All news

Russia and West should restart the Helsinki Process, says UK Lord

Richard Balfe, member of the UK House of Lords, comments on the UK-Russia relations

LONDON, February 1. /TASS/. Richard Balfe, member of the UK House of Lords, believes that in a situation when Russia is intentionally portrayed in the West as an enemy, an attempt should be made to break the deadlock in relations and restart the Helsinki Process.

Focusing on relations between Russia and the UK in an interview with TASS, he said "We seem to be in a general downwards spiral, which is not good for either side".

As for relations of Russia and the West, he said "One the difficulties is that people we seem to need an enemy. We are rather short with the enemies at this moment, so the defence establishment, in particular, always want to have someone around who they can put to frighten rest of us".

"We need what I call a new Helsinki," Lord Richard Balfe said referring to the Helsinki Process. "We need to sit down and look at all the problems on both sides and what we can do to resolve them or at least to lessen them," the Lord said.

"The Russian government has to be prepared to move, the EU and the United States, three players, main players," he stressed.

"The problems are not between UK and Russia. They are between Russia and the West. They are quite wide problems. It is not Britain that has imposed sanctions on Russia, the EU and the United States Congress has. We have joined them," he added.

The 'Kremlin List' 

Balfe believes that the "Kremlin List" that was prepared by US government experts is part of a strategy to demonize Russia.

On January 29, the US Department of Treasury released an open version of the so-called "Kremlin List" that includes all members of the Russian government, along with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, chiefs of the presidential administration, heads of some state corporations and state banks, as well as businessmen which have, according to American sources, property worth no less than $1 bln.

"I think this is desire to keep an enemy in the field. How else can we justify the military expenditure? In fact I don't think we need an enemy to justify decent army, and Navy and Air Force, I think it's common sense to keep one," Balfe said.

He agreed that Washington’s position was partially prompted by internal confrontation between US President Donald Trump and the American establishment. "Clearly, the Trump administration has got difficulties with democrats, there is an election later this year. My own view is that Trump in relations with Russia is naive, not malicious. A lot of businessmen think, ‘I can sit down and we two have a solution.’ And I don't think he is guilty more than that, frankly," Balfe stressed.

As for the ongoing US investigation into the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, he noted that Washington’s actions look very much like hypocrisy. "As to the interference in the elections, if you see around Latin America, countries like Nicaragua, for the Americans accusing anyone in interfering in the elections is stretching things a bit far; they have been interfering in other people elections the time immemorial," Balfe said.

Crimea’s accession to Russia

Balfe, member of the UK House of Lords, deems Crimea’s reunification with Russia as absolutely logical.

"When I was in Crimea about 6-7 years ago it was quite clear to me that that autonomous parliament of the Crimea a lot of its members would rather be in Russia," Richard Balfe, a British Conservative Party politician, said in an interview with TASS on Thursday.

"And they were complaining to me the way the Ukraine was attacking the Russian language, were threatening not to review the bases and they generally didn't feel they fish to be part of the Ukraine. With the exception of the Tatars of course," he went on to say.

Lord Balfe, a member of the House of Lords’ International Relations Committee who took part in the winter session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in January, has no doubts that if a new referendum were held, for example under the UN auspices, the result would be exactly the same.

"I am very sure which way the result would go. The Russian Federation didn't invade Ukraine, didn't invade Crimea," he told TASS.

The Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, a city with a special status on the Crimean Peninsula, where most residents are Russians, refused to recognize the legitimacy of authorities brought to power amid riots during a coup in Ukraine in February 2014.

Crimea and Sevastopol adopted declarations of independence on March 11, 2014. They held a referendum on March 16, 2014, in which 96.77% of Crimeans and 95.6% of Sevastopol voters chose to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the reunification deals March 18, 2014.

Despite the absolutely convincing results of the referendum, Ukraine refuses to recognize Crimea as a part of Russia.

Gibraltar and Abkhazia: double standards?

Richard Balfe also said he saw no reasons why Abkhazia and South Ossetia could not enjoy the right of self-determination. "We need to look at principles of self-determination. If it was good to Falklands islands and Gibraltar to be British because the population wanted to be in Britain, may be in South Ossetia and Abkhazia we should take the same approach," he said.

He drew attention to the fact that the conflict between Abkhazia and Georgia is long-standing, and that back in the Soviet Union times the region was making attempts to secede from the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic. "This is nothing new. Let's talk about it," Richard Balfe said.

Abkhazia, a province situated on the north-western Black Sea coast, sought independence from Georgia since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Deterioration of relations between Georgia and Abkhazia reached its peak in the 1990s and led to armed clashes that left about 20,000 people killed.

In 1994, Abkhazia adopted its own constitution and declared independence from Georgia. A referendum in 1999 supported the republic’s statehood, but it was never accepted by the international community.

In early August 2008, when Georgia attacked South Ossetia, Abkhazia backed Russia’s operation to coerce Georgia into peace and asked Moscow to recognize its sovereignty. After the 2008 conflict Moscow declared that it would formally recognize the independence of both South Ossetia and Abkhazia.