Half of Russians support integration on post-Soviet space – poll
MOSCOW. Nov 17 (Interfax) - The majority of Russians support an integration union on the post-Soviet space, the Russian Public Opinion Study Center (VTsIOM) told Interfax on Tuesday. It conducted the research in Russia and four former ex-Soviet republics: Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan and Lithuania.
It could be either a new Soviet Union reconstructed on voluntary and equal terms (23%), or the Customs Union (15%) or the Eurasian Economic Union (10%).
The integration idea enjoys the largest support in Kyrgyzstan (67%) and Belarus (62%) and the least support in Azerbaijan (24%) and Lithuania (26%).
Partnership between former Soviet republics without reunification is supported by 34% of people in Russia, 26% in Belarus, 26% in Azerbaijan and 23% in Kyrgyzstan. Fifty-two percent of Lithuanians welcome this idea.
Eight percent of Russians bluntly opposed reunification. The indicators stood at 6% in Belarus and Kyrgyzstan, 13% in Lithuania and 39% in Azerbaijan.
In the opinion of Russians, Kazakhstan is the most stable and successful CIS country (42% said that in 2011 and 34% in 2010). Belarus is the first runner up with 35% in 2011 and 31% in 2010. Ukraine ranks third with 17% in 2011 and 19% in 2010. Armenia and Azerbaijan have 9% each, Moldova has 5%, Turkmenistan has 4%, Uzbekistan has 4%, Georgia has 3% and Kyrgyzstan has 3%. The least stable state in the CIS in the opinion of Russians is Tajikistan (1%).
Russians named the same best CIS partners this year.
Kazakhstan topped the list with 37% in 2010 and 42% in 2011. The rating of Belarus grew from 23% in 2010 to 36% in 2011. The rating of Ukraine dropped from 21% in 2010 to 15% in 2011. The indicators were 7% for Armenia, 5% for Azerbaijan, 3% for Moldova, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, 2% for Turkmenistan, and 1% for Georgia and Tajikistan.
Of all the CIS leaders, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev has the highest confidence rating in Russia (37% in 2011 and 32% in 2010). Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko ranks second with 28% (he ranked third with 16% last year). Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych ranks third with 12% in 2011 and 17% in 2010.
The trio is followed by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev (7%), Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan (6%), Uzbek President Islam Karimov (3%), Kyrgyz President Rosa Otunbayeva, Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, Acting Moldovan President Mihai Ghimpu and Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili (2%) and Tajik President Emomali Rahmon (1%).
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Russia’s envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, has called for the creation of a defense research agency similar to Darpa, the Pentagon agency that funds military research in the U.S.
In an article in the Izvestia newspaper, Rogozin said Russia’s defense industry had “serious problems” even though the government has earmarked 3 trillion rubles ($97 billion) for its modernization over the next 10 years.
“Liberal economists” of the 1990s and “irresponsible reforms” were partly to blame for this, he said.
“Russia needs a qualitative breakthrough but this calls for the creation of a modern technological basis,” Rogozin said.
“It is necessary to create the Russian version of the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency,” he went on. “It would be a government body with its own budget.”
02:00 17/11/2011ALL NEWS
French PM goes to Russia to co-chair intergovernmental commission meeting
PARIS, November 17 (Itar-Tass) —— French Prime Minister Francois Fillon will travel to Russia on Thursday, November 17, to co-chair a meeting of the bilateral inter-governmental commission on trade, economic, scientific and technical cooperation.
This will be Fillon’s fourth trip to Russia since he took the office of French prime minister.
Fillion and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin “have exerted great effort over the past three years to invigorate economic cooperation between the two countries at all levels”, the French prime minister’s office said.
“To this end, the prime ministers of the two countries have already held a number of meetings,” it added.
The inter-governmental commission is expected to coordinate new steps to develop economic cooperation between Russia and France, which has already kicked off several major projects, such as Nord Stream, which involves Gaz de France. Its CEO Gerard Mestrallet believes that this project will facilitate energy security in Northeast Europe.
The first gas came by Nord Stream into the European gas transportation system on Tuesday, November 8. The second stretch is scheduled for October 2012.
