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Russian-British relations inspire cautious optimism – RF ambassador

September 10, 2011, 5:30 UTC+3

"Our immediate goal is to consolidate the achieved level of cooperation and mutually respectful dialogue and greatly expand the scope of the conjugation of efforts," ambassador...

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LONDON, September 10 (Itar-Tass) —— In relations between Russia and Britain over the past year there has been built up "a reserve that allows for looking into the future of bilateral cooperation with cautious optimism," Russian ambassador in London Alexander Yakovenko told Itar-Tass in an interview in the anticipation of a two-day official visit to Russia by British Prime Minister David Cameron, beginning on September 11.

"Undoubtedly, the trends in Russian-British relations are multi-vectored,” said Yakovenko. “A positive trend began to be felt with the coming to power of a coalition Cabinet in Britain. Cooperation has been developing in the trading and economic sphere, cooperation in international affairs has never ceased, but at the same time the political component of bilateral relations is still far below the requirements of our societies."

"In recent years their condition can no doubt be called controversial and difficult," said the Russian ambassador. And yet, as Yakovenko, remarked, one can talk about cautious optimism regarding the future of bilateral relations. Russian and British government agencies cooperate in the field of sports, culture, justice, fight against drug trafficking, space, and many other fields.

"Our immediate goal is to consolidate the achieved level of cooperation and mutually respectful dialogue and greatly expand the scope of the conjugation of efforts. Concerted response by London and Moscow to the challenges of the day, the ability of leaders to understand and feel each other will be crucial to the degree of harmonization of our modern international relations," Yakovenko stressed.

Russian-British cooperation in trade and investment has been developing dynamically. The ambassador said this is "an extremely important element of the full range of our cooperation." The Russian diplomat described as an example of cooperation in the most modern industries the intensification of contacts between Roscosmos and the British Space Agency. A program for joint action has been adopted. "There has been an extremely symbolic Russia-Britiain Space Year, which culminated in the unveiling of a monument to Yuri Gagarin in central London, timed for the 50th anniversary of his trip to Britain," continued the Russian ambassador.

The Russian authorities, as Yakovenko said, are interested in deepening cooperation and exchanges with the British authorities in the development of the judicial system, the creation of special mechanisms for citizens to appeal against misconduct by law enforcement personnel, protection of witnesses, resistance to extremism and aggressive nationalism, and reform of the prison system. Relevant work is being conducted by the justice ministries of the two countries within a joint consultative committee, established in accordance with the memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the field of justice. "In this context quite ambitious would be the task of achieving recognition by British courts of decisions by their Russian counterparts, which would open the way for a more diligent action by the British judicial authorities in response to requests from the Russian Prosecutor-General’s Office," the ambassador said.

Very promising, Yakovenko said, is the "Olympic dimension of our cooperation, where Moscow and London could fruitfully interact through the prism of the upcoming landmark Games in 2012 and 2014."

Cultural and humanitarian contacts hold a special place in Russian-British relations, and in modern diplomacy as a whole. This year, Russia was a guest of honor at the London Book Fair, and "our participation in it, I think, was a great success," said Yakovenko. "It is important to ensure we should be judged not only on the basis of the achievements of the past, but on what is happening in our spiritual life now," he added.

The Russian ambassador also said that "the mutual promotion and, in the longer term, abolition of the visa regimen between our countries would meet the interests of both countries."

"This is the path we are moving along in relations with the EU and a number of other countries, including the United States."

"I believe that Russian-British relations should not lag behind this general trend of modern international relations," said Yakovenko.



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