Russian President Putin Delivers Speech at Valdai Discussion Club -2020 – Update

Source

The Transcript follows.

Update : October 24th

The formal transcript is now complete

Update : October 23rd

Note that it is not quite complete and we are waiting for the Kremlin resources to complete (as usual correct and accurate) the complete transcript.  Yet, most of it is here, and the most interesting details are in the Questions and Answers.  (Settle in, it was a 3 hour session and nobody wanted to let Mr Putin go, even after 3 hours!)

Fyodor Lukyanov: Friends,

Guests of the Valdai Club,

I am delighted to welcome you to the final session of the 17th annual meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club. It is my special honour and pleasure to welcome our traditional guest for our final meetings, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues, friends,

Participants of the 17th plenary meeting of the Valdai Club,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to welcome you all to our traditional annual meeting. We are meeting in an unusual format this time; we are videoconferencing. But I can see there are also people in the room. Not as many as usual of course, but nevertheless there are people present, and, apparently, you have had an in-person discussion, and I am delighted that you have.

We are certainly aware, we can see that the coronavirus epidemic has seriously affected public, business, and international affairs. More than that – it has affected everyone’s routine rhythm of life.

Almost all countries had to impose various restrictions, and large public gatherings have been largely cancelled. This year has been challenging for your Club as well. Most importantly, though, you continue to work. With the help of remote technology, you conduct heated and meaningful debates, discuss things, and bring in new experts who share their opinions and present interesting outside-the-box, sometimes even opposing, views on current developments. Such an exchange is, of course, very important and useful now that the world is facing so many challenges that need to be resolved.

Thus, we still have to understand how the epidemic affected and will continue to affect the present and future of humanity. As it confronts this dangerous threat, the international community is trying to take certain actions and to mobilize itself. Some things are already being done as collaborative efforts, but I want to note straight away that this is only a fraction of what needs to be done in the face of this formidable common challenge. These missed opportunities are also a subject for a candid international discussion.

From the onset of the pandemic in Russia, we have focused on preserving lives and ensuring safety of our people as our key values. This was an informed choice dictated by our culture and spiritual traditions, and our complex, sometimes dramatic, history. If we think back to the great demographic losses we suffered in the 20th century, we had no other choice but to fight for every person and the future of every Russian family.

So, we did our best to preserve the health and the lives of our people, to help parents and children, as well as senior citizens and those who lost their jobs, to maintain employment as much as possible, to minimise damage to the economy, to support millions of entrepreneurs who run small or family businesses.

Perhaps, like everyone else, you are closely following daily updates on the pandemic around the world. Unfortunately, the coronavirus has not retreated and still poses a major threat. Probably, this unsettling background intensifies the sense, like many people feel, that a whole new era is about to begin and that we are not just on the verge of dramatic changes, but an era of tectonic shifts in all areas of life.

We see the rapidly, exponential development of the processes that we have repeatedly discussed at the Valdai Club before. Thus, six years ago, in 2014, we spoke about this issue when we discussed the theme The World Order: New Rules or a Game Without Rules. So, what is happening now? Regrettably, the game without rules is becoming increasingly horrifying and sometimes seems to be a fait accompli.

The pandemic has reminded us of how fragile human life is. It was hard to imagine that in our technologically advanced 21st century, even in the most prosperous and wealthy countries people could find themselves defenceless in front of what would seem to be not such a fatal infection, and not such a horrible threat. But life has shown that not everything boils down to the level of medical science with some of its fantastic achievements. It transpired that the organisation and accessibility of the public healthcare system are no less, and probably much more important in this situation.

The values of mutual assistance, service and self-sacrifice proved to be most important. This also applies to the responsibility, composure and honesty of the authorities, their readiness to meet the demand of society and at the same time provide a clear-cut and well-substantiated explanation of the logic and consistency of the adopted measures so as not to allow fear to subdue and divide society but, on the contrary, to imbue it with confidence that together we will overcome all trials no matter how difficult they may be.

The struggle against the coronavirus threat has shown that only a viable state can act effectively in a crisis – contrary to the reasoning of those who claim that the role of the state in the global world is decreasing and that in the future it will be altogether replaced with some other forms of social organisation. Yes, this is possible. Everything may change in the distant future. Change is all around us, but today the role and importance of the state do matter.

We have always considered a strong state a basic condition for Russia’s development. And we have seen again that we were right by meticulously restoring and strengthening state institutions after their decline, and sometimes complete destruction in the 1990s.

Then, the question is: what is a strong state? What are its strengths? Definitely, not total control or harsh law enforcement. Not thwarted private initiative or civic engagement. Not even the might of its armed forces or its high defence potential. Although, I think you realise how important this particular component is for Russia, given its geography and the range of geopolitical challenges. And there is also our historical responsibility as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council to ensure global stability.

Nevertheless, I am confident that what makes a state strong, primarily, is the confidence its citizens have in it. That is the strength of a state. People are the source of power, we all know that. And this recipe doesn’t just involve going to the polling station and voting, it implies people’s willingness to delegate broad authority to their elected government, to see the state, its bodies, civil servants, as their representatives – those who are entrusted to make decisions, but who also bear full responsibility for the performance of their duties.

This kind of state can be set up any way you like. When I say “any way,” I mean that what you call your political system is immaterial. Each country has its own political culture, traditions, and its own vision of their development. Trying to blindly imitate someone else’s agenda is pointless and harmful. The main thing is for the state and society to be in harmony.

And of course, confidence is the most solid foundation for the creative work of the state and society. Only together will they be able to find an optimal balance of freedom and security guarantees.

Once again, in the most difficult moments of the pandemic, I felt pride and, to be honest, I am proud of Russia, of our citizens, of their willingness to have each other’s backs. And of course, first of all, I am proud of our doctors, nurses, and ambulance workers – everyone, without exception, on whom the national healthcare system relies.

I believe that civil society will play a key role in Russia’s future. So, we want the voice of our citizens to be decisive and to see constructive proposals and requests from different social forces get implemented.

This begs the question: how is this request for action being formed? Whose voice should the state be heeding? How does it know if it is really the voice of the people and not some behind-the-scenes messages or even someone’s vocal yelling that has nothing to do whatsoever with our people and that at times becomes hysterical?

Occasionally, someone is trying to substitute self-serving interests of a small social group or even external forces for a genuine public request.

Genuine democracy and civil society cannot be “imported.” I have said so many times. They cannot be a product of the activities of foreign “well-wishers,” even if they “want the best for us.” In theory, this is probably possible. But, frankly, I have not yet seen such a thing and do not believe much in it. We see how such imported democracy models function. They are nothing more than a shell or a front with nothing behind them, even a semblance of sovereignty. People in the countries where such schemes have been implemented were never asked for their opinion, and their respective leaders are mere vassals. As is known, the overlord decides everything for the vassal. To reiterate, only the citizens of a particular country can determine their public interest.

We, in Russia, went through a fairly long period where foreign funds were very much the main source for creating and financing non-governmental organisations. Of course, not all of them pursued self-serving or bad goals, or wanted to destabilise the situation in our country, interfere in our domestic affairs, or influence Russia’s domestic and, sometimes, foreign policy in their own interests. Of course not.

There were sincere enthusiasts among independent civic organisations (they do exist), to whom we are undoubtedly grateful. But even so, they mostly remained strangers and ultimately reflected the views and interests of their foreign trustees rather than the Russian citizens. In a word, they were a tool with all the ensuing consequences.

A strong, free and independent civil society is nationally oriented and sovereign by definition. It grows from the depth of people’s lives and can take different forms and directions. But it is a cultural phenomenon, a tradition of a particular country, not the product of some abstract “transnational mind” with other people’s interests behind it.

The duty of the state is to support public initiatives and open up new opportunities for them. This is exactly what we do. I consider this matter to be the most important for the government’s agenda in the coming decades – regardless of who exactly will hold positions in that government. This is the guarantee of Russia’s sovereign, progressive development, of genuine continuity in its forward movement, and of our ability to respond to global challenges.

Colleagues, you are well aware of the many acute problems and controversies that have accumulated in modern international affairs, even too many. Ever since the Cold War model of international relations, which was stable and predictable in its own way, began to change (I am not saying I miss it, I most certainly do not), the world has changed several times. Things in fact happened so quickly that those usually referred to as political elites simply did not have the time, or maybe a strong interest or ability to analyse what was really going on.

Some countries hastily ran to divide the cake, mostly to grab a bigger piece, to take advantage of the benefits the end of the cold confrontation brought. Others were frantically looking for ways to adapt to the changes at any cost. And some countries – recall our own sad experience, frankly – just fought for survival, to survive as a single country, and as a subject of global politics, too.

Meanwhile, time increasingly and insistently makes us question what lies ahead for humanity, what the new world order should be like, or at least a semblance of one, and whether we will take informed steps forward, coordinating our moves, or we will stumble blindly, each of us just relying on ourselves.

The recent report of the Valdai Club, your club, reads: “…in a fundamentally changed international setting, the institutions themselves have become an obstacle to building a system of relations corresponding to the new era rather than a guarantee of global stability and manageability.” The authors believe that we are in for a world where individual states or groups of states will act much more independently while traditional international organisations will lose their importance.

This is what I would like to say in this respect. Of course, it is clear what underlies this position. In effect, the post-war world order was established by three victorious countries: the Soviet Union, the United States and Great Britain. The role of Britain has changed since then; the Soviet Union no longer exists, while some try to dismiss Russia altogether.

Let me assure you, dear friends, that we are objectively assessing our potentialities: our intellectual, territorial, economic and military potential. I am referring to our current options, our overall potential. Consolidating this country and looking at what is happening in the world, in other countries I would like to tell those who are still waiting for Russia’s strength to gradually wane, the only thing we are worried about is catching a cold at your funeral.

As a head of state who works directly in an environment that you and your colleagues describe from a position of expertise, I cannot agree with the assumption that existing international structures must be completely rebuilt, if not dismissed as obsolete and altogether dismantled. On the contrary, it is important to preserve the basic mechanisms of maintaining international security, which have proved to be effective. This is the UN, the Security Council and the permanent members’ right to veto. I recently spoke about this at the anniversary UN General Assembly. As far as I know, this position – the preservation of the fundamentals of the international order established after World War II – enjoys broad support in the world.

However, I believe that the idea of adjusting the institutional arrangement of world politics is at least worthy of discussion, if only because the correlation of forces, potentialities and positions of states has seriously changed, as I said, especially in the past 30 to 40 years.

Indeed, like I said, the Soviet Union is no longer there. But there is Russia. In terms of its economic weight and political influence, China is moving quickly towards superpower status. Germany is moving in the same direction, and the Federal Republic of Germany has become an important player in international cooperation. At the same time, the roles of Great Britain and France in international affairs has undergone significant changes. The United States, which at some point absolutely dominated the international stage, can hardly claim exceptionality any longer. Generally speaking, does the United States need this exceptionalism? Of course, powerhouses such as Brazil, South Africa and some other countries have become much more influential.

Indeed, by far not all international organisations are effectively carrying out their missions and tasks. Called to be impartial arbiters, they often act based on ideological prejudices, fall under the strong influence of other states, and become tools in their hands. Juggling procedures, manipulating prerogatives and authority, biased approaches, especially when it comes to conflicts involving rival powers or groups of states, have unfortunately become common practice.

The fact that authoritative international organisations following in the wake of someone’s selfish interests are drawn into politicised campaigns against specific leaders and countries is saddening. This approach does nothing but discredit these institutions, and leads them towards decline and exacerbates the world order crisis.

On the other hand, there are positive developments when a group of interested states joins forces to resolve specific issues, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, which for almost 20 years now has been contributing to the settlement of territorial disputes and strengthening stability in Central Eurasia, and is shaping a unique spirit of partnership in this part of the world.

Or, for example, the Astana format, which was instrumental in taking the political and diplomatic process regarding Syria out of a deep impasse. The same goes for OPEC Plus which is an effective, albeit very complex, tool for stabilising global oil markets.

In a fragmented world, this approach is often more productive. But what matters here is that, along with resolving specific problems, this approach can also breathe new life into multilateral diplomacy. This is important. But it is also obvious that we cannot do without a common, universal framework for international affairs. Whatever interest groups, associations, or ad-hoc alliances we form now or in the future – we cannot do without a common framework.

Multilateralism should be understood not as total inclusivity, but as the need to involve the parties that are truly interested in solving a problem. And of course, when outside forces crudely and shamelessly intervene in a process that affects a group of actors perfectly capable of agreeing among themselves – nothing good can come of that. And they do this solely for the purpose of flaunting their ambition, power and influence. They do it to put a stake in the ground, to outplay everyone, but not to make a positive contribution or help resolve the situation.

Again, even amid the current fragmentation of international affairs, there are challenges that require more than just the combined capacity of a few states, even very influential ones. Problems of this magnitude, which do exist, require global attention.

International stability, security, fighting terrorism and solving urgent regional conflicts are certainly among them; as are promoting global economic development, combatting poverty, and expanding cooperation in healthcare. That last one is especially relevant today.

I spoke in detail about these challenges at the UN General Assembly last month. Meeting them will require working together in a long-term, systematic way.

However, there are considerations of a more general nature that affect literally everyone, and I would like to discuss them in more detail.

Many of us read The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry when we were children and remember what the main character said: “It’s a question of discipline. When you’ve finished washing and dressing each morning, you must tend your planet. … It’s very tedious work, but very easy.”

I am sure that we must keep doing this “tedious work” if we want to preserve our common home for future generations. We must tend our planet.

The subject of environmental protection has long become a fixture on the global agenda. But I would address it more broadly to discuss also an important task of abandoning the practice of unrestrained and unlimited consumption – overconsumption – in favour of judicious and reasonable sufficiency, when you do not live just for today but also think about tomorrow.

We often say that nature is extremely vulnerable to human activity. Especially when the use of natural resources is growing to a global dimension. However, humanity is not safe from natural disasters, many of which are the result of anthropogenic interference. By the way, some scientists believe that the recent outbreaks of dangerous diseases are a response to this interference. This is why it is so important to develop harmonious relations between Man and Nature.

Tensions have reached a critical point. We can see this in climate change. This problem calls for practical action and much more attention on our part. It has long stopped being the domain of abstract scientific interests but now concerns nearly every inhabitant of the planet Earth. The polar ice caps and permafrost are melting because of global warming. According to expert estimates, the speed and scale of this process will be increasing in the next few decades.

It is a huge challenge to the world, to the whole of humanity, including to us, to Russia, where permafrost occupies 65 percent of our national territory. Such changes can do irreparable damage to biological diversity, have an extremely adverse effect on the economy and infrastructure and pose a direct threat to people.

You may be aware that this is very important to us. It affects pipeline systems, residential districts built on permafrost, and so on. If as much as 25 percent of the near-surface layers of permafrost, which is about three or four metres, melt by 2100, we will feel the effect very strongly. Moreover, the problem could snowball into a crisis very quickly. A kind of chain reaction is possible, because permafrost melting will stimulate methane emissions, which can produce a greenhouse effect that will be 28 times (sic!) larger than in the case of carbon dioxide. In other words, the temperature will continue rising on the planet, permafrost will continue melting, and methane emissions will further increase. The situation will spiral. Do we want the Earth to become like Venus, a hot, dry and lifeless planet? I would like to remind you that the Earth has an average surface temperature of 14°C while on Venus it’s 462°C.

Another subject, completely different. I would like to say a few words on a different subject. Let us not forget that there are no longer just geographical continents on Earth. An almost endless digital space is taking shape on the planet, and people are mastering it with increasing speed every year.

The restrictions forced by the coronavirus have only encouraged the development of remote e-technology. Today, communications based on the internet have become a universal asset. It is necessary to see that this infrastructure and all cyberspace operates without fail and securely.

Thus, remote, distance work is not just a forced precaution during a pandemic. This will become a new form of organising labour, employment, social cooperation and simply human communication. These changes are inevitable with the development of technological progress. This recent turn of events has merely precipitated these processes. Everyone appreciates the opportunities and conveniences provided by new technology.

But, of course, there is a reverse side as well – a growing threat to all digital systems. Yes, cyberspace is a fundamentally new environment where, basically, universally recognised rules have never existed. Technology has simply moved ahead of legislation and thus, judicial oversight. At the same time, this is a very specific area where the issue of trust is particularly urgent.

I think that at this point we must return to our historical experience. What do I mean? Let me recall that the established notion of “confidence-building measures” existed during the Cold War. It applied to relations between the USSR and the US, and between the Warsaw Pact and NATO, that is, military-political relations.

That said, let me emphasise that now, competition is usually “hybrid” in character. It concerns all areas, including those that are just taking shape. This is why it is necessary to build confidence in many areas.

In this sense, cyberspace can serve as a venue for testing these measures, like at one time, arms control paved the way for higher trust in the world as a whole.

Obviously, it is very difficult to draft a required “package of measures” in this area, cyberspace. However, it is necessary to start on it. This must be done now.

As you may be aware, Russia is actively promoting bilateral and multilateral cyber security agreements. We submitted two draft conventions on this subject at the UN and established a corresponding open-ended working group.

Recently, I proposed starting a comprehensive discussion of international cybersecurity issues with the United States. We are aware that politicians in the United States have other things to focus on now because of the election campaign. However, we hope that the next administration, whatever it may be, will respond to our invitation to start a discussion of this subject just like other items on the Russia-US agenda such as global security, the future of the strategic arms reduction treaty and a number of other issues.

As you are aware, many important matters have reached the point that they require candid talks, and we are ready for a constructive discussion on an equal footing.

Of course, the times when all important international matters were discussed and resolved by essentially just Moscow and Washington are long gone, lost to the ages. However, we see the establishment of a bilateral dialogue, in this case on cyber security, as an important step towards a much broader discussion involving many other countries and organisations. Should the United States choose not to take part in this work, which would be regrettable, we will still be willing to work with all interested partners, which I hope will not be lacking.

I would like to point out another important aspect. We live in an era of palpable international shocks and crises. Of course, we are used to them, especially the generations which lived during the Cold War, let alone World War II, for whom it is not just a memory, but a part of their lives.

It is interesting that humanity has reached a very high level of technological and socioeconomic development, while at the same time facing the loss or erosion of moral values and reference points, a sense that existence no longer has meaning and, if you will, that the mission of humankind on planet Earth has been lost.

This crisis cannot be settled through diplomatic negotiations or even a large international conference. It calls for revising our priorities and rethinking our goals. And everyone must begin at home, every individual, community and state, and only then work toward a global configuration.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which we have all been dealing with this year, can serve as a point of departure for such a transformation. We will have to reassess our priorities anyway. Trust me, we really will have to do it, sooner or later. All of us are aware of this. Therefore, I fully agree with those who say that it would be better to start this process now.

I mentioned history and the older generations who went through all the trials of last century for a reason. Everything we are discussing today will soon become the responsibility of young people. Young people will have to deal with all of the problems which I mentioned and you discussed today. Speaking about Russia, its young citizens, who are still growing up and gaining experience, will have to do this as soon as in the 21st century. They are the ones who will have to confront new and probably even more difficult challenges.

They have their own views on the past, present and future. But I believe that our people will always retain their best qualities: patriotism, fortitude, creativity, hard work, team spirit and the capacity to surprise the world by finding solutions to the most difficult and even seemingly insoluble problems.

Friends, colleagues,

I touched on a wide range of different issues today. Of course, I would like to believe that despite all the current difficulties the international community will be able to join forces to combat not imaginary but very real problems, and that we will eventually succeed. After all, it is within our power to stop being egoistical, greedy, mindless and wasteful consumers. Some may wonder if this is utopia, a pipe dream.

To be sure, it is easy to wonder if this is even possible considering what some individuals are doing and saying. However, I believe in reason and mutual understanding, or at least I strongly hope that they will prevail. We just need to open our eyes, look around us and see that the land, air and water are our common inheritance from above, and we must learn to cherish them, just as we must cherish every human life, which is precious. This is the only way forward in this complicated and beautiful world. I do not want to see the mistakes of the past repeated.

Thank you very much.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Mr President, thank you for this detailed statement. You have said that COVID-19 can serve as a point of departure for a reassessment. I can see that you are indeed reassessing things, because it is not everyone who speaks now about trust, harmony, the meaning of life and our mission on the planet Earth, and it was rarely so in the past as well.

I would like to say a few things in follow-up to what you have said. Of course, such a rethinking is ongoing, and we are trying to contribute to this process at the Valdai Club. However, the shocking spring developments, when we thought that the world would never be the same again, were followed by a degree of stabilisation. When global politics awoke from the mental torpor, it turned out that the agenda has hardly changed at all: we are facing the same problems, the conflicts are back and their number has even increased. But you continue with your active work despite the strained situation in global politics. Do you think that this shock had any effect on us? Do you feel any change in the sentiments of your counterparts at the top level?

Vladimir Putin: You said that the conflicts resumed when the situation improved a bit. In fact, they never abated. There is much talk about a second wave, and that the situation is back to where we were in the spring. But just look at what is happening in Nagorno-Karabakh: the conflict is still with us. And it is not just the conflicts that matter. I believe that no matter how the necessity to combat the pandemic can rally the international community, we still need to take systemic measures to settle recurring problems. This concerns the Middle East, the Syrian crisis, Libya and a great number of other problems, including terrorism and the environment. In other words, the pandemic will not help us to deal with them.

However, the pandemic is playing into our hands when it comes to raising our awareness of the importance of joining forces against severe global crises. Unfortunately, it has not yet taught humanity to come together completely, as we must do in such situations. Just look at the crises I have mentioned. We have already proposed, at the UN, among other places, that all economic and cultural restrictions be lifted for humanitarian reasons, at least temporarily.

I am not referring now to all these sanctions against Russia; forget about that, we will get over it. But many other countries that have suffered and are still suffering from the coronavirus do not even need any help that may come from outside, they just need the restrictions lifted, at least in the humanitarian sphere, I repeat, concerning the supply of medicines, equipment, credit resources, and the exchange of technologies. These are humanitarian things in their purest form. But no, they have not abolished any restrictions, citing some considerations that have nothing to do with the humanitarian component – but at the same time, everyone is talking about humanism.

I would say we need to be more honest with each other and abandon double standards. I am sure that if people hear me now on the media, they are probably finding it difficult to disagree with what I have just said, difficult to deny it. Deep down in their hearts, in their minds, everyone is probably thinking, “Yes, right, of course.” However, for political reasons, publicly, they will still say, “No, we must keep restrictions on Iran, Venezuela, against Assad.” What does Assad even have to do with this when it is ordinary people who suffer? At least, give them medicines, give them technology, at least a small, targeted loan for medicine. No.

Therefore, on the one hand, it seems like there is a tendency to unite, but, frankly speaking, by and large, I do not see any practical steps to bring it to reality. Although this trend does exist.

As for technology, it is another side of the matter. As for technology, of course, online education, telemedicine and other advanced solutions – all the modern digital technologies that had been increasingly penetrating all spheres, of course, with the pandemic have made a breach in the existing regulatory systems. They are forcing politicians, legal professionals, and administrative regulators, to move towards decision-making at a faster pace than they used to. And this is certainly, definitely changing the world.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you.

Here is one more question related to what you have said.

Speaking about the strategy of combating the epidemic, you clearly and unequivocally stated that people’s life and safety are the main values. This strategy is understandable, but tactics differ. Last spring, the countries that chose a different path were sharply criticised.

For example, Sweden and Belarus did not introduce an economic lockdown or a tight quarantine. There were many pro and contra arguments. Six months later, we can see that the world is largely following in the footsteps of these countries instead of doing what we did in spring. I believe that you also said yesterday that there would not be any economic lockdown.

Does this mean that the balance is changing and that the balance should sometimes change in favour of the economy?

Vladimir Putin: I would say that nothing is changing in our country. I do not know about Sweden. On the other hand, I do know some things, and I will say a few words about them. The same is true about Belarus and other countries, where the decisions are made by their leadership. As for us, nothing has changed: people’s lives and health remain our priorities, without a doubt.

On the other hand, life and health are directly connected to healthcare, which must receive serious support from the federal and other budgets. For these budgets to be replenished, we need a working economy. Everything is closely interconnected. One needs to find a balance. I believe that we found this balance at the very beginning. We took a number of serious steps to support the economy. This support amounted to 4.5 percent of the GDP. Some other countries allocated even more funds for this purpose.

The point is actually not so much the amount of allocated funds but their effective use. I believe (we discussed several related issues with the Government today) that we disposed of these funds quite effectively, in a selective way and using the considerable resources we accumulated in the past years, as well as relying on the macroeconomic health of our economy, macroeconomic indicators and all the other positive achievements of the past years, to support our people, families with children, small and medium-sized businesses, and even large companies and whole industries.

Overall, there is no need in the current situation, at least in Russia, to reintroduce such restrictions as we had in spring, when we sent our people on paid leave and closed down whole enterprises. There is no need for this also because our healthcare system performed quite efficiently. We have also built up reserves, including a reserve of hospital beds, created new medicines and developed treatment guidelines. Our medics have learned how to deal with this disease, they know what and when needs to be done. In other words, we have become confident that we can deal with these problems. This is the first thing I wanted to say.

The second thing. We said from the beginning – I would just like to remind you, keeping in mind the vastness of our territory – that we were handing down a considerable part of authority for decision-making to the level of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation. Incidentally, all major countries, have, in fact, followed this path somewhat later. This has proven to be the right approach.

There is no such need today. The economy is recovering. The processing industry is recovering, the agro-industrial sector is performing quite well and is even growing, exports are recovering… Yes, we have issues that we should target. But look, we have basically acceptable macroeconomic indicators. Russia’s second-quarter economic contraction was 8 percent, and, say, the US economy, declined by 9 [percent], and the Euro zone, if I am not mistaken, by 14.5 – 14.7 [percent].

