“The history of the relations between Russia and Albania is
filled with ups and downs. From friendship to the complete rupture of ties in
1961, in modern times there were difficult moments as well,” the State
Secretary and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation,
Grigory Karasin has told the newspaper Albanian Daily News in an exclusive
interview. But the senior diplomat was hopeful for a correct understanding of
these lessons of history and declare4d that
“Now we are working together to ensure that kind mutual feelings of
respect and friendship between our two countries would be restored.”
In the meantime, the Russian Deputy FM spoke at length on
the position of his country with regards to what he called ‘the systemic crisis
in Ukraine’. “With regard to Moscow's
position, we continue to insistently push for the implementation of the Minsk
Agreements as of 2015 so that the existing issues and tasks in the sphere of
security as well as in political, social, economic and humanitarian fields can
be resolved as a single set, in interconnection and with the concurrence of the
parties to the conflict, just as it is laid down in the agreed documents,” said
Asked about the relations of Russia with the United States
after the presidential elections which brought to the White House, Mr. Donald
Trump, the number two of the Russian diplomacy pointed out that “we intend to
work purposefully to improve them to the extent the American side is ready for.
The main thing in this case is the absence of illusions, effectiveness and
mutually beneficial dialogue.”
Below is the full interview:
- Your Excellency, it is a great honor for me to have an
interview with You, especially now, when Russia and Albania are making joint
efforts to bring the bilateral relations to a higher level. Your answers would
help readers of the Albanian Daily News newspaper to better understand
contradictory reports concerning the implementation of the Minsk Agreements. As
it is known, the West says that Russia does not observe them and rather
continues to pursue, as they say, an aggressive policy towards Ukraine. What is
the official position of the Russian government on this issue?
- In Russia, people are observing the ongoing systemic
crisis in Ukraine with pain and anxiety. We are sincerely worried about the
disaster that has happened to the fraternal Ukrainian people.
The reasons for the Ukrainian events can be assessed in
different ways, but the main reason, nevertheless, is connected with the fact
that a large-scale geopolitical game was deployed on the territory of Ukraine and
around it, the main goal of which was to change the development vector of this
large European country and to tear it away from the natural traditional
centuries-old ties with Russia. The accompanying goal pursued by our Western
partners is not even a concealed, but publicly proclaimed “containment” of
Russia, which, as they say, has become too independent and dynamic. Today we
see the results of such a policy.
An unconstitutional coup d'etat committed in Kiev in
February 2014 immediately followed the signing of an agreement coordinated with
the participation of the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Poland
between President Viktor Yanukovych and the opposition on the ways out of the
crisis. The further development of events after the seizure of power in Kiev by
the current regime under the domination of radical nationalists has plunged the
Ukrainian society into a state of political unpredictability and a real threat
of the statehood collapse.
When, in February 2015, the so-called Package of Measures
for the implementation of the Minsk Agreements was coordinated and approved, in
which concrete commitments not only of Kiev, but also of Donetsk and Lugansk
were clearly formulated, it was welcomed in the world with enthusiasm and a
hope for resolving the Ukrainian crisis appeared then.
However, over the past more than two years since that
moment, despite all the efforts of the international community, including
Russia, Kiev not only has failed to fulfill its obligations, but also has
aggravated the situation by toughening the essentially inhuman blockade of the
proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics, i.e. of their own population
living on the territory of Donbass.
We are anxiously watching the overhanging threat of
radicalization of actions based on the use of force from the side of Kiev with
the aim of strangling the south-eastern region of the country. More than ten
thousand people have already died in the “crater” of the civil war, most of
them were residents of Donetsk and Lugansk regions. Is it really necessary to
continue this conflict?
You are right that all of this is taking place amid a
shameless information war, which is waged against Russia and practically does
not solve any of the “bleeding” issues of the Ukrainian crisis settlement.
With regard to Moscow's position, we continue to insistently
push for the implementation of the Minsk Agreements as of 2015 so that the
existing issues and tasks in the sphere of security as well as in political,
social, economic and humanitarian fields can be resolved as a single set, in
interconnection and with the concurrence of the parties to the conflict, just
as it is laid down in the agreed documents. The channels of international
assistance are available for that – these are the so-called “Normandy Format”
with the participation of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine as well as the
Contact Group, in which representatives of the OSCE, Russia and Ukraine, and,
what is most important, also representatives of Donetsk and Lugansk work
together. However, for a successful advance along the path of the crisis
settlement, a real interest in this is needed, first of all, from the part of
Kiev authorities, their ability to take concrete positive steps is necessary.
Otherwise, the tragedy of Ukraine will only worsen.
-Since the beginning of the crisis in Ukraine, there has
been a return to the thinking of the Cold War. Do You think that today the
winds of a cold war are blowing in the world, as in the 1970s, and does anyone
benefit from this? After all, it is known that in the past a feverish arms
race, especially between the two superpowers, the USA and the USSR, as well as
the general global atmosphere, were a source of problems.
