Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 51.2017
2017.12.11— 2017.12.17
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Chinese, Russian and Indian ministers meet (Встреча министров Китая, России и Индии) / China, December, 2017
Keywords: foreign_ministers_meeting, sergey_lavrov, wang_yi, quotation

China, Russia and India agreed to maintain regional security and economic architecture in the Asia-Pacific, according to a joint statement issued on Monday after the 15th trilateral meeting of the foreign ministers of the three countries.

Maintaining regional security and economic architecture that is "open, inclusive and based on multilateralism and universally recognized principles of international law" is imperative for lasting peace and stability in the region, the statement said.

The three countries emphasized the need for coordination and cooperation in various regional forums and organizations such as the East Asia Summit to maintain regional peace and stability and to promote regional development and prosperity.

During the one-day meeting, Foreign Minister Wang Yi, his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj discussed a wide range of global and regional issues of common concern, according to the statement.

The three countries reiterated the importance they attached to cooperation and strategic partnership within BRICS.

"We will work together to implement all outcomes of BRICS summits to strengthen cooperation in economic, political, security and people-to-people fields, so as to usher in the second golden decade of BRICS cooperation," said the statement, while commending the China's successful hosting of the Ninth BRICS Summit in Xiamen in September.

The three countries also attached special importance to the joint work within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, saying the SCO is an important instrument in promoting multilateral political, security, economic and people-to-people interaction in the region.

Describing the Russia-India-China trilateral format as a platform to foster closer dialogue and practical cooperation in identified areas among the three countries, the joint statement said such cooperation is not directed against any other country.

"We wish to strengthen the trilateral dialogue for consultation and coordination on regional and global issues of mutual interest in the spirit of mutual understanding and trust," it said.

"Our cooperation is conducive to maintaining international and regional peace and stability, and promoting global economic growth and prosperity," it added.

10th summit to put BRICS priorities in the spotlight (10-й саммит поставит приоритеты BRICS в центре внимания) / China, December, 2017
Keywords: top_level_meeting, expert_opinion

Host nation South Africa sees opportunity to reflect on progress and determine how members can move forward

All eyes will be on South Africa next year, when the country will be the BRICS chair and host of the bloc's 10th summit.

South Africa is expected to craft the agenda for the summit in consultation with the other BRICS members - Brazil, Russia, India and China. South Africa has said its foreign policy is anchored in pan-Africanism, and it is on record as saying its engagement with the multilateral organizations they join is informed by that approach.

Cyril Prinsloo, researcher of the Economic Diplomacy Programme at the South African Institute of International Affairs, says the agenda is likely to be crafted along BRICS priority areas.

Cyril Prinsloo, researcher of the Economic Diplomacy Programme at the South African Institute of International Affairs, speaks at a recent forum. Provided to China Daily

"BRICS agendas are shaped by the overarching objectives and interests of the group, as well as select priorities from the respective country chairing the group. Some of the BRICS' overarching objectives include promoting sustainable development, global governance reforms and intra-BRICS cooperation on a wide range of issues," he says.

"The agenda in 2018 is likely to include priority issues of the South African government, including greater cooperation between BRICS and other African countries, and an increased focus on peace and development efforts," Prinsloo adds.

He says the group's next summit will be an ideal opportunity to reflect on the progress made over the past decade, and to see how its members can strengthen and deepen cooperation going forward.

South Africa's priorities within BRICS have always been to strengthen cooperation between the BRICS economies and African countries, Prinsloo says. "Seeing how BRICS economic relations can be strengthened beyond the group to, for example, increase investment in other African countries or build greater value chain linkages between the countries stands to benefit all parties."

In addition to moving the BRICS agenda forward, hosting the group will allow South Africa to showcase itself, he says, adding that South Africa could leverage this opportunity to attract greater investment from the other BRICS countries and enhance trade ties.

Among BRICS achievements is the establishment of institutions such as the New Development Bank, Prinsloo notes. While the NDB is still in its infancy, it has significant potential to address some of the challenges faced by developing countries in the financing of infrastructure, he adds.

He suggests that the bloc adopt a monitoring mechanism to ensure that commitments are carried through. "A monitoring mechanism that tracks various commitments and progress made toward implementing these agreements could make a positive contribution to strengthening BRICS cooperation," he says.

Prinsloo also says BRICS should leverage on its two fastest-growing economies, China and India, to turn around the other members' domestic economies through greater intra-BRICS economic ties.

BRICS has done well, though, and has the potential to continue on that trajectory if it acts correctly, he says. "The BRICS (members) have established a solid foundation for cooperation over the past decade. ... They should look to build on this foundation and conducive environment by deepening cooperation to ensure a strengthened partnership."

Meanwhile, the subcommitte on international relations of the national executive committee of the African National Congress, South Africa's governing party, has called on BRICS to enhance cooperation in priority areas. Edna Molewa, chair of the subcommittee, said in a statement that the South African government should promote inwardlooking investment in such areas as special economic zones.

The ANC has recommended that BRICS share best practices and use of WTO flexibilities to promote industrial development.

For China Daily

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's remarks and replies to media questions during the Government Hour in the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, Moscow, December 15, 2017 (Выступление и ответы на вопросы Министра иностранных дел России С.В.Лаврова на «Правительственном часе» в Совете Федерации Федерального Собрания Российской Федерации, Москва, 15 декабря 2017 года) / Russia, December, 2017
Keywords: mofa, sergey_lavrov, speech

Ms Matviyenko,


Thank you for inviting me again to address you during the Government Hour.

We at the Foreign Ministry highly value our long-standing, close and even comradely cooperation with both chambers of the Federal Assembly and their relevant committees. We appreciate your interest in the operations of our foreign policy department. We welcome and support the efforts of parliamentary diplomacy to improve interstate relations and to strengthen friendship and mutual understanding between nations.

I would like to highlight the success of the session of the Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly, which was held in St Petersburg in October and was attended by the largest number of delegates in the history of IPU. This unprecedentedly high level and composition of representatives is evidence of the prestige the Russian legislative bodies rightly enjoy with their foreign colleagues. I congratulate you on this truly important achievement.

It is especially important now to coordinate our work in all areas in order to implement the foreign policy that has been approved by President of Russia Vladimir Putin. This is an extremely complicated stage in global history. The potential for conflict is increasing, and along with the intensification of old crises, we see new crises emerging. We are deeply concerned about dangerous trends, such as the erosion of the fundamental principles of international law and attempts to undermine the role of multilateral institutions or to use them for selfish purposes. The enlargement of NATO and the build-up of its potential on the so-called eastern flank, as well as the deployment of the US ballistic missile defence systems in Europe are seriously undermining the principle of indivisible security. This principle, which involves a political commitment not to strengthen one's own security at the expense of others, was adopted by the leaders of all OSCE countries. Major international agreements, including on Iran's nuclear programme, are under threat of disruption. I hope this will not happen, because if it does, it will send the wrong signal to those who are considering solutions to the problems on the Korean Peninsula.

We are openly saying this to our colleagues and are using every opportunity to explain our views and respond to their assessments. We spoke about this at the OSCE Ministerial Council in Vienna last week. I mentioned it during my numerous contacts on the meeting's sidelines, including my conversation with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

We are convinced that the main reason for the current tension is the persistently egocentric and cynical line taken by a number of countries, led by the United States. Having come to believe in its own supremacy and infallibility, and having become accustomed to thinking its opinions should be perceived as the ultimate truth, the so-called "historical West" is trying to obstruct the natural process of the development of a more just and democratic polycentric world order. Those who dissent are subjected to a broad range of reprisals, unilateral coercive measures and direct interference in their internal affairs.

You can see clearly for yourselves that for many Western states, Russia's dynamic development and the consolidation of its positions in the international arena, cause overt irritation and rejection. Hence, they are willing to punish us for our independent foreign policy. The line of deterring our country is conducted on the broadest scale – from the economy and power industry to sport and our domestic media. There are many examples of such actions and I do not want to take up your time with them.

We are trying to do everything necessary to ensure the reliable provision of sovereignty, national security and rights of our citizens. Importantly, while working towards this, we are not withdrawing into ourselves or resorting to self-isolation. Nor are we trying to organise perimeter defence. On the contrary, Russia is playing an active role in elaborating a positive, unifying international agenda and taking specific initiatives aimed at resolving urgent international issues.

Our honest policy, relying on the principles of truth, goodneighbourly relations and keeping our word, enjoys broad support, allowing us to develop equitable, mutually beneficial dialogue with the overwhelming majority of foreign partners.

We are paying special attention to the need to unite the international community in the struggle against the terrorist threat. This is in line with President Vladimir Putin's initiative to create a genuine global anti-terrorism coalition united in its efforts to counter this evil, without any double standards.