You have mentioned Sweden that imposed no restrictions, but they also happened to face an economic downturn. At first, they went public with the figure of 8.3 [percent], which was later adjusted to less than 8 [percent] – 7.7 [percent], if my memory serves me correctly. Here we go: they have introduced no restrictions, nor have they done what we have in supporting people and the economy, but their result is the same as ours. The modern world is extremely interconnected. But an economic decline is inevitable, the first thing to do is to take care of the people. This logic is immaculate. I am certain that you will agree on this point.

Now, regarding Belarus. President Lukashenko – I had many conversations with him – is fully aware of the COVID-19 threat. But Belarus has no comparable gold and currency reserves, nor such a diverse economic landscape, and he, as he says, simply had to keep the economy viable. But on the whole, the situation there is not worse, in fact, than in many other countries.

Therefore we face – and faced – no choice of this sort; our priorities are people, health, and life. We are not going to impose tough restrictions, there is no such need. There is no need to close businesses. What is needed is to adjust support for certain sectors, for example, for small and medium-sized businesses. Certain parts of this work require additional support, maybe the extension of tax benefits and some other measures that are due to expire shortly. It is necessary to take a closer look at transportation, the transport sector, and the services. We are aware of all this, we see this, and we will continue to work in these areas, no matter how difficult this might be. As I have repeatedly said, we will get through this difficult period together, with the people’s support and trust.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Colleagues, we are moving on to our traditional conversation. This time the setup of this discussion will be quite complex, since we have people sitting in the audience here, and I am also receiving questions from those who are watching online, and some of our colleagues will be able to ask their questions in person. Therefore, I will try to act as an impartial moderator and manage this conversation, and I apologise for any possible hiccups.

Let us begin. Timofei Bordachev, our colleague from the Valdai Club.

Timofei Bordachev: Good evening, and thank you for this unique opportunity.

Mr President, there has been much talk and debate, in the context of the global economic upheavals, about the fact that the liberal market economy has ceased to be a reliable tool for the survival of states, their preservation, and for their people.

Pope Francis said recently that capitalism has run its course. Russia has been living under capitalism for 30 years. Is it time to search for an alternative? Is there an alternative? Could it be the revival of the left-wing idea or something radically new? Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Lenin spoke about the birthmarks of capitalism, and so on. It cannot be said that we have lived these past 30 years in a full-fledged market economy. In fact, we are only gradually building it, and its institutions. Russia had to do it from the ground up, starting from a clean slate. Of course, we are doing this taking into consideration developments around the world. After all, after almost one hundred years of a state-planned economy, transitioning to a market economy is not easy.

You know, capitalism, the way you have described it, existed in a more or less pure form at the beginning of the previous century. But everything changed after what happened in the global economy and in the United States in the 1920s and 1930s, after World War I. We have already discussed this on a number of occasions. I do not remember if I have mentioned this at Valdai Club meetings, but experts who know this subject better than I do and with whom I regularly communicate, they are saying obvious and well-known things.

When everything is fine, and the macro economic indicators are stable, various funds are building up their assets, consumption is on the rise and so on. In such times, you hear more and more that the state only stands in the way, and that a pure market economy would be more effective. But as soon as crises and challenges arise, everyone turns to the state, calling for the reinforcement of its supervisory functions. This goes on and on, like a sinusoidal curve. This is what happened during the preceding crises, including the recent ones, like in 2008.

I remember very well how the key shareholders of Russia’s largest corporations that are also major European and global players came to me proposing that the state buy their assets for one dollar or one ruble. They were afraid of assuming responsibility for their employees, pressured by margin calls, and the like. This time, our businesses have acted differently. No one is seeking to evade responsibility. On the contrary, they are even using their own funds, and are quite generous in doing so. The responses may differ, but overall, businesses have been really committed to social responsibility, for which I am grateful to these people, and I want them to know this.

Therefore, at present, we cannot really find a fully planned economy, can we? Take China. Is it a purely planned economy? No. And there is not a single purely market economy either. Nevertheless, the government’s regulatory functions are certainly important. For example, consider major industries such as aircraft construction. Without some regulatory function from the top – or from the left, right, bottom, for that matter, whether this regulatory function is visible or not – without it, it is impossible to operate in this market. And we can see that all the countries that claim respect as aircraft-building powers (contextually, I would say), their governments provide assistance to their aircraft manufacturers, all of them. And there are plenty of support methods.

By the way, the situation is much the same in the automotive industry, and in other industries. We just need to determine for ourselves the reasonable level of the state’s involvement in the economy; how quickly that involvement needs to be reduced, if at all, and where exactly. I often hear that Russia’s economy is overregulated. But during crises like this current pandemic, when we are forced to restrict business activity, and cargo traffic shrinks, and not only cargo traffic, but passenger traffic as well, we have to ask ourselves – what do we do with aviation now that passengers avoid flying or fly rarely, what do we do? Well, the state is a necessary fixture, there is no way they could do without state support.

So, again, no model is pure or rigid, neither the market economy nor the command economy today, but we simply have to determine the level of the state’s involvement in the economy. What do we use as a baseline for this decision? Expediency. We need to avoid using any templates, and so far, we have successfully avoided that. As I have said, the so-called developed economies, in Europe, have seen their GDP plummet by more than 14 percent. How high has unemployment grown in the eurozone? As far as I know, by over 10 percent. Ours has grown, too, but only by 6.3 percent. This is the result of government regulation. Or take inflation. We have been fighting it desperately. Is this not a regulatory function of the state?

Of course, the Central Bank and the Government are among the most important state institutions. Therefore, it was in fact through the joint efforts of the Central Bank and the Government that inflation was reduced to 4 percent, because the Government invests substantial resources through its social programmes and national projects and has an impact on our monetary policy. It went down to 3.9 percent, and the Governor of the Central Bank has told me that we will most likely keep it around the estimated target of around 4 percent. This is the regulating function of the state; there is no way around it. However, stifling development through an excessive presence of the state in the economy or through excessive regulation would be fatal as well. You know, this is a form of art, which the Government has been applying skilfully, at least for now.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Mr President, since you mentioned greed, I have to ask you the following. A lively discussion began the other day on the Finance Ministry’s proposal to reduce the staff at security-related agencies and to adjust their salaries and pensions. Is this a good time for this proposal? Or is it that the crisis is forcing us to cut expenses?

Vladimir Putin: The Finance Ministry regularly makes such proposals, crisis or no crisis. It is always in favour of reducing expenditure. In general, nearly all finance ministries in other countries do this as well. There is nothing unique in the proposal of the Russian Finance Ministry.

We do not envisage making any decisions yet. We have no term reduction or extension plans. It was just one of the Finance Ministry’s proposals. It has not even been reported to me yet. It is still at the level of discussion among Government agencies. When we need to make a final decision, I will take into account the economic realities and the real situation regarding people’s incomes, including in the security and military spheres, and a comparison of the levels of income in the country’s military and civilian sectors. There are many factors we need to take into account to prevent an imbalance on the labour market, and so on. I would like to repeat that these issues have not been discussed on the practical level. These discussions are ongoing within the framework of the Government.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Great. Our meeting has produced at least one result: the military can breathe out.

I would like to give the floor to our long-time friend who has been helping the Valdai Club a lot. Please meet Sam Charap from Washington, D.C. Usually, we had him here, but now he is at his workplace. We can get him on air now.

Sam, please.

Sam Charap: Hello, Mr. President,

I would like to return to your initiative to restore trust in cyberspace, which you mentioned in your remarks. Many argue whether there is trust in the outcome of the talks or the premises for holding them. It is not only about the election campaign, but the firm belief of many in Washington (and outside of it) that Russia is actively interfering in this area, and so on.

Can we ponder some kind of truce in this sphere in order to create proper grounds for talks and a minimum level of trust as a prerequisite for achieving more during ensuing talks? How do you think such a digital truce, so to say, may look like?

Vladimir Putin: Listen, as far as cybercrime is concerned, it always went hand in hand with digital technology and will probably always be there just like other offences. However, when we talk about relations between states, it is no coincidence that in my opening remarks I mentioned the dialogue on limiting offensive arms between the Soviet Union and the United States.

We agreed among ourselves to keep these weapons at a certain level. We propose reaching agreements in the sphere that is taking shape now right before our eyes and which is extremely important for the entire world and our countries. We need to discuss these matters in a broad context and come up with solutions.

I am not quite sure what kind of truce you are talking about. I believe it is already in place. You said that Russia is actively interfering. But I say: “We are not interfering in anything.” Moreover, the official probes conducted in the United States, including with the involvement of a special counsel, did not bring any results. They led to admitting the fact that there was no evidence of Russia’s interference. Therefore, I believe there is no need to set any preliminary conditions for us to start this dialogue. We must immediately sit down and talk. What is wrong with that approach? We are not proposing anything that does not meet our partners’ interests. If someone thinks that someone else is interfering in their affairs, well, let us come up with some general rules and develop verification tools to monitor compliance. Frankly, I do not understand where this persistence is coming from.

During the last months of President Obama’s presidency, his administration sent us a message to the effect that, indeed, it had taken them a while to review this matter, but they are now ready for a dialogue. Unfortunately, this ended quickly, and another president came to office. We started from centre-field with the new administration. Again, almost four years later now, we have not accomplished much.

I strongly hope that when the elections are over, our partners will return to this issue and respond positively to our proposals.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you.

Fyodor Voitolovsky, Director of IMEMO, our flagship institute of international relations. Please.

Fyodor Voitolovsky: Mr President, in your statement today you mentioned one of the most burning issues of global politics, arms control. During the Cold War and especially at its final stage, the Soviet Union and the United States both applied a huge amount of efforts to create a network of treaties and a system of confidence-building measures, which limited the quantitative growth of their arsenals and reduced the risk of a conflict. Over the past 20 years, our American partners have consistently and very easily dismantled this system: first the ABM Treaty, and then the INF and Open Skies treaties. As of now, there are problems with extending the New START Treaty. Hence my question. Do you think the arms control system has a future? What new moves can be taken in this sphere?

Thank you.

Fyodor Lukyanov: I would like to add that we have a great number of questions about strategic offensive arms and especially the latest initiative advanced two days ago, and also a great deal of bewilderment over what this may mean and whether Russia has made excessive concessions.

Vladimir Putin: You asked if such arms control treaties have a future. I think that the world will have no future unless limits are put on the arms race. This is what all of us should think about, and this is what we are urging all of our partners to think about.

All of us are well aware of the problem, and you have mentioned this just now: withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, the INF Treaty and the Open Skies Treaty (the United States has not officially pulled out of it yet, but it has stated that it had launched the withdrawal process). Why? What is the reason for this decision? They do not even try to explain. They simply do not explain. Our European colleagues tell us, “Let them withdraw, but you should not do the same.” I reply, “All of you are NATO members, and so you will make flights and forward the data you collect to the Americans, while we will be unable to do this because we will remain committed to the Treaty. Let us not play dumb. Let us be honest with each other.” In fact, as far as I am aware, the United States’ European partners would like it to remain a member of the Open Skies Treaty, to keep it intact.

With regard to the INF Treaty, we have spoken about it many times, and I do not want to go over it again. When withdrawing from the ABM Treaty, the United States acted openly, directly and bluntly, but honestly. Here, though, they came up with an excuse and accused Russia of some violations, and then withdrew from the Treaty. If this were the case, if everything were just like our American partners are saying, they could also go ahead and violate it without much ado. Who was stopping them? Instead, they took this step publicly for everyone to see.

Just do not tell me that they are white and fluffy goody two-shoes who are not into underhand dealings. We are aware of what is happening with verification, in the sphere of nuclear weapons among other thing, where they weld the lids or tamper with the aircraft. They get away with it and do not let us in there. Okay, we keep quiet, but the experts know what I am talking about. They just made it a point to take these steps, and to do so publicly, with broad coverage. Clearly, they are pursuing a political goal. I just do not see any military purpose here. But the best solution is for the verification and monitoring to be implemented by all contracting parties, so that our agreements are reliably protected by these monitoring systems.

Now, START-3.We took account of all the problems when we were negotiating these issues. Only one thing was left out. It is what Russia acquired in response to the United States withdrawing from the ABM Treaty. Precisely in response to the withdrawal. I am referring to our innovative high-precision hypersonic weapons. Indeed, neither the United States nor other countries have access to such weapons, although they are working on it, and someday they will have them as well. They are telling us, “You have it, we do not, so we must take this into account.” Well, we do not mind, let us take it into account. Both regarding the number of carriers and the number of warheads. We do not mind.

There are other issues that we can discuss. But what choice do we have? The treaty expires in February. After all, my proposal is very straightforward. It lies on the surface. Nothing will happen if we extend this agreement, without any preconditions, for one year and persistently work on all the issues of concern both to us and the Americans. We will work on it together and look for solutions.

After all, the trick is that we have had hardly any constructive discussions about this so far. Our partners, to put it bluntly, shied away from a direct and substantive professional discussion. The treaty will expire in February 2020, and that is all we have left now.

Question: What is better: to preserve the current treaty as it is, to start discussing it in detail and try to find some compromise during the year or to lose it altogether and leave us, the US and Russia, and the entire world practically without any legal foundation that limits the arms race? I believe the second option is much worse than the first.

I think it is simply unacceptable but I have said, and I want to emphasise it once again, that we are not holding on to this treaty. If our partners decide it is not necessary – all right, let it be, there is nothing we can do to prevent them. Our security, Russia’s security will not be damaged by this, especially because we have the latest weapons systems. This is the first part.

The second part boils down to making these agreements multilateral by including our Chinese friends in them. But are we against this? Russia is not against this but just do not shift on us the responsibility of making this treaty multilateral. If someone wants to do this, it is fine to try to achieve this. We do not object to this. Are we an obstacle on this road? No.

But the arguments quoted by our Chinese friends are very simple. China is an enormous country, a great power with an enormous economy and 1.5 billion people. But the level of its nuclear potential is almost twice, if not more lower than that of Russia and the US. They are asking a lawful question, “What will we limit? Or will we freeze our inequality in this area?” What can you reply to this? It is the sovereign right of a 1.5 billion strong nation to decide on the best way of building its policy on ensuring its own security.

Of course, it is possible to turn this into a subject of an argument or discussion and simply block any agreement. But may I ask why would only China be pressed to be involved in this process and in signing this treaty? Where are the other nuclear powers? Where is France that, as the press reports, has just tested another submarine-launched cruise missile? Great Britain is also a nuclear power. There are other nuclear states that are not officially recognised as such, as it were, but the whole world knows that they have nuclear arms. So, are we going to behave like ostriches? Hide our heads in the sand and pretend that we do not understand what is going on? What we need is not a checkerboard pattern on our car. We need to drive it, therefore we need to ensure security. So, let us get them involved as well. Let us do it. We are not against this. The only question is whether there is any reason for this, a goal to strive for, whether there is any positive example to follow such as the agreements between the US and Russia? Or is there nothing at all?

We are ready to work from scratch, from centre-field, fine. If you ask about our position, I believe it is better not to lose what was achieved before, to move forward from the positions that have already been reached by previous generations, by the leaders of our countries. However, if our partners decide on something different, we are willing to work in any format and on any of these tracks.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you.

Anatol Lieven, another one of our veterans, who could not come to this meeting but is taking part in it via videoconference. Please.

Anatol Lieven: Thank you very much, Mr President, for speaking to us. And I would also like to thank you personally for your very strong statement on climate change and the environment.

My question, however, relates to the new outbreak of conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. Russia, like other members of the international community, has been trying very hard to bring about a peaceful solution to this conflict, but so far these efforts have failed. If they continue to fail, given Russia’s old historic links and given Russia’s military alliance with Armenia, will it be necessary in the end for Russia to take sides against Azerbaijan and Turkey?

On the other hand, could this perhaps provide a positive opportunity for Russia, given the increasing confrontation which we see between France and Turkey over Turkey’s claims in the Eastern Mediterranean? Could this perhaps be an opportunity for a rapprochement between Russia and France and other West European countries? Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: I did not quite understand the last part of the question. What does the [Nagorno-Karabakh] conflict have to do with this?

Fyodor Lukyanov: Maybe he meant the possibility of rapprochement with France and Europe, since Turkey is now opposed to both them and, to a degree, to us?

Vladimir Putin: I see.

Let us begin at the beginning, with Nagorno-Karabakh and who to support in this conflict. You said that Russia has always had special relations with Armenia. But we have also always had special ties with Azerbaijan as well. There are over 2 million Armenians and some 2 million Azerbaijanis living in Russia, both those who have come to Russia in search of jobs and those who live here permanently. They send billions of dollars to their families back home. All these people have stable and close ties with Russia at the humanitarian level, person-to-person, business, humanitarian and family ties. Therefore, Armenia and Azerbaijan are both equal partners for us. And it is a great tragedy for us when people die there. We would like to develop full-scale relations with both Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Yes, there are some individual elements in each case, and some things in our relations with one partner differ from our relations with the other partner. In the case of Armenia, it is Christianity. But we also have very close ties with Azerbaijan in other spheres.

Speaking about religion, I would like to point out that nearly 15 percent of Russian citizens are Muslims. Therefore, Azerbaijan is not an alien country to us in this sense either.

But what we certainly cannot forget is what happened in the destiny of the Armenian people, the Armenian nation during World War I. This is an enormous tragedy for the Armenian people, This is the second part.

The third part is based on the fact that this conflict broke out not just as an interstate conflict or struggle for territories. It started with ethnic confrontation. Regrettably, it is also a fact that violent crimes against the Armenian people were also committed in Sumgait and later in Nagorno-Karabakh. We must consider all this in a package.

At the same time, we understand that a situation where Azerbaijan has lost a substantial part of its territory cannot continue. Over the years, we have suggested many diverse options for settling this crisis with a view to stabilising the situation in the long-term historical perspective.

I will not go into detail at this point but believe me, this was intensive work on bringing the positions of the parties closer. Sometimes it seemed like a bit more effort, another small step and we would find the solution. Regrettably, it did not happen, and today we are seeing the worst-case scenario in this conflict. The death of people is a tragedy. There are heavy losses on both sides. According to our information, there are over 2,000 dead on either side. The total number of victims is already approaching 5,000.

Let me emphasise that the Soviet Union, the Soviet army lost 13,000 people during the ten years of war in Afghanistan. Now the toll is almost 5,000 in such a short span of time. And how many are wounded? How many people, how many children are suffering? This is why it is a special situation for us.

Yes, the Minsk Group was established, I believe, in 1992. As its co-chairs, Russia, France and the US are responsible for organising the negotiating process. It is clear, and I am 100 percent confident of this, that all participants in the process are sincerely striving to settle the situation. That said, nobody is interested in this as much as Russia is, because this is a very sensitive issue for us. This is not just happening before our eyes, but in a broad sense, it is happening with our people, our friends and our relatives. This is why we are in a position that allows us to be trusted by both sides and play a substantial role as a mediator on the rapprochement of positions in settling this conflict. I would very much like to find a compromise here.

As you may be aware, I maintain close contacts with both President Aliyev and Prime Minister Pashinyan. I speak to them on the phone several times a day. Our respective foreign ministers, defence ministers and heads of special services are constantly in contact. Foreign ministers of both countries came to us again. Today, or rather on October 23, they will have a meeting in Washington. I strongly hope that our American partners will act in unison with us and promote a settlement. Let us hope for the best. This covers the first part.

The second part concerns disputes within NATO between Turkey and France. We never take advantage of frictions between other states. We have good and stable relations with France. I would not say they are full-fledged, but they hold a lot of promise and, in any case, have a good track record.

Our cooperation with Turkey is expanding. Turkey is our neighbour, and I can tell you in more detail how important interaction between our states is for both Turkey and Russia.

I do not think anyone needs our mediation. Turkey and France are perfectly capable of regulating relations between themselves. No matter how tough President Erdogan’s stance may look, I know that he is a flexible person, and finding a common language with him is possible. Therefore, I hope the situation will get back to normal here as well.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Mr President, a follow-up if I may, since it is a hot topic.

Still, Turkey’s much more active role than ever before is what makes the current crisis in the South Caucasus different. You said President Erdogan is flexible. That may well be the case as you spent a lot of time with him. However, many experts believe that Erdogan’s policy is actually about expanding his zone of influence to the borders of the former Ottoman Empire. These borders stretched far and wide, as we know, and they enclosed a lot of territory, including Crimea, which was part of it at some point. It was a long time ago, but nonetheless.

Should we not fear that if this becomes a consistent policy, we would have certain differences with Ankara?

Vladimir Putin: Russia is not afraid of anything. Thank goodness, we are not in a position where we should be afraid of anything.

I do not know about President Erdogan’s plans or his attitude towards the Ottoman legacy. You should ask him about it. But I know that our bilateral trade exceeds $20 billion. I know that Turkey is really interested in continuing this cooperation. I know that President Erdogan is pursuing an independent foreign policy. Despite a lot of pressure, we implemented the TurkStream project together rather quickly. We cannot do the same with Europe; we have been discussing this issue for years, but Europe seems unable to show enough basic independence or sovereignty to implement the Nord Stream 2 project, which would be advantageous to it in every respect.

As for Turkey, we implemented our project quite quickly, despite any threats. Erdogan, who was aware of his national interests, said that we would do it, and we did it. The same is true of our ties in other areas, for example, our military-technical cooperation. Turkey decided it needed a modern air defence system, and the world’s best is the S-400, a triumph of Russian industry. He said he would do it, and he bought it. Working with such a partner is not only pleasant but also safe.

As for aspirations, regarding Crimea or anything else, I know nothing about them, and I do not care about them because the interests of Russia are reliably protected, take my word for it. I am sure that our other partners are fully aware of this.

Regarding Turkey’s refusal to recognise Crimea as part of Russia, well, we do not see eye to eye on all subjects. For example, we are not always on the same page regarding the situation in the South Caucasus. But we also know about the positions of Europe and the United States. They claim to be true dyed-in-the-wool democrats, but they do not even want to hear about the people of Crimea voting for their future in a referendum, which is the highest form of direct democracy.

As I said, they adopted sanctions against the Crimean people. If Crimea was annexed, then they are the victims. Why are sanctions adopted against the victims? But if they voted freely, it was democracy in action, so why are they being punished for democracy? This is all rubbish and nonsense, but it is also a fact of life. So why point the finger at Erdogan? Just take a look at what is happening in other countries.

This is a consistent stand: he does not recognise Crimea, and he does not recognise Nagorno-Karabakh. What should we do? We must continue working with everyone and remain calm. This is exactly what we have been doing: trying to prove that our position is correct, and we will continue to uphold it, and when positions diverge, we look for compromise.

For example, as far as I know, our views on the developments in the South Caucasus do not coincide, because we believe that conflicts should be settled diplomatically at the negotiating table rather than with the use of armed force. Of course, one could say that talks have been ongoing there for 30 years, but to no avail. Well, I do not see this as a reason to start shooting.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you very much.

Of course, Mr Erdogan has been consistent. For example, he recognises Northern Cyprus. But this is perhaps part of the flexibility that you were talking about.

Vladimir Putin: Yes, you are right. I agree. I was supposed to say this but it slipped my mind. But you are correct. Northern Cyprus, yes. However, as far as I know, Turkey does not object to the country finally being unified. The principles of this unification are the problem. But, overall, you are right.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you.

Anatoly Torkunov, President of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

Anatoly Torkunov: Mr President,

Although there are still more than two months left in 2020, I think all of us see this year as one of very dramatic and unpredictable events. So of course, there is a joke that goes, if by the end of the year we encounter aliens, nobody will be surprised.

Never mind the aliens, we will see how it goes. My question is, of course, not about them. It is related to the developments around our borders. Thank you for such a detailed and interesting account. As an expert, I was very curious to hear your remarks on the South Caucasus.

But in general, developments around our borders seem to be rather dramatic. Let us take the events in Kyrgyzstan. The elections in that country have always prompted some kind of turbulence, although this year the civil disturbances have been particularly rough. The situation in Belarus is somewhat complicated. There is also the problem of Donbass. I understand that you must be tired of talking about this. We know your firm and consistent stance on this issue.

My question is what are Russia’s current fundamental foreign policy goals in the post-Soviet space, considering that it directly concerns our security and humanitarian links? Today you have stressed several times that these people are not foreigners to us – meaning the Caucasus but also our friends in Central Asia and our friends in Belarus and Ukraine.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: You know this better than anyone else, you are a very experienced person and a professional with a capital “P”. Our policy in the post-Soviet space within the CIS framework is the main component of our overall foreign policy. This is obvious because all the countries you listed and every other country with which we have good, very good multilateral relations, as well as those with whom our ties seem to be in a stalemate in some cases – they are not foreign countries to us all the same. These are not remote countries somewhere overseas about which we know little.

It is obvious that we lived in a single country, and not just for many years but for centuries, We have strong ties and very deep cooperation in the economy, humanitarian ties. We all speak a common language. In a sense, to a greater or lesser degree, we are essentially people of the same cultural space, not to mention our history. We have a common history and a common victory over Nazism. Our predecessors – our fathers and grandfathers – validated our special relations with their blood.

Regardless of the current events and today’s political environment, I am sure that this community of interests will eventually pave the way to the restoration of our ties with all these countries, no matter how difficult our ties with them are.

At the same time, and this is also an obvious fact, when our common state, the USSR began disintegrating, the people who dealt with this did not think about the consequences this would lead to, something they should have thought about. But it was clear that our neighbours did not always have identical interests. Sometimes their interests diverged and rope pulling was always possible. I believe we must and will find solutions to complicated issues in any way we can, but we need to avoid fueling or exaggerating anything or emphasising disputed issues. On the contrary, we must look at what can and must unite us and what does unite us. What is this? Our common interests.