Russia will supply one million cubic metres of gas an hour by this pipeline, or about 8.5 billion cubic meters a year.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and French Prime Minister Francois Fillon attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony in Lubmin, a coastal resort in the German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, on November 8.
Nord Stream is an international project and its construction is regulated by the international conventions and national legislation of each state, which territorial waters and/or exclusive economic zone the pipeline will cross.
Construction work was preceded by a detailed environmental impact assessment. Nord Stream will be built in compliance with the most rigid environmental standards and without the Baltic Sea ecosystem disruption.
The construction of the North Stream gas pipeline on the Baltic seabed between Russia and Germany has had no serious impact on the environment, according to a study released by the Nord Stream consortium (Nord Stream AG), which is building the pipelines for transportation of Russian natural gas from Vyborg to Lubmin, Germany, near Greifswald.
The study involved some 20 independent enterprises and institutes, including Free University of Berlin, which had made measurements at more than a thousand places along the pipeline route.
Nord Stream will transport 27.5 billion cubic metres of natural gas from late 2011, and up to 55 billion cubic metres from 2012. This amount of gas corresponds to the energy produced by 55 coal power plants pr 20 new nuclear reactors.
The Shtokman gas and condensate field will be a resource base for gas deliveries via Nord Stream.
In October, a Russian Soyuz carrier rocket blasted off from the Kourou Space Centre in French Guiana to orbit two European satellites for the Galilee navigation system.
Jorg Khan, a Galileo programme spokesman in Russia, told Itar-Tass that 18 satellites would be put into orbit by 2015 as part of French-Russian aerospace cooperation.
The use of Kourou will allow Soyuz rockets to carry 50 percent more payload compared to those launched from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.
The commissioning of the new launch paid at Kourou will increase the number of launches from 10 now to 12 a year.
On November 7, 2003, Russian and French governments formally agreed to bring Soyuz to Kourou.
With the signing of a formal agreement between Arianespace and Russian Space Agency on April 11, 2005, the countdown for the construction of the launch pad officially started on April 26, 2005. According to the contract, the Moscow-based KBOM design bureau had to be ready for the "all out" tests of the launch pad with the Soyuz-2 (Soyuz-ST) rocket within 35 months from the beginning of the construction. The tests were expected to last for two months, culminating with the actual launch of the first mission sometime in 2008, or 37 months after the beginning of the construction. At the time, the excavation for the pad was expected to start at the end of the monsoon season of 2005. As many as 50 Soyuz launches were expected from Kourou over a 15-year period.
Another example of successful cooperation between Russia and France is the agreement to buy two Mistral helicopter-carriers to Russia under the contract signed in June.
On June 17, Russia's Rosorobonexport arms exporter and the French state shipbuilding company DCNS signed a contract for the purchased by Russia of two Mistral helicopter carriers.
The contract is estimated at 1.2 billion euros.
France will transfer a number of sensitive technologies to Russia along with Mistral ships to be purchased by Russia, including the SENIT-9 tactical combat information system installed on the helicopter carriers.
In the future, these technologies will be used in the construction of two other Mistral ships in Russia, Rosoboronexport CEO Anatoly Isaikin said.
“The French side will transfer to us all technologies that have been included in the inter-governmental agreement signed several months ago in Saint-Nasaire. These technologies will then be used for building two similar ships in Russia,” Isaikin said, referring to the SENIT-9 system and “two other systems”.
The first Mistral ship will be delivered to Russia in 2014. Isakin confirmed information announced earlier by the French shipbuilding company DCNS.
“The first and second ships of this type will be delivered in 36 and 48 months respectively after the entry of the contract into force,” Isaikin said.
Russia and France have devised a joint mechanism for interaction at the level of the governments of the two countries for the implementation of the helicopter carrier project.
The United Shipbuilding Company (USC) will represent Russia in the international consortium.
Russian and French shipbuilding corporations have agreed to create a consortium for building military and civilian vessels.
Russia is buying the French helicopter carrier Mistral with French equipment, including combat navigation devices, but will arm it with its own weaponry.
The keel of the first Mistral-type ship will be laid down in December 2011, with localisation of two first such ships in Russia to be 40 percent, USC President Roman Trotsenko said.
Russia will make a half of the Mistral ship, that is, “all of its after body”, he said.