ISIS and other extremist groups that entrenched themselves in Syria have been fully routed. Credit for this is largely due to the efficient actions of the Russian Aerospace Forces that facilitated the Syrian Government's anti-terrorist efforts. The suppression of terrorists and the functioning of de-escalation zones established within the framework of the Astana process are creating the necessary prerequisites for the transfer to the next stage – political settlement in Syria on the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 2254. This task falls to the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi, to be arranged on the initiative of Russian, Iranian and Turkish leaders. Now the agenda includes the elaboration of a new Constitution, organisation of UN-monitored general elections, the resolution of humanitarian issues and elaboration of a long-term comprehensive programme for the country's recovery.

As I said, we are very concerned about the situation around the Korean Peninsula. There is no other alternative but to gradually relieve the tension and move forward towards negotiations. Any attempts to provoke a military scenario in the hope of resolving the crisis by force will lead to a disaster. There are plenty of opinions on this issue, including in the Western political establishment. In cooperation with our Chinese partners, we have developed a settlement roadmap that would divert the crisis away from the dangerous line. The number of supporters of this approach is growing.

The domestic conflict in Ukraine remains unresolved. The Kiev authorities are clearly sabotaging the peace process. They are persistent in their refusal to establish a direct dialogue with Donetsk and Lugansk. Considering our Western partners' influence on the Ukrainian leadership, we are urging them to use this influence and persuade Kiev to promptly begin fulfilling the Minsk Package of Measures, which was unanimously approved by the UN Security Council.

Our absolute priorities include expanding the diverse cooperation with former Soviet states. This of course includes the CIS, where Russia is successfully presiding this year, the CSTO and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), where Russia is taking over the chairmanship next year.

We are encouraging the EAEU's stronger external ties in every possible way, as well as the harmonisation of integration processes with a view to potentially forming the Greater Eurasian Partnership. We continue taking action to interlink the EAEU and China's One Belt One Road initiative. In particular, we have concluded talks on a trade and economic cooperation agreement that is now being prepared for signing. We are laying the groundwork for talks on establishing free trade zones between the EAEU and Egypt, Israel, India, Iran, Serbia and Singapore.

We continue to consolidate our strategic partnership with China. Coordinating our countries' approaches to the major modern issues has proved a necessary and important stabilising factor in global affairs. We are working on strengthening the privileged strategic partnership with India. Our relations with the majority of other partners in the Asia-Pacific Region are advancing dynamically, including with Vietnam and ASEAN states. Reinforcing our positions in the Asia-Pacific Region contributes to the general efforts to provide for the social and economic upsurge of Eastern Siberia and the Far East.

Our relations with Turkey have been restored, which in many ways became possible thanks to the personal efforts of President Putin and President Erdogan. Political dialogue and practical cooperation with Latin American and African countries are expanding.

We continue to work closely with our partners within the framework of such associations as BRICS, the SCO, and RIC, the foreign ministers of which met four days ago in New Delhi. These are associations of a new type, without leaders or followers, dictates, or bloc discipline. On the contrary, they are based on mutual respect, the principle of consensus and the search for compromises in compliance with 21stcentury realities. We are facilitating further disclosure of the G20's significant potential, which is an effective mechanism for coordinating approaches to a number of key contemporary issues. By the way, the very fact of its creation means recognition of the multipolarity of the modern world and the impossibility of addressing key problems in international affairs, economy, or politics without the participation of new centres of political influence, including the BRICS countries.

Dialogue with the United States and the European Union will be built exclusively on the principles of mutual respect and a balance of interests.

As President Putin has repeatedly stressed, including at yesterday's news conference, Russia is open to constructive joint work with Washington. Unfortunately, we do not see any progress on the part of the US Administration. It has taken a number of new openly anti-Russian actions. In particular, I am talking about the law, Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions, which takes aim at us, shutting down Russia's Consulate General in San Francisco, and the seizure of five diplomatic sites. We are not seeking to deepen confrontation, but, of course, we will continue to respond to any hostile actions in accordance with the principle of reciprocity.

The prospects for our relations with the European Union remain hostage to the Russophobic policy pursued by a narrow group of countries within the EU, which, in effect, is acting in the interests of the United States, not Europe. Meanwhile, the sanctions spiral set off by the Brussels bureaucrats on direct orders from overseas inflicted serious damage to European businesses (primarily, German), which lost some of its positions on the Russian market. The Americans did not sustain any losses. Moreover, under the pretext of fighting Russia, they want Europeans to buy expensive American liquefied natural gas, and increase defence spending. It's up to the Europeans to decide whether they need it or not. For our part, we will develop cooperation at a pace that is comfortable for our EU colleagues. However, our multi-pronged foreign policy will not be a hostage to the whims inside the EU.

We continue to work vigorously to protect Christians facing serious challenges, especially in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as the followers of other religions. We are pushing for the OSCE, where the Declaration "On Enhancing Efforts to Combat Anti-Semitism" has already been adopted, to adopt similar documents in defence of Christians and Muslims.

As part of our relations with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), we promote mutually respectful inter-civilisational and inter-religious dialogue. We are taking energetic steps to uphold the enduring spiritual and moral ideals that are common to the world's major religions and cultures.

One of the most important tasks is to uphold the rights and the interests of Russian citizens and companies abroad, our compatriots living abroad, and to further consolidate the multi-ethnic and multi-religious Russian world. The World Thematic Conference of Compatriots "The 100th Anniversary of the Russian Revolution: Unity for the Future" held in Moscow in the autumn made a useful contribution to this work. We plan to continue to make maximum use of the potential of "soft power," promote the Russian language and Russian culture, and the multifaceted dialogue with the Russian NGOs, academia and business community.

Of course, we will continue to provide all the necessary assistance to the regions that you represent to improve their international and foreign economic ties. In particular, the Council of the Heads of Constituent Entities of the Russian Federation, which effectively works under the Foreign Ministry, focuses on this task.

All our actions are ultimately aimed at creating favourable external conditions for Russia's peaceful development and prosperity of our citizens. The Foreign Ministry consistently operates on the premise that only joint efforts and deeper interaction with domestic legislators and civil society will help us effectively resolve the large-scale tasks which we are faced with, and provide proper answers to the challenges of our time.

We will defend justice and the truth, preserve our identity, and rely on our culture, history, and values.

Thank you. I can now take your questions.

Question: The implementation of the Federal Law on Ratifying the Treaty between Russia and Kazakhstan on the Russian-Kazakh State Border gave rise to a number of demarcation issues in the Omsk Region. One of the centres of the Russko-Polyansky District has the only road linking it with the city of Omsk. Part of this road (10km) went to Kazakhstan. The construction of a roundabout road will cost 800 million roubles. The federal budget will not provide this sum whereas it will take the Omsk Region three years (until the end of 2020) to build a new road. There is an agreement on continuous movement along this section but only until January 1, 2019. Is it possible to reach an agreement with the Kazakh side on extending this agreement until January 1, 2021?

Sergey Lavrov: We have very good, allied relations with Kazakhstan. When the border agreement was drafted, even before the work on land started, some issues arose, for instance, on dividing oil and gas deposits. The sides agreed on the delimitation and subsequent demarcation of the state border.

Naturally, the issues you mentioned come up. If you submit to me the relevant documents, I will definitely attend to it. We will raise it with our Kazakh neighbours. I think we can hope for a positive response.

Question: I rarely praise anyone but I believe that we are lucky with our Foreign Minister, unlike some of your colleagues. If you had been involved in some way in the Olympics doping scandal, it would not have been so shameful. As for Vitaly Mutko, as a decent man he should resign altogether.

About a month ago, we sent an appeal to the Foreign Ministry linked with the dismantling of monuments to Soviet soldiers in Poland. We were hoping that the Foreign Ministry will respond to it. Probably, I simply missed its response in the media. I would be grateful if you could comment on these actions because they are contrary to the current bilateral Treaty on Friendly and Neighbourly Cooperation.

Sergey Lavrov: We often loudly responded to these actions, appealing not only to the conscience of these people, that does not always work in dialogue with our European partners, but also to the letter of the treaty you mentioned. Our Polish colleagues are trying to interpret it in a different way – they acknowledge their commitment to keep in good shape only tombstones rather than simply monuments in honour of Soviet soldiers. This is not right. The lawyers that studied this treaty confirmed that all memorials in Poland and Russia without exception, as long as they concern Poland's history and its citizens, should be preserved in proper condition. We are talking with them although you probably understand that these attempts lead nowhere. They are infused with Russophobia and I do not know why.

As for our statements, we made them not only on behalf of the Foreign Ministry. We drafted a joint statement at a CSTO meeting and circulated it at the OSCE Ministerial Council that took place in Vienna literally a week ago. We suggested relevant formulas in a joint document of the OSCE. Regrettably, our Western partners veered off from this but the issue remains urgent. We will insist that the monuments to the heroes who liberated Europe should be respected and protected not only in Poland but also in all other countries.