Look, with respect to economic integration, who is not interested in this? Only our competitors. And the post-Soviet countries are bound to understand, at least smart people are bound to understand that a concerted effort, considering we have a common infrastructure, common transport and energy system and a common language that unites rather than divides us, etc., is our distinct competitive advantage in achieving the things for which some economic associations and structures have been fighting for decades, while we have received all this from our predecessors. We must use this, and this brings benefits to all of us. It is absolutely obvious that this is simply beneficial.

Look, Ukraine saw a revolution in 2004, and then in 2014 another revolution, a state coup. What happened as a result? Read the statistics published by the Ukrainian statistical services: shrinking production, as if they had more than one pandemic. Some of the local industries, ones the entire Soviet Union and Ukraine itself were proud of – the aircraft industry, shipbuilding, rocket building – developed by generations of Soviet people, from all Soviet republics, a legacy Ukraine, too, could and should be proud of – are almost gone. Ukraine is being de-industrialised. It was perhaps the most industrialised Soviet republic, not just one of them. There was of course the Russian Federation, Moscow, St Petersburg, Siberia, the Urals – all right, but Ukraine still was one of the most industrialised republics. Where is all this now and why is it lost?

It was just the stupidity of those who did it, just stupidity, that is all. But I hope that these common interests will still pave the way for common sense.

You just mentioned Belarus – indeed, we have witnessed these turbulent processes there. But there is something I would like to highlight As you may have noticed, Russia did not interfere in what was happening there. And we expect no one else to interfere either. No one should be stirring up this conflict to promote their own interests and impose any decisions on the Belarusian people. I already said in my opening remarks that nothing introduced from the outside without taking into account the peculiarities, culture and history of the people will ever work for that culture, those people.

The Belarusians themselves should be given the opportunity to calmly handle their situation and make appropriate decisions. The decisions they will make could pave the way for amending the country’s Constitution or adopting a new Constitution. President Lukashenko said this publicly. True, people can say, well, he will just write something for his own benefit, this kind of constitution will have nothing to do with democracy. But, you know, it is possible to slander just about anything, and there are always sceptics. But I already said this, so I will not go into more detail.

But what happened in Belarus compares favourably with what happened on the streets of some big cities in developed democracies, do you see that? There has been some harsh action indeed, I give you that, and maybe even unjustified, but then, those who allowed it should be made responsible. But in general, if you compare and look at the pictures – in Belarus, no one shot an unarmed person in the back, that is what I mean. So let us just calmly deal with this.

The same goes for Kyrgyzstan. I think current developments there are a disaster for Kyrgyzstan and its people. Every time they have an election, they practically have a coup. What does this mean? This is not funny. It means that many of these countries are taking the first steps towards their own statehood and the culture of state development.

I have told my colleagues many times that the post-Soviet countries should be treated with special attention, and we must carefully support these new sprouts of statehood. In no case should we be pressing advice or recommendations on them, and even more so, avoid any interference, because this will destroy the fragile, nascent institutions of sovereignty and statehood in those countries. It is necessary to give these nations the opportunity to carefully build these relations within society leading by example, but not acting like an elephant in a china shop with advice and piles of money to support one or the other side.

I strongly hope that we have helped Kyrgyzstan, as a member of the CSTO and the EAEU, to get on its feet, invested hundreds of millions of dollars to support the Kyrgyz economy and various industries and to help Kyrgyzstan adapt so it can join the EAEU. This also goes for phytosanitary services, customs systems, individual sectors of the economy and enterprises. We have recently implemented projects valued at up to $500 million. I am not even talking about grants that we provide annually in the amount of tens of millions of dollars.

Of course, we cannot look at what is happening there without pity and concern. Please note that we are not pressing our advice or instructions on them. We are not supporting any particular political forces there. I strongly hope that things in Kyrgyzstan will get back to normal, and that Kyrgyzstan will get on the path to progress and we will maintain excellent relations with them.

The same goes for Moldova. We can see the developments related to Moldova, and we know the Moldovan people’s needs for promoting democracy and economy. But who is buying Moldovan wine? Will France buy Moldovan wine? Who needs it in the European markets? They have more than enough of their own. When they ship wine from country to country, even within the European Union, the farmers dump it into ditches just to get rid of the cargo.

This is not just about wine. Other sectors of the economy are so closely tied to Russia that they simply cannot exist without it, at least for now. They can only sell their products in Russia. This is exactly what happened to Ukraine. Therefore, we hope that during the next election in Moldova, the Moldovan people will appreciate the efforts that the current President of the republic is undertaking to build good relations with Russia.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you very much.

Hans-Joachim Spanger has joined us from Frankfurt.

Hans-Joachim Spanger: Mr President,

Allow me to turn to an issue which is connected with a person whose name reportedly is not really used in the Kremlin, at least not in public – Alexei Navalny.

A renowned Russian scholar, Dmitry Trenin, the director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, recently stated, let me quote: “The poisoning of the opposition activist Alexei Navalny has become a turning point in Russo-German relations.” And this, according to him, essentially means that, another quote, “this special role performed by Germany and its Chancellor in recent years is now a thing of the past. From now on, Germany will have the same attitude to Russia as all the other countries in Western Europe.”

My question is whether you share this view that a) there was such a special role of Germany in bilateral German-Russian relations, and b) whether you also detect such a turning point now, and if so, what Russia can do to avoid it happening, or, conversely, to turn the turning point around again? Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: I will start with the first part of your question, about the poisonings. First, we have heard about poisonings here and there many times. It is not the first time.

Second, if the authorities had wanted to poison the person you mentioned or to poison anybody, it is very unlikely they would have sent him for medical treatment to Germany. Don’t you think so? As soon as this person’s wife contacted me, I immediately instructed the Prosecutor General’s Office to see if it was possible to allow him to travel abroad for medical treatment. They could have prohibited it because he was under restrictions due to an investigation and a criminal case. He was under travel restrictions. I immediately asked the Prosecutor General’s Office to allow that. And he was taken to Germany.

Then we were told that they found traces of this infamous Novichok that is known around the world. I said, “Please give us the materials.” Primarily, the biological material and the official report so that we can do more research that can give us official and formal legal grounds for initiating criminal proceedings. What was unusual about this request? Our Prosecutor General’s Office, in keeping with the agreements we have with Germany, has repeatedly forwarded official requests for these materials. Is this unusual? In addition, in a conversation with a European leader, I suggested that our specialists go to Germany and together with French, German and Swedish experts work on site to obtain the necessary materials, which we could use to initiate criminal proceedings and, should this incident prove to be a crime, investigate it. But they would not give us anything. How can you explain why? There is no explanation, there is just no explanation. This all looks strange.

Well, they said that they had found traces of Novichok. Later they passed whatever they had on to the OPCW – the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Then quite unexpectedly, they said, it is not Novichok – it is something else. So, is it Novichok or not? This has cast doubt on what was said before. Well, let us investigate the incident together. I say, as I have said several times, that if this is really true, we will definitely conduct an investigation. Unfortunately, there have been attempts on the lives of public figures and businessmen in our country. These cases were investigated in Russia, the culprits were found and punished and, what is important, all of them were punished. We are prepared to spare no effort in this case as well.

As for specific individuals, we have quite a few people like Saakashvili, but I do not think that currently these people have influence to speak of… They may also change, why not? They may undergo some transformation – which, in principle, is not bad – and will also get involved in realpolitik instead of making noise in the street. Take Occupy Wall Street – where is it? Where? Where is all the informal opposition in many European countries or the United States, for that matter? There are many parties there. Where are they? Two parties dominate the political stage and that is it. However, look what is going on in the streets.

This is why we are developing the Russian political system and will continue to do so, offering all political forces – seriously-minded, sincere and patriotic ones – the opportunity to work in compliance with the law.

Now, regarding Germany’s role. We have had very good relations with Germany in the post-war years. I think this was largely due to the German Democratic Republic, the GDR, which was the Soviet Union’s key and main ally in Europe, at least during the time that state existed. We have developed very good relations at the personal and political levels, and in the economic sphere. I know there are still a lot of people there now who sympathise with Russia. And we appreciate that.

Incidentally, the Soviet Union did play a decisive role in the reunification of Germany. It was indeed a decisive role. Some of your current allies, allies of Germany, in fact, objected to the unification of Germany, no matter what they said. We know this; we still have it in our archives. While the Soviet Union played this role. I personally believe that it was the right thing to do, because it was wrong to break a single whole into parts, and if the people there really want something, in Germany’s case they wanted unity, reunification, their pursuit should not be contained by force, as it will not do anyone any good. As for building relations between East and West Germany – this should be up to the Germans, of course. Has Germany played any special role, say, as a mediator between Russia and the rest of the world or Russia and the rest of Europe? I do not think so. Russia is a country that does not need intermediaries.

At the same time, we have always had very special economic, and even humanitarian ties with Germany. Why? Because Germany wanted to play a special role? Well, no, I think it had more to do with Germany’s own interests. Even now, Germany is Russia’s second largest trade partner, in gross volume. It used to be the first, by the way, but it is second to China now, as our trade with China is twice the volume it is with Germany. Nevertheless, there are more than 2,000 companies with German capital in our market. We have a fairly large volume of German investment and German businesses are interested in working in Russia. We are happy about this, because we know these are sincere people interested in expanding ties with our country. I regularly meet with representatives of German business; they are all our friends, or I would like to think so, anyway. This cooperation provides millions of jobs in the Federal Republic of Germany as well, because goods produced by German enterprises go to the Russian market; they enjoy demand here, which means jobs there.

Incidentally, many industries have been seeing a high level of cooperation in recent years. All the above are manifestations of the special nature of our relations, of a mutual interest, I would say. Mutual interest is at the heart of this relationship – not an ambition to play some special role. And this mutual interest will not go away, regardless of the current political situation, and we will maintain such relations, no matter what anyone does.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you very much.

We will stay in Europe for now.

Nathalie Tocci from Rome has joined us. Nathalie, please go ahead.

Nathalie Tocci: Thank you, Mr President, for your extremely candid remarks.

You spoke very eloquently about the importance and centrality of the state, but at the same time the importance of international cooperation, and, in particular, highlighted areas like security as well as climate, which I would associate also with energy transition.

Now, when it comes to security, perhaps a follow-up question on the Caucasus and the resumption of war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. At some point, hopefully very soon, there will be a new ceasefire. At the same time, the conflict itself won’t be resolved. Given that the current configuration of the three Minsk Group co-chairs has been unable to deliver a settlement in all these 26 years, does Russia think that this is the setup that should be reconsidered?

And then, perhaps, if I may, a question on climate change and, in particular, energy transition. Now, energy transition requires funding. The European Union, for instance, will dedicate approximately 40 percent of its next-generation new fund to the Green Deal. Now, when it comes to Russia, it is clear that, being a country that has depended quite importantly on its fossil fuel exports, stabilising energy markets is obviously going to be key for Russia in order to obtain the funds to move forward.

In your speech you highlighted the importance OPEC Plus had in that stabilisation of the market, and I think Russia itself played an extremely important role in ensuring that supplies were cut so as to stabilise prices. But at the same time, we are now in a second wave of the pandemic, and we are likely to see demand continuing to be rather sluggish. Would you expect, or would you like to see in 2021, a further cut in supplies to ensure a further stabilisation of prices?

Vladimir Putin: I will start with the first part of your question regarding the Minsk Group negotiation format and whether it should be changed. Unfortunately, Nathalie, I cannot answer your question. This is for a number of objective reasons, not because I want to emphasise Russia’s role, we all understand that Russia is where it is, nearby. These are our neighbours, and we have special relations with these countries and these peoples. The influences are very strong. I have already said that 2.4 million Armenians and about 2 million Azerbaijanis live in Russia. They wire tens of billions of dollars to support their families. But this is just one factor. I am not even mentioning many others, including the use of markets, cultural ties, and so on. That is, in our case, the situation is very different from relations between the United States and Armenia, or the United States and Azerbaijan, or even Turkey and Azerbaijan. Therefore, of course, we bear special responsibility and must be very careful in what we do.

In this context, the support of the United States, France and other members of the Minsk Group – 10 or 12 countries – matters a lot to us. There are European countries there, and Turkey as well. Do we need to change anything in this regard? I am not sure. Maybe the format could be tweaked a little, but it is imperative to find constructive and acceptable compromises for both sides.

To reiterate, for many years we have been looking for these compromises. We have proposed, believe me, very persistently, a variety of compromises, down to minute details and kilometres, to tell you the truth. All sorts of “corridors” were suggested, as well as an exchange of territories. All the things that were suggested… Unfortunately, we were unable to identify a solution, which eventually led to this tragedy. I hope these hostilities will come to an end soon. I agree with those who believe, including you, that the first thing is to immediately stop the hostilities. We, in fact, agreed to this during the meeting in Moscow. Unfortunately, we were unable to avoid this situation. We will continue to strive for this.

Now I would like to say a few words about oil and everything connected with it, the demand for oil and so on. We are working on alternative energy sources ourselves. We are one of the richest countries in hydrocarbons, oil and gas, but this does not mean at all that we should not think about the future. We are thinking about it and about solar energy and hydrogen energy. We are working on this. Moreover, we are working on this with a view to improving the current situation.

You know for sure that we have adopted a decision in line with which in 2022 we must make our 300 largest contaminators, that is, 300 major companies that are the biggest emitters of these gases, switch to the most accessible, latest technology that would minimise emissions into the atmosphere and into the environment in general of any pollutants, and reduce these emissions by 20 percent by 2024. But we understand that by dealing with these 300 companies and 12 cities where most of them are located, we will not drastically improve the situation. Our strategy in this respect is aimed at halving all anthropogenic emissions by 2030. We must move towards this goal. We have set it for ourselves and will pursue it consistently. We will work on it.

That said, I do not think it will be realistic, provided every country wants to be competitive, to abandon hydrocarbons in the near future. I believe the near future embraces several decades: 30, 40 and 50 years from now. This is simply unrealistic.

Therefore, when we hear about European novelties on hydrocarbons and relevant restrictions, I do not know on what basis these proposals, conclusions and decisions are made. Are they explained by domestic political struggle? Later they are followed by restrictions in international trade and cooperation, right? I do not think this will lead to anything good. It is necessary to achieve a result in this respect not through restrictions but through cooperation and a striving to reach common goals.

We have done what we ought to do under the Kyoto agreement. We have fulfilled everything we did. We are active participants in the Paris agreement and intend to do all this. We are not shutting down from it. On the contrary, we think this is the way to go.

I spoke in my opening remarks about the speed at which permafrost is disappearing and the consequences this may have for all humankind. And what about us? We have a lot of transport systems in this zone: oil and gas pipelines and railways. Our residential districts and whole cities are located on this territory. This is a huge problem for us, and that is why we are willing to work and will work, both ourselves and at the international level, for a clean environment and a reduction in anthropogenic emissions. That said, it is impossible to do without hydrocarbons.

But there is also natural gas as a hydrocarbon source. It is actually the cleanest of hydrocarbons. And what about nuclear energy? Despite what anyone says or the scare tactics around nuclear power and nuclear power stations, it is one of the cleanest kinds of energy. So what are we talking about? Take automobiles, what is the primary energy source there? Even now, Europe and the entire world still use coal to produce electricity. Yes, coal’s share is falling but it is still used.

Why should any fiscal constraints be placed on using natural gas and even diesel fuel? By the way, it can be made to be extremely clean with modern purification and usage standards. So what is the point? To give competitive advantages to certain sectors of the economy in this or that country, with politicians standing behind it. That is the only way I can explain it, not as a simple desire to improve the environment. Nevertheless, I hope sound decisions will be taken here and we will be able to find a proper balance between environmental and economic interests.

As for the demand for oil and work within OPEC+, we maintain contacts with all our partners – both the Americans and the Saudis. We do so regularly at the ministerial level. Literally just the other day I spoke to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, we consult with one another. We believe there is no need to change anything in our agreements as of yet. We will be closely tracking the recovery of the market. You said it was sluggish. It was but is recovering, I will note, it is growing.

The world economy did indeed contract due to the pandemic but consumption is on the rise. That has something to do with our decisions as part of OPEC+. We are of the opinion that nothing needs to change right now. However, we are not ruling out either maintaining existing production limits or not lifting them as soon as we had intended earlier. And if necessary, we will make further reductions. But currently we do not see the need. We have agreed with all our partners that we will closely monitor the situation.

Russia is not interested in higher or lower prices necessarily. Here, our interests overlap with those of our US partners, perhaps primarily with them, because if oil prices drop significantly, shale production will experience great difficulties, to put it mildly. However, although it did not join the OPEC+ deal in a meaningful way, the United States has, in fact, reduced output.

So, almost all market participants, all players have close or overlapping interests, as diplomats say. We will proceed based on the actual situation so as not to make a negative impact on the market. As you are aware, it is important not to impact geological exploration and the preparation of new wells. If we treat the energy sector like a stepchild and keep saying it is not good enough and does nothing but pollute, investment will dry up, and prices will skyrocket.

That is why it is necessary to act responsibly and not politicise this issue or chatter idly, especially for those who know nothing about it, but to act based on the interests of the global economy and their own countries’ interests and find a compromise between protecting nature and growing the economy, so our people can earn enough to support themselves and their families. We will succeed only if we manage to balance these interests. Anything less will lead to ruin.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Mr President, we at the Valdai Club have the pleasure to meet with you regularly and so we have a basis for comparison. If I may say so, I think you have learned something from the pandemic. You sound at peace when you talk about it. I have to ask. You speak so well of Europe, but does it bother you that you are considered almost a murderer there, that those closest to you in government are sanctioned and you are always called on to justify something? And yet I can hear absolution in what you say.

Vladimir Putin: You know, there is little that bothers me, because to a certain extent, when I carry out my official duties, I become the function of protecting the interests of the Russian people and the Russian state. Everything else I try to shut out, so that it does not interfere with the performance of this function. I have had a long time to get used to these attacks, since 2000, when we fought international terrorists in the Caucasus. I heard and saw everything. They portrayed me with fangs and in every other way imaginable. So, it has no effect on me.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you.

Let us jump to the other side. Zhao Huasheng, Shanghai.

Zhao Huasheng: Good afternoon, Mr President.

Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.

Zhao Huasheng: Thank you very much for this great opportunity.

This year’s theme at this Valdai Club session is The Lessons of the Pandemic and the New Agenda: How to Turn a World Crisis into an Opportunity for the World. I will paraphrase this: how can we turn a world crisis into an opportunity for Sino-Russian relations?

The world is rapidly changing now. Given these conditions, how do you think Sino-Russian relations should develop? I am referring to political and economic ties and regional and international cooperation. What new approaches can be expected? Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: I would give a very brief answer to the question on how to further develop Sino-Russian relations: the same way we have been doing it and are doing it now. Russian-Chinese relations have reached an unprecedented level.

I am not even mentioning the term “specially privileged” relations, etc. What matters is not the name but the quality of these ties. As for the quality, we treat each other with deep trust; we have established durable, stable, and most importantly, effective ties across the board.

My friend – and I have every reason to call him a friend –President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping and I continuously consult each other on what and how things need to be done based on what has already been achieved, but we always find a way to move forward.

You know that we are working together in aviation and nuclear power engineering, as I have just mentioned, and further developing trade ties. Last year, our trade was over 111 billion. This is far from the highest figure that we can achieve. We will certainly achieve more.

We are developing infrastructure, building bridges that unite us in the literal meaning of the word. We are developing humanitarian ties and seeking implementation rather than simply planning large projects in the areas where we supplement each other effectively, including energy.

China is a big shareholder in a number of large Russian projects on gas production, and later, on liquefaction (LNG). Where are these projects carried out? Not on the border with China but in the north of the Russian Federation. We work together in a variety of other areas. And, as we have said many times, there is no doubt that international cooperation is a very important factor in stabilising world affairs; this is absolutely obvious.

To say nothing of our military and defence industry cooperation. We have traditionally maintained relations in this area on a significant scale. I am not only talking about buying and selling, I also mean the sharing of technologies. We hope to maintain this working relationship with our Chinese friends – a friendly relationship based on mutual respect, oriented toward achieving the best results for the people of both China and Russia.

As for Shanghai, it happens to be a sister city of St Petersburg, where I am from. I have been to Shanghai on more than one occasion. It is a magnificent and beautiful city, and I wish the people of Shanghai all the best.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you.

Here is a follow-up question from China to clarify a bit what you just said. Professor Yan Xuetong wants to ask you a very simple and straightforward question: Is it possible to conceive of a military alliance between China and Russia?

Vladimir Putin: It is possible to imagine anything. We have always believed that our relations have reached such a level of cooperation and trust that it is not necessary, but it is certainly imaginable, in theory.

We hold regular joint military exercises – at sea and on land in both China and the Russian Federation – and we share best practices in the build-up of the armed forces. We have achieved a high level of cooperation in the defence industry – I am not only talking about the exchange or the purchase and sale of military products, but the sharing of technologies, which is perhaps most important.

There are also very sensitive issues here. I will not speak publicly about them now, but our Chinese friends are aware of them. Undoubtedly, cooperation between Russia and China is boosting the defence potential of the Chinese People’s Army, which is in the interests of Russia as well as China. Time will tell how it will progress from here. So far, we have not set that goal for ourselves. But, in principle, we are not going to rule it out, either. So, we will see.

Anyway, we are satisfied with the current state of relations between Russia and China in this area. Unfortunately, we have to confront new threats. For example, the intention stated by our American partners to possibly deploy medium- and short-range missiles in the Asia-Pacific Region, of course, raises alarm, and we undoubtedly will have to take reciprocal steps – this fact is self-evident.

Of course, before it comes to that, we have to see what if anything is going to happen, what threats it will pose to us, and, depending on that, we will take reciprocal measures to ensure our security.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you.

Piotr Dutkiewicz from Canada, please.

Piotr Dutkiewicz: Mr President, thank you so much for this unique opportunity to talk to you.

You mentioned in your speech that the youth will have to push the future of Russia, the development of Russia forward. But young people are very unhappy with the world. Look at what is happening in the US, France and Israel. They are saying we have shut the door to a good future for them. According to international opinion polls, over half of young people think they will live worse than their parents do. But they are not impressed by any of this. So, I would like to ask you as the President of the Russian Federation, what you can advise and offer to Russian youth?

Vladimir Putin: I touched on this in my opening remarks, but I can say it again. Of course, the future belongs to the youth, This is the first thing.

Second, young people are usually discontent not with what is happening but with what they have achieved for today, and they want more. And this is right, this is what underlies progress. This is a foundation for the young people to create a better future than the one we have built. And there is nothing surprising or new in this idea. We can understand this from classic Russian literature. Read Fathers and Sons, it is all there.

But what can we offer? We believe we will give young people more opportunities for professional growth and create more social lifts for them. We are building up these instruments and creating conditions for people to receive a good education, make a career, start a family and receive enough income for a young family.

We are drafting an increasing number of measures to support young families. Let me emphasise that even during the pandemic, most of our support measures were designed for families with children. What are these families? They are young people for the most part.

We will continue doing this in the hope that young people will use their best traits – their daring striving to move ahead without looking back at formalities that probably make older generations more reserved – for positive, creative endeavours. Eventually, the younger generation will take the baton from the older generation and continue this relay race, and make Russia stronger.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you.

We have an unusual connection with Australia today. I do not remember anything like this before.

Anton Roux, Please, go ahead.

Anton Roux: Thank you, Mr President, for the opportunity to ask you a question. I really appreciated your insightful, heartfelt and considered remarks during your speech; and I come to you from our second state lockdown in Melbourne, Australia, which is also a sister city to St Petersburg. I embrace also your urging to cast aside silo mentalities.

My question is the following: How do you want to be remembered? What do you want your legacy to be as a world leader and the President of the Russian Federation during the first half of the 21st century? How would you like international historians across the world to write about you and your legacy as a leader, a man and a human being at the end of the 21st century? And how might you shape this any differently during the next phase of your leadership as President of the Russian Federation?

Vladimir Putin: If the translation is correct, you said “who lived in the 21st century.” But, thank God, we are alive and keep living in the 21st century. To be honest, I never think in terms of the areas you mentioned. I do not think about my role in history; those who are interested can decide. I never read a single book about myself.

I just keep working day in, day out, trying to resolve current issues and looking into the future so that these current issues do not stand in the way of achieving our strategic goals. It is, in fact, routine work. I proceed from what I must accomplish today, tomorrow, this year, or in three years given that we plan the budget of the Russian Federation three years in advance.

Of course, as I have said, we do consider strategic goals; this is why we have drafted and continue pursuing national development plans and national projects. But this totally unrelated to any desire to mark my place in history in some way. It is related to something completely different – ensuring the interests of the Russian people, the Russian state, strengthening Russia.

How I will be seen by future generations, I would rather leave to them and their judgment. But then, I do not think I would be interested in these judgments when they are made. In this sense I am a pragmatic person, and I am trying to work not for my image as a world leader, and I do not think I am one (I do not think I am any different from my colleagues – the heads of other states), I work to strengthen my country. This my priority and the meaning of my life.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you. I remember your interview a few months ago, ahead of the constitution referendum, when you openly said that an opportunity to remain in office after 24 years is a guarantee against bureaucratic intrigue, the people around you, so they would not look around in search of a successor.

But if this is true, it is an endless circle; they will always be searching, even while you remain in office.

Vladimir Putin: No, it must definitely end one day, I am perfectly aware of that. And the changes in the Constitution you mentioned are aimed not only at granting the incumbent head of state the right to be elected in 2024 and later, but these amendments are basically aimed at reinforcing the sovereignty of the Russian Federation, outlining our development prospects and building up the fundamental constitutional foundation for progress in the economy, the social sphere and enhancing our sovereignty.

