation which 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.
Russia opposes the attempts to partition the world to so called civilized mankind and all the rest. That is the path to a global catastrophe to which the world is pushed by intellectual inertia and prejudices of the Cold War times. Therefore there is an urgent need to overcome intellectual, psychological and other heritage of the Cold War in today’s world politics. I am confident that the choice by Russia and other leading states, including such civilization-forming ones like India and China, in favour of the unification policy would be a major factor to prevent the partition of the world along the civilizational lines.
What we need it is on one hand the rejection of the attempts to reideologize and to remilitarize the international relations and on the other-strengthening the multilateralism and the rule of the international law.
It is a main element of the present reality that the world should become free and all states should get an opportunity to take their own decisions according to their own understanding of their national interests in the new conditions. Neither bloc nor ideological discipline would now work automatically although there are attempts to replace it with the solidarity of one civilization against all other ones.
The uncertainty regarding the future world order was to much extent connected with the weakening of Russia in the period after the disintegration of the USSR. But we have responded to the challenge with radical political and economic reforms. As a result Russia has reestablished her foreign policy independence.
It has largely helped for the first time within last fifteen years to create a really competitive environment at the market for ideas of world order adequate to the modern stage of the world development. The establishment of new global centers of influence and growth as well as more equal distribution of development resources and of control over natural riches do lay a material foundation for a multipolar world order.
Those and other factors in their complexity have preconditioned the coming transition to a new stage of the world development. The counter action to modern threats and challenges remains an objective basis for a broad international cooperation. The multilateral diplomacy acquires a due recognition as an efficient instrument of regulating international relations at global and regional levels. The role of the UN with her unique legitimacy is growing.
Our foreign policy is in full consonance with the present stage of our internal development. It is confirmed by a broad public accord on the main foreign policy issues.
It has become somehow in vogue these days in certain quarters to present to Russia and her foreign policy rather excessive and one-sided claims. It is not 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. But now when Russia has come up, when she is continuously promoting her interests we are accused either of the relapses into the imperial thinking or infringement of democracy, of human rights violations and all other sins.
I would like to especially dwell on a thesis which is nowadays propagated with enforced efforts that the President of Russia in his recent speeches allegedly raised the wave of anti-American rhetorics with an intention to start a new “Cold War”.
But all the things which Putin said in February at the Security Conference in Munich and in the end of April in his address to the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation in regard to the policy of the West did not actually contain any news. I shall give you just a number of examples of at least insincere behavior of Western partners in relation to my country. After the dissolution of the Warsaw Treaty Organization they promised us not to broaden the NATO, but contrary to that brought it straight to the borders of Russia by incorporating to the NATO not only the states of the East and Central Europe but the Baltic States as well which were formerly the part of the Soviet Union. They spoke to us about partnership in energy but built new pipelines to bypass our territory. They expected that we would keep mum when the West was fanning up the anti-Russian sentiments in Ukraine and other CIS countries which used to be the part of the Russian State when America itself did not have a statehood. They approached us for assistance to combat terrorism but condemned our actions against Chechen terrorists and gave political asylum to persons who publicly demand the violent overthrow of the government of Russia. These days they are attempting to deploy American anti-missile systems in Poland and the Czech Republic allegedly to protect Europe and the USA against Iranian and North Korean missiles which do not exist.
Putin as many others thinks that the world cannot exist in the conditions of one power’s diktat. History has shown that many tried that but none succeeded. In the same way the one-sided actions of the recent years in Iraq for example have not led to the settlement of any problems but have aggravated those problems and created new hot-beds of tension.
In response to the Western verbal attacks on Russia I shall say firmly. Our people has opted for democracy not because we looked for compliments from someone in Europe or overseas. That was our own choice. We are going and will go on by our own Russian path extending the hand of friendship to all who is prepared to cooperate with Russia on the principles of equality and mutual respect to make the modern world more democratic, more just and therefore much safer.
Let us now turn to Russia’s course in the region where the interests of our two countries directly contact viz the 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. I mean the more efficient integration of that vast area into Russia’s 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.
It is a great task but its realization will bring an even greater output. We believe that potentially the uplift of the Russian Asia’s vast territories and utilization of its natural and other resources could bring results 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 the Northeast Asia. For it is necessary to guarantee external security for the economic development of Siberia and the Far East. By Russia’s view such guarantees could be best provided not by forming certain new “holy alliances” based on ideological solidarity or pushing forward ultimatums which herd anyone into an impasse but by developing positive relations with her neighbours in the region based on the “security through partnership and mutual development” principle.
In that we have already achieved a lot. The year of Russia in China held in 2006 raised to a new stage the enhancement of our strategic partnership with China. The current 2007 which has become the Year of China in Russia will witness at least four summit meetings of the two countries’ leaders.
Russia’s dialogue with Japan is developing continuously. 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 the 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 decades both Russia and the Republic of Korea have made a transition from command and authoritarian rule to democracy. The allegiance to democracy in internal matters predetermines their mutual allegiance to democratic ways in the foreign affairs as well.
