(Unofficial translation from Russian)


Moscow, May 17, 2002

Remarks by RF Deputy Foreign Minister A.Yu. Meshkov at the Institute of Applied International Studies on the Topic of "Priorities in Russian-US Relations,"


First and foremost, I would like to express my appreciation to the leaders of the Institute of Applied International Studies for this opportunity to share with you some considerations on the eve of the Russian-US summit meeting. I will not anticipate events and dwell at length on the documents being prepared for the summit. The purpose of my remarks today is different. It seems to me that it would be important to speak about the place which our countries occupy in the coordinates system of the present-day international relations and generally about what is expected of Russia and the USA in the world today.

To answer these questions, it is, above all, necessary to understand what has changed in the world affairs of late. The presidents of Russia and the USA in their previous meetings stated the end of the Cold War, the era of confrontation, the ideological and military opposition of the two systems, the two superpowers, to be more precise. This confrontation was fraught with the danger of a conflict that could put an end to the very existence of mankind. The world community was seriously thinking over the way to avert the catastrophe and took steps to ease tensions. A special role in this was, and continues to be, played by Russia and the United States. Indeed, the main responsibility both for the existing situation and for maintaining strategic stability in the world largely rests with our countries.

Quite a lot has been accomplished over recent decades in the sphere of disarmament and arms control. Aware of their responsibility before mankind, our countries exerted efforts to reduce the military threat. They initiated the drafting and conclusion of the fundamental international treaties and bilateral agreements in the area of arms limitations and disarmament, such as the Moscow Partial Test Ban Treaty, the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the Conventions banning chemical and bacteriological weapons, the CTBT, START-1 and START-2, and the ABM Treaty.

This historical hindsight alone already makes it possible to understand and objectively assess the role played by our states around the turn of the century and in this century. In the new century this remains the leading role, which, however, undergoes certain changes. We no longer regard each other as adversaries but today this is already clearly no longer enough. From generators of global tensions, the relations between our countries in recent years are progressively turning into the locomotive of international security. Such changes are occurring both under the impact of the processes inside our countries -- primarily I have in mind the democratic changes in Russia -- and of globalization that has encompassed all the aspects of life of the contemporary society. In the epoch of globalization, the issues of strategic stability and security assume a new dimension. The globalization is generating not only positive tendencies but also new problems that come to face mankind today. The September 11 tragedy in the United States has demonstrated the emergence of modern threats which drastically differ from the previous. In the process, these challenges affect everyone of us, literally all the people on our planet. They pose an equal threat to Russia and to the United States. These include the transnational threats such as international terrorism, the spread of weapons of mass destruction, threats emanating from areas of instability and conflict, organized crime, drug traffic, illicit traffic in arms, extremism in its different manifestations, and many others.

Mankind is faced with this question: how can these threats and challenges be effectively resisted? To find an adequate answer to the question one needs to decide the main thing -- what should be the optimum model of the organization of the world in the 21st century. It is an open secret that this question is being discussed in many countries of the world, including in this country. Strictly speaking, there are two principal roads, two models of the new world order which has yet to be molded. The first road is that of joined efforts to establish a global system of international security, which will provide our common answer to the new threats and challenges. This can be accomplished only through deeper cooperation and solidarity of the world community. Much will depend on the level of interaction between Moscow and Washington, which has been repeatedly borne out by history. When we are together -- the winners are not only our two countries but all the others in the world.

Another road is if everyone of us strives to seek answers to the contemporary challenges alone. Correspondingly, each will oppose on his own all the threats and risks and look after his security. The supporters of the second road, whose voice is not infrequently heard in the United States, believe that the USA must secure for itself the absolute leadership of the world, dictate its vision of the world order to other states, and do this with reliance on a military potential permanently being built up. In the process, references are made to the USA increasingly breaking away from the rest of the world in economy, science, technology and, last but not least, in military development. I have had occasion even to hear the thought that by virtue of this "breakaway" Russia and Europe cannot even be effective partners, to say nothing about being opponents of the United States, for the question is no longer posed that way. I will not hide it that this approach is perceived in our country and, if one looks at the response in the world, not only in Russia, with wariness.