I expect it will all work.

As to what will happen in 2024 or later – we will see when the times comes. Now we all just have to work hard like St Francis, everyone at his or her place.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you.

Alexander Rahr, please.

Alexander Rahr: Mr President, my question is about nostalgia as well. I remember your historical speech at the German Bundestag 20 years ago, where you actually proposed building a common space from Lisbon to Vladivostok. Do you regret that?

Here is my point. The French and the Germans supported the idea. The Eastern Europeans did not. America will not, either. Actually, that keeps us from building our relations with Russia, which, I think, many Europeans would like.

If you had the opportunity to address the Bundestag again, would you also propose working together in the digital sphere or, perhaps, the environment, which would unite Europe and Russia in terms of energy? I think this is a promising idea for the future.

Vladimir Putin: Regarding what I would say if I were speaking there now, here is what happened back then.

At that time (it was 2007, correct?), many of my colleagues told me it was a bit harsh and it was not very good.

What did I actually say? I will refresh your memory. I said it is unacceptable for one country to extend its law beyond its national borders and try to subject other states to its regulations. Something along these lines.

What is happening now? Is it not Western European leaders who are saying that secondary sanctions and extending US jurisdiction to European companies are unacceptable?

If only they had enough guts to listen to what I said back then and to try to at least change the situation, do it carefully, without destroying Atlantic solidarity or the structural arrangement in NATO or elsewhere. I was not talking about that, but about the fact that it is unacceptable and bad for everyone, including those who do this.

Back then, our European partners seemed not to care and everyone looked the other way. Here again, what happened then is happening now. I am saying that this is still bad for everyone, including those who are pursuing or trying to pursue a policy of exceptionalism, because this actually destroys relations and interaction between Europe and the United States, and ultimately causes damage to the United States itself. Why do this?

This fleeting tactical gain that the United States is seeking may lead to negative strategic consequences and the destruction of trust. This is not my business, but since we are having an exchange at the discussion club, I will go ahead and philosophise. This is an absolutely obvious thing.

So, I did not say anything unusual, harmful or aggressive in Munich in 2007. But if I were to speak there now, I would not, of course, say I told you so. I would not do that just out of respect for my colleagues. I am fully aware of the realities back then and today. We do not live in a vacuum, but in real life conditions, our relationships are real and our interdependence is strong.

We understand everything perfectly well, but we need to change things. We are talking about a new world order, so these realities must be taken into account when building modern international relations, which must, of course, be based on consideration for each other’s interests and mutual respect, and respect for sovereignty.

I hope we can build our relations carefully and calmly, without destroying what has been created over previous decades, but while taking into account today’s needs. These relations will meet present requirements and the interests of all participants in international communication.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Alexei Yekaikin. Since we have talked a lot about ecology today, we cannot go without this.

Vladimir Putin: What time is it?

Fyodor Lukyanov: Yes, we are finishing up, Mr President. We feel we have already exceeded our time, but we cannot do without ecology in the end.

Vladimir Putin: No, we cannot. I agree.

Alexei Yekaikin: Thank you, Fyodor.

Good evening, Mr President.

Maybe, this question will seem a bit surprising to you although we have met several times over the years and talked about this. I would like to raise it again. It is about the Antarctic. We spoke about this at the climate session and, in general, this is an anniversary year for us – 200 years since the discovery of the Antarctic.

This is what my question is about. Russia has adopted or is adopting a strategy for developing activities in the Antarctic. A new Vostok station is under construction in the Central Antarctic as part of this strategy. You know this.

It would seem that everything is fine, investment in the infrastructure and the like. So, you may get the impression that we are doing well in the Antarctic. Alas, this is not the case, because the policy is about infrastructure but does not say a word about science. This is a fairly paradoxical situation. I would call it strange because we invest in the infrastructure whereas the main goal for which we need it, that is, science, remains somewhere backstage.

At our Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, we have prepared a draft federal programme for studying the area around the Vostok station for the next 15 years. It has been drafted in detail. It consists of two main themes. The first is the study of the past climate based on ice core data, and this study is very closely connected with the climate theme. Yes, this is drilling the ice, that is right.

The second theme concerns the subglacial lake Vostok. You also know about this. It is one of the most unique phenomena on the planet.

These are two subjects in which we, Russian scientists, are generally strong; we are not trying catch up with anyone in this respect. We are at the proper level and even ahead of some of our colleagues. Nonetheless, there is no government support for research in the Antarctic. I find this strange.

We sent this draft programme to the Ministry of Natural Resources, our relevant ministry. I do not know where exactly it is now. We do not know what happened to it. My question is very simple: does the Russian Government have the opportunity to support our efforts to study the Antarctic or will this topic go down the drain?

After all, it would be a pity to lose our priority in this area.

Thank you very much.

Vladimir Putin: Alexei, first of all, the fact that your colleagues and you made it to Lake Vostok and made this discovery, got to this water that is thousands of years old and that was not connected in any way with the world, remaining under the ice, this, of course, is of great interest to people like you, researchers, who study what eventually became the Earth and how the climate was changing.

I saw this; they brought me the core samples and the water. It is exciting. However, the fact that the infrastructure is being created means that preparations for research are underway. I do not know the plans regarding the allocation of funds for these purposes. You said that money was allocated for the infrastructure, but not scientific research. I doubt this is a lot of money. If the Ministry of Natural Resources …unfortunately, budget cuts are underway, which are caused by certain economic difficulties.

I am not sure if it was necessary to cut the already small expenses associated with Antarctic research. I promise I will look into it. We will punish anyone who made a mistake.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Mr President, you mentioned in your speech that you do not miss the Cold War. Do you miss anything at all?

Vladimir Putin: My children, I rarely see them.

Fyodor Lukyanov: We at the Valdai Club miss the opportunity to get together in person. With all the great advances in technology that allow us to hold almost complete meetings, we would still very much like to talk in person to you and each other next year.

We have not broken the record; there was a forum where the President spent more time with us, but we are close. We talked with the President of the Russian Federation for almost three hours, for which we are sincerely grateful.

Thank you very much. We will try to quickly get back to our normal schedule, and we look forward to seeing you next year.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much for hosting this.

I want to address all members of the Valdai Club, the analysts, politicians and journalists who work with this entity. It is an entity, because it has been operational for many years now. I hope you find it interesting and useful.

I am grateful to you for showing interest in Russia, in our development plans, in us today and in our history. This means that you are engaged, and it is important for us to know your opinion.

I am saying this sincerely, because by comparing what we are doing, by comparing our own assessments of our progress and our economic and political plans, comparing them with your ideas about what is good and what is bad, we find the best solutions and can adjust our plans.

I want to thank you for this and to wish you every success. I also hope for a personal meeting next time.

Good luck to you. Thank you very much.

Fyodor Lukyanov: Thank you very much. Good-bye.

Vladimir Putin: Good-bye.

The United Nations and the Neglected Conflict of Kashmir

By Ghulam Nabi Fai

Source

Washington D.C, October 08 (KMS): The principle of ‘right of self-determination’ and its applicability to the 72-year-old Kashmir conflict needs to be considered during the 75th session of the Fourth Committee of the United Nations General Assembly that is taking place between October 08 to November 10, 2020 at its headquarters in New York. The committee will discuss and deliberate the issues related to international conflicts and decolonization. What I do hope to offer is an unstarry-eyed view of the fate of self-determination in Kashmir; and, the indispensability of convincing the United Nations that international peace and security would be strengthened, not weakened, by resolving the Kashmir conflict to the satisfaction of all parties concerned.

The self-determination of peoples is a basic principle of the United Nations Charter, which has been reaffirmed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and applied countless times to the settlement of international disputes.

The concept seems to be as old as government itself and was the basis of French and American revolutions. In 1916, President Wilson stated that self-determination is not a mere phrase. He said that it is an imperative principle of action and included it in the famous 14-point charter. This gave a prominence to the principle. Self-determination as conceived by Wilson was an imprecise amalgamation of several strands of thought, some long associated in his mind with the notion of “self-determination”, others hatched as a result or wartime developments, but all imbued with a general spirit of democracy.

Self-determination is a principle that has been developed in philosophic thought and practice for the last several hundred years. It is an idea that has caused people throughout the world to rise up and shed the chains of oppressive governments at great risk.

Finally, in 1945 the establishment of the UN gave a new dimension to the principle of self-determination. It was made one of the objectives, which the UN would seek to achieve, along with equal rights of all nations. Article 1.2 of the Charter of the United Nations reads: “To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples.”

From 1952 onwards, the General Assembly of the UN adopted a series of resolutions proclaiming the right to self-determination. The two most important of these are resolution 1514 of 14 December 1960 and resolution 2625 of 24 October 1970. Resolution 1514 was seen almost exclusively as part of process of decolonization. 1514 is entitled: Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.

International Court of Justice considered the several resolutions on decolonization process and noted: “The subsequent development of International Law in regard to non-self governing territories as enshrined in the Charter of the UN made the principle of self-determination applicable to all of them.” This opinion establishes the self-determination as the basic principle for the process of decolonization.

The principle of self-determination in modern times can be defined as the right of peoples to determine their own political status and pursue their own economic, social and cultural policies. Self-determination in its literal meaning or at a terminological level also implies the right [of a people] to express itself to organize in whatever way it wants. A people must be free to express their will without interference or threat of interference from a controlling authority. This includes alien domination, foreign occupation and colonial rule.

Although, the applicability of the principle of the self-determination to the specific case of Jammu and Kashmir has been explicitly recognized by the United Nations, it was upheld equally by India and Pakistan when the Kashmir dispute was brought before the Security Council. Since, on the establishment of India and Pakistan as sovereign states, Jammu and Kashmir was not part of the territory of either, the two countries entered into an agreement to allow its people to exercise their right to self-determination under impartial auspices and in conditions free from coercion from either side. The agreement is embodied in the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, explicitly accepted by both governments. It is binding on both governments and no allegation of non-performance of any of its provisions by either side can render it inoperative.

It is apparent from the record of the Security Council that India articulated the principle, accepted the practical shape the Security Council gave to it and freely participated in negotiations regarding the modalities involved. However, when developments inside Jammu & Kashmir made it doubt its chances of winning the plebiscite, it changed its stand and pleaded that it was no longer bound by the agreement. Of course, it deployed ample arguments to justify the somersault. But even though the arguments were of a legal or quasi-legal nature, it rejected a reference to the World Court to pronounce on their merits. This is how the dispute became frozen with calamitous consequences for Kashmir most of all, with heavy cost for Pakistan and with none too happy results for India itself.

By all customary moral and legal yardsticks, 23 million Kashmiris from both sides of the Ceasefire Line (CFL) enjoy a right to self-determination. Kashmir’s legal history entitles it to self-determination from Indian domination every bit as much as Eritrea’s historical independence entitled it to self-determination from Ethiopian domination.

India’s gruesome human rights violations in Kashmir also militate in favor of self-determination every bit as much as Yugoslavia’s human rights violations and ethnic cleansing created a right to self-determination in Bosnia and Kosovo. Kashmir’s history of social and religious tranquility further bolsters its claim to self-determination every bit as much as East Timor’s history of domestic peace before Indonesia’s annexation in 1975 entitled it to self-determination in 1999.

If law and morality are overwhelmingly on the side of Kashmiri self-determination, then why has that quest been thwarted for 72 years? The answer is self-evident: the military might of India. India is too militarily powerful, including a nuclear arsenal, and too economically mesmerizing to expect the United States, the United Nations, NATO, or the European Union to intervene. The United States is reluctant to exert moral suasion or pressure to prod India because it covets more India’s alluring economic markets and collaboration in fighting global terrorism. Further, the size and wealth of the Indian lobby in the United States dwarfs the corresponding lobbies supporting Kashmir.

The world powers need to understand that there is no way the dispute can be settled once and for all except in harmony with the people’s will, and there is no way the people’s will can be ascertained except through an impartial vote. Secondly, there are no insuperable obstacles to the setting up of a plebiscite administration in Kashmir under the aegis of the United Nations. The world organization has proved its ability, even in the most forbidding circumstances, to institute an electoral process under its supervision and control and with the help of a neutral peace-keeping force. The striking example of this is Namibia, which was peacefully brought to independence after seven decades of occupation and control by South Africa; East Timor and Southern Sudan, which got independence only through the intervention of the United Nations. Thirdly, as Sir Owen Dixon, the United Nations Representative, envisaged seven decades ago, the plebiscite can be so regionalized that none of the different zones of the state will be forced to accept an outcome contrary to its wishes.

In conclusion, a sincere and serious effort towards a just settlement of the Kashmir dispute must squarely deal with the realities of the situation and fully respond to the people’s rights involved in it. Indeed, any process that ignores the wishes of the people of Kashmir and is designed to sidetrack the United Nations will not only prove to be an exercise in futility but can also cause incalculable human and political damage.

Western Anger as China, Russia Elected to UN Human Rights Council and Saudi Arabia Rejected

By Alan Macleod

Source

The rejection of Saudi Arabia, the only country that did not receive the required number of votes from UN member states, has been seen as a repudiation of the Kingdom’s decreasing international support.

In a secret ballot at the United Nations yesterday, Saudi Arabia was rejected for a position on the body’s 47-country Human Rights Council (HRC). The only country that did not receive the required number of votes from member states, the failure has been seen as a repudiation of the Kingdom’s abysmal human rights record and its decreasing international support.

15 positions were filled yesterday, although most of them were pre-selected. Only the Asia-Pacific region faced an open vote from UN member states. Pakistan received 169 “yes” votes out of a possible 193, Uzbekistan 164, Nepal 150, and China 139. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, received just 90.

Saudi Arabia’s allies in the West had actually been campaigning to halt the election of states that draw Washington’s ire, including China, Russia, and Cuba, trying to organize opposition against those nations, but were ultimately unsuccessful. China received 41 fewer votes than it did in 2016, amid increased global concern over the alleged treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang Province, but ultimately comfortably surpassed the 50 percent threshold for admission.

U.N. Watch, a western NGO that has a history of attacking Washington’s enemies and has condemned the UN for its supposed antisemitic bias over its criticism of Israeli human rights abuses, claimed that “electing these dictatorships as UN judges on human rights is like making a gang of arsonists into the fire brigade.”

The reaction from the U.S. government, which left the HRC in 2018 over its perceived bias against Israel, was similarly angry. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released a statement claiming that the election of countries like China, Russia, Cuba (and Venezuela in 2019) has shown that the institution is now broken beyond repair.https://cdn.iframe.ly/qY2oDPd?iframe=card-small&v=1&app=1

“The United States’ commitment to human rights consists of far more than just words,” Pompeo said, as he boasted of employing sanctions against all those nations. “Our commitments are spelled out clearly in the UN’s Declaration, and in our record of action. The United States is a force for good in the world, and always will be,” he added. Yet earlier this year Pompeo himself said that the U.S. should abandon most of the rights enshrined in the UN Declaration and focus only on property rights and religious freedoms.

The spin war

Much of the media today has been in a furor that the “world’s worst abusers” (The Times) like China, Russia, and Cuba are set to join or rejoin the council. The Guardian suggested that the institution’s credibility is at stake. Yet in the talk of human rights violators joining the council, the election of other states with questionable records was never discussed. Bolivia, whose murderous far-right government came to power in a U.S.-backed military coup in November, was also elected, but with no fanfare or condemnation. As was Cameroon, whose dictatorial head of state Paul Biya has been in charge of the country since Gerald Ford was president of the United States. Other states with contentious records included were Narendra Modi’s India, Rodrigo Duterte’s Philippines, and the Qatari dictatorship.

Both the Guardian, left, and the Times, right, failed to report on other human rights violators being elected to the council

Saudi Arabia was elected twice to the HRC between 2014-2016 and 2017-2019. Its new failure to secure more than 90 votes is a sign of increasing discontent with its policies in Yemen, declared the world’s worst humanitarian disaster by the United Nations, where 24 million people (80 percent of the country) need some form of humanitarian assistance. Yet under pressure from the U.S. government, aid has been cut to just 25 cents per person, per day. The kingdom has played a key role in stymying any international action to deal with the humanitarian catastrophe, using its position at the HRC to block UN inquiries into its own abuses in Yemen.

Internally, the country is often described as the most repressive regime on the planet, with millions of people suffering under slave-like conditions, according to Human Rights Watch. While on the council, it attempted to block a resolution that condemned the use of torture by law enforcement and reaffirms the human rights of LGBT people. Inside Saudi Arabia, homosexuality is still punishable with the death penalty.

Ultimately, while yesterday’s election is the sign of a slightly more multipolar world, the results are unlikely to seriously change the direction of the organization, with the United Nations constantly blocked from taking action unless all of the world’s superpowers allow it.

اكتمال صفقة تبادل الأسرى: نحو جولة تفاوض جديدة

آباء يكسرون بروتوكولات استقبال الأسرى في مطار صنعاء ويخالفون النظام… شاهد لماذا؟

رشيد الحداد

السبت 17 تشرين الأول 2020

اكتمال صفقة تبادل الأسرى: نحو جولة تفاوض جديدة
يجري مكتب غريفيث ترتيبات لعقد هذه الجولة قبل انتهاء العام الجاري (أ ف ب )

مع اكتمال تنفيذ صفقة تبادل الأسرى المتّفق عليها في مونترو السويسرية، تتّجه الأنظار إلى جولة تفاوض جديدة سرعان ما بدأ التحضير لها، في ظلّ توقعات بأن تشمل عدداً أكبر من الأسرى، بمَن فيهم القيادات الموالية لعبد ربه هادي، والتي لم يفرَج عنها في المرحلة الأولى

استقبلت العاصمة اليمنية صنعاء، أمس، 200 أسير نُقلوا إليها على متن طائرتين تابعتين لـ«اللجنة الدولية للصليب الأحمر»، ليصل عدد الأسرى المُفرَج عنهم إلى 671، 70% منهم من أسرى الجيش واللجان الشعبية و30% منهم مختطفون ومعتقلون من قِبَل قوى العدوان ولا علاقة لهم بملفّ أسرى الحرب. وفي المقابل، أفرجت حكومة صنعاء، في المجمل، عن 352 أسيراً من القوات الموالية للرئيس المنتهية ولايته عبد ربه منصور هادي، والميليشيات الموالية للإمارات في الساحل الغربي، وميليشيات «حزب الإصلاح» (إخوان) في محافظة مأرب، لتكتمل بذلك صفقة تبادل الأسرى المتّفق عليها في مشاورات مونترو السويسرية أواخر الشهر الماضي، بنجاح.

نحاح هذه الصفقة ربّما يقود إلى مفاوضات جديدة حول ملف الأسرى برعاية أممية. وفي هذا الإطار، جدّدت صنعاء استعدادها الكامل للمضيّ في تنفيذ «اتفاق استوكهولم» المُوقّع في 13 كانون الأول/ ديسمبر 2018، والذي يشمل الإفراج عن 16 ألف أسير من الطرفين، مُكرّرة دعوتها الأطراف المرتبطة بتحالف العدوان إلى التعامل مع هذا الملفّ تعاملاً إنسانياً بعيداً من التسييس. وعلى رغم إبلاغ «لجنة شؤون الأسرى»، مكتب المبعوث الأممي إلى اليمن مارتن غريفيث، استعدادها لعقد مفاوضات جديدة، إلا أن رئيس اللجنة، عبد القادر المرتضى، أكد، في تصريح صحافي أمس، أنه «حتى الآن لا توجد أيّ صفقة جديدة»، لكنه توقع «توسيع نطاق» الصفقة الأخيرة، لافتاً إلى أن «الأمم المتحدة ستُحدّد مكان الاجتماع المقبل وزمانه». وأمِل في «أن تتكلّل المساعي الجديدة بالنجاح، وأن تكون الصفقة المقبلة أكبر»، مبدياً «استعدادنا لتقديم كشوفات تتضمّن أسماء جميع الأسرى والمعتقلين، على أن يقوم كلّ طرف باختيار مَن يريد إخراجهم».

في المقابل، أفادت مصادر مقرّبة من حكومة هادي، «الأخبار»، بأن «لجنة شؤون الأسرى» التابعة لتلك الحكومة تلقّت اتصالات مكثّفة من مكتب المبعوث الأممي، تصبّ في مصلحة عقد جولة جديدة من المفاوضات، مشيرة إلى أن «هناك ترتيبات يجريها مكتب غريفيث لعقد هذه الجولة قبل انتهاء العام الجاري» ، على أن «تشمل التفاوض حول الإفراج عن شقيق هادي اللواء ناصر منصور، وقائد المنطقة العسكرية الثالثة الموالية له اللواء فيصل رجب، والقيادي في حزب الإصلاح محمد قحطان، والذين لم تشملهم المرحلة الأولى من الاتفاق، والتي انتهت أمس الجمعة». من جهتها، أكدت «اللجنة الدولية للصليب الأحمر»، في تغريدة على «تويتر»، إطلاق سراح 1056 أسيراً من الطرفين، نُقلوا عبر خمس طائرات تابعة لها، بالتعاون مع «الهلال الأحمر اليمني» و«الهلال الأحمر السعودي»، مُعبّرة عن «أملها في أن يكون هذا النجاح خطوة أولى… نحو إطلاق سراح المزيد من الأسرى».

تعرّض أسرى الجيش واللجان لتعذيب وحشي في السجون السعودية وتلك التابعة لـ«التحالف»


وكان الأسرى المفرَج عنهم (من طرف القوى التابعة للتحالف) أمس، وعددهم 200 (مقابل 150 أطلقتهم صنعاء)، قابعين في معتقلات ميليشيات موالية للإمارات في الساحل الغربي وفي محافظتَي لحج وعدن، وقد تعرّضوا هناك لأصناف متعدّدة ووحشية من التعذيب النفسي والجسدي، وفق شهاداتهم أثناء وصولهم إلى مطار صنعاء الدولي. وبالمثل، تحدث مدير مكتب رئاسة الجمهورية في صنعاء، أحمد حامد، عن تعرّض أسرى الجيش واللجان الشعبية لضغوط نفسية وتضليل في ما يتعلّق بالأخبار الميدانية والمستجدات. وأشار، في كلمة عقب وصول الدفعة الأخيرة أمس إلى مطار صنعاء، إلى أن «قوى العدوان أصرّت على إخراج أسرى لدينا لا صلة لهم بمعايير الصفقة، لكننا قبلنا بذلك حرصاً على إنجاح التبادل»، واعداً بـ«بذل كل المساعي لإنهاء هذا الملف الإنساني الصرف». وأعلن حامد «تكريم كلّ الأسرى المُفرَج عنهم، من دون استثناء، ومنحهم رعاية خاصة، وصرف مكافآت مالية لكلّ منهم، وتزويج غير المتزوّجين بعرس جماعي، وتبنّي معالجة المرضى والمصابين».

مظاهر التعذيب الذي تعرّض له أسرى الجيش واللجان كانت لافتة أثناء وصول عدد منهم محمولين على الأكتاف، وآخرين معوّقين إعاقة كاملة جرّاء التعذيب في سجون السعودية، وتحديداً في سجن خميس مشيط. يضاف إلى ذلك أن سبعة من الأسرى الذين شملتهم صفقة التبادل عادوا جثامين، بعدما فارقوا الحياة من جرّاء التعذيب في السجون السعودية، وفقاً للطبيب الشرعي. كما عاد عدد من الأسرى المفرَج عنهم من سجون «الإصلاح» في مأرب مقعَدين، أو مصابين بالفشل الكلوي. ومن المتوقع أن تُصدر «لجنة شؤون الأسرى» في صنعاء، بعد اكتمال الإجراءات الطبية، بياناً تُفنّد فيه أصناف التعذيب الذي تعرّض له الأسرى المفرَج عنهم.

Ansarullah Releases Two US Prisoners in Exchange For 200 Yemeni Detainees

Ansarullah Releases Two US Prisoners in Exchange For 200 Yemeni Detainees

By Staff, Agencies

Yemen’s popular Ansarullah revolutionary movement released two American prisoners as part of a deal that also secured the return of more than 200 Yemenis stuck in Oman as a result of the Saudi-led blockade of the war-torn country.

The Wednesday swap apparently involved Saudi Arabia and Oman, which frequently plays the role of broker in the region.

Kash Patel, a deputy assistant to US President Donald Trump, who worked on the agreement, identified the freed US nationals as Sandra Loli, a “humanitarian worker” who was held in Yemen for three years, and Mikael Gidada, a “businessman” detained for a year, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

The remains of a third American captive, Bilal Fateen, was also being sent back to the United States.

Little had been known about the Americans held in Yemen until the announcement of their release.

Ansarullah leaders have previously announced detentions of foreign humanitarian workers found to be spying and diverting some of the badly needed aid sent into impoverished Yemen.

Ansarullah also reported receiving some 240 Yemenis from Oman.

The movement’s spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam tweeted that the Yemenis returned to the capital, Sana’a, included people who had either been stranded in Oman or were casualties of the Saudi-led war who had traveled there during UN-brokered peace talks held in Sweden in 2018.

The Yemeni official said Riyadh had blocked the Yemenis from returning home after they arrived in Oman two years ago.

“Today, we were pleased to receive some wounded brothers who were stuck outside the country as a result of the brutal and continuous siege on our country. The coalition obstructed their exit and entry, one of its war crimes against Yemenis,” Ansarullah tweeted.

He said the United Nations also failed to bring the wounded Yemenis back from Oman in line with the agreement reached in Sweden.

The exchange came a day before a planned UN-brokered exchange of more than 1,000 prisoners between the Ansarullah and Yemen’s former Riyadh-allied government.

