By Alexander A. Churilin, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation in Romania.
“The Russia-NATO Council in Lisbon confirmed the justness of our policy for a constructive partnership encompassing the Euro-Atlantic region, based on the mutual support of the principle of indivisible security, strengthening of mutual trust, transparency and predictability. The trend has been actually also reflected in the organisation of the OSCE Summit in Astana, after an 11-year pause.
Russia needs to receive safeguards that the ballistic missile defence system to be deployed in Europe will not be targeted at us.
In 2010, Romania received 2.3 bln cubic metres of Russian gas (13 per cent more than in 2009). This year, we are ready to deliver up to 5 bln cubic metres, as well as Russian oil and coal.
The Day of Russia is the most recent national day of our country. The Declaration of Sovereignty of the Russian Federation was adopted 21 years ago. That was, indeed, a landmark event in Russia’s history which goes back a total of 1,150 years. The Declaration was a symbol for the change of the nature of the Russian system of state and of the political order, and it determined a new vector in the evolution of the state.
A few fundamental changes have occurred in our country over the last years. We have ascertained a number of important achievements with regard to the democratisation of life in our country, as well as of our economic system. Peoples of Russia attach special importance to the achievements of the last years. Although there is still a lot to be done (for our country is barely at the beginning of a more profound modernisation), the Day of Russia is the holiday of each and every citizen, of each and every family in the country.
According to its Constitution, Russia is a welfare state. Even under the adverse conditions caused by the global financial crisis, our country never gave up on its social duties towards the Russian citizens. Although we have been faced with a budget deficit, in the last two years we still managed to provide over 250,000 free apartments to the Russian military staff and Great War veterans. In addition, plans for the renovation and re-distribution of older homes have been completed. This influenced, in various ways, no less than 10 million Russian citizens.
Nearly RUB 800 bln will be allocated for the development of the public healthcare system in the framework of the ‘Health’ national programme, with RUB 450 bln of that going into hospital and medical clinic modernisation and renovation. Approximately 40 new medical centres are already being developed, which will employ state of the art technologies. In 2010, pensions for length of service rose by 45 per cent. Compared to 2007, the year before the crisis, education expenditure went up 1.5 times and budgetary allocations for civil research and development grew by over two times.
In July 2009, our country resumed economic growth. In 2010, the Russian GDP went up by 4 per cent, setting a record in G-8. This Year, we expect to post 4.2 per cent economic growth.
Creating he conditions for fully capitalising on each and every individual’s potential is our objective today, the objective pursued in our development, the objective of the new Russia. By common effort of the authorities, business environment, civil society and all Russians we will create a prosperous Russian state.
It is central to the Russian foreign policy to secure a dignifying position for our country in the new international configuration, to create fostering foreign conditions for a multilateral domestic development, for a qualitative modernisation of the economy based on concrete results, in the best interest of the public. Russian diplomacy is focussed on cardinal aims such as a stronger peace and stability, amidst escalating challenges.
The improvement of the international atmosphere contributes to a positive development of relations between Russia and the United States of America. The agenda of this relation includes the signing and ratification of the START Treaty, the entry into force of the agreement on the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, as well as joint efforts towards giving priority to innovative themes in the activity of the bilateral presidential Commission.
An unchanged priority of the Russian foreign policy rests co-operation within CIS. In that department, an element of special importance was the setting up of the Eurasian Customs Union made up of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, the formation of a single economic area seeking to establish the Eurasian Economic Union at some stage in the future. Consistent work is also done in order to further consolidate and modernise the Collective Security Treaty. Another element which contributes to the improvement of the atmosphere in the Commonwealth is the positive trend of our co-operation with Ukraine.
Important progress is being registered in building strategic relations with the European Union as well. The decisions made by the EU-Russia Summit at Rostov-on-Don and Brussels last year act towards expanding our co-operation. The Russia-NATO Council in Lisbon confirmed the justness of our policy for a constructive partnership encompassing the Euro-Atlantic region, based on the mutual support of the principle of indivisible security, strengthening of mutual trust, transparency and predictability. The trend has been actually also reflected in the organisation of the OSCE Summit in Astana, after an 11-year pause.