Question: On October 4, 2016, Russia and Kazakhstan signed an intergovernmental agreement on preserving the ecosystem of the trans-border Ural River at the 13th Forum of Interregional Cooperation in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. When will the Russian-Kazakh commission on this issue be established?

Sergey Lavrov: I am sure that the time is specified by the agreement itself. We have already appointed its co-chairman. He is the Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment. I do not know whether the Kazakh colleagues have also appointed their co-chairman but I will check on this and submit your request to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment that is the head department in this respect.

Question: There is now a kind of association of Russia, Turkey and Iran and those who joined them. Can it transform, in the future, into a serious political structure that will engage on the basis of its own interests? In your speech, you mentioned that a number of our energy companies were subjected to sanctions. Subsequently, if such a structure emerges, our companies could hope to get support within the framework of this "eastern brotherhood."

Sergey Lavrov: I would say that we found a "troika" format for cooperation on Syria and have been successfully taking advantage of the opportunities that each of our three countries offers. As President of Russia Vladimir Putin repeatedly noted, there is no 100 percent agreement between our goals and interests, but regardless of the many approaches each country takes to this or that aspect of the situation in Syria, we definitely rely on 100 percent agreement on the need to defeat terrorism, preserve the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Syrian Arab Republic and ensure the harmony of all its ethnic and religious groups.

These common interests pave the way for consistent and effective work within the Astana format. For the first time ever, a Russia-Iran-Turkey trilateral summit was held in Sochi. During that summit, as you know, it was proposed to convene a Syrian National Dialogue Congress.

I will not speculate on the necessity or expedience of transforming this "troika" into something permanent, structured and bureaucratic, with a secretariat and executive staff. Surely, everything is good in its season. But on the whole, the current problems in the world require not rigid bureaucratic structures, but flexible coalitions that make it possible to respond to modern challenges quickly and effectively. BRICS, for example, is not an organisation, but rather an association unburdened by a secretariat. All its work is coordinated through a presiding country. Of course, the cooperation level between Russia, Turkey and Iran is far from that of BRICS. And yet, it is not a rigid alliance.

We indeed have and will have common economic, energy and financial interests, because none of the three countries, for clear reasons, wants to depend on the current global currency and financial system controlled by the United States. It tries to use its dominant position in the system it controls to blackmail all the rest. Nobody likes that, China included. Therefore, in our economic relations with Turkey and Iran, we are trying to find opportunities for such forms, in mutual settlements as well, that rely on national currencies. In this sense, energy cooperation will also become less dependent on the conditions imposed by Washington.

Question: President Vladimir Putin set the task of considerably intensifying the work on increasing the contribution of tourism to the GDP to 10 percent. Without resolving visa issues in inbound tourism (which brings in most of the revenue) it is very difficult to reach this goal. This work is going on in Vladivostok and we are grateful for this. Over 5,000 people have already received visas since August 8. Kaliningrad is also starting this work. What do you think about it?

Sergey Lavrov: We are positive about it just like you. The transition to electronic visas was produced by serious interdepartmental efforts. The Foreign Ministry never acts alone when resolving such issues. There is also the Border Service of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Federal Customs Service.

I think at this point the introduction of e-visas for the entire free port of Vladivostok, for this whole region, is the best solution. Citizens of many countries are already using this service, although not of all countries, including those that the region is interested in. The situation in Kaliningrad is the same – there is a list of countries that can easily travel on e-visas but this list does not include all countries. The principle of reciprocity is important here. I believe Russia should not make unilateral concessions when its citizens have to undergo very serious verification procedures to get a visa to some countries.

True, there are positive changes in the application of Schengen rules that have a broad range of options, including the granting of five-year multiple visas in several days. Many EU countries, for instance, Italy, are promoting this approach. Naturally, we are paying them in kind. However, we cannot switch to visa-free travel with those countries that restrict entry by visas, although we are ready to sign relevant agreements with each EU country.

Until 2013, we were engaged in intensive efforts to draft an agreement on visa-free travel between Russia and all Schengen countries, in addition to the agreement on simplifying visa procedures that has been in force for a long time. We wanted to fully transition to visa-free travel for a broad range of groups, primarily, athletes, tourists, scientists and entrepreneurs. The agreement was ready. We even conducted special expert consultations that enabled the EU to see for itself that we will only use biometric passports, that we can work with them and that we will have the required equipment. We also concluded the agreement on readmission to remove EU apprehensions that our citizens will stay there for permanent residence (as Ukrainians are doing now – I think there are a million of them there). We agreed on everything.

All EU concerns and requests were fully complied with, as Brussels confirmed. This was long before the events in Ukraine, before the EU followed in the wake of the United States and introduced sanctions. They tried to feign the impression that they suspended work on this agreement in response to the events in Ukraine. In reality, they suspended this work because several Russophobic EU countries said they would not support the visa-free travel agreement with Russia for political considerations until visa-free travel is granted to Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. So, cheap politics obstructed the adoption of this agreement.

However, our goal is to expand the range of countries with which we have such agreements. All Latin American countries save one are visa-free for us, very many states in Asia, including the Republic of Korea. We are ready to sign such an agreement with Japan and have most easy visa procedures with China. We know the goal but I hope everyone understands that Russia cannot open its doors unilaterally, without reciprocity.

To be continued...
[Abstract] Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, Moscow, December 13, 2017 (Брифинг официального представителя МИД России М.В.Захаровой, Москва, 13 декабря 2017 года (выдержка)) / Russia, December, 2017
Keywords: mofa, sergey_lavrov

Foreing Ministry's Business Council meeting chaired by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

On December 18, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will chair a regular meeting of the Business Council. The event will concern economic cooperation within the BRICS interstate association, the launch of multilateral projects, and utilising BRICS institutions and mechanisms for the benefit of Russian businesses.

Participants will discuss their plans to collaborate within BRICS for 2018 during South Africa's presidency.

Among the participants will be senior officials of the Foreign Ministry, other Russian ministries and agencies, as well as representatives of major Russian business associations, large companies and banks.
Joint Communiqué of the 15th Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Russian Federation, the Republic of India and the People's Republic of China, New Delhi, December 11, 2017 (Совместное коммюнике 15-го заседания министров иностранных дел Российской Федерации, Республики Индии и Китайской Народной Республики, Нью-Дели, 11 декабря 2017 года) / Russia, December, 2017
Keywords: concluded_agreements, foreign_ministers_meeting, off_docs

