MOSCOW, August 22. /TASS/. Russia hopes that the problem of mutual recognition of COVID vaccination certificates with the European Union will be settled soon if politics does not interfere, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said in an interview with the Kommersant daily.
"We hope that the problem of mutual recognition will be settled quite promptly, naturally, if politics doesn’t interfere. Everyone should be interested in avoiding extra problems for Russian and EU citizens during trips. In particular, tourists should not be deprived of a possibility to visit museums, exhibitions, theaters, cafes and restaurants," he said.
He admitted that talks on this matter were proceeding "neither good nor bad." "We hope these consultations will yield a wanted result. We believe that despite a number of difficult technical matters, we have all the chances to reach an agreement," Grushko stressed.
Some Western nations tend to use the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) as a tool to implement their geopolitical projects, this way downplaying its role, Grushko said.
"Some members of this organization - European Union members, the United States, and Canada - in defiance to the OSCE’s role as an organization for security and cooperation, are seeking to use it to exert pressure on countries east of Vienna," he said. "It is important for them to adjust OSCE mechanisms this or that way to serve their geopolitical projects. Naturally, it weakens the OSCE’s role as a backbone organization in Europe.".
Russia is not against the very idea of a Russia-NATO Council meeting but thinks that it will be senseless without resuming contacts between the military, Grushko said.
He recalled that the Council was initially tasked to exercise joint monitoring of the security situation and administer concrete projects. "It was planned that we will jointly monitor common threats and discuss how to rebuff them," he said. "Apart from that, the Russia-NATO Council was supposed to work on overcoming the Cold War aftermaths. For these ends, working groups on military transparency, issues of military activities, drills and so on were set up. In 2014, NATO refused from any military contacts with us. And what is the point in discussing security problems, Afghanistan in particular, without the military?"
"We are not against the very idea of such a meeting. But we want to see what it can yield," he said.
According to Grushko, in 2019 Russia came out with an initiative to call a Council meeting to discuss the situation following the United States’ withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. "Later, we advanced an initiative to impose a moratorium on the deployment of such missiles but the alliance turned its down. Like may other our initiatives," he noted.
"We often hear NATO’s calls for de-escalation, the words about the necessity to strengthen instruments of avoiding dangerous military incidents and wrong interpretations of each other’s military plans. We agree with that," he said, adding that this was why Russia asked NATO to move its drills "to a certain distance" from the border.
Moreover, the Russian side offered Western partners concrete ideas on how to prevent dangerous military incidents, "in particular by means of setting minimal distances between warplanes and warships." Moscow was ready to continue consultations on issues of enhancing security in the airspace over the Baltic Sea. "But, regrettably, there have been no signs that NATO is ready to move towards our initiatives and engage in dialogue. As I have already said, NATO is reluctant to resume contacts between the military," he said. "Then, what is the point in convening the Russia-NATO Council?"
There is no sense either to discuss the situation in Ukraine with NATO as this topic is raised twice a week within the OSCE and Moscow knows NATO’s position on it, he said. "An extra discussion of this topic within the Russia-NATO Council will yield nothing," the Russian senior diplomat added.