I am confident, -- and this is one of the major provisions of our foreign policy, -- that isolationism and opposing the rest of the world in the epoch of globalization is not only erroneous but also cannot be practically implemented. Today no economic and military potential can serve as the guarantee against the threat of international terrorism. That is why I wish to stress it again that, in the face of the global threats to security, it is necessary to act together rather than apart. The very nature of the contemporary problems, generated by globalization and the growing interdependence of states, requires collective approaches to their solution. That is why the conjugation of efforts and consolidation of the international community is so important and ego-centrism is so harmful. Increasing numbers of people in the world are beginning to see that the threats of the 21st century can be countered much more successfully and effectively with close interaction between the USA, Russia and other leading players in the world arena.

This conclusion -- by far not being the fruit of idealistic fantasy -- is the result of a pragmatic analysis of the realities of contemporary life. We are fully aware that the views of Russia and the USA on the prospects of global development and certain security problems do not always and in everything coincide. But then neither do they coincide in everything even with the close partners, say, partners in NATO. However, it appears that other things are more important, and the September 11 events permitted a better understanding of this, namely that on a number of key questions Russia and the USA have much more in common with one another than they have what divides them. This coincidence of interests, coupled with both countries' commitment to the common democratic values, must become the basis of future relations between Russia and the USA. I am convinced that the Russian-American summit, coming within several days, will become a major stage in their further emergence.

The changing situation in the world provides Russia and the USA with a unique chance not only to add a new dimension to their relations with each other but also to fully understand the interdependence of vitally important interests of security which it is impossible to secure on one's own. Adding up the potentials of our countries can and must become one of the crucial factors in the formation of the new system of international relations of the 21st century.

Now a few words about the upcoming summit. I am convinced that both Moscow and Washington wish to see the visit of President George Bush to Russia bring results, and substantive agreements, and contribute to forming qualitatively new relations of partnership between the two countries. Our common task is to secure that the decisions the presidents are to take in Moscow do indeed lend new parameters to the Russian-American interaction on the key issues of security, peace and stability, as well as bilateral cooperation in practical areas. It is symbolic but by far not coincidental that the Russian-American meeting will provide the start and largely determine the nature of a whole series of major international events -- it will be followed by the Russia-NATO summit, than the Russia-EU summit and, finally, the meeting of the leaders of the "Eight" in Canada in June this year.

Attainment, at the summit, of legally binding agreements between Russia and the USA on a drastic reduction in the strategic offensive weapons will be of major significance in strengthening the strategic stability. Their new agreed level will be 1,700-2,200 warheads. It is also agreed that the START-1 Treaty and thus its control mechanism will continue in effect at least to December 5, 2009. The new START treaty will help keep the momentum of the disarmament process. And it is an area in which Russia and the USA as nuclear powers shoulder a special responsibility before the world community.

Another major document, to which the sides are getting by the time of the summit is the Declaration on New Strategic Mutual Relations. It covers a wide range of issues of our cooperation, including not only the military-strategic subject area but also issues of interaction in the political, economic and humanitarian areas. I would like to point out one key point in the Declaration -- it will lay down the provision on the link between strategic offensive and defensive weapons. This is important in the light of the coming US withdrawal in June this year from the 1972 ABM Treaty. We hope that the Declaration will also appropriately reflect the US assurances that the future ABM defense system of the United States will be limited in character and not pose a threat to the strategic forces of Russia and to the global strategic balance.

This is a question of principle as it directly affects the stability in the world and the solidity of the international regimes of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Indeed, it is an open secret that the international community is attentively watching the position taken with regard to a particular disarmament document by the depositaries of the Treaty On the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which are Moscow, Washington and London. Preserving and strengthening the international-legal institutions and expanding the appropriate contractual basis -- not only attest to the commitment of states to the line of forming a just world order but also are the guarantee of global security and in the final analysis, security for everyone of us.

We hope that the Russian-US summit will impart a positive impulse to transforming the entire system of international relations on the global and regional levels. The multi-vector priorities of the Russian foreign policy include developing relations both with the USA and Europe -- and, I wish to stress it, either being not at the expense of the other. The degree of mutual understanding and interaction between Russia and the USA affects progress in establishing a single Euro-Atlantic security space, stretching over a huge region from the US Pacific coast to the Russian Far East. In fact, it is on Russia and the USA that largely hinges the solution of a whole number of problems of the construction of Big Europe, the stability and security of which meets both the Russian and the US interests. In this context, our dialogue on the relations between Russia and NATO will be continued with the USA. Our countries advocate a higher quality of these relations and have supported the idea of convening in Rome a special summit called upon to launch the new mechanism of the political "Twenty." It is the organ within the framework of which Russia and the NATO member states will, on a footing of equality, discuss and adopt by consensus the decisions and jointly implement them on a number of agreed areas of activity, above all, in the area of ensuring security. This is yet another testimony that Russia and the USA have a huge potential for constructive interaction in the interests of our countries and of the entire international community.