The UN had said in September that the two sides agreed to exchange 1,081 conflict-related prisoners, including Saudi and Sudanese troops fighting on the side of the Saudi-led coalition of aggressors.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched the devastating war on Yemen in March 2015 in order to bring former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power.

The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project [ACLED], a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the war has claimed more than 100,000 lives over the past five years.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have purchased billions of dollars’ worth of weapons from the United States, France and the United Kingdom in their war on Yemen.

Riyadh and its allies have been widely criticized for the high civilian death toll resulted from their bombing campaign in Yemen.

The UN says over 24 million Yemenis are in dire need of humanitarian aid, including 10 million suffering from extreme levels of hunger.

Related Videos

Related News

Aoun Underlines Protecting Lebanese Rights amid Demarcation Talks

Aoun Underlines Protecting Lebanese Rights amid Demarcation Talks

By Staff, Agencies

Lebanese President Michel Aoun stressed on Tuesday that the indirect border talks between Lebanon and the Zionist entity would be on technical issues only, ahead of the US-mediated negotiations on the disputed maritime borders with the occupied Palestine.

Aoun further underscored that a solution should be reached “that protects the sovereign rights of the Lebanese people.”

“The negotiations are technical and talks should be limited to this particular issue [maritime borders] only,” the Lebanese president was quoted as saying by the office of the presidency.

As Lebanon and the Zionist entity have no official ties and are technically at war, Aoun aimed at reaffirming the Middle Eastern country’s stance that these talks did not mean normalization of ties.

The Lebanese president met with UN special coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis at Baabda Palace on the eve of the indirect talks, followed by a meeting with the Lebanese delegation, Army Commander Joseph Aoun and caretaker Defense Minister Zeina Akar.

Lebanon Monday announced the final names of the delegation that will take part in the US-mediated indirect talks with the Zionist enemy for the demarcation of the disputed maritime borders.

The four members of the delegation are: Air force Brig. Gen. Bassam Yassin, who will be heading the delegation; Navy Col. Mazen Basbous; Lebanese Petroleum Administration board member Wissam Chbat; and maritime affairs expert Najib Massihi.

The first round of the talks is set to be held Wednesday at the UNIFIL headquarters in Naqoura, south of Lebanon, in the presence of both US and UN officials.

Yemen Army Continues to Make Gains in Marib

Yemen Army Continues to Make Gains in Marib

By Staff, Agencies

Yemen’s army and fighters from the Popular Committees stepped up their operations against Saudi-backed mercenaries in the war-torn country’s central Marib province, managing to score major territorial gains there.

Reports coming out of Marib suggested that the Yemeni troops made major advances in the district of Harib and managed to wrest control of a key crossing.

Scores of the militants were killed and injured during the operations and large groups of them fled the battlefield, the reports added.

The Yemeni army has sent thousands of fighters to the province over the past couple of weeks to expel forces loyal to the ex-government.

Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia has been conducting a bloody military aggression in Yemen with help from its regional allies, and using arms supplied by its Western backers. The aim of the war has been to bring Yemen’s former president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi back to power and defeat the Ansarullah revolutionary movement.

Yemeni armed forces have been boosting their military capabilities and responding to the attacks using domestic missiles and drones, and targeting sensitive oil installations and military sites deep inside the Saudi territory.

Since 2015, over 100,000 people have been killed, according to the US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project [ACLED].

Related Videos

Related News

Western Lockdown to Shut Down China

Western Lockdown to Shut Down China

October 06, 2020

 by Leif Johnson for The Saker Blog

The present lockdown of the Western world and much of the Third World is an attack on China. Here is how it works:

  1. Slash Chinese export earnings. The Chinese economy is heavily export-oriented. Seventeen percent of all China’s enormous production is shipped to countries that now, either cannot afford imports, or whose buying power is reduced from months of massive unemployment. What remains of Chinese exports will fetch lower prices. This comes after China’s export market to its largest trading partner, the U.S., was slapped by 10 to 25% import duties, beginning 2018.
  2. Bankrupt the Chinese Belt and Road projects. The Chinese export of capital (Belt and Road) for railways, waterways, dams, ports, power stations and other infrastructure improvements in 138 nations in the world, is estimated at three trillion dollars. These projects are expected to be paid for by user fees. Because many Third World and other countries may be unable to repay those loans, China’s losses could be in the trillions.
  3. Attack Chinese commerce world-wide. To halt Chinese competition especially in electronics, companies such as Huawei and TikTok are banned in the U.S. and Britain, and the Chief Financial Officer of Huawei is jailed. Chinese scientists and students are deported, while American sanctions against Iran and Venezuela are designed to cut petroleum exports to China.

Of these, by far the greatest damage to the Chinese economy has been the lockdown; that damage will increase as world economies decline. This economic vacuum will put an extraordinary strain on the Chinese export industries and banking system.

There are two more major areas of attacks:

Military: The U S. has sent an enlarged fleet, including two aircraft carriers, into Chinese coastal waters. Australia is now building a base on a forward island confronting China, Japanese and Korean militaries have been beefed up and Japan may allow nuclear weapons on their territory. The U.S. has increased its military spending especially on advanced and nuclear weapons.

Chinese defense against such threats will be a military buildup costing an additional two or three hundred billion a year. This buildup entails a shift from peace-time capital and consumer goods to the military sector—a serious economic drain.

Propaganda: Hostile measures taken against China will be dressed up as the fight for “democracy,” “openness,” free trade,” “free enterprise,” “justice,” “rule of law,” “international rules,” “human rights,” “anti-terrorism,” “reform,” “anti-corruption” and “anti-communism.” We, especially North Americans, should expect human rights stories from Hong Kong and Xinjiang, yearly memorialization of the massacre at Tienanmen Square, documentaries on persecutions of Christians, Buddhists, the Dalai Lama and… don’t forget Tibet. And what about Chinese pollution that could destroy the planet? And what about the Chinese Communist Party, the most execrable, dangerous, evil organization in the world, towards which people of the West should direct an Orwellian hatred?

These attacks come at an inopportune time. China is embracing large scale automation requiring large capital outlays, while at the same time suffering natural disasters including the swine flu, widespread infestation of the dreaded Fall Army Worm, and devastating floods and droughts.

Is it possible that the Anglo-American financial elite had the power to convince nations worldwide to lock down? Well, they control the UN, WHO, the world organs of mass media, worldwide military deployment, world finance, and the Dollar Empire’s elaborate political, drug, crime, financial, propaganda and cultural networks. Euro-oligarchs collaborate (usually) with this system.

What do they hope to achieve?

We can put aside the easier answers like “world domination,” New World Order, corporate greed, financial control, 1984-style mind control, surveillance state. It is much more fundamental: The world Dollar Empire, and its predecessor British Empire, have ruled much of the world for 400 years. China has emerged as the most powerful challenger to that Empire. If China cannot be destroyed, the Dollar Empire will be vanquished.

Ranked from most desirable to least, here is what I believe the Western merchant-bankers hope to gain.

Most desirable: A regime change in China, whereby the government is overthrown in favor of a Dollar Empire vassal regime. A revolt of the Chinese people against a government that has lifted 800 million people out of poverty is very unlikely. However, military force is not out of the question. Foreign Affairs magazine, (September-October, 2020, p. 156) wrote: “By upgrading their already substantial capabilities in this domain [unmanned submersibles], the United States and its allies would highlight the possibility of a maritime blockade of China.”

Next best: To convince China to adopt financial and political measures amenable to Dollar Empire domination. In the words of former Goldman Sachs banker and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson Jr., (Council on Foreign Relations newsletter, 5/19/20):

China must move to a “market-driven economy, improve corporate governance, and develop efficient, well-regulated financial markets that earn the respect of international investors, so that Beijing can eliminate capital controls and turn the RMB [renminbi] into a market-determined currency.”

In other words, de-regulation, lifting of capital and bank controls, opening the Chinese currency, the renminbi, to international speculation, “free trade,” “free markets” and IMF and WTO conditionalities, designed to open the huge Chinese economy to Dollar Empire looting—as occurred in Russia in 1992-1998. But the Chinese have found a recipe for national success (industrial capitalism), and that fire-belching dragon, the Chinese Communist Party, guards the gate against renewed imperialist looting.

Least: The Dollar System can achieve the third level of options: a combined economic (lockdown, sanctions, trade and financial war), military (NATO, Five Eyes, 7th fleet) and political (ethnic/jihadist subversion, drugs, propaganda) attack on the Chinese economy. That will retard China’s growth and reduce its world power.

***

Instead of strife, bloodshed and terrible destruction, why doesn’t the Western financial elite join with China in solving the world crises of poverty, refugees and war; why not together explore the frontiers of medicine, science and space? While China might be amenable to collaboration with the West, the oligarchs of the West are locked against it. After all, it is they who created the poverty, refugees and war, and it is they who have spent the post-WWII years dismantling industry, sending much of it to China.

China is a successful, developing economy; the West is an unsuccessful, deteriorating economy. China is based on industrial capitalism; the West is based on merchant-banking capitalism. China invests its capital in industrial plant and equipment and infrastructure; the West invests in financial instruments.

The Chinese seek increased industrial and agricultural production to satisfy people’s needs. The Dollar Empire steals the wealth of nations to create speculative profits. The Chinese system creates capital. The Western system destroys capital. The Chinese System never has financial crashes; the Western System suffers devastating crashes rescued by levies on the population. Chinese industrial capitalism raises the living standard of the population; the West’s financial capitalism lowers the living standard.

The destruction of capital is the hallmark of merchant-banker rule.

Consider the following example: The grain cartel buys products from farmers and sells at a profit. That profit is real capital (no matter how exploitative) because the profit was made on real merchandise being sold.

The cartel does not invest that real profit in agricultural production. It pours its profits into investment funds, banks, off-shore funds, which are largely invested in speculative paper—securitized paper, derivatives, indexes—all of which represents no real goods. It re-invests the paper profits and receives more paper profits. Thus the merchant-banker system sucks capital out of productive agricultural, industrial and commercial enterprise into non-productive financial channels. That is the destruction of capital. It is a misnomer to call this speculative system “capitalism.” It is a cancer. It uses the forms of capitalism, but it destroys capital, just as cancer uses the nutrients of the body but destroys the body.

This is a “system.” It takes capital from the economy (society as a whole), and destroys it by investing in paper (nothing). This is how it thrives. All governments, laws, academia, social mores, mass media, culture and, of course, economics and finance are shaped by this system. It cannot change. It cannot create new productive enterprises. It cannot compete with China, only impede China’s growth.

***

This is “end game” for the governing oligarchy. This is their Götterdämmerung, their Armageddon. In the death throes of their 400-year-long reign, they will impose a desperate economic, financial and social reorganization which the World Economic Forum calls the “Great Reset.”

One of the world’s most prominent merchant-banker organizations, the World Economic Forum, issued a report, titled:

“This is Now the World’s Greatest Threat—And It’s Not Coronavirus”

  • “Affluence is the biggest threat to our world according to a new scientific report.
  • “True sustainability will only be achieved through drastic lifestyle changes.
  • “The World Economic Forum has called for a ‘great reset’ of capitalism in the wake of the pandemic.

“A detailed analysis of environmental research has revealed the greatest threat to the world: affluence… we have to change our affluent lifestyles and reduce overconsumption in combination with structural change.” (Mind you, this is written by the world’s most wealthy individuals.)

With lockdown-caused destitution, unemployment, lack of food and shelter for hundreds of millions of people worldwide, one would expect that the WEF would be satisfied that “overconsumption” had been sufficiently curbed. However, they know there is still substantial wealth in the American and European middle classes that can be tapped for the post-lockdown economy. They have big plans to get rid of that “overconsumption.”

The first task is to reduce unemployment, now probably 25 million long-term jobless in the U.S. Make-work projects will be “green” and “sustainable” (low technology). This will be paid for by taxing the middle class.

The second task, their true and ultimate agenda, is to create an all-out war economy—the final attempt to terrify the East into submission. This will bring extreme austerity and repression.

The “structural change” mentioned in the World Economic Forum report was made explicit by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in his “International Mother Earth Day” message:

“First, the huge amounts of money to be spent on recovery from the coronavirus must deliver new jobs and businesses through a clean, green transition.

“Second, where taxpayers’ money is used to rescue business, it must tied to achieving green jobs and sustainable growth.

“Third, fiscal firepower must drive a shift from the grey to the green economy, empowering societies and people to be more resilient.

“Fourth, public funds should be used to invest in the future, not the past, and flow to sustainable sectors and projects that help the environment and the climate…

“Fifth, climate risks and opportunities must be incorporated into the financial system as well as all aspects of public policy making and infrastructure.”

The World Economic Forum chieftains could not be more pleased. Changeover to “green” sustainability would bring a great reduction in “affluence” by heavily raising the price of energy making everything, from agriculture to industry to transportation, grossly more expensive. Furthermore, to pay the “huge amounts of money to be spent on recovery,” will require heavy tax burdens, or social services spending cuts. The Western populations will not be told their sacrifices are made to thwart China and collapse world industry, but rather, made to “save the planet.” The theory of the Green Revolution is that the West will continue to dismantle its industry to meet climate deadlines while China will be forced, by world public opinion, to follow suit.

The “Green Revolution” will soon dissolve into a total war policy. Sacrifices imposed by the “final solution” military buildup against the East (Russia-China bloc) will strip the remaining wealth of the people. Taxes, inflation, interest rates, will rise as the nation is deprived of health care, education, public services, pensions and Social Security. The “global warming” foe will turn into the Yellow Peril foe.

Totalitarian destruction of our freedoms will be as dread as those of Hitler Germany. Free speech will be considered a security risk, neighbors will spy on neighbors, thousands will disappear or be assassinated. Race riots will be used to “divide and conquer.” Electronic spying will be ubiquitous, as will be preventive detention. All the police state measures used against foreign populations by the military, State Department, intelligence agencies and hired mercenaries and drug mafias, will be turned against Americans.

***

America does not deserve this. America was the first nation to overthrow the shackles of the merchant-banker British Empire. America was the first nation to lay the basis for an industrial republic. America became the most free, equal and magnanimous nation in the world which triggered a century-long battle between the industrial American System and the merchant-banking British System. The American System built a great nation.

Henry C. Carey (1793-1879), chief economic advisor to US President Abraham Lincoln and author of The Harmony of Interests (1851), America’s long-forgotten anti-imperialist manifesto.

Apostles of the American System included Alexander Hamilton, Mathew Carey, John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, Nicholas Biddle, Henry Carey, and Abraham Lincoln. The American System was succinctly described by Abraham Lincoln in an election palm card: “My program, like an old lady’s dance, is short and sweet: I am for a protective tariff, a national bank and internal improvements.”

In 1851, Henry Carey (The Harmony of Interests, p. 217) summarized America’s role in the world as follows:

“Two Systems are before the world; the one looks to increasing the proportion of persons and of capital engaged in trade and transportation, and therefore to diminish the proportion engaged in producing commodities with which to trade, with necessarily diminished return to the labour of all; while the other looks to increasing the proportion engaged in the work of production… with increased return to all, giving to the labourer good wages, and to the owner of capital good profits…

“One looks to pauperism, ignorance, depopulation, and barbarism; the other to increasing wealth, comfort, intelligence, combination of action, and civilization. One looks towards universal war; the other towards universal peace.

“One is the English System; the other we may be proud to call the American System, for it is the only one ever devised, the tendency of which was that of ELEVATING while EQUALIZING the condition of man throughout the world.

“Such is the true MISSION of the people of these United States…”

Let American history be our guide as we restore that mission.

Speaker Berri: Demarcation of Maritime Borders Will Allow Lebanon to Repay Debts

 October 1, 2020

Lebanon's House Speaker Nabih Berri

Lebanon’s House Speaker Nabih Berri announced Thursday in a press conference the framework agreement representing the basis for the launch of indirect negotiations between Lebanon and the Zionist entity on demarcating the land and maritime borders.

Speaker Berri stressed that the negotiations will take place at the UNIFIL headquarters in Naqoura in southern Lebanon, adding that the United Nations will sponsor the “indirect talks” in accordance with April 1996 Understanding and the UN Security Council Resolution 1701.

The House Speaker pointed out that the United States will play the role of the mediator in the negotiations, adding that the approved version of the agreement would be handed to the United Nations in accordance with the international laws and the related treaties.

The demarcation of the maritime borders will allow Lebanon to repay all the debts in light of benefiting from the gas resources in blocks 8 and 9, Speaker Berri said.

“The demarcation will help Lebanon economically, and the French oil giant, Total, has promised to begin exploration operations before the end of the year.”

Meanwhile, Speaker Berri clarified that the framework agreement was concluded on September 7, 2020, before the US treasury imposed sanctions on the two Lebanese ministers Ali Hasan Khalil and Youssef Finianos, stressing that the two issues are not related.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

Turkey’s Destructive Role in the M.E and Europe

Source

Tuesday, 15 September 2020 10:49

Turkey has for a longtime now been the enzyme that speeds problems in the area of the Mediterranean. Still unable to stomach the Treaty of Lausanne(1923) which defined the borders of modern day Turkey it has for a long time now been scheming to extend its borders by land grabbing from other countries. This can be clearly depicted in two countries Cyprus and Syria .In 1974 Turkey attacked Cyprus and occupied a third of the island and formed on its own the “Republic of Northern Cyprus” recognized by no country in the world except its creator. In Syria the story is even sadder – not satisfied with usurping Alexanderetta ,Turkey opened its borders to terrorists to infiltrate Syria and aided and abetted them(During the war of terror on Syria). Now it has taken a further step by arming and training terrorists and by actually sending its troops inside Syria. Turkey dreams of a revival of the Ottoman Empire and for that to happen boundaries must change and towns and cities might have to be erased. A question arises –why does no one do anything about  this? Why is the world silent while Turkey wreaks havoc where it wants. What is the UN doing or for that matter the EU?

 Syriatimes carried out an interview with EU parliamentarian Athanasios Konstantinou to clarify certain points.

  Member of European Parliament  to ST: EU’s appeasement of Turkey, has deeply injured the trust of Greek citizens

 Member of European Parliament Athanasios Konstantinou reckons that hollow actions that have no political and economic impact will be taken by the EU against Turkey for political propaganda reasons.

 He told Syria Times e-newspaper that from the 1980 till today, more than 60.000 Turkish planes have infiltrated Greek airspace not counting the paralleling actions of the Turkish navy.

 Konstantinou, in addition, has pointed out that U.N. repeatedly over time appears  powerless and without the will to enforce international law and in that way tolerate NATO to act in their place.

 Here below is the full text of the interview:

1-Can you tell us about the origins of the gas drilling dispute between Greece  and Turkey? 

For many decades Turkey has applied a calculated foreign policy that aims to seize as much of the Aegean Sea as possible, part of a larger plan to enforce itself as a Mediterranean power.

 This policy is obviously effective, due mostly to the failure of all past and present Greek governments (and their allies) to efficiently protect the Greek borders. This explains why Turkey defies international law and openly and officially threatens war, if Greece exercises its rights to the “12 nautical miles” international law, in Aegean.

A major phase for the implementation of their strategy was the occupation of Northern Cyprus. Until then, the Turkish plan was a “paper” one, but since then, Turkey is moving with real steps. Consider that from the 1980 till today, more than 60.000 Turkish planes have infiltrated the Greek airspace  not counting the paralleling actions of the Turkish navy.

 All major powers and alliances endorse the Turkish plan, otherwise the occupation of Cyprus, with its obvious geopolitical effects, would not have been tolerated and possibly would have not been tried by the Turks!

 So in that light, what we see now regarding the “drilling dispute” as you put it, is not surprising.

2-Is the United Nations able to influence Turkey?? 

The United Nations, unfortunately, wasn’t able in the past and cannot in the present, influence Turkey. Allow me to remind your readers that, for the illegal Turkish occupation forces in Cyprus, U.N. voted two resolutions, ordering the withdrawal of the Turkish army.

 Nothing of the kind has happened.

 Furthermore, the UN voted on an arms embargo for Libya, an embargo, today de facto ignored by Turkey and other countries.

 The greater issue here is that, U.N. repeatedly over time appears powerless and without the will to enforce international law and in that way tolerates NATO to act in their place.

And NATO’s first priority, of course, is the protection of USA’s interests and not the international law.

3-Many EU emergency summits were held concerning this issue, were the results positive?

The results of these summits, can barely  be described as “not-negative” but we certainly cannot define them as positive. In my opinion, European Union with its appeasement Turkish policy, has severely damaged the trust of the European peoples in the Union. And without any doubt, has deeply injured the trust of Greek citizens. After all, Greek borders are part of the E.U. ’s borders. And the Greek economy as well. When a malicious outsider defies your borders and tries to rip-off your wealth and you don’t defend either, then you void the reasons for your own existence as a Union.

4- Is the EU likely to approve  sanctions on Turkey ? What kind of sanctions will they be and most importantly how effective?  

So far, everything points out that no real measures or sanctions will be imposed on Turkey from E.U. Only hollow and without political or economic impact actions will be taken and only for political propaganda reasons.

If this is the case, then we are led to believe that EU politics obey and serve not the interests of European citizens but those of  big international financial lobbies. And I know that this is most frustrating for the Syrian people also, because you have felt this injustice through the sanctions imposed to Syria.

5-How does Libya enter into this equation? 

The Turkish involvement in Libya, is the second major stepping stone, of their plan to promote themselves to a Mediterranean power, as I have pointed out earlier.

The Turkish government wisely tries to capitalize on NATO’s great mistake and injustice on Libya, where once more, international financial lobbies have indicated policies aiming to gain and disregard the will of the peoples. The result was chaos in Libya and opportunity for Turkey. This is why other countries like Egypt, counteract against the Turkish actions.

Editor in chief : Reem Haddad

Basma Qaddour

Weekly China Newsbrief and Sitrep

Source

Weekly China Newsbrief and Sitrep

By Godfree Roberts selected from his extensive weekly newsletter : Here Comes China

Editorial Comments

Now that the excitement of all the major Heads of Countries virtually speaking at the UNGA is over, we can come to initial conclusions.  The theme of this gathering was to investigate the UN itself, and to position it to be a better global gathering place where internal relations can be discussed, problems solved and the work of multi-polarity between nations can continue.  President Putin gave a serious statesman speech without any fireworks, stating why the UN is important and calmly outlining the conditions in our world today, which actions should take priority and what the Russian focus is in the medium and long terms.  His gift to the UN and staff is a free SputnikV Vaccine.  Chairman Xi did the same and also came bearing gifts, putting some money where their mouth’s are in essence.  Here is the transcript and this quote stands out:  (Note my bolded sentence).

“Since the start of this year, we, the 1.4 billion Chinese, undaunted by the strike of COVID-19, and with the government and the people united as one, have made all-out efforts to control the virus and speedily restore life and economy to normalcy. We have every confidence to achieve our goals within the set time frame, that is, to finish the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects, lift out of poverty all rural residents living below the current poverty line, and meet ten years ahead of schedule the poverty eradication target set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

China is the largest developing country in the world, a country that is committed to peaceful, open, cooperative and common development.  We will never seek hegemony, expansion, or sphere of influence. We have no intention to fight either a Cold War or a hot war with any country.  We will continue to narrow differences and resolve disputes with others through dialogue and negotiation. We do not seek to develop only ourselves or engage in a zero-sum game. We will not pursue development behind closed doors. Rather, we aim to foster, over time, a new development paradigm with domestic circulation as the mainstay and domestic and international circulations reinforcing each other. This will create more space for China’s economic development and add impetus to global economic recovery and growth.

China will continue to work as a builder of global peace, a contributor to global development and a defender of international order. To support the UN in playing its central role in international affairs, I hereby announce the following steps to be taken by China:

— China will provide another US$50 million to the UN COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan.

— China will provide US$50 million to the China-FAO South-South Cooperation Trust Fund (Phase III).

— China will extend the Peace and Development Trust Fund between the UN and China by five years after it expires in 2025.

— China will set up a UN Global Geospatial Knowledge and Innovation Center and an International Research Center of Big Data for Sustainable Development Goals to facilitate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

So why is it that the Chinese government seemingly fails to convince the western public that China is not their enemy? Alternatively stated, why is it that the western countries are successful in portraying China as their enemy?  The answer is non-complicated at a first look.

At present, 90% of Americans learn about China through Western media, so it’s hard for the Chinese Government to convince Americans of anything.

American media are even more tightly controlled than Chinese media and far less trustworthy, says the American Press Institute, “Just six percent of Americans say they have a lot of confidence in the media, putting the news industry about equal to Congress and well below the public’s view of other institutions”.

Americans don’t trust what their media tell them, but they don’t have other sources of information, either.

Joey Yu says: (February 22) —”The average American also has never left the United States. Never seen another country unless it’s through the media, and what the media shows them is probably outdated.”  • And nearly all Western media has the constant anti-Chinese political refrain which has brainwashed many even highly educated American and British professionals. I have given up trying to correct such people because I would lose their friendship if I continue to do that. But that brainwashing rankles.

First we had President Trump’s speech at the UNGA, which can only be categorized as a blistering and outright attack on China, well outside of the theme set for this meeting, while pretending to be the ‘Peaceful Nation’.  The Chinese commentary was immediate and devastating. I pulled these few comments describing President Trump’s speech out of just one of the Chinese commentaries:

Discriminatory, did the US President come to the UN for a quarrel, vulgar, full of loopholes, fooling only the American public, undisguised attempt at a new cold war, a destroyer, a creator of tensions, a hysterical attack that violated the diplomatic etiquette a top leader is supposed to have, pays no heed to diplomacy, they believe power is everything, they want the agenda of the international community to serve US politics, and the UN General Assembly be turned into Trump’s presidential campaign, the US has performed so poorly in handling domestic affairs that reforms could barely be advanced, it has to pass the buck to digest the domestic anger.

