U.S. Journalist Says Russia's Lavrov Outplays Condoleezza Rice - 2007

More on Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, one of the greatest statesmen in modern history, who also happens to be an Armenian.

Arevordi

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Foreign Minister’s Armenia Visit an Opportunity For Assessment


Sergei Lavrov: "Armenian Brandy Is Better Than French Cognac"

2007


Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was on an official visit to Yerevan the past two days. His first visit to Armenia fell on the historical stage when pro-Western sentiments not traditional for the overwhelming majority of Armenians are on the rise in the public and political life of the republic. 

The first time these sentiments made themselves felt as a special internal political factor was during the latest presidential elections in 2003. However, now there are a dozen political and public organizations in the republic demonstratively stating the need for Armenia’s new orientation towards the West and NATO.

Never before have such sentiments made themselves felt so strongly in Armenia. On the day of the Russian minister’s arrival in Yerevan, the leader of the Liberal-Progressive Party of Armenia (LPPA) Hovhannes Hovhannisyan called a press conference during which he stated: “Armenia’s security is in NATO, since Armenia’s strategic partner, Russia, proceeding from its interests, may change its position towards Yerevan at any moment. Revolutions in the post-Soviet space are unavoidable in the next year or two. There will be a revolution in Armenia too.” Representatives of other opposition parties also speak about the need to reorient Armenia’s foreign policy towards the West.


“It is remarkable that while new pro-Western political structures have already been formed in Armenia, no party openly propagandizing the Russian vector of foreign policy has appeared in the country yet,” Vardan Mkhitaryan, a historian and researcher at the Chair of the History of the Armenian People of the Yerevan State University, said in this connection. 

Meanwhile, the political structures traditionally inclined towards boosted Armenian-Russian relations for their part accentuate attention on the insufficient level of development of these ties. What is particularly pointed out is Russia’s neutral, at best, position on Nagorno Karabakh, which, in the opinion of Armenian parties cannot correspond to the officially declared level of strategic relationship.

According to political analysts, also symptomatic is the fact that while 2005 is declared the Year of Russia in Armenia, in Russia this year is determined as the Year of Azerbaijan. This was stated in Moscow by President Vladimir Putin and President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan on the same day Lavrov arrived in Yerevan.“What is striking in this connection is that the visits of high-ranking Russian officials to Armenia, as a rule, are chronologically replaced by equally ‘high-level’ meetings already on the plane of Russian-Azeri ties,” says Mkhitaryan. “The visit of the Russian Foreign Minister to Yerevan is not an exception: on February 16-17 Putin and Aliyev discussed the Karabakh settlement in Moscow.” The presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan met four times in 2004, while Putin and Armenian President Robert Kocharyan had two meetings. A total of 17 government delegation of the Russian Federation visited Baku during last year, and the commodity turnover between Russia and Azerbaijan increased by 60% and made $735 million. During the same period, the commodity turnover between Russia and Armenia grew by 12.9% and made $266.2 million.


But the greatest annoyance in Armenia is caused by the position repeatedly voiced by the Kremlin about Russia’s support for Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. In August of last year Lavrov himself told an AzerTaj’s correspondent: “Russia has been supporting consistently and in full measure the principle of territorial integrity. This applies to Azerbaijan as well.” Nevertheless, the recent visit of Russia’s foreign minister to Baku deserves special attention. Answering on February 2 the question of an Azeri journalist about Russia’s priorities in the principles of “territorial integrity” and “the right of nations to self-determination”, Lavrov said: “One should not set off these two principles against each other, since both of them are stated in the UN Charter and should not be applied to the detriment of each other.”

Some Azeri mass media already then hurried to “interpret” such a reply of the Russian diplomat in the context of his Armenian origin, reminding that during last year’s visit of Armenia’s Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian to Moscow, Lavrov said: “Yes, I have Armenian blood in my veins. My father is an Armenian from Tbilisi.”That he has Armenian blood his veins Lavrov also repeated in Yerevan during a meeting with students of the Russian-Armenian Slavonic University yesterday. However, at the same time he made it clear that his Baku statement was not understood quite correctly.