  1. We, the Foreign Ministers of the Russian Federation, the Republic of India and the People's Republic of China held our 15th Meeting in New Delhi on 11 December 2017 and discussed global and regional issues of common concern. The Meeting took place in the backdrop of evolving political scenario in the Middle East and North Africa, numerous challenges in putting the world economy back on growth track, serious concerns relating to growing risks of terrorism, transnational organized crime, illicit drug trafficking, natural and man-made disasters, food security and climate change.
  2. We reiterate the importance we attach to the Russia-India-China Trilateral format as a platform to foster closer dialogue and practical cooperation in identified areas among the three countries. Our cooperation is not directed against any other country. We wish to strengthen the trilateral dialogue for consultation and coordination on regional and global issues of mutual interest in the spirit of mutual understanding and trust. Our cooperation is conducive to maintaining international and regional peace, stability and promoting global economic growth and prosperity.
  3. We underline the importance of establishment of a just and equitable international order based on international law and featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice in international relations. We believe that various crises in the world should be resolved in accordance with the international law and the principles enshrined in the UN Charter, without resorting to force or external interference and through establishing broad national dialogue with due respect for political independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the countries.
  4. We reiterate our strong commitment to the United Nations as a universal multilateral organization entrusted with the mandate of helping the world community maintain international peace and security, advance common development, promote and protect human rights. The United Nations enjoys universal membership and embodies our aspirations in global governance and multilateralism.
  5. We recall the 2005 World Summit Outcome document and reaffirm the need for a comprehensive reform of the UN, including its Security Council, with a view to making it more representative, effective and efficient, and to increase the representation of the developing countries so that it can adequately respond to global challenges. Foreign Ministers of China and Russia reiterate the importance they attach to the status of India in international affairs and support its aspiration to play a greater role in the United Nations.
  6. We stress the importance of coordination on the issues related to the UN reform. It has to be conducted through an active dialogue and consultation with the Member States. Implementation of new initiatives must clearly follow the mandates given by the General Assembly. In any outcome, Member States must maintain realistic mechanisms for monitoring the use of UN financial and human resources. In this context, prerogatives of the UN main organs, including in particular the UNGA, as stipulated by the UN Charter, must be respected.
  7. We reiterate the importance we attach to cooperation and strategic partnership within BRICS. We will work together to implement all outcomes of BRICS summits to strengthen cooperation in economic, political, security and people-to-people fields, so as to usher in the second golden decade of BRICS cooperation. Russia and India commend China for successful hosting of the Ninth BRICS Summit in Xiamen in September 2017.
  8. We attach special importance to our joint work within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). We regard SCO as an important instrument in promoting multilateral political, security economic and people-to-people interaction in the region. Foreign Ministers of Russia and China welcome the accession of India as a full-fledged member of SCO at the Astana SCO Summit in June 2017. Russia and India extend support and cooperation for China as the Chair of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) for 2017-2018 and for China's hosting of 2018 SCO Summit.
  9. We agree that maintaining regional security and economic architecture in the Asia-Pacific that is open, inclusive, and based on multilateralism, universally recognized principles of international law, is imperative for lasting peace and stability in the region. In this regard we reiterate our commitment to further promote dialogue on regional security architecture including within the East Asia Summit framework.
  10. Russia and China reiterate that they welcome India's participation in APEC.
  11. We emphasize the need for coordination and cooperation in various regional forums and organizations such as East Asia Summit (EAS), ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus), Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) and the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD), so as to contribute to maintaining regional peace and stability and to promote regional development and prosperity.
  12. We condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations including the recent heinous terrorist attacks around the world and reaffirm our determination to prevent and counter terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. We reaffirm that all acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable irrespective of their motivations, committed wherever and by whomsoever. We call for greater unity, stronger international partnership and concerted actions by the international community in addressing the menace of terrorism in accordance with international law and the UN Charter, including the principles of sovereign equality of States and non-interference in their internal affairs. We commend Russia-led counterterrorism efforts and achievements in Syria aimed at defeating international terrorism. We emphasize the need for a comprehensive approach in combating terrorism, and in this context resolve to step up cooperation to prevent and counter terrorism and radicalization, combat the spread of terrorist ideology and propaganda, stop sources of terrorist financing, prevent travelling of and the supply of arms to terrorists, dismantle terrorist infrastructure, disrupt recruitment and the flow of Foreign Terrorist Fighters and prevent misuse of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for terrorist purposes. We underline the primary and leading role and responsibility of States in preventing and countering terrorism and extremism and reiterate that all States should take adequate measures to prevent terrorist activities from their territory.
  13. We stress that those committing, organizing, inciting or supporting terrorist acts must be held accountable and brought to justice in accordance with the obligations under international law, including the principle of "extradite or prosecute" as well as the applicable domestic legislations.
  14. We call for swift and effective implementation of existing international commitments on countering terrorism, including the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, relevant UN Security Council resolutions and targeted sanctions relating to terrorism and the FATF International Standards worldwide. We agree to strengthen cooperation to take decisive and concerted actions against globally proscribed terrorists and terror entities. We condemn all forms of terrorism and all terrorists, terror entities and organizations listed by the UN Security Council.
  15. We seek to intensify cooperation in multilateral fora including FATF and FATF-style regional bodies (FSRBs) so as to cut the flows of funds, and other financial assets and economic resources to individuals and entities involved in terrorism including those proscribed under the relevant United Nations' Sanctions. We stress the need for joint, integrated and balanced approach to deal with drug menace, its illicit production and trafficking including new psychoactive substances in accordance with the UN Conventions and principles of international law. We call for an early adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism in the United Nations to establish the much needed comprehensive international legal framework to address the growing global menace of terrorism.
  16. We are deeply concerned about the threat of WMDs falling into the hands of terrorist groups, including the use of chemicals and biological agents for terrorist purposes. We would cooperate to prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems and to deny access to such weapons by non-state actors, including terrorists.
  17. We need to address the threat of nuclear, chemical and biological terrorism through intensified meaningful work in international fora. We express firm determination to explore actively the modalities of elaborating a mandate and launching negotiations to elaborate an international convention for the suppression of acts of chemical and biological terrorism at the Conference on Disarmament.
  18. We consider the UN has a role in developing universally accepted norms of responsible state behaviour in the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to ensure a peaceful, secure, open, cooperative, stable, orderly, accessible and equitable ICT environment. In the use of ICTs, we emphasize the paramount importance of the principles of international law enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, particularly the state sovereignty, the political independence, territorial integrity and sovereign equality of states, non-interference in internal affairs of other states and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. We recognize the need for a universal regulatory binding instrument on combating the criminal use of ICTs. We believe that all states should participate on an equal footing in the evolution and functioning of the Internet and its governance, bearing in mind the need to involve relevant stakeholders in their respective roles and responsibilities. The structures that manage and regulate the critical Internet resources need to be made more representative and inclusive. We will continue to work together to contribute to the secure, open, peaceful and cooperative use of ICTs on the basis of equal participation of the international community in its management.
  19. We affirm that outer space should be preserved for peaceful exploration and use by current and future generations. We further emphasize the need to promote and strengthen international cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes and that priority should be accorded to ensuring long-term sustainability of outer space activities.
  20. Prevention of arms race in outer space is one of the key factors of maintaining international peace and security. We support efforts in the Conference on Disarmament to elaborate an international legally binding instrument on the prevention of arms race in outer space, including, inter alia, on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space and threat or use of force against outer space assets and support the establishment of a UN Group of Governmental Experts to consider and make recommendations on substantial elements of the above-mentioned international legally binding instrument. We are engaged in dialogue on issues related to the drafting, within the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, of a set of guidelines for the long-term sustainability of outer space activities.
  21. We reiterate our support to the Government and the people of Afghanistan in their efforts to achieve an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned national peace and reconciliation and build a peaceful, secure, united, sovereign, democratic, stable, prosperous and pluralistic state.
  22. We share the view that a capable and effective Afghan National Defence and Security Forces ANDSF should be the key to the stabilization of Afghanistan. Noting the significant increase of opium poppy production in Afghanistan and the nexus between narcotics revenue and its financial support for terrorism, we emphasize the need for stepping up result-oriented international efforts aimed at countering the Afghan drug threat.
  23. We stress the importance of multilateral region-led interaction on Afghan issues, primarily by those organizations which consist of Afghanistan's neighbouring countries and other regional states, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Moscow format, the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process, the Kabul Process and the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan. We welcome the successful holding of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group meeting in Moscow on October 11.
  24. We welcome the beginning on 16 January 2016 of the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreed upon between E3/EU+3 and Iran in Vienna on 14 July 2015. We share the view that the main objective is to enhance confidence of the international community with regards to the Iranian nuclear programme and for the IAEA to ultimately confirm that this programme is exclusively for peaceful purposes. We welcome the fact that this complex issue was resolved through diplomatic means thus strengthening regional and global security as well as nuclear non-proliferation. We express readiness to exert all efforts in order to ensure sustainable implementation of the JCPOA and engagement of Iran in normal economic and political cooperation.
  25. To achieve peace and stability in the Middle East, we reiterate the need for a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of the relevant UN Resolutions, the Arab peace initiative and previous agreements between the parties through negotiations aimed at creating an independent, viable, territorially contiguous Palestinian State living side by side in peace and security with Israel within mutually agreed and internationally recognized borders. We also emphasize intra-Palestinian unity as an important factor contributing to the Israeli-Palestinian settlement.
  26. We reaffirm that the only lasting solution to the crisis in Syria is through an inclusive "Syrian-led, Syrian-owned" political process which safeguards the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria, in pursuance of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254(2015), and promotes the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people. We strongly support the Geneva Peace Talks and the Astana process, and welcome the creation of the de-escalation zones in Syria, which contributed to decrease the levels of violence and generate positive momentum and conditions for meaningful progress in the peace talks under the auspices of the UN. We appreciate international efforts to create a favorable atmosphere for Syrian peace talks and in particular including the plans to convene the Congress of the Syrian national Dialogue in Sochi. We oppose the use of chemical weapons by anyone, for any purpose and under any circumstances and call upon International community to remain united while addressing any use or threat of use of chemical weapons.
  27. We express concern over the continuing armed conflict in the Yemen Republic which has led to the killing of civilians and to the destruction of civilian infrastructure. We call for urgent measures by the international community to alleviate social and economic situation in the country and to facilitate unhindered access to humanitarian aid to all parts of the Yemen Republic. We call for immediate ceasefire in Yemen and urge all parties to the conflict to resume the nation-wide dialogue in which representatives of Yemeni political forces and different groups of Yemeni population could participate in discussing the future of their country.
  28. We express full respect for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq. We support the efforts by the Iraqi government to combat terrorism and restore control over the territories taken by the so called ISIL. We call upon all Iraqi parties to enhance all-inclusive national reconciliation process in Iraq taking into account the interests of all segments of the Iraqi society. We stress the importance of an Iraqi-led national dialogue on the basis of Iraqi constitution that is able to strengthen the country's stability, territorial integrity and democratic institutions. We also urge the international community to provide continued assistance and humanitarian support for Iraqi refugees and internally displaced people.
  29. We affirm strong commitment to the sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity of Libya. We encourage Libyan political forces to overcome their dissensions and seek mutually acceptable solutions on all outstanding issues in pursuance of the Libyan Political Agreement. We express our support for the efforts in promoting national reconciliation by Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Libya, international partners, neighboring countries and regional organizations consolidated under the leadership of the UN. We also welcome Libyan-led efforts in fighting ISIL, Al Qaida and other terrorist groups, urge all Libyans to unite their struggle against terrorism.
  30. We express deep concern over the ongoing tension on the Korean Peninsula as a result of the nuclear and ballistic missile programmes of the DPRK.
  31. We affirm strong support for a diplomatic solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine through the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements by all parties in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2202 (2015).
  32. Recognising the growing importance of maritime-trade in an increasingly globalised world, we support freedom of navigation and overflight rights based on the principles of international law, particularly UNCLOS.
  33. We agree that the imposition of unilateral sanctions, which exceed the ones agreed by the United Nations Security Council, is inconsistent with principles of international law, undermines the prerogatives of the United Nations Security Council as set forth in the UN Charter, reduces effectiveness of its sanctions regimes, disproportionally affects States against which they are imposed, as well as has a negative impact upon third States and international trade and economic relations at large.
  34. We reaffirm our commitment to a strong, quota-based, and adequately resourced IMF. We therefore call on the Fund to work expeditiously toward the completion of the 15th General Review of Quotas and agreeing on a new quota formula as a basis for a realignment of quota shares to result in increased shares for dynamic economies in line with their relative positions in the world economy while protecting the voice and representation of the poorest members within the timeline of the Spring Meetings of 2019 and no later than the Annual Meetings of 2019. We will continue to promote the implementation of the World Bank Group Shareholding Review.
  35. We emphasize the importance of an open and resilient financial system to sustainable growth and development, and agree to better leverage the benefits of capital flows and manage the risks stemming from excessive cross-border capital flows and fluctuation.
  36. We emphasize the importance of an open and inclusive world economy enabling all countries and peoples to share in the benefits of globalization. We remain firmly committed to a rules-based, transparent, non-discriminatory, open and inclusive multilateral trading system as embodied in the WTO. We reaffirm our commitments to ensure full implementation and enforcement of existing WTO rules and are determined to work together to further strengthen the WTO. We call for the acceleration of the implementation of the Bali and Nairobi MCM outcomes and for the WTO ministerial conference to be held this year in Argentina to produce positive outcomes. We will continue to firmly oppose protectionism. We recommit to our existing pledge for both standstill and rollback of protectionist measures and we call upon other countries to join us in that commitment.
  37. We reaffirm our commitment to achieving a fair and modern global tax system and promoting a more equitable, pro-growth and efficient international tax environment, including to deepening cooperation on addressing Base Erosion and Profit Shifting, promoting exchange of tax information and improving capacity-building in developing countries.
  38. We reaffirm our commitment to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and achievement of it Sustainable Development Goals. We recognize the overarching goal of poverty-eradication and call upon ccountries to work together to implement the 2030 Agenda and the 17 SDGs in all three dimensions viz. economic, social and environment in a balanced manner, in light of their respective national circumstances. In this regard, we recognise the importance of a revitalised global partnership, as outlined in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, and renew our call to developed countries to fully honor their ODA commitments, mobilise additional finance and provide financial, technological and capacity building assistance to developing countries.
  39. We reaffirm our commitment to work together to ensure that the modalities for implementing the Paris Agreement adopted under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change are framed to reflect equity and Common but Differentiated Responsibility as recognised under the UNFCCC. We recognise the importance of Parties to fulfil their obligations in the pre-2020 period, and call on Parties to ratify the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol.
  40. We reaffirm our commitment to work together to ensure that the modalities for implementing the Paris Agreement adopted under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
  41. We stress the importance of regional connectivity in enhancing political mutual trust, economic cooperation, and promoting cultural and people-to-people exchanges. In this context they welcomed synergy of various initiatives to improve regional connectivity in Asia.
  42. We welcome the holding of the first trilateral Russia-India-China consultation on Asia Pacific affairs in Beijing in December 2016. These discussions have been helpful in developing a converging perspective on the emerging scenario in Asia Pacific region. We agree to hold the second trilateral consultation in New Delhi in the first half of 2018.
  43. We express satisfaction with the outcome of the 15th trilateral Academic Conference held in India in January 2017 and welcome the 16th Trilateral Academic Conference to be held in Russia next year.
  44. We welcome the first edition of the visit of RIC Young diplomats hosted by China in January 2017 and agree to hold the second such interaction in India in 2018.
  45. The Foreign Minister of the People's Republic of China and the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation thanked the External Affairs Minister of the Republic of India for hosting and making excellent arrangements for the meeting in New Delhi.
  46. The Ministers decided to hold the next trilateral meeting in China. The time and venue of the meeting will be agreed through diplomatic channels.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's remarks at the Vivekananda International Foundation New Delhi, December 11, 2017 (Выступление и ответы на вопросы Министра иностранных дел России С.В.Лаврова в Международном фонде им. Свами Вивекананды, Нью-Дели, 11 декабря 2017 года) / Russia, December, 2017
Keywords: foreign_ministers_meeting, sergey_lavrov, speech