And then finally:  “This is the sign of stagnation and the decline of a major power. It’s hoped the US government will not go further in this direction, which will only end up deceiving itself.”

With that as a backdrop, this selection from Godfree’s Here Comes China Newsletter focuses on

  • vaccines,
  • how the ‘scary social credit system’ actually works,
  • a purported whistle blower,
  • Pakistan and Belt and Road
  • Chinese foreign investment.

While in the western countries there is a concerted effort against vaccines, and a tremendous amount of backlash from citizens against vaccines for Covid-19 (and I don’t blame them at all given who is developing these for the western world), in China the situation is completely different:

China will not need a sweeping coronavirus vaccination programme because the pathogen is effectively under control in the country – at least for now. Gao Fu, director of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC), said that large-scale vaccination would only be needed if there was a major outbreak, like the one in Wuhan in February. “This is an issue of balancing risk and return”.[MORE]


We’ve seen endless propaganda with visions of brutal control of the citizens via the so-called Social Credit System in China.  Let’s take a look at how it really works.

The chairman of China’s embattled HNA Group Co. Ltd. was restricted from excessive spending on travel, golf and other activities by a court as debt woes continue rattling the once high-flying conglomerate. A district court in Xi’an, northwest China’s Shaanxi province, issued orders to limit spending by HNA and its 67-year-old co-founder and Chairman Chen Feng, a court document database showed Wednesday. As the legal representative of HNA, Chen will be restricted from taking flights, buying train tickets that are pricier than economy class, accommodations in luxury hotels, spending on entertainment such as golf and leisure trips, buying property and nonessential vehicles, and investing in high-yield wealth management products, according to the orders. The Xi’an court said it issued the orders in a debt dispute filed against HNA in August. [MORE]

It seems absolutely fine to me that if someone mismanaged his large business and lived a luxury life, that he should be brought back to a normal lifestyle while fixing his business.


We`ve all heard of the Chinese Virologist that is being trotted out on most western mainstream media, saying that China developed the Covid-19 virus in a lab and she was told to stay silent.   Yet, I bet very few have seen the Chinese commentary on this:

Chinese defector’s shocking virus claim: Dr Li, a formerly a specialist at Hong Kong’s School of Public Health, said her supervisor first asked her to investigate a new “SARS-like” virus in Wuhan – but that her efforts were later stifled. She said she reported back that cases appeared to be rising exponentially but was told to “keep silent and be careful”. “’We will get in trouble and we’ll be disappeared’,” her supervisor reportedly said.  Dr Li travelled to the US in late April before speaking out, saying she had to leave Hong Kong because she “knows how [China] treat whistleblowers”. [MORE]

A press release from the University of Hong Kong (HKU) denied her claim and stated that: “Dr Yan never conducted any research on human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus at HKU during December 2019 and January 2020. We further observe that what she might have emphasised in the reported interview has no scientific basis but resembles hearsay.” The director of HKU’s School of Public Health, Keiji Fukuda, said in an internal memo to staff that none of the researchers named by Yan were involved in any cover-up or “secret research”.[MORE]


Pakistan and China signed the Development Agreement for the first China Pakistan Economic Corridor’s (CPEC) Rashakai Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Monday. Chairman Atif R. Bokhari said sufficient headway has been made on this front and the zones are now gearing up for business. “Pakistan’s proximity with China will allow these SEZs to foster economic interdependence for mutual economic advantage,” he added. [MORE]

In Pakistan, the Belt and Road project is everywhere. A dinner at the Islamabad Club quickly turns into a reminiscence of different visits to China. After a lecture in Lahore, a group of young men from Baluchistan want to know if China’s monumental economic initiative will develop their region — or cause it to lose its identity. The acronym for the corridor linking China and Pakistan, CPEC, can be heard in hotel lobbies and restaurants; it stands out for those who cannot understand Urdu. There are young people who have come of age since the beginning of the initiative and for whom it constitutes the only possible horizon for professional advancement. Earlier this year, I spent three weeks traveling in Pakistan, the crown jewel of the Belt and Road project, the country where the initiative first took root and therefore the most plausible candidate for the place where its future can be surmised and understood.

So central is the Belt and Road to Pakistani politics that it should not be thought of as a specific enterprise. Rather, it provides the overarching framework for every economic policy and project. In short, the initiative is something that should feel very familiar to policymakers in Brussels and other European capitals.

In my discussions with economic authorities and think tanks, it quickly became obvious that the main debate in Pakistan today is about the best way to adapt policy decisions and reforms to the Belt and Road framework. The Belt and Road can thus be compared to the European Union and the role it played for countries in Central and Eastern Europe after the 2004 and 2007 enlargements. Which decisions should these countries make in order to better occupy their place within the given political and economic order?

That many in the West still think of the Belt and Road purely in terms of infrastructure is something I find deeply perplexing. In the project’s inaugural speech that Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered in Astana in 2013, infrastructure was no more than one of the five pillars of the Belt and Road — and very obviously not more than an ancillary one. The real action was clearly elsewhere.

At the time of Xi was giving his speech in Astana, it was common to hear from different officials and intellectuals in Beijing that the Belt and Road was meant to be completed in 2049, around the time of the first centennial of the new China. Last year, while living in Beijing, I started hearing that the temporal horizon was even longer. Many spoke openly of a 100-year project. This is not the time-scale of an infrastructure plan. The Marshall Plan was concluded in just a few years. Interestingly, in Pakistan this idea — that the Belt and Road is a project of economic and technological development, culminating in a new global political and economic order — is clearly understood.  By Bruno Maçães, a former Europe minister for Portugal, is a senior adviser at Flint Global in London and the author most recently of “History Has Begun: The Birth of a New America” (Hurst, 2020). The paperback edition of his “Belt and Road: a Chinese World Order” will be published this month.  [MORE]


Over 80% of the World’s Na­tions received Chi­nese For­eign In­vest­ment in 2019. Chi­na’s out­bound for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment to­talled USD$136.91 bil­lion, for a YoY de­cline of 4.3%. The in­vest­ment sum nonethe­less made China the world’s sec­ond biggest source of for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment af­ter Japan ($226.65 bil­lion). As of the end of 2019 Chi­na’s to­tal for­eign di­rect in­vest­ments were $2.2 tril­lion, third be­hind the United States ($7.7 tril­lion) and the Nether­lands ($2.6 tril­lion). Chi­na’s out­bound for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment com­prised 10.4% of the global to­tal in 2019 – the fourth con­sec­u­tive year that this fig­ure was above 10%. Chi­na’s to­tal for­eign di­rect in­vest­ments were 6.4% of the to­tal, on par with 2018. 80% of Chi­na’s for­eign di­rect in­vest­ments in 2019 were in the ser­vices sec­tor, with key ar­eas in­clud­ing leas­ing and com­mer­cial ser­vices, whole­sale and re­tail, fi­nance, in­for­ma­tion com­mu­ni­ca­tions/ soft­ware, real es­tate, and tran­sit/ ware­hous­ing. [MORE]


Selections and editorial comments by Amarynth.  (Go Get that newsletter – it is again packed with detail).

The censored reason why the US would torpedo the UN over Iran: Iranian strength

Tuesday, 22 September 2020 7:19 PM  [ Last Update: Tuesday, 22 September 2020 7:23 PM ]

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference to announce the Trump administration’s restoration of sanctions on Iran, on September 21, 2020, at the US State Department in Washington, DC. (Photo by AFP)
Why would the US blow up the UN over little old Iran?

By Ramin Mazaheri and cross-posted with Press-TV

Washington has illegally snapped back illegal sanctions on Iran. No one in the world cares, but all this illegality has not gone unnoticed: The US is gutting both its international reputation and that of the United Nations all over Iran.

Risking the international order, which Washington partially controls, over China – Ok, they could be viewed as a serious enough threat by the realpolitik fanatics in the Pentagon. Over the former USSR? Ok, that unsubmissive bloc also threatened total US control.

But over Iran?

We must remind ourselves that the question seems strange only because in all the Western coverage of Iran-US relations what is never broached is the merest notion of Iranian strength.

But if Iran is so powerless then why is the US going to such unprecedented lengths? Why did the warmongering New York Times take a pause from their yellow journalism to concede that, yes, the absurd sanctions move means, “the United States has largely isolated itself from the world order”.

But they didn’t genuinely explain, much less even ask: “Why risk so much over Iran?”

Here is the never-stated reality: the US has made this desperate, sure-to-fail gambit because US policy has been defeated by superior Iranian strength.

This is not jingoistic propaganda on my part: The New York Times conceded that, “The act was born of frustration”. Iran is not some behemoth ready to steamroll the entire world, nor is it a media darling welcomed by foreign masses with strewn flowers – so how can it frustrate the superpower so very much, even as so many other countries fear to engage in the smallest acts of independence or defiance?

It can’t merely be the morally-bankrupt answer so popular in the US, “It’s the economy, stupid,” – i.e, that Iran has a lot of oil. 

No, Iranian strength rests upon the fundamental success of Iran’s unique combination of post-1917 socioeconomic political structures adapted under a genuine and modern interpretation of Islam.

This strength has even another strength on top of it – what a tremendous appeal this combination has for the huge portion of the globe known as the Muslim world.

Iran calls US attempt to ‘snapback’ sanctions ‘null and void’, urges UN to block it
Iran calls US attempt to ‘snapback’ sanctions ‘null and void’, urges UN to block it

Iran says the US’ claim about the return of the UN Security Council’s sanctions against Tehran as per the so-called “snapback” mechanism is “null and void”, calling on the UN and its Security Council to block any attempt to reinstate the bans.

The idea that the Iranian Islamic Revolution could be universally exported is an absurdity – forced conversion to Islam is proscribed in the Qur’an, for starters, and Islamic culture does not seem readily compatible with that of Amsterdam, Rio de Janeiro or Tokyo any more than the culture of Tokyo, Rio and Amsterdam are readily compatible with that of Iran’s. But the idea that a post-1917, Islamically-based government can not just exist but thrive – even in total and open opposition to Western imperialism – is most definitely exportable to the Muslim World.

But even allowing this option to be democratically presented within Muslim countries is something which imperialists – from any region or culture – cannot risk.

Iran’s frightening strength, and its massive threat, is thus this: it keeps democratically presenting this option. That is the true reason why the US is so very deranged over Iran that they would topple the world order just to keep Iran from succeeding.

In a sense they are right: Iran’s success really does challenge the world order, after all, given the modern importance of oil – a Muslim world not chained by arrogant imperialists would force the West to finally cooperate and not dominate, and also free up trillions of petrodollars for local use.

Washington demands that 80 million Iranians must be viciously sanctioned because they keep selecting this option; keep getting out to vote; keep democratically participating; and – in 2020 – keep on respecting the national democratic will no matter how many sanctions get levied in an effort to, as former US Secretary of State John Kerry once said by accident in Paris, “implode” Iran.

(In 2020 in the US, however, it seems like neither side will honor the national democratic will if their own candidate doesn’t win – more proof that the US is not a very democratic culture, perhaps.)

UN chief says will take no action on US 'snapback' push against Iran
UN chief says will take no action on US ‘snapback’ push against Iran

The UN chief says “uncertainty” prevents him from considering Washington

Savvy commentators know that Trump’s sanctions may have increased economic difficulties but they also know that they have only increased domestic patriotism: a country which fought for eight years to preserve 5 centimetres of Iranian land from Iraqi & Western aggressors cannot be easily cowed, nor have they come this far to stop now.

Increasing this sense of patriotism is the reality that Iranians truly feel that they deserve international respect precisely because the Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979 has created a novel system so very strong and egalitarian that it can face endless sanctions and still win.

These post-1917 and Islamic-inspired creations, solutions and levers are what are so treasured domestically; are what explain the success for Iran’s resistance; cannot even be objectively described, much less openly admired, in the West, which is why the West doesn’t even want to inquire about possible Iranian strengths.

It also these systems – their very success, support and how they increase sovereign Iranian strength – which explain why it is China which courted Iran for the Belt and Road Initiative and not the other way around. For over five years Iran rather rejected Beijing’s overtures, in order to give the JCPOA a chance.

The most lenient analysis in 2020 would be that the JCPOA is at least a partial failure, and it seems very historically logical to predict that even a victory by Joe Biden would not lead to the US actually honoring the treaty.

But as the JCPOA’s promises continued to go unfulfilled Iranian diplomats were also laying the groundwork for the $400 billion, 25-year strategic partnership with China that now seems certain to be finalized.

None of it adds up over Iran, to the US elite:

Why would the US blow up the UN over little old Iran? Why is China making Iran (and not, say, Russia) their make-or-break node in their Belt and Road Initiative? Why is the world standing with Iran against almighty Washington?

But it’s not possible to intelligently answer such questions if the idea of Iranian strength cannot even be openly discussed.

Fortunately for the average Iranian: strength means having the ability to disregard the ignorance, collusion and duplicity of those weaker than yourself.

Ramin Mazaheri is currently covering the US elections. He is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

(The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.)

Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

www.presstv.ir

www.presstv.co.uk

www.presstv.tv

75th session of the UN General Assembly : President of Russia Vladimir Putin

75th session of the UN General Assembly : President of Russia Vladimir Putin

http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/64074

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

This year, the international community celebrates two, without exaggeration, historic anniversaries: the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and establishment of the United Nations.

The importance of these two forever interlinked events cannot be overemphasized. In 1945, Nazism was defeated, the ideology of aggression and hatred was crushed, and the experience and spirit of alliance, as well as the awareness of the huge price that had been paid for peace and our common Victory, helped construct the post-war world order. It was built on the ultimate foundation of the UN Charter that remains the main source of international law to this day.

I am convinced that this anniversary makes it incumbent upon all of us to recall the timeless principles of inter-State communication enshrined in the UN Charter and formulated by the founding fathers of our universal Organization in the clearest and most unambiguous terms. These principles include the equality of sovereign States, non-interference with their domestic affairs, the right of peoples to determine their own future, non-use of force or the threat of force, and political settlement of disputes.

Looking back at the past decades, one can say that despite all difficulties of the Cold War period, major geopolitical shifts and all the intricacies of today’s global politics, the UN has been ably fulfilling its mission of protecting peace, promoting sustainable development of the peoples and continents and providing assistance in mitigating local crises.

This enormous potential and expertise of the UN is relevant and serves as a solid basis for moving ahead. After all, just like any other international organization or regional entity, the UN should not grow stiff, but evolve in accordance with the dynamics of the 21st century and consistently adapt to the realia of the modern world that is indeed becoming more complicated, multipolar and multidimensional.

The current changes certainly have an effect on the principal UN body, the Security Council, as well as on the debate concerning the approaches to its reform. Our logic is that the Security Council should be more inclusive of the interests of all countries, as well as the diversity of their positions, base its work on the principle of the broadest possible consensus among States and, at the same time, continue to serve as the cornerstone of global governance, which cannot be achieved unless the permanent members of the Security Council retain their veto power.

Such a right pertaining to the five nuclear powers, the victors of the Second World War, remains indicative of the actual military and political balance to this day. Most importantly, it is an essential and unique instrument that helps prevent unilateral actions that may result in a direct military confrontation between major States, and provides an opportunity to seek compromise or at least avoid solutions that would be completely unacceptable to others and act within the framework of international law, rather than a vague, gray area of arbitrariness and illegitimacy.

As diplomatic practice shows, this instrument actually works, unlike the infamous pre-war League of Nations with its endless discussions, declarations without mechanisms for real action and with States and peoples in need not having the right to assistance and protection.

Forgetting the lessons of history is short-sighted and extremely irresponsible, just like the politicized attempts to arbitrarily interpret the causes, course and outcomes of the Second World War and twist the decisions of the conferences of the Allies and the Nuremberg Tribunal that are based on speculation instead of facts.

It is not just vile and offending the memory of the fighters against Nazism. It is a direct and devastating blow to the very foundation of the post-war world order, which is particularly dangerous in view of the global stability facing serious challenges, the arms control system breaking down, regional conflicts continuing unabated, and threats posed by terrorism, organized crime and drug trafficking intensifying.

We are also experiencing a whole new challenge of the coronavirus pandemic. This disease has directly affected millions of people and claimed the most important thing: the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Quarantines, border closures, numerous serious troubles to citizens of almost all States constitute the present-day realia. It has been especially difficult for elderly people who, due to the necessary restrictions, have not been able to hug their loved ones, children and grandchildren for weeks or even months.

Experts are yet to fully assess the scale of the social and economic shock caused by the pandemic and all its long-term consequences. However, it is already evident that it will take a really, really long time to restore the global economy. Furthermore, even the proven anti-crisis measures will not always work. We will need new innovative solutions.

The only way to elaborate such solutions is to work together, which is the most important task for both the UN and G20 States, as well as other leading inter-State organizations and integration associations that are also going through tough times due to the pandemic impact and need fundamentally new horizons and scope of development.

This very idea of a qualitative integrative growth, the ”integration of integrations“, is the one behind Russia’s initiative to form a Greater Eurasian Partnership involving all Asian and European countries without exception. It is purely pragmatic and increasingly relevant.

Besides, I would like to draw attention once again to Russia’s proposal to create so-called ”green corridors“ free from trade wars and sanctions, primarily for essential goods, food, medicine and personal protective equipment needed to fight the pandemic.

In general, freeing the world trade from barriers, bans, restrictions and illegitimate sanctions would be of great help in revitalizing global growth and reducing unemployment. According to experts, total or partial reduction in global employment in the second quarter of this year equals to the loss of 400 million jobs, and we have to do our utmost to prevent this unemployment from growing long-term and ensure that people return to work and can support their families instead of finding themselves imprisoned by poverty with no prospects in life.

This is indeed a most acute global social problem, so the politics has a mission now to pave the way for trade, joint projects and fair competition, rather than tie the hands of business and discourage business initiative.

The pandemic has also pinpointed a series of ethical, technological and humanitarian matters. For instance, advanced digital technologies helped quickly reorganize education, trade and services, as well as set up distant learning and online courses for people of different ages. Artificial intelligence has assisted doctors in making more accurate and timely diagnoses and finding the best treatment.

However, just like any other innovation, digital technologies tend to spread uncontrollably and, just like conventional weapons, can fall into the hands of various radicals and extremists not only in the regional conflict zones, but also in quite prosperous countries, thus engendering enormous risks.

In this regard, matters related to cybersecurity and the use of advanced digital technology also deserve a most serious deliberation within the UN. It is important to hear and appreciate the concerns of people over the protection of their rights, such as the right to privacy, property and security, in the new era.

We must learn to use new technologies for the benefit of humankind, seek for a right balance between encouraging the development of artificial intelligence and justifiable restrictions to limit it, and work together towards a consensus in the field of regulation that would avert potential threats in terms of both military and technological security, as well as traditions, law, and morals of human communication.

I would like to point out that during the pandemic, doctors, volunteers and citizens of various countries have been showing us examples of mutual assistance and support, and such solidarity defies borders. Many countries have also been helping each other selflessly and open-heartedly. However, there have been cases showing the deficit of humanity and, if you will, kindness in the relations at the official inter-State level.

We believe that the UN prestige could strengthen and enhance the role of the humanitarian or human component in multilateral and bilateral relations, namely in people-to-people and youth exchanges, cultural ties, social and educational programs, as well as cooperation in sports, science, technology, environment and health protection.

As to healthcare, just like in economy, we now need to remove, as many as possible, obstacles to partner relations. Our country has been actively contributing to global and regional counter-COVID-19 efforts, providing assistance to most affected states both bilaterally and within multilateral formats.

In doing so, we first of all take into account the central coordinating role of the World Health Organization, which is part of the UN system. We believe it essential to qualitatively strengthen the WHO capability. This work has already begun, and Russia is genuinely motivated to engage in it.

Building on the scientific, industrial and clinical experience of its doctors Russia has promptly developed a range of test systems and medicines to detect and treat the coronavirus, as well as registered the world’s first vaccine, “Sputnik-V.”

I would like to reiterate that we are completely open to partner relations and willing to cooperate. In this context, we are proposing to hold an online high-level conference shortly for countries interested in cooperation in the development of anti-coronavirus vaccines.

We are ready to share experience and continue cooperating with all States and international entities, including in supplying the Russian vaccine which has proved reliable, safe, and effective, to other countries. Russia is sure that all capacities of the global pharmaceutical industry need to be employed so as to provide a free access to vaccination for the population of all states in the foreseeable future.

A dangerous virus can affect anyone. The coronavirus has struck the staff of the United Nations, its headquarters and regional structures just like everyone else. Russia is ready to provide the UN with all the necessary qualified assistance; in particular, we are offering to provide our vaccine, free of charge, for the voluntary vaccination of the staff of the UN and its offices. We have received requests from our UN colleagues in this respect, and we will respond to those.

There are other critical items on today’s agenda. The issues of both environmental protection and climate change should remain the focus of joint efforts.

The specialized multilateral UN conventions, treaties and protocols have proved fully relevant. We are calling on all states to comply with them in good faith, particularly in working to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

Dear colleagues! I would like to underline again, that Russia will make every effort to contribute to peaceful political and diplomatic resolution of regional crises and conflicts, as well as to ensuring strategic stability.

For all the disputes and differences, at times misunderstanding and even distrust on the part of some colleagues, we will consistently advance constructive, uniting initiatives, first of all in arms control and strengthening the treaty regimes existing in this area. This includes the prohibition of chemical, biological and toxin weapons.

The issue of primary importance that should and must be promptly dealt with is, of course, the extension of the Russia-US Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which will expire shortly, i.e. in February 2021. We are engaged in negotiations with our US partners on the matter.

We also expect that mutual restraint would be exercised with regard to deploying new missile systems. I would like to add that as early as last year, Russia declared a moratorium on deploying ground-launched medium and short-range missiles in Europe and other regions as long as the United States of America refrains from such actions. Unfortunately, we have not received any reaction to our proposal from either our US partners or their allies.

I believe that such reciprocal steps on specific issues would provide a sound basis for launching a serious, profound dialogue on the entire range of factors affecting strategic stability. It would aim at achieving comprehensive arrangements, shaping a solid foundation for the international security architecture that would build on prior experience in this field and in line with both the existing and future politico-military and technological realia.

In particular, Russia is putting forward an initiative to sign a binding agreement between all the leading space powers that would provide for the prohibition of the placement of weapons in outer space, threat or use of force against outer space objects.

We are well aware of the fact that security issues as well as other problems discussed by this jubilee UN General Assembly call for consolidated efforts on the basis of values that unite us, our shared memory of the lessons of history, and the spirit of alliance which guided the anti-Hitler coalition participants who found it possible to raise above differences and ideological preferences for the sake of Victory and peace for all nations on the Earth.

In the current challenging environment, it is important for all countries to show political will, wisdom and foresight. The permanent members of the UN Security Council – those powers that, for 75 years now, have been bearing particular responsibility for international peace and security, the preservation of the foundations of international law – should take the lead here.

Fully realizing this responsibility, Russia has suggested convening a G5 summit. It would aim at reaffirming the key principles of behavior in international affairs, elaborating ways to effectively address today’s most burning issues. It is encouraging that our partners have supported the initiative. We expect to hold such summit – in person – as soon as epidemiological situation makes it possible.

I would like to reiterate that in an interrelated, interdependent world, amid the whirlpool of international developments, we need to work together drawing on the principles and norms of international law enshrined in the UN Charter. This is the only way for us to carry out the paramount mission of our Organization and provide a decent life for the present and future generations.

I wish all the peoples of our planet peace and well-being.

Thank you.

Meddling in Belarus’s affairs via UN inadmissible, help only at Minsk’s request – Moscow

By Newsdesk -2020-09-19

Vladimir Putin and Lukashenko at the Kremlin

Third countries should refrain from soliciting interference in Belarus’ internal affairs via the United Nations and other tools unless asked for assistance by Minsk itself, Pyotr Ilyichev, the head of the Department of International Organizations at the Russian Foreign Ministry, told Sputnik on Saturday.

“Unfortunately, in the context of Belarus, we see a familiar picture: Western countries, trampling on the fundamental principles of the UN Charter, are trying to use the post-electoral situation [in Belarus] to promote their own narrow interests,” Ilyichev said.

In doing so, the diplomat said third countries were using “habitual instruments, including illegal unilateral sanctions.”

“For our part, we consistently emphasize the unacceptability of interference in Belarus’ internal affairs, including with the use of the UN ‘platform,’” Ilyichev said.

“It is fundamentally important that the Belarusian people resolve their internal political issues independently, without external pressure. Any international assistance to Minsk should be provided exclusively at its request,” the diplomat said.

According to Ilyichev, Moscow regularly informs its foreign partners on these stances.

Mass protests in Belarus have been ongoing for over a month now. People took to the streets in Minsk and other big cities following the August 9 presidential election, according to which incumbent Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko collected over 80 percent of the vote.

Police cracked down on protesters during the first several days of the unrest, but have since halted the excessive use of force. More than 6,700 people were detained during the initial phase of the protest. According to the Belarusian Interior Ministry, three people died and several hundred others sustained injuries during that period, including more than 130 security officers.

ALSO READ  US reveals mysterious advanced fighter jet of the future

The European Union is currently putting together a list of individuals believed to be responsible for electoral fraud and violence against pro-opposition protesters in Belarus.

Source: Sputnik

Why Does The World Ignore «Israeli» Violations of Lebanese Sovereignty?

Why Does The World Ignore «Israeli» Violations of Lebanese Sovereignty?

By Denijal Jegic, TRT

Last week, civilians in several towns on Lebanon’s southern border were faced with illumination flares and phosphorus munitions fired by the “Israeli” army into Lebanese territory.