Similarity of the two countries’ approaches to major international issues presents a substantial basis for our interaction. Both our countries consistently support collective development of measures to confront modern threats and challenges for peaceful and democratic solution of global issues based on international law in the framework of he UN. They both oppose unilateral diktat, double standards and unjustified use of force.
Russia and the Republic of Korea are united in counteraction to international terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, in promotion of global energy security
We in Russia welcome 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 the 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 has been actively participating in the Six-Party talks on the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula hoping that its settlement would become a kind of a starting point in turning the Northeast Asia into a region of peace, security and cooperation.
The aggravation of the nuclear problem of the Korean Peninsula should not be viewed in isolation of the general world situation. In the conditions when the factor of force in the international relations is getting more and more manifested and the language of ultimatums and sanctions is widely used, certain countries feel themselves infringed and try to protect their security by all means including radical ones.
We believe therefore that all work on settlement of the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula should be done in the context of providing security guarantees to all countries of the region viz. the DPRK, the Republic of Korea, Japan etc. It is very important to avoid any actions that could lead to new tensions around Korea and the situation coming out of control.
Russia is prepared to make her contribution to the inter-Korean normalization as well. We constantly stand in favour of building bridges between Seoul and Pyongyang. Moscow welcomed the North-South accord on holding the Second Inter-Korean summit. In our view the decision on a meet between Chairman Kim Chung Il of the DPRK State Defense Committee, and President Roh Moo-hyon of the Republic of Korea, has proved that the trend for dialogue and cooperation, started by the first North-South summit in June, 2000, is gaining momentum on the Korean Peninsula. Russia has always been in favour of the moves by two Korean States aimed at peaceful unification of the Motherland by their own efforts.
We believe that the growing process of the inter-Korean rapprochement will help strengthening peace, stability and cooperation on the Korean Peninsula and in the Northeast Asia as a whole and will provide a new political impetus to the work on settlement of the nuclear issue of Korea as well as to the normalization of the DPRK’s relations with the key regional powers.
We hope that it will also facilitate 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 the 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 developments of the Korean Peninsula will to much extent determine the future of not only the Northeast Asia but the whole of the Asia Pacific Area and the world processes. I would like to single out two major moments.
On one hand the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula could create an precedent for settling similar problems in other regions of the world and could become thereby an important contribution to the strengthening of the nuclear weapons non-proliferation regime.
On the other hand the Six-Party talks represent a case of a multilateral decision-making on a hottest international issue which is utterly important in the present world conditions. It is on such basis only and not by one-sided forceful reactions that we could today stabilize the disbalanced system of international relations and help its deideologization and demilitarization.
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), which had its summit meeting in August in Bishkek, the capital of Kighizia. 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 SCO’s 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 marked the strengthening political relationship between the SCO countries, as well as confirmed that it 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 trafficking and international terrorism.
The Russian-Korean partnership 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. In 2008 the first Korean cosmonaut trained in Russia will be launched into space by a Russian spaceship.
The Russian-Korean trade volume has been increasing steadily. In 2006 it approached the mark of USD 10 billion. This is surely much less than Korean trade with some other countries, but it is the growth rate not the numbers themselves that counts. The trade volume between our countries has grown 3,5 fold since 2000. 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.
The Russian-Korean Joint Action plan was adopted during President Putin’s working visit to the Republic of Korea in November 2005 which covered all the directions of bilateral political, economic, scientific, technological and cultural cooperation. The availability of such a plan facilitates the thorough monitoring of bilateral accords and joint projects.
A special attention in the Action plan 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 the Northeast Asia.
Starting from 2012-2013 Russia is planning to supply to the Republic of Korea about 10 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year. It is planned to sign in future a long-term contract for supplies of Russian gas to the ROK for the period of 30 years.
In addition to that the “Sakhalin Energy” company developing the natural gas deposits on Sakhalin and the “Kogas” concluded an agreement on supplies to the ROK of 1,5 million tons of liquefied natural gas from Sakhalin for the period of 20 years.
A Russian-Korean consortium with the participation of the leading Russian company, “Rosneft”, has been founded 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 in use in the Republic of Korea were made in Russia. Russian companies provide an important share of the ROK’s needs in fuel for nuclear power houses. There is a weighty number of commercial agreements under negotiation on joint science-research and experimental projects, including those for space exploration or aimed at production of high-tech products 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 in Seoul in September 2006 became a major event of the Russian-Korean cultural exchanges. A similar festival of the Korean culture was held in August in Moscow. 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 prejudice and to overcome the negative clichés of the past.
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. Anyhow in the modern inter-dependent world we could achieve that only by joint efforts through unity of actions in the spirit of partnership.
We do not close our eyes to the remaining disagreements, to double standards and relapses of the bloc thinking. But it is not those issues determining the main directions of the international developments. What is really sounding it is those factors which unite the world community, not otherwise.