Dear Mr. Arvind Gupta,

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have the honor to launch this project of the Vivekananda International Foundation dedicated to the prominent Russian diplomat Alexander Kadakin. My sincere gratitude goes to our Indian friends for the high appreciation accorded to the achievements of our late colleague, for the efforts taken to immortalize his name including in the form of Kadakin memorial lecture. Alexander Mikhailovich – or Sasha, as his friends called him – had a bright and remarkable personality. He was a true professional. He loved India which, in his own words, became his karma. He invested literally all his energy and talent in the shaping and strengthening of the Russia – India special and privileged strategic partnership.

Diplomatic relations between our two States were established 70 years ago. The past seven decades have brought remarkable results. We have every right to be proud of them. Our nations and peoples are bound by strong ties of friendship, mutual sympathy, trust, respect for each other's culture, traditions and interests. Political dialogue develops in a dynamic manner – annual summits enable us to take stock of what was achieved in key areas of cooperation and outline future perspectives. A solid treaty base has been formed and is being developed further. Large-scale projects have been launched in various spheres, from energy to pharmaceutics. The Inter‑Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation and the Inter-Governmental Commission on Military-Technical Cooperation meet regularly producing effective results.

At the same time, we should not rest on our laurels, especially given the current rapid changes in the world. Building on the experience and broadening our interaction in a creative way, we should move forward and pursue new promising avenues for cooperation. First of all, in order to achieve a breakthrough in trade and investments. Obviously, the current volume cannot be found satisfactory for our two countries. We aim to increase it to USD 30 billion by 2025. This goal can be achieved through combining our natural competitive advantages and promoting spectacular joint endeavours, such as in aerospace industry or shipbuilding.

The Russian-Indian Working Group on Priority Investment Projects – which functions within the bilateral Economic Commission – have selected twelve most promising projects to be launched – in particular, in the States of Gujarat, Karnataka and others where Russian companies will invest in construction of a butyl rubber plant, production of lighting equipment, development of a "smart city" prototype for India. These plans, which correspond to the Make in India concept announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, make it even more urgent to ensure the early conclusion of an inter‑governmental agreement on reciprocal investments protection that would reflect a balance of interests of both sides.

Moscow shares with New Delhi innovative know-how in peaceful uses of nuclear energy, thus contributing to the energy security of your country. Implementation of the flagship project – construction of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu – is in full swing. The first unit is already fully operational; the second one has been delivered to the Indian side. Work continues on units 3 through 6. Let me recall that the Strategic Vision for Strengthening Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy between the Republic of India and the Russian Federation signed in December 2014 sets an even more ambitious goal – to build at least 12 power units by 2020.

Our military and technical cooperation with India is characterized by unique level of trust – be it direct supplies or joint production of weapons and various military equipment. The experts know only too well that Russian offers on most of the military technical cooperation remains the best options for India. These will become more competitive even further with the steps being taken to improve after-sales maintenance. The joint enterprize producing the world's best supersonic cruise missile "BrahMos", is our common special pride. Plans are being discussed for joint development of other weapons, including for their promotion in third countries. This will involve further transfer of the Russian military know-how.

Contacts between regions and business communities of the two countries enrich our bilateral links. Last June at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum Prime Minister Narendra Modi after having held full-fledged negotiations with President Vladimir Putin, also had a very fruitful meeting with the governors of several constituent entities of the Russian Federation. We welcome the participation of the Indian delegation led by Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj in the third Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok last September and a very fruitful Russian-Indian business dialogue which took place there.