The “Israeli” regime initially spoke of a “security incident” and later announced it was conducting strikes on “Hezbollah posts” without presenting any evidence.

Numerous international media outlets adopted official “Israeli” statements as headlines. It became breaking news that “Israel” took action “in response” to fire coming from Hezbollah. Lebanese narratives remain absent, as does “Israel’s” structural aggression.

But Tuesday’s incident and the reactions to it are part of a familiar pattern.

While international media focuses on the tense situation at the border every once in a while, “Israeli” incursions into Lebanon are neither new nor accidental. “Israel” violates Lebanese sovereignty several times a day, as the “Israeli” military infiltrates Lebanon by land, sea, and air.

Within the first five months of 2020, the Lebanese government registered over 1,000 “Israeli” violations of Lebanese sovereignty by land, sea, and air. The “Israeli” army has also repeatedly used Lebanese airspace to launch airstrikes on Syria.

“Israeli” military jets and spy drones are omnipresent. In fact, they have become part of the landscape in the south of Lebanon and are often heard and felt in Beirut as well. “Israeli” incursions include mock raids and reconnaissance flights.

Whether “Israel” intends to scare or intimidate civilians, collect intelligence, or provoke a reaction from Hezbollah, “Israeli” violations of Lebanese sovereignty are a form of state violence that affects millions of people daily – in particular the country’s south with its majority Shia population.

Lebanon has, on several occasions filed complaints at the United Nations, to no avail. Lebanon’s Supreme Defense Council condemned the latest Israeli assault and announced it would bring the issue again to the UN.

“Israeli” violations of Lebanese sovereignty and international law are a continuous component of “Israel’s” structural aggression towards Lebanon. This aggression needs to be viewed within the colonial and expansionist nature of the “Israeli” regime in Palestine and its role as a US proxy whose supremacy is guaranteed by its Western allies.

“Israeli”-Lebanese tensions precede the formation of Hezbollah by more than three decades. Lebanon and “Israel” have been officially at war since 1948 when the Zionist movement proclaimed the “state of ‘Israel’” in Palestine and forcefully expelled the majority of Palestinians into neighboring countries.

“Israel” has had a destabilizing and destructive impact on Lebanon and played a significant role in the Lebanese Civil War. “Israel” kept South Lebanon under military occupation until the year 2000, with help from its local proxies. In 2006, “Israel” launched another war against Lebanon, targeting civilians and the country’s infrastructure.

Hezbollah, which in the 1980s emerged as a resistance and liberation movement against the “Israeli” occupation and “Israeli” proxies in south Lebanon, has naturally been labelled a “terrorist organization” by “Israel” and its allies.

The “Israeli” threats continue today. Genocidal provocations accompany “Israeli” military jets in Lebanese skies. In the past years, some “Israeli” officials have threatened to destroy Lebanon altogether and bomb Lebanon back to the Middle Ages or the Stone Age.

On social media, “Israeli government-linked accounts continue to ridicule Lebanese in general, and the country’s Shia population, in particular. Israel made clear it would target all of Lebanon – not only Hezbollah.

Meanwhile, several Western journalists and correspondents in Beirut rarely address this issue in detail. While the daily incursions of the “Israeli” military in Lebanon are nearly entirely absent from foreign media coverage, there seems to be a significant emphasis on Hezbollah’s reactions.

When Hezbollah shot down an “Israeli” drone that was illegally infiltrating South Lebanon last week, there was some “breaking news.” But, like with Tuesday’s incident, there is a tendency among many Western media outlets to base their headlines on official “Israeli” statements.

This is in line with “Israel’s” colonial tactic of dehumanizing indigenous peoples, which is shared by “Israel’s” Western allies.

Tel Aviv usually presents any “Israeli” attack against Lebanon as a necessary self-defense against “terrorism.” This is not different from “Israel’s” violence in Gaza or the West Bank, where every Palestinian victim is either in advance or posthumously rhetorically converted into a terrorist, i.e., a legitimate target. Resistance is terrorism, and civilian homes are terrorist strongholds.

In Lebanon, those that “Israel” warplanes target are rarely presented as human beings, civilians, as survivors of previous “Israeli” violence, but rather as part of terrorist infrastructure. Sometimes even their indigeneity in Lebanon and loyalty to the country is questioned, as supporters of Hezbollah are referred to as “Iranian” agents.

There is of course, also a strategic component to “Israel’s” ongoing violations of Lebanese sovereignty. Hezbollah remains “Israel’s” nearest threat. Tel Aviv has, along with other US proxies and partners, aggressively pushed for a broader conflict against Hezbollah, Iran, and their allies.

The “Israeli” army has also seemed nervous about a potential retaliation by Hezbollah, ever since the IOF [“Israeli” Occupation Forces] killed Hezbollah member Ali Kamel Mohsen through an airstrike in Syria in July.

Following the assassination, the IOF has shown increased activity at the Lebanese border. On several occasions, “Israeli” residents have been ordered to stay indoors, and roads have been closed heightening fear that there may be an escalation.

We also have to pay attention to the ongoing protests against “Israeli” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption. An increasingly desperate Netanyahu keen on presenting himself as a hero defending “Israel” may well like to see a skirmish with Hezbollah or increase violations of Lebanese sovereignty to sure up his beleaguered position at home.

One thing is for sure the so-called Hezbollah threat is a potential lifeline for Netanyahu one that he is likely to grasp firmly with grave consequences for Lebanon.

Is the UN Preparing for the “Second Covid Lockdown”? Oppressive Measures Worldwide, Obedience and Acceptance…

By Peter Koeing

Source

Globalized fearmongering. It fits an agenda, a huge sinister agenda

Driven by WHO, the Geneva UN Medical Directors (UNMD) group has just issued a CONSENSUS STATEMENT for UN staff in Geneva that is essentially warning UN staff of stricter measures to be taken, such as mask wearing in the office when 2-meter distances could not be respected, as well as increased working from home again, when as recently as in June these conditions were relaxed. Working from home means separating colleagues from each other, connecting them by Zoom, but NO HUMAN CONTACT. That’s the name of the game.

The UNMD refers to the Canton of Geneva’s new regulations, based on Switzerland’s claim of a steady increase in Covid-19 “infections”. Since the beginning of July new “cases” have surpassed 100 a day and reached even way beyond 200 at the end of July and above 250 in mid-August. The testing positive has allegedly steadily increased and often by close to 10% per day. Now, surprisingly – they say – 40% of the “cases” concern people between 20 and 40 years of age. But who checks? – Is it a mandate by WHO to diversify the statistics, so as to better justify universal vaccination and another total lockdown?

We know by now that nothing of this, masks, “cases / infections”, quarantine, lockdown, vaccination, or any other repressive measure have anything to do with covid. They are means and instruments for the New World Order (NWO) to “train” the population for total obedience and control by the invisible super power, or deep dark state. WHO plays a key role in this nefarious plans, as it still is regarded by most people and governments as an authority, as far as world health is concerned which sadly, it has ceased to be decades ago.

The Canton of Geneva, where, incidentally, WHO and the UN are located, is the “worst” Canton of Switzerland, counting for about a third of all “infections”. So, say the Swiss authorities. A spokesperson of the Swiss Ministry of Health remarked, “if Geneva were a separate country, anybody coming from Geneva to the rest of Switzerland would have to go into quarantine.”

How scary!

That’s the level of fearmongering going on – justifying obliging face masks in public places and shops and closed areas. Never mind that there is a strong protest of small shop keepers and retail corporations, since they are losing rapidly customers. People do not want to shop with masks. They also find it useless. So, they migrate to online shopping, much of it abroad. Retail losses are estimated at least at 30%. There is already talk of forcing a masquerade also in the streets. Likewise, new emphasis is put on ‘social distancing’. People are to be trained and reminded at every corner to stay away from each other. A masquerade with people walking – in lockstep – or standing two meters apart.

If a Martian would see the human race, no backbone, no self-esteem, just following orders for what most serious scientists consider human history’s worst hoax – he or she, the Martian, would think “the human race has gone mad, let them lockstepping themselves into oblivion. Let’s the hell get out of this lovely blue but crazy planet.”

And the population zombies along because the authorities order them to do so, under threat of fines – against all common sense. But zombies have been deprived of any common sense to resist in masses. Such restrictions and more are now in place until at least 1 October 2020. That’s about the beginning of the 2020 / 2021 flu season which will be conveniently mixed up with covid-19 – and justifies another lockdown – not to forget – with mass vaccination, for covid and flu. Quarantine, livelihood destruction – an economic skyfall into more poverty, more misery, more deprivation, more famine – more death. Not covid- death, but socioeconomic death. That’s exactly what the eugenics fanatics are dreaming of. A decimation of the world population.

WHO is part and parcel of the party, recommending these steps, if and when they are told to do so. By the invisible monsters, of course. The UN is going along. Or, is it the UN who has forced these increasing covid figures in Geneva, so they may prepare first their staff, then the population in general – worldwide – for a new lockdown in October-November? – All is possible.

We are in for the long haul; the UN paper suggests. And so do authorities (sic-sic), not only in Switzerland, but all around the world. Look at the tyrannical oppressive measures of Melbourne, the Department of Victoria in Australia; similar in New Zealand; South Africa; Thailand has hermetically closed all her borders – Germany is preparing for a new lockdown, though they say the contrary (not withstanding a strong popular resistance), so is France – and the US, State by sorry State, as they are battling racial unrest, Woke protests, Black Lives Matter (BLM) movements, and anti-police riots. All organized and paid for by the Soroses, Rockefellers, Fords, Gates and more oligarchic “philanthropic” humanitarian foundations. The mainstream cannot even keep up anymore with covering the US city chaos.

All this talk, predictions, projections, threats, contradictions, anarchy in the cities – is fabricated on purpose not only to confuse, but also to repress and depress people. Hopelessness is an effective weapon. It’s a weaponized narrative.

The “Consensus Statement of the Geneva UN Medical Directors network” starts by saying – “The recent surge in new cases” – without ever describing what NEW CASES entail.

New infections? Newly tested positive, but no symptoms? Sick people? Hospitalized people? People who died? – In fact, the death rate has not gone up whatsoever. Nobody has died from these “new cases” or “new infections”. But nobody reports on this important fact.

It sounds dramatic: a case, an infection — but nobody dares ask the so-called pathetic and corrupted authorities such crucial questions. Nobody asks for an explanation what these “increased figures” really mean? – Are they increased as a function of increased testing? How is testing performed? Does anybody ever ask how the infamous and controversial polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests are performed and analyzed, and the results reported into the annals of statistics, so as to produce ever more “virus-cases”?

The website “Virology Down Under” reports a comment of Professor Martin Haditsch, writing in ProMed-mail:

As to my knowledge “infection” is defined as the proof of an infectious agent AND the proof of multiplication of this agent inside the body (OR associated inflammatory response that can be linked to this agent). Therefore, my question is: where was the specimen taken from the “asymptomatic” nurses? PCR, as we all know, just detects nucleic acids. So, if multiplication cannot be proven and no local or systemic inflammatory response is given, how was “contamination” (no matter whether due to inactivated parts of MERS-CoV or even complete virus particles) ruled out? This is not a semantic question only but should impact the reported number of “cases”.

Does the surge in “new cases” coincide with a surge of new tests?

Who makes the tests?

Is there an independent entity that controls the tests, monitors the tests, as to who is tested and when and with what frequency tests are carried out – and the results reported? For example, are people who are tested several times, also reported several times?

The UNMD CONSENSUS STATEMENT is nothing but a support to the globalized fearmongering. It fits an agenda, a huge sinister agenda. The compulsory mask wearing is the most detested measure imposed by the deep dark state – the invisible masters that are pressuring us into a NWO scheme. They know it. They love it. They are psychopaths. And mask-wearing is dangerous, dangerous for one’s health and well-being.

In most places in Europe, the new school year just began. Students in many places are forced to wear masks, where “social distancing” in class rooms cannot be respected. Many students have been interviewed throughout Europe – and probably on other Continents too. Their response is almost unanimous – masks are uncomfortable, concentration is faltering after about two hours, we are exhausted in the evening and often have headaches. No wonder, breathing your own CO2 instead of oxygen cannot be very healthy.

The forced mask-wearing is an important agenda in the Great Transformation or the Great Reset, predicted by both the IMF and the WEF (World Economic Forum), to be officially “rolled out” in Davos, Switzerland in January 2021. It is an agenda of re-education by rituals. The mask wearing is a ritual on behavioral acceptance. It’s a ritual of initiation towards obedience. The faster and easier you accept the mask, the faster you are accepted – accepted in society. Most people want to be accepted. It makes them comfortable, no matter how much this acceptance is uncomfortable and based on lies.

Watch the first 4 min. of this video.

Then there are the few who will resist, who don’t care about acceptance. They fiercely resist. The system of tyranny makes sure they are socially discriminated and excluded from “society” they are social no-goes. They are looked at as if they were monsters, spreaders of disease, discriminated against, excluded. It is the old “divide to conquer”. Your friend for years has suddenly become your enemy. Families, groups, clubs, entire societies are divided and made to despise each other – division along the ‘ritual line’.

Amazing how it works for masks. Wait until you see how it works for vaccination – another ritual being prepared, as we are oblivious to what’s awaiting us in the next 5 to 10 years. Think Agenda ID2020 and Agenda 2030 – under the UN disguise of Sustainable Development Goals.

We are not doomed yet. But we have to act fast and decisively and in unison – in solidarity. Let’s reinvent solidarity.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions at a joint news conference following talks with Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany Heiko Maas, Moscow, August 11, 2020

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions at a joint news conference following talks with Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany Heiko Maas, Moscow, August 11, 2020

August 14, 2020

Source

Ladies and gentlemen,

We have held constructive, trust-based and detailed talks with Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany Heiko Maas. We discussed the bilateral agenda and cooperation on international issues both at the UN and in Europe.

Mr Maas is visiting Moscow on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Moscow treaty between the USSR and West Germany on mutual recognition and respect for the European territorial and political realities established after World War II. The original treaty was shown here today. Mr Maas and I looked at it. On August 12, 1970, when it was signed, the Soviet Union confidently, and from an emphatically peaceful position, made a conscientious strategic choice in favour of peaceful and mutually respectful partnership with the West despite the overpowering atmosphere of mistrust and tough ideological pressure. Credit should also go to Chancellor Willy Brandt’s pragmatic “eastern policy.” At that time Bonn took into account the fact that long-term stability in Europe largely depended on normalisation of relations with Moscow.

The treaty facilitated the establishment of the principles of peaceful coexistence in Europe and improved the international situation as a whole. It objectively facilitated the holding of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe and the signing of its Final Act in Helsinki. It also made it easier for the GDR and West Germany to join the UN simultaneously.

During today’s consultations, we reaffirmed our mutual desire to further promote cooperation in the economy, science, education, culture and humanitarian exchanges. The cross year of science and academic partnership is coming to a close with serious practical results. This year will be replaced with another cross event, the Year of the Economy and Sustainable Development. In addition to this, on September 26, our German partners will launch in Moscow the Year of Germany in Russia. We expect it will take place in Pushkin Square with due account for the epidemiological situation.

We welcome the fact that despite the difficulties related to the pandemic, our German partners have embarked on the practical implementation of the humanitarian gesture of the German government as regards the survivors of the siege of Leningrad. The first equipment designated for the war veterans’ hospital is already in St Petersburg. Later today, Federal Minister will hold a number of meetings in St Petersburg. In part, he will meet with the survivors of the siege of Leningrad. We appreciate the attention given by our German friends to this problem.

Regarding the economy, we focused on completing the construction of the Nord Stream 2 project. Needless to say, we took into account the US sanctions pressure. We appreciate Berlin’s position of principle in support of this essentially economic initiative that will help diversify natural gas supply routes, and help enhance the energy security of Europe based on the estimates of European countries rather than those from overseas.

We expressed to the Germans our concerns over our cooperation in cyber security. We noted that in the past and this year we have recorded many cyberattacks against Russian facilities and organisations that were made from the German internet.

We cooperate with Germany on the Ukrainian issue as well. We have a common understanding that there is no alternative to the Minsk Package of Measures and that it is necessary to implement it as soon as possible. We again urged our German colleagues to use their influence on the Kiev leaders to encourage them to fulfill their commitments in the Minsk process as soon as possible. We regularly exchange opinions on the further possibilities for cooperation in the Normandy format as an important instrument that stimulates the activities of the Contact Group in which Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk are supposed to act directly in fulfilling the Minsk agreements that they signed.

In addition, we also reviewed the issues linked with the crisis in the Middle East and North Africa. We have a common position on the need to fully implement UN Security Council Resolution 2254 on the settlement in Syria, which implies confirmation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity. We discussed preparations for resuming the activities of the editorial commission of the Constitutional Committee in Geneva (I hope this will take place this month if the epidemiological situation permits). We consider it important for our European partners to pay more attention to the practical alleviation of the humanitarian situation in Syria, which affects ordinary people.

We also share an interest in settling the situation in Libya. We reaffirm the commonality of approaches of Russia and Germany on the need to settle this conflict on the principles that were set forth in the final documents of the Berlin Conference on Libya and confirmed by the relevant UN Security Council resolution. The need to fulfill the Berlin agreements in full remains current. We agree with this. The further escalation of violence in Libya threatens to destabilise the situation not only in that country but also in the Middle East and North Africa as a whole. We believe that the final goal of our efforts must be the restoration of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and statehood of Libya, which were crudely violated as a result of NATO’s venture in 2011 in circumvention of the relevant UN Security Council resolution.

Other issues on which Russia and Germany cooperate include the situation on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on settling the Iranian nuclear programme.  Our European colleagues have put forth many ideas in this regard. In turn, Russia also made some proposals that we believe would help resume the cooperation of the JCPOA signatories without exception. We hope to discuss these initiatives in more detail.

We are willing to cooperate on other issues of international politics, including the OSCE, the Council of Europe and other venues.

I am grateful to Mr Maas for his visit to Moscow. We have agreed on a schedule for future meetings, which will be fairly full through the end of this year.

Question: On behalf of Russian journalists, we would like to thank you for taking the situation with the detention of journalists in Belarus under personal control. Several people have been released, but correspondents from Rossiya Segodnya and Meduza have not been in touch yet. You held telephone talks with Foreign Minister of Belarus Vladimir Makey. What were the results? Was the topic of Belarus raised? Yesterday German Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas said he did not rule out that this topic would be discussed today.

Sergey Lavrov: Naturally, we are concerned about the situation with our journalists, our citizens. Yesterday, Russian Ambassador to Belarus Dmitry Mezentsev, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs represented by the Information and Press Department, and I addressed this issue in a conversation with Mr Makey and insisted on the speedy release of our journalists. At the same time, we realise that many of those who were detained did not have accreditation, although we know that it was requested in a timely manner, in compliance with all the rules and procedures.

The current situation must be resolved proceeding, first of all, from humane considerations. We know that today there was again information about the lack of contact with some of your colleagues (they got in touch and then contact was lost again). The Meduza correspondent is important to us primarily as a Russian citizen. Meduza is not a Russian media outlet, but as a Russian citizen, of course, he has our protection. In our contacts with our Belarusian colleagues, we will seek an early resolution of this situation.

Unfortunately, when mass protests take place (and they take place in many countries, including the EU, for example, the yellow vests riots were held in France recently), your colleagues who strive to objectively report on what is happening very often find themselves in dangerous situations and are exposed to violence, as it happened with the RT correspondent. Therefore, in bilateral contacts with all our partners, in countries where Russian journalists work, we will strive to ensure they are not discriminated against. Of course, it goes without saying that everyone must comply with the relevant legislation. Within international agencies, including the OSCE, we will also defend an equal attitude towards all journalists without attempts to mark some media outlets as “propaganda media” and journalists as “propagandists who do not reflect the goals of their profession.” This is very unfortunate.

This issue should be addressed not only because it happened and is happening in Belarus, but because it is a common problem. You know Europe’s attitude towards riots (yellow vests; and also in Germany in 2017, during the G20 summit in Hamburg, anti-globalists rallied and violated German laws). We could see how law enforcement agencies operate, including special forces. Today we did not discuss the Belarusian topic, but I am sure that we will be able to exchange views on this matter during the working breakfast.

Question: The distinct role of the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) is always emphasised in the context of settling the Ukrainian domestic crisis. Do you think the observers can properly fulfil their mission? Do they objectively describe what is happening in the east of Ukraine?

Sergey Lavrov: We mentioned this earlier today. We closely cooperate with Germany in the Normandy format. As for the OSCE SMM, we actively support this mechanism that has a clear mandate for working in all of Ukraine, not only in Donbass, but also in other regions, monitoring respect for human rights and national minorities, as well as any attempt to promote neo-Nazi activity. Regrettably, the SMM has not paid due attention to this part of its mandate, and we have brought this up with the chief monitor of the SMM, Yasar Halit Cevik.

We also have some questions about certain aspects оf its activities, which primarily draws the attention of the international community (I’m referring to the implementation of the Minsk Agreements in Donbass). Thus, the SMM prefers to report on ceasefire violations and the shelling of civilian buildings in an abstract manner, that is, many cases of shelling reportedly take place in such and such period without mentioning which side attacked; a certain number of civilians are affected and a certain number of civilian structures are destroyed. We have insisted for more than a year that the SMM be more specific in its evaluations and report who is actually more to blame for shelling, who starts them and who responds to them. Using our representative office at the OSCE we have meticulously analysed SMM daily reports that become public. The analysis showed that over 80 percent of civilian facilities are shelled by the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Over 80 percent of the civilian victims, on both sides of the contact line, are among Donbass defenders. In other words, the Ukrainian Armed Forces bear the lion’s share of responsibility for ceasefire violations. I believe that to enable the OSCE member states and the entire international community to have an objective picture of how the Minsk Agreements are being implemented, the OSCE SMM must fulfil its commitment that it has failed to fulfil for more than a year now, and present a detailed, thematic, analytical report on who initiates ceasefire violations, who is shelling primarily civilian facilities and who is to blame for the death of civilians. We have sent the relevant reports to the Albanian OSCE Chairmanship, the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination (JCCC) on ceasefire, the OSCE Secretariat, and Mr Cevik who heads this mission and is personally responsible for the scrupulous observance of its mandate, objective presentation of information and any attempt to conceal the truth. All of us must be guided by facts rather than guesswork.

In his opening remarks Mr Maas mentioned the Paris summit. We fully support the need to fulfil the agreements reached but this is not at all the case at this point. I agree that all sides must take steps towards this goal – Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk. In this context we would like to draw the attention of our German and French colleagues in the Normandy format, the co-authors of the Minsk Agreements, to statements made by Kiev. Deputy Prime Minister Alexey Reznikov, who represents Kiev in one of the structures in the Contact Group, said the Minsk Agreements have become obsolete. President Vladimir Zelensky said that he wants someone to explain to him what they mean and noted that each provision must be decoded. The newly appointed chief negotiator in the Contact Group, Leonid Kravchyuk, publicly regrets that Petr Poroshenko signed them but nonetheless agrees to lead the process on implementation. Many irregular things are happening in this context.

I agree, it is necessary to encourage the specific positive steps on the ground in every way. But these are only a limited number of agreements and we shouldn’t miss the forest for the trees. The main point is Kiev’s philosophical and conceptual approach to the Minsk Agreements and their status. We are hoping that Germany and France will still bring this home to their colleagues in Kiev and explain to them that there is no alternative to fulfilling what is written in the Minsk Agreements.

Question: You mentioned that the US is toughening its threats on sanctions against Nord Stream 2. Last week, a German company faced the imposition of sanctions for the first time. The political appeal for response measures in the US is becoming louder.

Do you expect Germany to take response measures against the US? If so, what measures could be taken?

A question to both ministers: Considering that the construction of Nord Stream 2 has slowed, do you believe it will be completed late this year or early next year?

Sergey Lavrov (answering after Mr Maas): I agree with what was said by the Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany, Mr Maas. We consider exterritorial sanctions, as well as unilateral sanctions which not only the US and the EU resort to, inappropriate. The EU is implementing its own unilateral sanctions but as distinct from the US, it refrains from exterritorial use.

Then United States does not see any red lines or boundaries. While not bothering with diplomatic formalities, it pursues one simple goal – to have an opportunity to do anything it wants in world politics, the global economy and, in general, any field of human endeavour. This is what we are seeing. Washington has walked away from most multilateral treaties and any agreement or association that it may consider restricting its freedom of action. I think this is obvious. This is what we have to proceed from.

We continue to meet with the United States for pragmatic reasons. We are well aware of how Washington operates in the world, and they are not shy about it, something that is evident in the developments around Nord Stream 2. US officials say on the record that they will stop Nord Stream 2 at all costs because the US is ostensibly committed to ensuring Europe’s energy security.

If our European partners are willing to let the US decide their security issues, in energy or any other area, if the countries whose companies are involved in implementing Nord Stream 2 with a view to ensuring their energy security want the US to decide for them, this is their choice.

We see that Germany’s response is completely different. Germany has its position and it promotes it. I hear what is said in Washington at the top level: “It’s appalling! The US ensures Germany’s security and Germany is paying billions of dollars to the Russian Federation.” This is a serious distortion of facts. German Federal Minister Heiko Maas has confirmed that the link to NATO is important for German security. These are allied relations. Not that long ago, the German Chancellor, Ms Merkel said that NATO guarantees German security. We asked from whom Germany is defending itself, whether with NATO or on its own. We did not receive an answer, but in general this is part of the discussion of the principles on which it is necessary to conduct dialogue on security issues and the entire security system in the Euro-Atlantic region. I would like to emphasise again that Russian, German and other participants in Nord Stream 2 believe that the project must be completed. As I see it, there are grounds to believe that this will be done very soon.