New vistas are opening up for Russian-American interaction in the settlement of acute conflict situations. Where Russia and the US were eternal rivals they are now becoming partners. The example that springs to mind is the anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan, the efforts at rebuilding it as well as our joint steps in the Middle East settlement within the Quartet. Such close cooperation, based on a high degree of coincidence of interests, enables us to take a new look at some issues, to create a solid headstart in our relations. The main thing is the ability to reach agreement on basic elements renouncing the stereotypes of the past. For the US and Russia today face the common task of restoring peace and stability in regions of conflicts and preventing the threats emanating from them.

We expect that in the course of the upcoming summit cooperation in these areas will not only be discussed, but will be reflected in corresponding statements on specific issues that the presidents are planning to adopt.

On the whole a solid package of documents is taking shape aimed at solving the problems of the present Russian-American agenda and looking to the future.

Much still remains to be done in the sphere of bilateral trade and economic relations. In our opinion, economic cooperation should be the main supporting structure of the whole mechanism of new strategic relations. I am sure that intensified economic ties will bring real benefits to the Russian as well as the American economy. By the way, the business circles in Russia and the US are thinking about it in real terms. Among serious economic partners of Russia today are such giants as Ford, General Motors, Boeing, Shevron-Texaco and others. At the same time there is a need to remove the limitations and obstacles that still stand in the way of our trade and economic relations and that are artificial and date back to the Cold War. We are talking in particular about final renunciation of the anachronistic Jackson-Vanik amendment and limitations in the technological field. The settlement of issues connected with steel supplies to the US market is a separate topic. We hope that the question of granting Russia the status of a country with a market economy will at long last be solved. On a number of issues we already are aware of reciprocity and we welcome the assistance the US is giving us on the issue of accession to the WTO. Our contacts with the US business circles confirm good potential for establishing large-scale cooperation between the two countries in the energy field which may become a strategic area of our trade-economic, technological and investment ties. Just one example: Exxon-Mobil corporation takes part in the 13 billion-dollar Sakhalin-1 project.

It is important to understand now that major results in economics, science and technology, like in politics, can only be achieved if efforts are combined and mutually complement each other. This is borne out by our common achievements in implementing such joint projects as the International Space Station, Sea Launch, international cooperation in space launches, etc. This is also a result -- a positive result this time -- of the processes of globalization.

Now a few words about the topic which, I think, is exceptionally important in Russian-American relations. It is the question of trust which is still a commodity in short supply in spite of the fact that politicians have more than once officially buried the Cold War. The leaders of Russia and the US set an example of bold approaches, openness and trust. President Putin and President Bush spoke about it more than once. The Russian Foreign Minister and the US Secretary of State are engaged in an unusually intensive dialogue. But we believe that political elites, society and the media in the two countries are still lagging far behind. The stereotypes of the Cold War have proved very tenacious. Some people often continue to think in categories of global rivalry. There remains elementary ignorance of the approaches and positions of the partner and of the essence of the transformations taking place in a neighboring state. I am sure that such a situation can hardly be satisfactory for Russia or for America.

In February 1916 a Russian diplomat wrote after visiting the US: "The ignorance of the American masses of everything connected with Russia is amazing, but now, under the influence of world events there is such a strong desire to get to know it and perceive it that it may lead to a rapprochement between Russia and America." Much has, of course, changed since those times, but there is still a deficit of mutual knowledge.

This suggests only one conclusion. More contacts and exchanges are needed between people, mutual knowledge, penetration and enrichment of cultures is needed. This will strengthen trust which will become an indispensable addition to security and stability in the relations between our countries. I would like to hope that today's meeting and the exchange of opinions that it will see will contribute to better understanding of each other.

As for the summit, I have no doubt that Moscow and Washington and the whole world are looking forward to it. We firmly believe that the forthcoming meeting and negotiations will mark the start of a new stage in the history of the relations between Russia and the US. A stage at which our countries do not just jointly recognize the challenges of the new age, but respond to them together.