Russia has something to offer in the field of education and personnel training. More than one generation of Indian engineers, medical and other specialists have received education in our country. We should build upon this experience and develop it further – inter alia, in the context of implementing the Skilling India Programme initiated by the Indian Government. Efficiency of our common efforts in this areas and their practical relevance to our citizens will be greatly enhanced when an ongoing work is finalized on the draft inter‑governmental agreement on mutual recognition of education and academic degrees in general and medical fields.

Our privileged strategic partnership implies close and long-term coordination on international arena. We value our interaction on the world issues. The independent and responsible foreign policy of India has always been an important factor contributing to global and regional security and stability. We hope this legacy will be protected and strengthened.

In the UN and other multilateral fora India and Russia have been consistently advocating compliance with the UN Charter and other norms and principles of international law, including territorial integrity, independence and sovereign equality of States, respect for cultural and civilizational pluralism of the world, as well as for the right of peoples to choose freely their own political and socio-economic development models. Together with many like-minded friends India and Russia seek to make international life more just and democratic, increase the role of developing countries in multilateral institutions, such as the UN, IMF and WB. Consolidation of efforts to promote necessary reforms continues on in various formats. Just today we held the 15th meeting of Foreign Ministers of RIC – the group launched in late 1990s which gave birth to BRICS. In its turn, BRICS became a very influential player in G-20, especially since several other participants of the group coordinate with our five countries on issues related to the reform of international monetary and financial system.

Accession by New Delhi to the SCO as a full member has significantly enhanced the political profile and potential of that Organization as well – not least as regards its capacity to help stabilize the situation in central and South Asia and resolve the crisis in and around Afghanistan.

Strengthening Indian-Russian cooperation can help find fair and durable solutions to numerous challenges in the Asia-Pacific region. We believe that sustainable security architecture in the Asia-Pacific region cannot be achieved through closed block arrangements and is only possible on an open-ended collective basis building upon the principles of indivisible security, rule of international law, peaceful settlement of disputes, non-use of force or threat of force. We are glad that India not only shares our approach but is also an active partner in the discussions of regional architecture which have been launched in the framework of the East Asia Summits, the place of regular dialogue mechanism was established in Jakarta at the headquarters of ASEAN on the strategic development issues of the region.

The unprecedented outburst of international terrorism poses the most serious threat for all nations. This evil can only be efficiently dealt with if we all join our efforts and act together as truly universal anti‑terrorist coalition acting without double standards and hidden agendas. The tasks of defeating ISIL and "NUSRA" – in all its incarnations, countering the transborder movements of foreign terrorist fighters and curbing the spread of terrorist ideology, are priorities of today. At the EAS Summit in Manila on November 14, a declaration proposed by Russia was adopted on combatting ideological challenges of terrorism, terrorist ideas and propaganda. We count on continued cooperation with our Indian partners on this track.

It is obvious that well-being of all people living across the vast Eurasian mainland can hardly be ensured without robust and indivisible economic development. It must be really and genuinely inclusive, not based on subjectively conceived closed trade blocks contradicting the principles of the global trading system under the WTO. Last June President Vladimir Putin suggested to think of a fundamentally new economic initiative in Eurasia, whereby existing subregional integration arrangements will gradually move towards liberalizing trade and investments regimes between their members. What we have in mind is to build upon the interest shown by many countries and groups to seek free trade agreements with Eurasian Economic Union. India is among those who begins relevant negotiations next month already.

At the next stages it is envisaged to expand the process to involve member countries of the EAEU, SCO, ASEAN and – why not – EU (if they opt for promoting their basic economic interests) to build what we can call a Grand Eurasian Partnership. I believe that regional cooperation schemes existing in South Asia could also benefit from joining.

Ladies and gentlemen,

There are all prerequisites in place for fuller engagement of the truly inexhaustible potential of the Indian-Russian strategic partnership. We have experience accumulated to date, we have political will, coinciding priorities. The two governments have agreed how to move forward in the best interests of ours two countries. However, whatever we do at the official level must be strongly supported by the people, including scholars and expert communities. I have no doubt that political scientists of both countries have bold and realistic ideas on future steps to take forward our special and privileged strategic partnership.

In October this year in Moscow there was a conference – to which Mr.Gupta just referred - jointly organized by the Russian Foreign Relations Council and the Vivekananda International Foundation. The agenda was about strategic vision of Russian-Indian Relations and of the changing world order. I believe that a dialogue on these issues should become regular. The answers to the multitude of extremely complex and complicated issues confronting the modern world require collective thinking.

I would conclude by thanking your Foundation for making a great contribution to these efforts, including through establishing initiating "Kadakin Lectures".

Question: My first visit to your country was in 1981. Excellency, my intervention is triggered by global affairs. The RIC – Russia, India and China, which was conceived by Primakov long ago seemed at that point of time to be a non-starter. Today China dominates RIC economically, militarily and otherwise. Between us and Russia we do not have any issues at all, but with China we have the nuclear issue, the terrorism issue, trade imbalance. Is there any meaningful future for this organisation?

Sergey Lavrov: Had it been immediately after the first meeting that you were asking this question, maybe I would be pondering. But after the fifteenth meeting I think the answer is obvious. By the way, today we ended by a lunch with Minister Swaraj suggesting a toast to promoting better relations not only between China and India, but also between India and Pakistan. We all would be only glad if the controversies and misunderstandings, misgivings could be openly addressed and honestly resolved. To continue thinking how we can overcome issues mentioned by you, I believe the next speaker in this audience should be the foreign minister of China.

Question: There is a convergence of views between Russia and India on what the situation should be in Afghanistan. But there appears to be a divergence as to how to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan because of the softness Russia has been showing towards the Taliban. That remains the route of problems in Afghanistan, and the distinction that is being drawn between ISIL and the Taliban, given that ISIL in Afghanistan is part of a faction of the Taliban. What is the position Russia seems to have on the Taliban? If I may, I have another question. Russia seems to be interested in participating in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, at least this is what the Pakistanis say. The Chinese are ready to lose 80 percent of their investment in Pakistan. Do the Russians have any estimate of how much they are going to lose when investing in Pakistan?

Sergey Lavrov: I think that you have been deeply penetrated by some propaganda. On the Taliban: never ever was there any proof, any fact that Russia supported the Taliban as some of the American officials alluded or that we even armed the Taliban. We have contacted the Taliban only for two reasons: when our citizens or citizens of our allies got into harm's way and we needed to extract them from there, and the second reason is to persuade the Taliban to sit down and to negotiate. But we always reserve and say that they must join the negotiations provided they respect the criteria established by the Security Council: renounce terrorism, I mean renounce violence, severe any links to terrorist organisations and respect the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Having been criticised by the Americans for quite some time, lately I heard a US official saying that we call upon the Taliban to join the negotiations without any criteria being respected. So make your own conclusions.

I don't think that the recent American strategy on Afghanistan which was announced and which puts emphasis on the use of force, to defeat those who would not be cooperating and those who would be engaged in violence, I don't think that it would work, frankly. Like for the last sixteen years the presence of the huge army of NATO did not manage neither to curb extremism and terrorism nor to stop drug production which reached its all-time record this year. Opium and heroin production in Afghanistan since 9/11, I think, maybe quadrupled or even more. It is to be understood and accepted that this is something which feeds terrorist activity directly. It should also be understood that without precursors this drug production would not be possible. Most precursors come from Europe. What we need is to have no-fool, no double standards, united front against terrorism in all its incarnations, in all its forms, including financing of terrorism, including the drug industry that feeds terrorism, and so on and so forth.

On Afghanistan, specifically, there used to be a group called the 6+1. That was the time when the Taliban were ruling in Afghanistan. The group met several times, and it was useful to see what some of the neighbours plus Russia, plus the United States and the UN of course, can do about the situation. Since then there is a legitimate government in Kabul, even though we can argue how the government was assembled, what kind of elections took place, who was winning, who announced the recount of the vote the results of which were never made public. We can also argue about the role outside players had in creating this particular political system is Afghanistan. Never has a system imposed from the outside can be sustainable. We see this in Afghanistan, were problems are accumulating domestically, we see this in Yemen, where a deal agreed by outside players was just imposed on the country, so we have what we have in Yemen.

Then there was the quartet: Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the United States. They met several times, then they stopped meeting, now they think of meeting again. Then there is the Kabul Process, which for me is too large at this stage. It would be necessary when it comes to reconstruction and mobilising support for rebuilding the country, but in order to find a solution to a political crisis and to moving from a violent state of play into negotiations, you need a smaller group of countries, and in our view that should be all the participants of 6+1, but also all Central Asian countries, because each and every of them, not only Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan as neighbours, but others as well, they feel the bad influence of what is going on in Afghanistan. We convened it, we called it the Moscow Process. Unfortunately, the Americans declined, I do not know why. Instead they are now playing a game with 6+1.