Question: You mentioned attacks against Russian infrastructure facilities from German territory. Can you be more specific?

Sergey Lavrov: In Russia, the National Coordination Centre for Computer Incidents deals with computer affairs and cyber security. It has been operating for a fairly long time. It has a number of partners, including in Germany. From January of the past year to the end of last May this centre recorded 75 cases where Russian resources, including over 50 government institutions were attacked by hackers from the German internet segment. Notifications on all cases were sent to the relevant German organisations. Of 75 cases, we received only seven formal answers that had nothing to do with the substance of the matter. We suggested a professional analysis of each episode when we recorded hacker attacks against out structures, including government resources.

Today, we drew the attention of our German colleagues, who voiced concern over cyber security and declared an interest in developing a professional dialogue on settling cyber security issues, to the fact that disregard for our requests does not correspond with the desire they express at the political level. We have given them the statistics on these cases.

We recalled that we have conducted bilateral interdepartmental consultations with Germany on cyber security and information security in its political, military-political and applied dimensions. In 2018, a regular round of these consultations was cancelled by Germany, and they have not indicated a desire to resume them since. True, today we discussed the activities of the High-Level Working Group on Security Policy (this bilateral group exists and does a fairly useful job). In this context, we spoke about an opportunity to resume the dialogue on cyber security. I hope we will move from words to actions and will start a professional conversation.

As for the murder in Tiergarten, we would like to know the truth. Our relevant departments have sent their German colleagues everything they have. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that this information is not enough. But we would also like to receive some confirmation, some evidence regarding the statements of the German Federal Prosecutor’s Office that the Russian state is directly involved in this murder. We have not heard any specific reply so far.

Question: Prime Minister of Slovakia Igor Matovic has just commented on the expulsion of three Russian diplomats from his country by saying that Slovakia and Russia are friends, but Slovakia is a sovereign state, not a “banana republic” where the diplomatic rules can be ridiculed. How would you comment on the expulsion of the Russian diplomats?

Sergey Lavrov: I agree that Slovakia is a country friendly to Russia. We have never had any political problems.

I think that this is not about Slovakia. You have just quoted [Mr Matovic] as saying that Slovakia is a sovereign state. Quite unexpectedly, I read earlier today that the US State Department Spokesperson, Morgan Ortagus, had commended the Slovak authorities for expelling the Russian diplomats. I believe no other foreign spokespersons have commented on the situation in this way. Draw your own conclusions as to who may be implicated in or has a stake in sovereign Slovakia taking this decision with regard to the three Russian diplomats.

Question (translated from German): Do you share your German colleague’s opinion that German-Russian relations would benefit if disputed issues like the assassination in the Tiergarten were discussed openly?

There is another case of interest to the German judiciary which can also be traced to Russia. Could you confirm that the former Wirecard COO, Jan Marsalek, is currently in Germany?

Sergey Lavrov: I know nothing about Mr Jan Marsalek. You asked whether he is in Germany, but your question should certainly be addressed to someone else. I am not aware of his activities because he is not in the focus of foreign policy discussions.

As for an open discussion of any issues, be it the Tiergarten or something else, we have always been ready for this.  It was not at our initiative that our Western partners (including Germany) cut a number of channels for contacts after 2014. Everyone knows this well. Among other things, the EU has discontinued all sectoral dialogues. We are taking a philosophical approach to this. If our partners are not ready, love cannot be forced.

Today, we were saying that the European Union intended to take another look at its Russia policy. When and if it evinces this desire, we will not be found wanting. We will be ready for an equal, honest and open dialogue on any issues of mutual interest, especially since there are quite a few of them. It is worth pointing out again that when we are told that the German Federal Public Prosecutor General has declared the Russian state as implicated in the Tiergarten assassination, we would like to get a confirmation of precisely this point. We have no proof whatsoever.

Where requests are concerned, as Mr Maas said, we have replied to a number of requests for legal aid, while on others we simply have no information, as the relevant Russian authorities tell us. Speaking about cybersecurity, I would like to remind you (I hope that the correspondent who asked the last question heard my answer to the previous question) that in 2018 there was a mechanism for consultations on cyber security, which the German side dismantled two years ago.  Today we have heard that there is an interest in resuming this dialogue in some or other format. We will be ready to discuss such a possibility. We have a stake in this, especially as we would also like our German colleagues to say something in response to the 75 requests regarding hacker attacks on Russian institutions, including government agencies, launched from the German segment of the internet, requests we sent to Germany over the past year and a half.

I am glad that today we are not just openly discussing matters of much interest for the public but are at last beginning to comprehend the need for having relevant professional channels, where the conversation will be held just because Russia and Germany are partners and good friends and do not want their cooperation to be overshadowed by anything, rather than in the context of home policy interests of this or that country, or in the context of certain electoral considerations. I am confident that it is in our power to cut short any attempts to undermine this cooperation. Russia, at any rate, is ready for this.

For the 6th year, Yemenis never Know the Holiday أضحى سادس في ظلّ العدوان: العيد لا يعرف اليمنيين

For the 6th year, Yemenis never Know the Holiday

By Rashid Haddad – Al-Akhbar Newspaper

Translated by al-Ahed Staff

The Yemeni capital, Sanaa, welcomed Eid Al-Adha this year, with a stagnation that dominated both the popular and modern markets.

This comes as most of the streets are almost empty of cars and pedestrians due the lack of oil derivatives. The crisis has begun since a month and a half, when the aggressive [Saudi] coalition arrested 17 ships loaded with more than 320 thousand tons of gasoline and diesel.

And it is not the only fuel crisis that the Yemenis are suffering this holiday.

According to the latest United Nations report, as the aggression and the blockade continue for the 6th year on a country where more than 20 million are under the poverty line, many are struggling to provide basic life necessities, in light of the rise in food prices by 15.

It is a hike that the sacrifices [sheep] were not far from. Its prices in local markets – just days before the holiday – increased by 50% compared with last year.

In an attempt to alleviate the suffering, Sanaa authorities announced the disbursement of half salary for state employees, in an attempt to bypass the pressure exerted by the United Nations to end this process, which is funded by Al-Hudaydah’s Central Bank branch.

Meanwhile, the matter is still a dispute between The Rescue Government and the Government of the Outgoing President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

During the past few days, the Finance Ministry in Sanaa withdraw more than 8 billion riyals from the aforementioned account and disbursed it as half salary, which was met with more international dissatisfaction.

An official source in “The Rescue Gov’t” denounced the pressure exerted by the international sides on the government. In parallel, he revealed that the “Supreme Political Council” received UN offers to halt the half salary payment in exchange for the release of the seized fuel shipments. This was rejected by the Council President, Mahdi Al-Mashat. The government called on the United Nations to supervise the disbursement process, calling on it to work hard to stop the employees suffering. It further accused the UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths’ office of failing to resolve this file two years ago despite the concessions made by Sanaa leadership. Moreover, the “The Rescue Gov’t” renewed its willingness to pay the salaries of all state employees according to the statements of 2014 if the problem of oil and gas revenues, taxes and customs, which are supplied to the Hadi government account, is addressed.

Sanaa, along with it the governorates under the control of “the Rescue”, suffers from a crisis in gas supplies as well, due to the custody of a tribal sector, with coverage from the Hadi government, the trailers coming from the Safer facility, in the Juba region between the governorates of Maarib and Al Bayda.

Meanwhile, the damage caused by the floods in the past days worsens the situation, especially in Al-Hudaydah and Hajjah governorates. According to local sources, more than a thousand poor families in the countryside of Al-Hudaydah were affected by the torrents, which destroyed dozens of homes and buried others, and washed away their farms and thousands of sheep, as well as the IDP camps in the Abas region in Hajjah Governorate. Because of the severe damages, dozens of activists launched a call to implement a popular relief campaign for coastal residents in the two provinces.

اليمن رشيد الحداد الخميس 30 تموز 2020

صنعاء | تستقبل العاصمة اليمنية صنعاء عيد الأضحى، العام الجاري، بركود تجاري يطغى على الأسواق الشعبية والحديثة، فيما تكاد غالبية الشوارع تكون خالية من السيارات والمارة بسبب أزمة المشتقات النفطية التي تعانيها المدينة منذ أكثر من شهر ونصف شهر، بفعل احتجاز تحالف العدوان 17 سفينة مُحمّلة بأكثر من 320 ألف طن من مادّتَي البنزين والسولار.

وليست أزمة الوقود الوحيدة التي يعانيها ملايين اليمنيين في هذا العيد. فمع استمرار العدوان والحصار، للعام السادس على التوالي، على بلد يعيش أكثر من 20 مليوناً من سكّانه تحت خطّ الفقر، يكافح الكثيرون من أجل توفير أدنى متطلّبات الحياة، في ظلّ ارتفاع أسعار المواد الغذائية بنسبة 15% بحسب آخر تقرير رسمي صادر عن الأمم المتحدة. وهو ارتفاعٌ لم تكن الأضاحي بعيدة عنه، إذ ازدادت أسعارها في الأسواق المحلية – قبيل العيد بأيام – بنسبة 50% عن العام الماضي.

وفي محاولة منها لتخفيف حدّة تلك المعاناة، أعلنت سلطات صنعاء صرف نصف راتب لموظفي الدولة، متجاوزةً بذلك الضغوط التي تمارسها الأمم المتحدة عليها لوقف هذه العملية التي يتمّ تمويلها من الحساب الخاص برواتب الموظفين في فرع البنك المركزي في الحديدة، والذي لا يزال مثار خلاف بين حكومة الإنقاذ وحكومة الرئيس المنتهية ولايته عبد ربه منصور هادي. وخلال الأيام الماضية، وَجّهت وزارة المالية في صنعاء بسحب أكثر من 8 مليارات ريال من الحساب المذكور وصرفها كنصف راتب، وهو ما قوبل بمزيد من عدم الرضى الأممي.

إزاء ذلك، استهجن مصدر مسؤول في «الإنقاذ» الضعوط التي تمارسها المنظمة الدولية على الحكومة، كاشفاً تلقّي «المجلس السياسي الأعلى» عروضاً أممية بوقف صرف نصف راتب للموظفين مقابل الإفراج عن شحنات الوقود المحتجزة، وهو ما قابله رئيس المجلس مهدي المشاط بالرفض. ودعت الحكومة، الأمم المتحدة، إلى الإشراف على عملية الصرف، مطالِبةً إيّاها بالعمل الجادّ على رفع معاناة الموظفين، مُتّهمة مكتب المبعوث الأممي إلى اليمن مارتن غريفيث بالفشل في حسم هذا الملف منذ عامين على رغم التنازلات التي قدّمتها قيادة صنعاء. وجدّدت «الإنقاذ» استعدادها لصرف رواتب موظفي الدولة كافة وفق كشوفات عام 2014 في حال عولجت مشكلة إيرادات النفط والغاز والضرائب والجمارك التي تُورّد إلى حساب حكومة هادي.

تعاني صنعاء أزمة حادّة في المشتقّات النفطية والغاز المنزلي


وفيما تعاني صنعاء، ومعها المحافظات الخاضعة لسيطرة «الإنقاذ»، أزمة في إمدادات الغاز أيضاً، جرّاء احتجاز قطاع قبلي، بتغطية من حكومة هادي، المقطورات القادمة من منشأة صافر، في منطقة الجوبة بين محافظتَي مأرب والبيضاء، تأتي الأضرار التي تسبّبت بها السيول في الأيام الماضية لتزيد الطين بلّة، وخصوصاً في محافظتَي الحديدة وحجّة. ووفقاً لمصادر محلية، فقد تضرّرت أكثر من ألف أسرة من الأسر الفقيرة في ريف الحديدة من جرّاء السيول، التي دَمّرت عشرات المنازل وطمرت أخرى، وجرفت مزارعها ومعها الآلاف من رؤوس الأغنام، فضلاً عن تضرّر مخيمات النازحين في منطقة عبس في محافظة حجة. وبفعل جسامة تلك الأضرار، أطلق عشرات الناشطين دعوة إلى تنفيذ حملة إغاثة شعبية لسكان المناطق الساحلية في المحافظتين.

«دعوهم ينزفوا حتى الموت وعندما يتعبون سيصلون إلى حلّ»!

د. علي أحمد الديلمي _

بعد أن اختبروا الكثير منها، لم يعد اليمنيون يثقون بنجاح التسويات، حتى وإنْ كانت برعاية أممية، كما أنّ الواقع الجديد للحرب في اليمن، التي تحوّلت إلى حروب متداخلة، جعل المجتمع الدولي يُعيد النظر في مسارات الحلّ السياسي ويُغيّر طبيعة المفاوضات من مفاوضات بين طرفين إلى مفاوضات متعدّدة الأطراف وهؤلاء الأطراف جميعهم يحملون السلاح ويعمد كلّ طرف منهم إلى وضع شروطه بناء على ما لديه من أوراق القوة وأدوات الضغط الأخرى التي يمتلكها على أرض الواقع. نتيجة لهذا الوضع المعقد في طبيعة الصراعات ونمط التحالفات المتغيِّرة بين اليمنيين، وجد جميع المبعوثين الأُمميّين إلى اليمن صعوبة في استكمال مهمّتهم التي جاؤوا من أجلها وكذلك في كسب ثقة كلّ الأطراف اليمنيين، ما أدى إلى فشلهم في معظم الأحيان، إلا في ما يتعلّق ببعض أعمال التهدئة المنوطة بالأمم المتحدة كمنظمة عالمية من واجبها دعوة كلّ الأطراف إلى الانخراط في مسار السلام للحفاظ على الأمن والسلم الدوليين.

لم يكن تاريخ الأمم المتحدة في صراعات سابقة في اليمن محموداً على الإطلاق، وفي كتابـه «اليمـن الثـورة والحـرب»، يوجـز الكاتــب البريطاني إدغــار أوبالانس تدخـُّل الأمم المتحدة في اليمـن بأنـه «كان إخفاقــاً كئيبــاً بســبب التأييــد الضئيــل الــذي يقــع تحــت رحمــة مزيــد مــن الضغــوط المتصارعة، وأدى إلى سـوء فهـم وعـداء أكـثر مـن تهيئـة المناخ الـذي يقـود إلى السلام». ويضيف: «إنّ بعثــة الأمم المتحدة أُحيطــت بمنازعات داخليــة، ونظــر إليهــا بشــكّ عميـق من جانـب كلّ الأطراف المشتركة في النــزاع والحــرب». وبــدا الموقف الدولي مــن حــرب اليمــن والـصـراع العــربي المتعلق بهــا، مطابقــاً لعبــارة أطلقهـا أحـد مستشـاري البيـت الأبيض حينهــا في جمــع مــن الدبلوماسيين العــرب: «دعوهــم ينزفــوا حتــى الموت، المصريون تنشغل قواتهــم، والسعوديون ينفقــون، واليمنيــون يعانـون، وعندما يتعبـون سـيصلون إلى حــلّ”.

وأظهرت تطوُّرات الأشهر الأخيرة أنّ المبعوث الأممي الحالي إلى اليمن مارتن غريفيث، الذي يتحرك مشمولاً بدعم دولي غير مسبوق، خصوصاً من بلاده بريطانيا التي تتولى مهمّة حاملة القلم في الشأن اليمني في مجلس الأمن، يمضي في طريق شبه مسدود فجميع أطراف الصراع لا تثق به، حتّى أنها تنظر إلى دوره بشكّ عميق، بالإضافة إلى عدم فهمه تعقيدات الوضع في اليمن واعتماده على القوالب الجاهزة التي تُعطى له من مكتبه الذي يعتمد على الآليات الجاهزة لعمل الأمم المتحدة والتي لا تراعي التغيرات والأحداث اليومية، بينما يستمرُّ المبعوث الأممي في جهوده ومبادرته رغم كلّ الصعوبات.

وكان مصدر في مكتب غريڤيث كشف مطلع الشهر الحالي أنّ أطراف الصراع في البلاد تسلَّمت مسودة اتفاق جديد لحلّ الأزمة المستمرة منذ نحو 5 سنوات.

وأوضح المصدر لوكالة أنباء “الأناضول” أنّ غريڤيث سلّم الأطراف الثلاثة الرئيسية (الحكومة، الحوثيّون، التحالف العربي) مسوّدة مُعدَّلة لحلّ الأزمة.

وتتضمّن المسودة التي نشرتها “الأناضول” في أبرز بنودها “وقفاً لإطلاق النار في كافة أنحاء اليمن، إضافة إلى عدد من التدابير الاقتصادية والإنسانية الضرورية لتخفيف معاناة الشعب اليمني، وتهيئة البلاد لمواجهة خطر تفشّي فيروس كورونا”.

كما تنصّ على “وقف إطلاق نار شامل في كافة أنحاء اليمن يدخل حيِّز التنفيذ فور التوقيع عليه”.

وتُلزم المسودة الأممية “طرفي النزاع وجميع من ينتسب إليهما بوقف جميع العمليات العسكرية البرية والبحرية والجوية”. كما تتضمّن “تشكيل لجنة تنسيق عسكري برئاسة الأمم المتحدة وعضوية ضباط رفيعي المستوى من طرفي النزاع، لمراقبة وقف إطلاق النار، إضافة إلى إنشاء مركز عمليات مشتركة يتولى التنسيق لتنفيذ الاتفاق، وإدارة تدفق المعلومات”.

فيما تشمل التدابير الاقتصادية والإنسانية معالجة ملفات رئيسية منها “الأسرى، والرواتب، والمطارات والموانئ، والطرق الرئيسية بين المحافظات”.

وتتضمّن المسودة في ترتيباتها الاقتصادية والإنسانية “إطلاق جميع المعتقلين والمحتجزين، وفقاً لاتفاق ستوكهولم، إضافة إلى فتح طرق رئيسية في محافظات تعز والضالع (جنوب) وصنعاء ومأرب والجوف (شمال)”.

كما تنصّ على “فتح مطار صنعاء الدولي أسوة بباقي المطارات اليمنية، ورفع القيود عن دخول الحاويات والمشتقات النفطية والسفن التجارية بموانئ محافظة الحديدة (غرب)”.

وبحسب توقعات الكثيرين من أصحاب الشأن والقريبين من دوائر الصراع داخل اليمن، فإنّ مثل هذه المبادرات والأعمال التي يقوم بها المبعوث الأممي تظلّ بعيدة عن الواقع وما يدور بين أطراف الصراع داخل اليمن والقوى الإقليمية والدولية المرتبطة بأطراف الصراع التي تعمل خارج أطر الأمم المتحدة وأدواتها.

فهل تصحُّ مقولة المستشار الأميركي “دعوهم ينزفوا حتى الموت وعندما يتعبون سيصلون إلى حلّ”؟

*دبلوماسي يمني

فيديوات متعلقة

أخبار متعلقة

Is there any possibility of diffusing Sino-US tension?

Source

Is there any possibility of diffusing Sino-US tension?

July 14, 2020

by Zamir Awan for the Saker Blog

Sino-US tension is growing to a dangerous level, what will be the consequences? Who will suffer more? And who will be benefitted? Is there any simple solution? Is anyone willing to rectify things? What will be the role of the UN and International Community, in case of an armed conflict? What will be the future of the World? Etc. Many similar questions are rising in our minds. Hope the serious thinkers and intellectuals may come out with do-able recommendations to avert any big disaster to humanity.

The US was the leader of Western Style Democracy and opposing Communism since the end of World War II. That is why, the US was siding with the ruling party – Guo Ming Dang (Nationalist Party) of China before 1949. But the Communist Party of China (CPC) won the war and gained power in China. The US was opposing the newly established CPC government in China and did every possible thing to harm CPC and end communist rule in China. Either it was sanctions, economic blockade, isolation, media war, or any other form of coercion. But could not succeed.

A U-turn was witnessed in the US policy, from hostile to friendship, since 1971. “Ping-Pong Diplomacy” sign of warming relations between Washington and Beijing, China’s ping-pong team invites members of the U.S. team to China on April 6, 1971. Journalists accompanying the U.S. players are among the first Americans allowed to enter China since 1949. In July of 1971, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger makes a secret trip to China. Shortly thereafter, the United Nations recognizes the People’s Republic of China, endowing it with the permanent Security Council seat that had been held by the Chiang Kai-shek’s (Nationalist Party) Republic of China on Taiwan since 1945.

Followed by President Richard Nixon’s eight-days long visit to China in February 1972, during which he met Chairman Mao Zedong and signs the Shanghai Communiqué with Premier Zhou Enlai.

In 1979, a big development was seen, when U.S. President Jimmy Carter grants China full diplomatic recognition while acknowledging mainland China’s One China principle. Chinese Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping, who leads China through major economic reforms, visits the United States shortly thereafter.

However, President Regan’s era was not so friendly for Sino-US relations as his pro-Taiwan policies. Later President Reagan visited China in April 1984 and as an outcome of his visit, the U.S. government permitted Beijing to make purchases of U.S. Defense equipment.

The unfortunate incident of Tian-an-Men Square happened in 1989, created more complications. Chinese crackdown on dissents was also a negative impact on Sino-US relations. The Pro-Independence President Lee Lee Teng-hui in Taiwan also affected the relations adversely. Mistakenly bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade in 1999, also set-back in bilateral relation.

Since 2000, the trade was dominating Sin-US relations. President Bill Clinton signed a trade agreement with China, which boosted the trade between two nations from US Dollars 5 Billion to US Dollars 231 Billion. China officially joined WTO in 2001, open avenues of more trade, investment, and cooperation on the economic front. It facilitated the rapid development of China and China surpassed the German Economy in 2006, while the trouble started in 2010, when China became a second-largest economy after surpassing the Japanese economy. It has alerted US policymakers and there was a strong fear that China might surpass the American Economy in 2027.

The sharp rise of the Trade deficit in Chinese favor worried the policymakers in the US. President Barak Obama took few measures to address the trade imbalance but was more polite and soft. However, since President Donald Trump, became President in 2016, a visible change was seen in the US toward Sino-US relations. President Trump initiated Trade war and imposed heavy tariffs on Chinese products, banned Huawei Chinese telecommunication giant, etc. The outbreak of COVID-19 has a catalyst in creating tension to its current height. Where the US is the worst-hit country, with the highest number of infections and the highest death toll in the world.

I was educated in China, and have served in China as Diplomat, I have lived in China for 13 years, but having interaction with China for almost 4 decades. I know the Chinese language, culture, politics, and enjoys deep penetration into Chinese society. Based on my personal assessment, China was never competing in the US or challenging the hegemony of the US as a superpower. Common people in China used to praise America and almost every Chinese especially the youth have a dream to travel to America. The common man loves America and dream to visit or live in America. The number of Chinese traveling to America are out-numbered and kept on increasing gradually. Similarly, a huge number of Americans are living or traveling into China for business, jobs, or study purposes. China was the most favorite destination for Americans for traveling, hunting jobs, business, etc. In a matter of fact, the law and order situation in China was excellent, the job market was huge, business opportunities were unlimited, which were the major reasons to attract Americans. This was vice-versa, Chinese people love to study in America, Tourism in America, Business in America, even migrate or settle down in America. There were no symptoms of anti-America sentiments in China.

China is a very old civilization and has been passing through several ups and downs in history. But in the last two centuries, China has been the victim of the Western world and its aggressive policies and colonization. The Suffering of Chinese during the last two centuries has taught bitter lessons and China has become a mature nation. The Centries old wisdom and bitter lesson of two centuries made China, humble, submissive, hard-working, and united. Even more wise!

China tried its best to avoid confrontation with the US, either it was an economic war, or sanctions, or direct threat, but China acted with maximum constraint and patience. Most of the time, China ignored the American rough attitude and overlooked American behavior. Americans used impolite and non-diplomatic language, but China did not lose temper and never issued any statement below standard. Chinese lenient attitude should not be considered its weakness but should be appreciated as its maturity, responsibility, and greatness.

In fact, It was aligned with the Chinese philosophy of peace, stability, and development. China wanted to improve its economy, eradicate poverty, improve its health care system, improve its technology, modernize its Industry, and defense. China invested heavily in its education sector, the S&T sector, and wanted to focus on Innovation and Hi-tech, which any other country can desire too. China has set its own goals, like zero poverty, etc, and was religiously moving ahead to achieve its goals. There were no visible political objectives in Chinese society, and there was no intention to counter America or replace America. China was not ready for any conflict with America or with any other country. Contrarily, China was ignoring its genuine disputes with others and was focusing only on its own development. In 2017, there was a serious stand-off with India at Doklam, but China compromised and resolved amicably. China has disputes withy many other countries, but was never willing to flare-up or use force to resolve its disputes. Taiwan is a good example, where China can invade conveniently and no one can resist China, but the Chinese opted for peaceful reunification and working hard in this direction – one country two systems. China has the capability to crush the demonstrations in Hong Kong by force, yet, China observes a lot of constraints, patience, and giving unlimited space to the demonstrators to settle down.

It is visible that the US is opting for an aggressive, threatening, and coercive attitude toward China. The US is re-aligning its allies to punish China. Definitely, China will try its best to avert any misadventure, however, if a war is imposed, China deserves the right to self-defense and retaliate reciprocate. This might lead the world to a much bigger disaster. Who ill suffer? It is humankind, irrespective of American or Chinese, irrespective of Christians, Muslims, Jews, atheists, or any other religion, irrespective of race, color, or ethnicity, it is human lives at stake. Can we think at this level, respect human lives, human lives are the most precious thing in this unive5rsrse, all lives matter.

I am sure, many of my readers might differ from my views, but hopefully, it will open debate for policymakers and decision-makers. The scholars, intellectuals, think tanks, and individuals with human consciousness may come up with some kind of recommendations or solutions to avert any big disaster. Please do educate me!


.Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan.

%d bloggers like this: