MOSCOW, September 11 (Itar-Tass) — The upcoming official visit by British Prime Minister David Cameron to Moscow on September 11-12 is above all a positive signal for business, the Kremlin said.
The visit by the British leader is the first over the past six years. The previous British prime minister (Tony Blair at the time) came to Moscow in June 2005. The meeting between Medvedev and Cameron will be the fourth since the time the British premier came into office in May 2010. They got acquainted in June 2010 at the G8 and G20 summits in Canada.
Then, they met on the sidelines of the summits in South Korea and in France. Medvedev invited Cameron to visit Russia in Seoul, and agreement on the visit was reached after a meeting in French Deauville last May.
The Kremlin reckons that this lengthy pause in visits by the British leadership to Moscow is connected with “the deadlock, created by some British political forces”. “This is abnormal when we land in a deadlock in all other spheres over one, maybe, painful topic for part of the public,” said the Russian president’s aide Sergei Prikhodko in an interview with reporters on Sunday.
“This is wrong, and the present British leadership and the prime minister understand this.” “Relations with Britain were not always distinguished for us for full mutual understanding,” he admitted. “But the dominant topic in them with Cameron’s advent is a desire to move in directions which are important in the bilateral plan both for Britain and for Russia.”
The Kremlin indicates “pragmatic approach of the Cameron government, above all, to bilateral cooperation”. “Neither we, nor they conceal problems, but are guided, above all, by high responsibility which both states bear on major international financial problems. We are guided also by responsibility we feel in the Russia-EU dialogue,” Prikhodko emphasized.
“We want to demonstrate to business with this visit that show must go on, as they say, and that we should do business,” he said, adding that “London is a big financial centre, and much depends on the British position within the G20 and G8 in settling acute financial and economic questions, facing all countries, including Russia”.
“We state with satisfaction the stable rise in bilateral trade. Trade, economic and innovation relations are an important component part of the entire range of Russian-British relations,” the president’s aide noted. “In January-June the volume of trade increased by 49.1 percent as against the corresponding period in 2010 (up to 10.3 billion US dollars). Incidentally, Russian export increased by 38.7 percent in January-June, totaling 7.2 billion dollars, while import – by 80.3 percent (up to 3.1 billion dollars).”
“Britain is among major investors in the Russian economy. It placed fifth after Cyprus, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Germany as to this indicator. The volume of British investments in Russia reached 40.8 billion dollars by the results of 2010 and accumulated investments – 21.6 billion dollars,” the statesman said. “The accumulated Russian investments in the British economy totaled 3.2 billion dollars by the end of 2010 (around four percent of the total volume of investments abroad).”
According to Prikhodko, “cooperation in the sphere of new technologies becomes an increasingly impressive component in bilateral relations”. “There is a serious potential in cooperation between the Skolkovo innovation centre and the industrial park in London’s east in the sphere of sharing experience in forming infrastructure, necessary for the development of the Russian innovation city,” he noted. “This topic is planned to be discussed at the meeting of the leaders of the two nations: partnership in this sphere is an important factor in tackling tasks of post-crisis restoration of the national economies.”
“An additional element for exchanging opinions on the bilateral agenda is the fact that London is to host the Olympic Games in 2012,” Prikhodko continued. “We are interested in the practical exchange of experience both in preparations, the sport part and in security organization.”
The signing of joint documents is planned by the results of the Russian-British summit. However, according to data of Medvedev’s aide, the list of documents, planned for conclusion, lacks business agreements and major contracts.
The situation in Libya is the most urgent topic of the international agenda at the Medvedev-Cameron talks. The Russian side would like to hear London’s position and plans on this question, “taking into account the role Britain and France played in adopting appropriate resolutions of the UN Security Council and military operations”. The leaders will also discuss the situation around Syria and the Iranian nuclear programme.
The sides “will also exchange in detail opinions on topics of European security, taking into account the Russian initiative on drafting a Treaty on European Security and prospects for the development of constructive cooperation in architecture of European ABM defense,” emphasized Prikhodko who is in charge in the president’s office of the foreign policy.
A special place is given to the situation in Afghanistan and cooperation in countering the drug threat. “The American administration decided to cut and withdraw a considerable part of its troops from Afghanistan,” he stated. “Russia helps NATO partners in transit of cargoes to Afghanistan and back, and we call on them for closer cooperation in the struggle against drug trafficking.”
Taking into account the fact that Britain has a big military contingent in Afghanistan, “it is important for us to know how they assess the present situation and what their appraisal and forecasts are for the development of the domestic situation in Afghanistan”.
Prikhodko did not preclude a chance that the sides will discuss bilateral projects of cooperation in restoring Afghanistan’s economy, establishment of a power supply system as well as a system of its own security.
Russia and Britain traditionally closely cooperate in the cultural and humanitarian spheres. “In April, Russia acted for the first time as a guest of honor at the annual London book fair – the main international book-publishing forum (over 1,500 publishing houses from 58 countries). More than 70 publishing houses in Russia were invited to participate,” Prikhodko said.
According to the president’s aide, major events will be staged over the next few years, including guest performances of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Russia in 2012, a series of concerts during the celebration of the centenary of British composer B. Britten in 2013, an exposition of works by British painters at the State Fine Arts Museum named after A. Pushkin in 2013, the exhibition “Catherine the Great” from the collections of the Hermitage Museum at the National Museum of Scotland in 2012 and an exposition in London, devoted to the art of the Russian portrait of the 18th – early 20th centuries in 2012.