My point is that you cannot resolve the situation without having everybody on board, everybody around the table: the government, the Taliban and those who can really influence the situation, including neighbours. That was what Russia basically did a couple of times. People who participated said that it was useful. In any case, with India and Pakistan having joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, we revived the Shanghai plus Afghanistan Contact Group. It met in October this year in Moscow. It is meeting early next year in China, and we would be certainly India's initiative to invite another meeting of this contact group to Delhi.

Then there was something about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. You know, we have our own corridors. We have a huge territory and do not need any other corridors. We need to develop our own corridors instead of playing in the hand of our competition. Why should we do it? The overall picture of Eurasian economic development is certainly to be borne in mind. In fact, Kazakhstan is offering its territory, Azerbaijan is interested to link Central Asia with the Caspian Region, and China has the concept which we believe is very interesting and needs to be explored in the context of building a harmonious relationship in terms of trade, investment, transport, as well as logistics in Eurasian continent. I know that India has problems with the One Belt, One Road concept, as we discussed today. However, the specific problem in this regard should not make anything else conditional on resolving political differences. India is a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, so are Russia, China and practically all Central Asian countries. All of them have already signed documents with China on cooperation in the context of One Road, One Belt. Russia and other members of the Eurasian Economic Union concluded an economic cooperation agreement with China. These are facts from the ground that are going to be developed further. I am 100% convinced that India has enough very smart diplomats and politicians to find a way which would allow you to benefit from this process, and at the same time not to sacrifice your positions of principle.

Question: Why is Russia and some of its colleagues in the UN Security Council, and please correct me if I am wrong, they are so reluctant to call Pakistan sponsoring terrorism. There is enough evidence already available in the public domain about its complicity or duplicity on the issue of terrorism. So in your estimations, is Pakistan a fit case for being designated as a state-sponsor, or you think Pakistan is a nation you can speak with?

Sergey Lavrov: There is no such thing as a UN list of states sponsoring terrorism. There is an American list which they use as they please. But there is no such thing in the United Nations as a list of states sponsoring terrorism. The Security Council agrees on criteria to include specific organisations and to list them as terrorist organisations. If you take a look at Security Council documents, as well as the declaration of the BRICS Summit in China last September, you will see quite a list of organisations which we all condemn as terrorists. Maybe this information will be useful for you. Otherwise we all want terrorism to be eradicated from Afghanistan, from Pakistan, from each and every country on Earth. Yes, we understand Pakistan's interest in solving this, to get rid of terrorist groups which use its territory and we would be ready to support the Pakistani government in this regard. I believe everybody should.

Question: With regard to the Make in India program in the defence sector, how far is Russia willing to go in terms of the technology transfer?

Sergey Lavrov: As I said in my statement, as we continue and deepen our cooperation with regard to technical matters, this would involve more know-how from Russia transferred. If you want me to some details, I do not know, maybe you are a representative of a competitor.

Question: Recently senior air force officials made a report and a presentation for the government about the FGFA. There appears to be some doubt. Can you tell me whether this information on the fifth-generation fighter aircraft has been given to the Russian side?

Sergey Lavrov: Information about what?

Question: They have doubts about the FGFA. The report was written by vice-marshal of the air force and handed over to the defence minister, and there was also a presentation. Second, after so many years and so much money spent, can you tell us if a second Akula will be transferred to India?

Sergey Lavrov: First of all, there is a special place to discuss these things, and if you want to satisfy your curiosity, I am sorry, this is not a subject which is appropriate for this particular purpose. I can only say that if we have agreement on both sides on any project, be it military, military-technical, be it economic, logistical, what have we, then this project is going to be implemented. If one side, one party is not interested, this is the situation. Nobody is going to twist hands or impose something.

BRICS Countries Could Pose a Challenge to US Hegemony (Страны БРИКС могут стать вызовом гегемонии США) / USA, December, 2017
Keywords: expert_opinion, economic_challenges
Author: Hans Baumann

The BRICS countries, a loose alliance of five countries representing about 23 percent of global wealth, had their annual meeting on September 3, 2017, in Xiamen, China, attended by their respective heads of state from Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. These countries have a total population of close to three billion people. The official goal of the meeting was closer economic cooperation; the less openly stated goal was to change "from Western Governance to Joint Governance," certainly a challenge to U.S. leadership.

Besides economic goals, the aim is closer cooperation in foreign policy matters indicative of the close alliance between China and Russia as exemplified by the recent joint naval exercises north of Japan and east of Korea. However, all is not well in this regard between China and India due to their festering border dispute in the Himalayas.

Yet, all is not as it should be. There are still many cultural and structural problems between the members, such as over-capacity in some Chinese industries and a serious imbalance between light and heavy industries in Russia.

Another important aim of the BRICS members is to oppose the perceived stranglehold by the U.S. dollar. In order to accomplish this, China created a joint Bank for Economic development, located in Beijing. It is initially financed by contributions of $10 billion from each member country. One must realize that at this moment, China holds $1.15 trillion in U.S. bonds which would provide ample capital.

The aim is to create a financial counter-weight to the U.S.-dominated IMF (International Monetary Fund) except in this case the governing currency would be the Chinese yuan.

In line with this thinking, China recently announced that all future Chinese oil trading has to be conducted in yuan instead of dollars. In order to give the yuan creditworthiness, China pledged to back up those entire yuan contracts in gold. This could imply that it would make China the first country to revert back to a gold standard. To that extent China claims to produce about 450 tons of gold per year and has reserves of 12,157 tons of gold, which is equivalent to $500 billion in current prices.

There is no question that China will dominate the BRICS countries, having now surpassed the U.S. in terms of purchasing power parity, $21.4 trillion vs. $18.6 trillion. They also are trying to tackle the problem of an aging population in 2016 by passing a law eliminating the prohibition of families having a second child. As a result, as of now, 51 percent of all new babies are second children in a family.

Should we have to worry about the BRICS? Not in the foreseeable future, but they need to be watched.

As an afterthought to my last blog about the climate report, I forgot to comment on one of the key arguments put forward by the "concerned scientists" and their allies in the public press, which is: That the polar ice cap is melting and, pretty soon, sea levels will rise and Florida will be underwater. The facts are otherwise. First, ice expands when it freezes; this lowers its weight per cubic foot. This is the reason that the ice floats on water. Assuming all the hundreds of thousands of square miles of sea ice melts, what will happen? The answer is nothing. There will be not a single inch of increase in sea level. Why? Because the ice shrinks again and resumes its former liquid state; there is no added mass.

To prove this is easy. Take a glass full of water, add an ice cube. Now carefully mark the liquid level on the glass. Wait untill the ice has melted. Lo and behold, the liquid level stayed exactly where it was with the ice cube in it.

I sincerely hope Floridians will sleep sounder having read this story.
Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
Joint IDFC-MDB Statement – Together Major Development Finance Institutions Align Financial Flows with the Paris Agreement (Совместное заявление IDFC-MDB - Основные финансовые институты развития согласуют финансовые потоки с Парижским соглашением) / China, December, 2017
Keywords: concluded_agreements, ecology, sustainable_development

The global development agenda is being transformed in fundamental ways. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), agreed upon by the international community, constitute a universal compass, highlighting the need for systemic and collective action for sustainable, equitable and inclusive development for everyone on this planet. The imperative for mobilizing and shifting financial flows, public and private, towards sustainable development was highlighted by the 2015 Addis-Ababa Financing for Development Conference. The Paris Agreement reached at COP21 recognized that all countries and stakeholders must act to combat climate change. Since the Agreement's entry into force in 2016, the momentum for climate action has become irreversible.

Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) play a pivotal role in scaling up and directing climate finance, and in helping shape the policies and regulations needed to transition to low-carbon, climate resilient development, including achieving net zero emissions in the second half of this century. Development banks – national, regional, international and multilateral – represent some of the largest providers of public finance for sustainable development. Together, they can facilitate and accelerate the implementation of the Paris Agreement, continuously raising their ambitions.

Members of the International Development Finance Club (IDFC) and the Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) play a fundamental role in directing capital towards sustainable investments by demonstrating the opportunities and potential returns, and by reducing the risks associated with them. At the same time, IDFC members and MDBs can actively contribute to mainstreaming the sustainable development and climate agendas across all sectors, in accordance with their mandates. Their total annual climate finance commitments have increased over the last few years, and continue on an upward trend.

Members of the IDFC and MDBs are increasing their climate financing in mitigation and adaptation. They also continue to: mobilize external investments for climate actions; jointly lead on the transparent tracking and reporting of climate finance flows and impacts; support the implementation of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs); and facilitate activities that transition development to low carbon and climate-resilient pathways.