The after bodies to be built Russia will be supplied to the Korean shipyard STX at Saint Nazaire, France.
The third and fourth Mistral-type ships will be built fully in Russia, Trotsenko said.
The universal amphibious assault ship of the Mistral class has a displacement of 20,000 tonnes, hull length of 200 meters, full speed of 19 knots, fuel endurance of up to 11,000 miles at a speed of 15 knots, a crew of 160 and air wing personnel of 220. The ship is capable of carrying a force of up to 450 Marines. The air force component consists of 20 HN-90 helicopters. The ship carries four light amphibious boats or two hovercraft. The freight deck accommodates 60 armoured vehicles.
The inter-governmental commission will also discuss the programme of linguistic seasons that will take over the Russia-France cross-years in order to promote the Russian language in France and the French language in Russia.
The participants in the meeting will also discuss international and global issues of interest to France and Russia, such as Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organisation.
MOSCOW, November 17 (Itar-Tass) —— Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his German counterpart Guido Westerwelle discussed the situation in Syria and the Iranian nuclear programme by telephone on Wednesday, November 16.
During the conversation, initiated by the German minister, Lavrov and Westerwelle “exchanged views on the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, particularly Syria, and touched upon Middle East settlement and the Iranian nuclear programme,” the Foreign Ministry said.
Lavrov earlier urged his foreign colleagues and heads of international organisation to support the League of Arab States’ plan for Syria in order to put the efforts in the country on a peaceful political footing.
“Moscow has actively supported the crisis settlement plan for Syria proposed by the League of Arab States (LAS) and welcomed the Syrian authorities’ readiness to start implementing it without delay,” the Foreign Ministry said.
“These measures and other parts of the LAS initiative create an opportunity for starting a constructive and substantive political dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition in order to lead the situation to the road of reconciliation and reforms without outside interference,” the ministry said.
“Considering these circumstances, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov sent oral messages to the foreign ministers of some countries and the leaders of international organisations, urging them to support the LAS plan and use their possibilities for ensuring coordinated influence on all parties to the conflict in Syria in order to implement the LAS initiative within the shortest time possible and put the settlement process in Syria on a peaceful political footing,” the ministry said.
In a telephone conversation with LAS Secretary-General Nabil El-Araby, Lavrov noted “the great importance of the efforts and role of the League of Arab States in fostering the dialogue and stressed Russia’s commitment to the need for the Syrians to find solutions to their internal problems on the basis of consensus and a programme of political and socio-economic reforms in the interests of all people”, the ministry said.
Russia continues to object to possible U.N. sanctions against Syria.
The Foreign Ministry urged all sides in Syria to refrain from violence and continue to look for fair and lawful solutions to burning problems.
Russia also opposes stronger sanction against Iran and will try to convince its partners to give up such plans.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the sanctions would “raise serious questions” and that “such actions, based on exterritorial application of U.S. legislation, potentially create a situation where Russian businesses cooperating with the abovementioned companies may be affected in a negative way”.
As a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran has an inalienable right to develop a peaceful nuclear programme under the control of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Lavrov said earlier.
“No resolution has so far been proposed in the U.N. Security Council. We will not discuss hypothetical situations, but is common knowledge that Russia objects to stronger sanctions against Iran,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said earlier this month.
“We maintain constant contact with our partners who are members of the Sextet [five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany] and with those supporters of sanctions who are not members of the Sextet. We are showing [to them] the vicious and pernicious nature of this policy that is driving the problem deeper,” the diplomat said.
“Unfortunately, sanctions are like ‘bandages’ or ‘applications’ that do not touch the root of the problem and give no treatment. We hope that our understanding and our vision of the situation will be taken as objective and will prompt corrections in the sanctions policy that has absolutely no prospects and that has been advocated by some influential states,” Ryabkov said.
In June the United States imposed sanctions on several Iranian companies, including Iran Air and on the Iranian port, suspected by the U.S. of spreading nuclear weapons and materials.
The Sextet - Russia, Britain, Germany, China, the United States, and France - which is involved in the negotiations with Iran still disagrees on the need for additional sanctions against Iran. In particular, China has announced that it is not the right time to take any new measures against Tehran, as members of the U.N. Security Council have already adopted five resolutions against that country. Iran is under three sets of U.N. Security Council sanctions for refusing to stop its nuclear programme.