He made it clear that Russia supports Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, for “Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity is recognized by the international community, including by the UN and other international structures.” Thursday Lavrov met with Kocharyan, Prime Minister Andranik Margaryan and Oskanian. Four main subjects were discussed during the meetings: the Karabakh problem, bilateral cooperation, regional cooperation and cooperation within international structures.


It is cooperation within international structures that is one of the most delicate problems in Armenian-Russian relations. It is commonly known that all initiatives of the Azeri delegation in the PACE (Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe), including on Nagorno Karabakh, as a rule find support of the Russian delegation, while none of the initiatives of the Armenian delegation has yet been supported by the Russian delegation. Does this state of affairs correspond to the “strategic” level of relations between Armenia and Russia? “The parliamentary delegation of Russia to the PACE, just like other delegations, does not receive any instructions,” said Lavrov on this account.

In his meeting with Lavrov, Margaryan expressed his concern over the building of communications projected within the framework of the “North-South” transit corridor, bypassing Armenia. In particular, he pointed to the Russian-Azeri-Iranian consortium building a railroad in the direction of Astara (Azerbaijan) – Resht (Iran) – Kazvin (Iran). In reply to this remark of the Armenian premier, Lavrov said that from now on Russia would consider also Armenia’s interests in developing its transport strategy. He promised to notify Russia’s Minister of Transport about it.

Last autumn Russia limited the use of the only stable motorway connecting Armenia with Russia through Georgia at Upper Lars checkpoint (North Ossetia, Russia) – Kazbek. Thus, Lavrov’s official visit to Yerevan also exposed flaws in the officially declared policy of strategic partnership. We will be able to judge as to how these flaws can be put right only after Putin’s visit to Armenia. The date of this visit has not been set yet, but as the Russian minister said the sides will come to agreement as to the terms of the visit within the coming weeks after which the date will be declared.

Source: http://www.armenianow.com/archive/20...o=print&id=554


U.S. Journalist Says Russia's Lavrov Outplays Condoleezza Rice

http://www.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_606w/WashingtonPost/Content/Blogs/checkpoint-washington/StandingArt/ricelavrov2.jpg?uuid=DX-ttgGUEeGbQPQuXmWr5Q

A Washington Post journalist has said that Russia's foreign minister regularly outmaneuvers U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in talks when it comes to securing foreign policy benefits for Russia. "[Sergei] Lavrov pushes her buttons," Glenn Kessler said Thursday night at the presentation of his new book, "The Confidante: Condoleezza Rice and the Creation of Bush Legacy." In his book, Kessler writes: "Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, who honed his negotiating skills during a 10-year stint as Russia's UN ambassador, is a proud and frequently effective diplomat - a showman who doesn't hesitate to use a diplomatic stiletto." The journalist, who has accompanied Rice many times on international flights and has covered most of her foreign visits, says: "But Rice came to appreciate Lavrov's straightforward and serious approach. She concluded that if he says he will do something, he will - and if he says he will not do it, he won't." "Diplomats said Lavrov has perfected the art of irritating Rice - so much so that she often responds in a very sharp, acerbic, and even emotional way. Rice's reaction is so shrill that she begins to lose her natural allies in the room, in contrast to the calmer and more menacing Lavrov. He frequently exploits that dynamic to his advantage," Kessler said in the book.

Kessler has interviewed many U.S. and foreign diplomats for his book and has had his observations confirmed by a variety of sources, in particular by former French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy. At the presentation, Kessler said that despite her knowledge of Russian language and history, Rice is not very good in her work with Russia. "While Rice had trained as a Soviet specialist and still practices Russian once a week with a State Department interpreter, Russian diplomats are privately contemptuous of her knowledge of contemporary Russia, believing she is stuck in a time warp and doesn't understand the country." Kessler writes about some little known facts, such as a conversation during a closed meeting between Rice and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. "In their private meeting, Merkel, a fluent Russian speaker who had trained as a physical chemist in the former East Germany, teasingly tested Rice's rusty Russian," he writes, citing Wolfgang Ischinger, Germany's ambassador to London who formerly was Germany's ambassador to the U.S. Kessler said that his biographic book on Rice gives an unbiased picture of the pluses and minuses in the work of the U.S. Secretary of State, but admitted that certain conclusions could be unpleasant for the presidential administration. "Rice fundamentally lacks a strategic vision. Her approach has been largely tactical, a series of ad hoc efforts designed to deal with an unfolding series of crises that itemed from decisions she had helped make in the first term [of President George Bush]." "...she is the confidante of a president widely considered a failure... Rice has failed to provide him with a coherent foreign policy vision," he writes.

