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Dmitry Medvedev visited the Southern Kuriles again

July 04, 2012, 12:47 UTC+3

The weather permitted him to fly only on Kunashir

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MOSCOW, July 4 (Itar-Tass) - During his working trip to the Far East Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visited the Southern Kurile island Kunashir on Tuesday. This working trip is a serious factor of irritation for Japan, the media noted.

Dmitry Medvedev did not conceal that his main goal is to visit the Kurile Islands, the Kommersant daily noted. Right upon arrival in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk the prime minister stated, “I find a visit to the Kurile Islands by members of the government very important.” “This is a very important part of the Sakhalin Region and just an important part of our Russian soil,” the prime minister explained the reason for a service mission of members of the government to the islands, which Japan still claims for. “We did it beforehand, and this practice will be continued, naturally, by the new government,” the premier pledged.

The weather permitted him to fly only on Kunashir. The prime minister even cancelled a meeting with the Sakhalin activists of the United Russia Party for the purpose. On the islands the prime minister stated with optimism that the restrictions over a new possible economic crisis will not affect the programs, which are related with socio-economic development of the Kuriles. “They will be continued,” the premier said at a final meeting in Kunashir.

Right upon arrival on the Kunashir Island the premier examined the deep-water mooring in the Yuzhno-Kurilsk Bay and visited a local fishing plant there, the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily reported. Medvedev also visited the Yuzhno-Kurilsk central district hospital. Although it was quite hard to get to the Kurile Islands, the premier demanded that the living standards on the islands should be no lower than on Sakhalin and on the Russian mainland. “The socio-economic development of the Kuriles should become a priority in the development of the state program for the socio-economic development of the Far East,” Medvedev stated. He recalled that the funding of the federal targeted program for the socio-economic development of the Kurile Islands will be increased to 21.5 billion roubles.

The Kurile Islands are still considered as an apple of discord between Russia and Japan, the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily noted. In November 2010 Dmitry Medvedev became the first Russian president, who visited these islands. Then he noted that the Kuriles is a territory of the Russian Federation, which should be developed. A harsh response of the Japanese leadership to this visit was expected. Tokyo called Medvedev’s visit as an intolerably rude step. Moscow gave the same tough response, stating that Russia’s sovereignty over the Kuriles cannot be revised, and the Russian leadership will make working visits to this territory regardless the Japanese reaction.

Medvedev’s visit to the Kuriles did not go unnoticed for Japan, which gave an immediate response. The Japanese Foreign Ministry summoned the Russian ambassador and voiced regret that the Russian prime minister visited the Kuriles. Medvedev’s visit to the Kunashir Island will affect negatively Japanese-Russian relations, Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba said on Tuesday.

For his part, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated that there is nothing to comment on in this case, because the Russian premier visited the Russian territory. “As a matter of fact, there is nothing to comment on in this case. The Russian premier was on his regular working trip in the country, where he worked on making the socio-economic development quicker in this important strategic region in Russia,” he said.

The visit of the Russian prime minister on Kunashir is a serious factor of irritation for Tokyo, the Moskovsky Komsomolets daily noted. The newspaper recalled that Japan claims for the islands Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and Khabomai under the bilateral Treaty on Trade and Borders signed in 1855. Moscow takes the Southern Kuriles as a military trophy.

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