Western countries insist that Iran develops its nuclear programme for military purposes, while Tehran claims it pursues purely civilian purposes.
05:35 17/11/2011ALL NEWS
Russian FM voices concern over Israel’s settlement plans
MOSCOW, November 17 (Itar-Tass) —— According to media reports, Israel’s government intends to announce within a month or two tenders for the construction of new housing units in settlement neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem – 749 homes in Har Homa and 65 in Pisgat Zeev. The move is said to come as part of the decision of the Israeli leadership to “punish” the Palestinians for their U.N. and UNESCO membership bids, the Foreign Ministry said.
The announcement of the concrete plans of the Israeli authorities in the field of settlement activity is a cause for deep concern. “Russia’s stand on this issue has been repeatedly expressed: any construction in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, is contrary to the well-known norms of international law and must be stopped,” the ministry said.
“Nor can we accept the logic of ‘punishing’ the Palestinians, including by increasing settlement activity, for their attempts to join the UN and its specialized agencies in accordance with existing relevant procedures. Such an approach, such statements and especially concrete actions are not helpful in restoring trust between the parties and undermine efforts of the Middle East Quartet of international mediators to restart Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on the well-known internationally accepted legal basis,” the ministry said.
The ministry earlier disapproved of Israel’s unilateral actions with regard to Palestine.
Earlier this month Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the housing construction be accelerated in Jerusalem, Etzion and Ma'ale Adumim. The prime minister’s office said it would be carried out in the areas that will go to Israel under any future peace agreement.
“The Israeli leadership’s decision has been taken in Moscow with deep concern. The Russian position on this matter is well known and has been repeatedly reiterated: any construction on the occupied territories is unlawful in accordance with generally recognised norms of international law and must be stopped,” it said.
“Also disturbing are mass media reports saying that the government of Israel has decided to temporarily suspend the transfer of funds from customs and tax payments due to the Palestinian National Administration. This measure runs counter to Israel’s obligations under earlier agreements, can lead to degradation of the Palestinian economy and therefore adversely affect the life of the Palestinian population,” the ministry warned.
“The decisions approved by the Israeli leadership further exacerbate the atmosphere for resuming the peace process and efforts undertaken by the international community, primarily by the Middle East Quartet, to reset the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations on the existing basis of international law,” the ministry said.
“Nor can we agree with collective punishment of Palestinians for their intention to join the U.N. and its specialised institutions. We believe that Palestinians’ legitimate applications for membership in international organisations are not and cannot be an alternative to their talks with Israel, the ultimate goal of which should be the creation of an independent, sovereign and viable Palestinian state living in peace and security with Israel,” it said.
“We strongly urge the Israeli government once again to refrain from any unilateral actions that can predetermine the outcome of the talks on the final status of Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem,” the ministry said.
Moscow is worried by the Israeli government’s new settlement plans in the southern part of East Jerusalem, the Foreign Ministry said earlier.
According to media reports, Israel plans to commence a new settlement project (2,610 houses in the first stage with a subsequent increase to 4,200) in the southern part of East Jerusalem in the area of the existing Jewish village of Givat HaMatos.
“The implementation by the Israeli authorities of such plans just like the intention to legalise numerous settlement outposts built on the occupied Palestinian territories is completely at variance with the obligations of the Israeli side assumed under the ‘road map’,” the ministry said.
“We are particularly worried by the fact that such steps can have an extremely negative impact on the international efforts, including those taken by the Middle East Quartet, to re-launch Palestinian-Israeli talks on the well-known international legal basis in accordance with the statement made after the Quartet’s meeting in New York on September 23, 2011,” the ministry said.
“We urge the Israeli government to give up its settlement activities on the occupied territories and refrain from any steps that can predetermine the status of Jerusalem and the borders of the future Palestinian state that should be determined in the course of negotiations between the partiers,” the ministry said.
According to Russian permanent representative to the U.N. Vitaly Churkin, “The two sides should refrain from unilateral steps anticipating the results of settlement, comply with international obligations, show political will and readiness for confidence-building measures and sustainable dialogue that would facilitate effective resolution of all issues related to the final status.”