Today, at the 2017 One Planet Summit organized in Paris, building on their proven capacity and combining the power of DFIs worldwide and at all levels, IDFC and MDBs commit to deepen their collaboration, with each other and with other interested entities, in order to:

  • Further embed climate change considerations within their strategies and activities, and promote the mainstreaming of climate action throughout the financial community, inspired by the five voluntary Principles for Mainstreaming Climate Action within Financial Institutions. Specific attention will be devoted to managing climate risk and to the integration of climate resilience and adaptation.
  • Redirect financial flows in support of transitions towards low-carbon and climate resilient sustainable development. Building on what is already being done, this will increase the overall amount or share of finance that goes towards climate action.
  • Catalyze investments to address new economic, social and environmental challenges and opportunities related to climate change, in particular by using their capital to mobilize additional private capital and to blend their financing most effectively with other sources to drive climate action and results.
  • Pursue the development of processes, tools, methodologies and institutional arrangements that make it possible to design and implement climate action at the required scale. This includes reinforcing the collaborative effort between DFIs to improve the quality, robustness and consistency of climate finance tracking and reporting through the sharing of best practices and knowledge and by increasing the transparency and accessibility of their climate finance data. It also involves the development of a common framework for tracking progress towards achieving resilience, to be shared by COP24.
  • Collaborate with national and sub-national governments in promoting the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, including through developing sustainable alternatives to fossil fuel investments, based on national circumstances and contexts, and prioritizing the financing of these alternatives. This should involve the implementation of instruments or measures to shift investments to sustainable asset classes, such as: the use of a shadow price of carbon; reporting of greenhouse gas emissions; assessments to avoid the potential for stranded assets; employing measures to avoid deforestation and encourage improved land use; or putting in place more explicit policies to significantly reduce reliance on fossil fuels and rapidly accelerate financing for renewables.
  • Support the development of enabling policy and regulatory environments, at both national and sub-national levels, in conjunction with the private sector and civil society, while remaining focused on the most vulnerable populations. IDFC members and MDBs will continue to deepen this work and increase country-level coordination between institutions. As per their respective mandates, IDFC members and MDBs will continue to contribute to policy dialogues, develop technical capacities of clients, and strengthen institutions to enable the translation of NDCs into policies, investment plans and financeable programs and projects, as well as into incentives for the business community.
  • Further support countries and partners to accelerate climate action and ambition by 2020, including the development of long-term 2050 decarbonization pathways and strategies to reach zero net emissions and promote shorter-term actions that provide the building blocks for achieving these longer-term development pathways.
Poverty eradication and sustainable development goals cannot be met unless there is a collective push to address climate change at the same time. To accelerate impact, it is particularly important for all development partners to come together, move forward on their enhanced commitments, and raise the internal and external ambition on climate.

As public actors with long-term mandates, DFIs have a responsibility to contribute to the collective governance and action needed to fight climate change. Turning the Paris Agreement into concrete action requires new cooperative approaches. In this spirit of collaboration, the IDFC members and MDBs are teaming up, two years on from the historic moment at COP21, to reaffirm their joint commitment to align their financial flows with the Paris Agreement.
NDB Small Hydroelectric Power Project in Karelia Receives Award in Russia (Маломасштабный гидроэнергетический проект, проведенный НБР в Карелии, получил награду в России) / China, December, 2017
Keywords: rating, investments, ndb

On 12 December 2017, a project for the construction of two small hydroelectric power plants in Karelia, Russia supported by the New Development Bank was awarded as the best investment project of 2017 at "Small-scale Power Generation – Big Achievements" award ceremony held at Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The award was accepted by Mr. Sergei Storchak, Director of the NDB.

The proceeds of a loan provided by the NDB are to be used for financing the construction of hydropower plants Byeloporozhskaya HPP-1 and Byeloporozhskaya HPP-2 with a combined capacity of about 50 MW in the Kem region of Karelia.

The financing for the project is provided through two international financial institutions – Eurasian Development Bank and International Investment Bank.

The project in Karelia was approved by the NDB Board of Directors on 22 July 2016, and the construction of the power plants was launched in October 2016. The two hydropower plants are planned to be completed in 2019.

Background Information
The NDB was established by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries, complementing the existing efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global growth and development.
This year "Small-scale Power Generation – Big Achievements" award ceremony was held for the fifth time. The purpose of the award is to identify organizations that have made significant achievements in the field of small-scale and distributed energy generation.
World of work
Social policy, trade unions, actions
Russia Seeks to Build Alternative Internet (Россия пытается создать альтернативный интернет) / Russia, December, 2017
Keywords: digital, expert_opinion, national_security

Numerous Russian sources report that efforts are underway to produce a new and independent internet that would align Russia more closely with the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India China and South Africa) while giving Russian political authorities greater control over what they refer to as "digital sovereignty." In late November, the RBK news agency reported on the proceedings of a recent meeting of the Security Council of the Russian Federation (SCRF), which underscored the national security threats posed by the increasing vulnerability of the global Internet (RBK, November 28). The publicly available SCRF website confirms that a high-level meeting on cyber security did take place, but it does not expand upon it in detail (, October 25). Russia's state-managed propaganda mouthpiece RT, however, cited "members of the Security Council" as stating that "the increased capabilities of Western nations to conduct offensive operations in the informational space as well as the increased readiness to exercise these capabilities pose a serious threat to Russia's security" (RT, November 28). RT also noted that President Vladimir Putin set August 1, 2018, as the deadline for creating an alternative to the Internet.

The creation of an alternative internet—which would allow the governments of Russia and the BRICS countries to control the addressing and routing of electronic communications within their territory—raises many complex questions. For one thing, the establishment of a disjointed and competitive sphere of cyberspace threatens to disrupt and potentially fragment the existing conventions of global Internet practice. Moreover, the creation a "counter-net" would necessitate the establishment of an alternative system of identification, addressing and routing information through a new information network operating in a new "domain name system," a new DNS. The existing DNS is based on a unique number associated with each originating and terminating point for every Internet transmission, coded in the form of a packet of digital information. The idea of the "RU NET" has long been discussed in post-Communist countries. But until now, this idea has only referred to the Russian-language-speaking Internet activities originating from servers in Russia or in other post-Soviet countries where Russian is recognized as an official language—not to a separate internet architecture (APN, December 14, 2016).

The global Internet is already a network of networks, consisting of a broad common space but with some segmented spheres of activity. Gaining complete control over a specific domain in the cyber-sphere, however, would require gaining autonomy. Full control over the Internet (or any segment therein) could only be achieved by creating "the ability to set policies for naming, addressing and routing" transmissions (Milton Mueller, Will the Internet Fragment?, 2017, p. 22). That, in turn, would require establishing control over the domain name system.

Earlier attempts by Russian authorities to gain control over the digital sphere focused on taking charge of the physical hardware of the Internet, such as transmission facilities, and asserting authority over the places where data resides, particularly web servers. In 2014, Russia's Ministry of Communications and Mass Media specified data localization requirements in the federal communications legislation (Federal Law No. 242) (, accessed December 13). The law requires data operators in Russia to store all personal data of citizens of the Russian Federation in databases located inside Russia. This legislation was further extended in December 2016 by a set of measures by President Putin to establish a "digital economy" in Russia (, December 1, 2016). The most recent Law on "Security of Critical Infrastructure" was passed in July 2017, and is scheduled to go into effect January 1, 2018 (July 27).

In order to control the flow of information not in compliance with the legislation, the idea of blocking transmission through physical facilities located on the territory of the Russian Federation led to the establishment of a single register of websites, maintained by the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor). In an effort to conduct this "filtering," Roskomnadzor developed and implemented a so-called "blacklist" (accessed December 13). But while the blacklist succeeded in blocking some websites it identified as unwanted, it also had the effect of blocking websites linked to those, effectively creating a self-censoring network. Roskomnadzor has now stepped back from this practice, correcting many of those problems of excessive blockage but has nonetheless reasserted the intention to more vigorously pursue the policing of websites (, December 8). Creating the establishment of a separate domain naming system goes considerably further than efforts to "filter" websites, even though Igor Shchyogolev, the staff member of the President's Office assigned to mass communications, has insisted the idea is not to fragment the Internet (TASS, March 27, 2017)

The robustness of the current Internet naming conventions probably can be attributed to the fact that the Internet emerged in its early days more as a computer science experiment than as an effort to create a new format for global communication, commerce and governance. The identification of parties communicating on the Internet was established through naming protocols established for convenience and by convention, not for control. But the Internet grew so quickly that management responsibility was turned over to a new body, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), in September 1998, which, on October 1, 2016, was re-chartered as a fully independent, non-governmental organization.

The functions of ICANN quickly attracted international competition. Some governments sought to promote a government-centric framework for addressing and naming conventions, while other parties sought to maintain a multiple-stakeholders approach. The failure of the Russian government and others to prevail in winning greater control for states is what has led to Moscow's intention to create a "counter-net." The question of whether an autonomous and detachable "segment" of cyberspace could be fashioned by the Kremlin without resulting in self-imposed isolation is an issue with far-reaching implications.
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