Kessler said that Rice still has close contact with Bush, with whom she regularly meets and whom she sends personal notes on foreign policy. He cites her answer to critics: "I'm enough of an historian to know that my reputation will be what my 'reputation' is. It might be different in five months from five years to fifty years, and so I'm simply not going to worry about that." "On a personal level, Rice is an exceedingly friendly and gracious individual - even to reporters whose articles have displeased her," Kessler writes, adding that "these qualities, apparent to the general public, would make her a formidable political candidate." "One of her advisors, in fact, believes she is increasingly interested in running for governor of California. Some of Rice's friends harbored the fantasy that Bush, desperate to secure his legacy, would find some medical reason to replace Cheney with Rice, making her the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008." But the journalist stressed in the book and during the presentation that Rice has repeatedly and officially said she is not interested in elections and would like to return to her professorial work at Stanford University. Asked whether Kessler, now The Washington Post's diplomatic correspondent, would still be able to interview Rice and keep accompanying her on her visits, Kessler said he sees no problem.



Source: http://en.rian.ru/world/20070907/77385951.html

Sergey Lavrov Laid Wreath to Genocide Memorial




Today Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Tsitsernakaberd Memorial Complex, where he laid a wreath to the Memorial of Armenian Genocide victims. The head of Russian MFA also planted a memorable fir-tree in the alley near the Memorial. Armenian and Russian Ambassadors Armen Smbatyan and Nilolai Pavlov accompanied Sergey Lavrov.

Source: http://www.panarmenian.net/news/eng/...ate=2007-04-03


Lavrov: We Are and Have Been Allies with Armenia


Historical and spiritual closeness of the two peoples is the pledge for Armenian-Russian union, Russian FM Sergey Lavrov stated in Moscow on the Public TV Company of Armenia at a reception in honor of celebration of the 15th anniversary of Armenia’s Independence. “We are and we have been allies with Armenia. Historical and spiritual closeness of the two peoples is the pledge for Armenian-Russian union,” he said. “Many Armenians now work and live in Russia. Call the name of Armen Jigarkhanyan – there is no Russian, who does not know or love him,” the Minister remarked. “Of course we have separated as republics of the USSR, however we are overcoming that hard period,” Sergey Lavrov added, reported PanARMENIAN.Net.

Source: http://www.yerkir.am/eng/index.php?s...s_arm&id=26853


Russia Signals Opposition To Regime Change In Armenia


Russia signaled on Tuesday its opposition to regime change in Yerevan, with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pointedly declining to deny speculation that Moscow supports Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian’s apparent plans to become Armenia’s next president. Lavrov, in Yerevan on a two-day official visit, stressed the need for continuity in policies pursued by the current Armenian leadership. During a joint news conference with Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian he was asked to comment on growing assertions by Russian media and prominent analysts that the widely anticipated handover of power from President Robert Kocharian to Sarkisian suits the Kremlin.


“The official position of Russia coincides with the unofficial position of Russia,” Lavrov replied. “We are sincerely interested in seeing Armenia stable and prosperous and seeing it continue to move down the path of reforms. As far as we can see, the results [of those reforms] are already felt in the socioeconomic sphere.” “So we wish Armenia success in this endeavor,” he added. “We want the next phase of the constitutional process to lead to the creation of conditions for a continued movement in that direction.” Kocharian is thought to have enjoyed Russian backing throughout his nearly decade-long presidency. Both he and Sarkisian stand for Armenia’s continued military alliance with Russia, while seeking closer security ties with the West. The Kocharian administration has also helped to significantly boosted Russia’s economic presence in the country in recent years. The Russian minister’s visit to Armenia was officially dedicated to the 15th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two former Soviet republics. The unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was high on the agenda of his talks with Oskanian. Russia co-heads the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe together with the United States and France.