-It is not worth going far. We can recall the late 80's –
90's, when our country, having abandoned ideological dogmas, proposed to the
international community open and honest forms of cooperation with the aim of
creating new principles of the world order. What we got in response is well
Against the background of friendly embraces and tapping on
the shoulder, in violation of the fundamental agreements, which, unfortunately,
were not documented due to thoughtlessness, the NATO bloc quickly started
crawling eastward. The interests of the Russian state began to get
systematically washed away not only outside, but also inside our society.
Let me remind You that nobody formulated any qualifications
of the emerging situation at that time. Now, when Russia has become more
resilient in its internal and external affairs, many people have begun to talk
again about “the winds of a cold war” in a frightening tonality.
- Your Excellency, during the presidential campaign in the
US and even after it, there were talks that President D. Trump can soften
Washington's position towards Russia and agree to restore ties with Moscow.
Since we are conducting this interview, can You explain what is Moscow’s
official position regarding such proposals?
-As for the relations between Russia and the United States
of America, on the condition of which much depends, we intend to work
purposefully to improve them to the extent the American side is ready for. The
main thing in this case is the absence of illusions, effectiveness and mutually
-How much do EU sanctions affect Russia, which were extended
last December for another six months, as well as sanctions imposed by the USA?
And secondly, although unity is declared on this issue, do You think that all
of the EU member states are really happy
with this state of affairs? For example, diplomats from some European countries
stated that they consider the sanctions to be a “shot in the foot”, as they
triggered retaliatory measures damaging economies of the EU countries.
-We often repeat that imposing sanctions against Russia only
means training it. Taking into account the scale of our country, its potential
and primarily its national character, attempts to inflict serious damage on us
are doomed to failure. And in general, there is no sense in speaking with
Russia in such a language.
You are right that with the course of time, doubts about the
rightfulness and effectiveness of sanctions are voiced more often by European
and other politicians. The reason is not only the obvious damage to the EU
countries themselves (though it is important too), but also the obvious
atmosphere of tension and unpredictability, which these sanctions are
nourishing. However, we do not intend to beg for any concessions. So, the issue
regarding the future of sanctions is mainly in the sphere of responsibility of
- Poland and the Baltic countries see Russia as a real
threat to themselves and, without sparing effort, try to expose it as a
potential aggressor. How could You comment on such a position? Do these
countries have any grounds for such serious anxiety?
- Speaking about Poland, we have to admit that distrust of
Russia, fear of it are artificially fueled in this country, phobias about the
so-called “resurgent Russian imperialism” are being instigated. I am sure that
those, who are interested in inflaming the anti-Russian hysteria, pursue a
quite concrete goal – to shift the focus of attention from internal problems to
an imaginary enemy, and also to justify and explain to the society the build-up
of military potential and the implementation of plans for the deployment of the
US and NATO military contingents on the Polish territory.
At the same time, I do not believe that reasonable people in
Poland really admit that Russia poses a certain threat. Despite the efforts of
the leadership and the mass media of this country, we still have a lot of
friends among the Poles.
Unfortunately, the policy of Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn
towards Russia has long become a hostage to the ambitions of political forces
trying to solve their own conjunctural problems by forming the image of Russia
as a hostile state in their countries. Therefore, all sorts of groundless
statements about the threatening “Russian aggression”, fomentation of military
psychosis are not something surprising.
Speculating on the topic of “the changed security
conditions”, Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn actively lobby for the strengthening of
the NATO forces’ presence in the Baltic region on a regular basis and
persistently seek to use the most rigorous sanction measures against Russia
even to the detriment of their own economic interests.
Such a confrontational approach can only slow down the
development of bilateral relations and “bring to naught” those positive results
that were previously achieved not without difficulty.
At the same time, we are always ready, of course, on a
reciprocal basis, to the resumption of a mutually respectful dialogue with the
Baltic countries, with which Russia is tied not only by common borders, but
also by more than a thousand-year joint history.
-Your Excellency, it would be an omission not to ask You in
this interview about the relationship between Russia and Albania. What, in your
opinion, is the main obstacle to the expansion of mutually beneficial
cooperation between the two countries? Taking into account the fact that
Albanians both of the older and young generation have a profound respect for
Russia and Russian people, what can be done to expand contacts in the
-The history of our relations with Albania is filled with
ups and downs. From friendship to the complete rupture of ties in 1961, in
modern times there were difficult moments as well. Any other country in the
Balkans does not have such experience.
For a correct understanding of these lessons of the history,
it is important that the causes of all crises in the Russian-Albanian relations
were, as it is known, purely subjective.
Now we are working together to ensure that kind mutual
feelings of respect and friendship between our two countries would be restored.