Relations between Russia and the states and integrationist organisations in the Asia-Pacific region have also received a powerful impetus. Important steps were taken last year in the development of strategic co-operation in this direction, primarily with friendly countries China and India.
Co-operation within BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) has a promising future ahead, one that will be able to provide an objective answer to the concrete interests of our nations, in the interest of security, stability and peace in the world.
We are open for deepening co-operation in respect of the principles of equality and equal rights, as well as of mutual interests with all the interested parties. However, we cannot help admitting that, in our dialogue on foreign policy with our partners there are also a few hot topics, one of which being the ballistic missile defence system the US and NATO are developing in Europe. The Russian party has come up with the most concrete possible proposals for a possible co-operation with the US on the matter of the missile defence system, including the arrangements for a common defence system in the future. For now, Moscow is not very happy with the feedback to our proposals to the US party or some other NATO member states.
Russia needs to receive safeguards that the ballistic missile defence system to be deployed in Europe will not be targeted at us. In fact, no one can really explain the exact threats which require such a large-scale ballistic missile defence system. The uncertainty bothers us, for we do not want Europe to end up again in a situation of differences, distrust and suspicion and, even more seriously, confrontation.
By the year 2020, the US intend to complete the deployment of a ‘four-tier’ missile defence shield, based on the so-called ‘flexible approach’ concept. One ting needs to be clear: once this landmark has been passed by, in the absence of an agreement on the ballistic missile defence system between Russia and the US, a new armament race will begin. The Russian party would like our partners to be fully aware of that when consultations are held.
The certain thing is that all this also includes Romania. It is our common interest to keep our various bilateral relations at the traditional high level. In fact, my Romanian friends have mentioned this interest a number of times.
Romania is the biggest country in the SE of Europe. Naturally, we will listen to what Bucharest has to say with a lot of attention, but we also want Moscow’s voice to be listened to with the same amount of attention. There are enough themes for an interesting dialogue – I mean setting up a stable system of co-operation in the area of European security, in the framework of regional agreements in the Danube-Black Sea region or promotion of stability and good neighbourhood relations in the Balkans. An important area of co-operation is the fight against international terrorism and trans-national crime. A special importance for the Russian-Romanian regional co-operation is posed by the Council of Foreign Ministers of the BSEC Member States last held in Bucharest recently.
A special potential also comes from co-operation in the field of culture. The Moscow Academic Philharmonic Orchestra, led by world acclaimed conductor Yuri Siminov, has recently been on a tour in Bucharest, Timisoara and Oradea. We are also looking forward to a tour of the Mariinsky Theatre as well. Our dramatic theatre and cinema enjoy a lot of interest in Romania. In other words, there is an area which offers numerous working opportunities. We are willing to support similar Romanian initiatives are looking forward to welcoming Romanian artists to Russia.
It is with greatest satisfaction that we note the activity of Russian enterprises in Romania. Companies such as Lukoil, TMK or Mechel came here with serious investments, they work well, implement new technologies and bring profits to Romania. I believe our economic co-operation will contribute to the general bilateral co-operation, including by the participation of Romanian businesspeople in economic projects in Russia.
In what regards co-operation in the area of energy, things look quite good. In 2010, Romania received 2.3 bln cubic metres of Russian gas (13 per cent more than in 2009). This year, we are ready to deliver up to 5 bln cubic metres, as well as Russian oil and coal.
I believe there are good prospects of growth of co-operation in the area of Russian gas transit through Romania on its way to Turkey, Macedonia and Greece. This major project was conceived for the transmission of a total of 19 bln cubic metres of gas every year. If Romania decides to join South Stream, the level of co-operation could grow even further.
Russia and Romania are old partners. In the continuously changing contemporary reality, the experience of multilateral co-operation over several generations has an exceptional importance: it’s better to have one old friend than two new friends. This is something we should always remember when we discuss the prospects of our bilateral relations and of the European policy.”