Oskanian told reporters that he and his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov will again later this month or early next in a fresh attempt to narrow the conflicting parties’ differences over the Minsk Group’s existing peace proposals. “The goal is to continue to work on the document and to prepare for the likely meeting of the presidents [of Armenia and Azerbaijan] in June,” he said. The international mediators hope that the Armenian-Azerbaijani summit will yield a breakthrough. Lavrov said that Karabakh peace is facilitated by what he described as the absence of any differences on the issue between the three mediating powers. “This is probably the only conflict where the interests of Russia, the United States, and the European Union absolutely do not contradict each other and the interests of the conflicting parties themselves,” he said. Lavrov further assured journalists that his country is trying hard to ease Armenia’s geographic isolation which has been aggravated by the continuing Russian transport blockade of neighboring Georgia. He pointed to the upcoming launch of a rail ferry service between the Georgian Black Sea port of Poti and Russia’s Port-Kavkaz. The ferry link will be primarily used by Armenian exporters and importers.


One of Russia’s priorities – relations with Armenia - Lavrov


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday relations with Armenia is one of Russia’s priorities. “We believe that stability in the Caucasus depends in many respects on Armenia’s situation,” he told a meeting with students and professors of the Yerevan State University. “It is possible to ensure such stability not by means of creating a certain bloc, but by means of joint efforts,” he said. “Within the framework of the Collective Security Treaty Organization we do not try to fence off ourselves from others or work against anyone,” he said. The Collective Security Treaty Organization is “aimed at stability, counteraction to terrorism and drugs trafficking and open cooperation with the countries interested in resolving these tasks,” Lavrov said. He pointed out that Russia is interested in calm on its borders, stable development of neighbouring countries and “mutually advantageous and equal cooperation with them proceeding from the interests of our economies and our countries.”

Source: http://www.itar-tass.com/eng/level2....2515&PageNum=0


In related news:



Russia To Look For Uranium In Armenia


The Russian and Armenian governments agreed on Monday to jointly develop Armenia's untapped uranium reserves which they said could make the country self-sufficient in production of nuclear energy. A relevant agreement was signed in Yerevan by Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian and Sergey Kirienko, the visiting head of Russia's Federal Agency on Atomic Energy (Rosatom). "The main purpose of the agreement is to look for radioactive materials in Armenia and jointly develop those resources," said Environment Minister Vartan Ayvazian. According to Kirienko, the two sides will set up a joint venture that will explore areas in the southeastern Syunik region which Armenian and Russian geologists believe are rich in uranium. He was confident that they will discover commercially viable reserves of the radioactive metal used in nuclear power generation. "Armenia will be able to meet its needs and sell [uranium] to others," the Rosatom chief told journalists "It is turning from an energy resource dependent country to an energy resource exporting one." A U.S. company, Global Gold, is already looking for uranium in another region of Armenia. The mountainous country was a major center of non-ferrous metallurgy in the former Soviet Union and still exports copper and gold in large quantities. But its uranium reserves, estimated at 30,000 metric tons by Soviet geologists, have not been developed so far. Officials said the real reserves may be twice bigger. In Kirienko's words, Armenia could become one of the few countries of the world with a full uranium production cycle from extraction of the metal to its transformation into nuclear fuel. Some of that fuel would be supplied to the nuclear power station at Metsamor, he said. The Armenian government plans to decommission the Metsamor plant by 2016 in accordance with its commitments to the European Union and the United States. It announced plans last year to replace the Soviet-era facility with a new plant meeting modern safety standards. The government pushed through parliament a legal amendment allowing it to look for foreign investors that would be willing to provide an estimated $1 billion needed for its construction. Kirienko said Moscow is ready to participate in the ambitious project.

Source: http://www.armeniadiaspora.com/ADC/news.asp?id=2221

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