Friday, July 14, 2017

Russia's FM Lavrov: 'Russia Did Its Homework Diligently In Clearing Up The Cold War Debris'

Image from entry, with caption: Burganov's sculpture of Reagan and Gorbachev (, July 3, 2017)

Question: "Nowadays, regrettably, a meeting of presidents is not always enough to convince the people of a nation they are leader of. Thus, in the United States, Congress is playing a huge role in shaping foreign policy, among other things. Do you think it is enough for Russia to communicate with U.S. congressmen each of which is acting on the basis of information presented by certain lobbyists and the media that are not always well-versed in Russian affairs? Do you plan a new round of communications with a view to bringing home the truth and your own opinion by using, in particular, public diplomacy channels?"

Sergey Lavrov: "As is envisaged in the U.S. Constitution, U.S. Congress has always played (not only now) a very important role in foreign policy and many other areas. As for communication channels, they are practically nonexistent now. I see here Alexei Pushkov, as well as other Russian MPs. For several years now – before the new elections were held in the United States – they made attempts to establish such contacts and even had productive short meetings on the sidelines of this or that international forum. However, we received a report from Washington that American legislators, including heads of international congressional committees, took a break. This is my attempt to explain very politely what we were told.

"I consider this incorrect because judging by the experience of our relations with the overwhelming majority of states, inter-parliamentary ties are a critical channel because MPs represent their countries and have been elected there. It would be wrong to withdraw into one’s shell even considering the U.S. tradition according to which the bulk of congressmen, senators and House members do not even travel abroad. However, there are active politicians among them and they devote much of their time to foreign policy. Many of them have made a major contribution to Soviet-U.S. and Russian-U.S. relations. There are people there who understand what is happening in the world and they are interested in keeping inter-parliamentary communication channels open.

"But today the atmosphere in the United States is such, and the witch hunt is so serious that nobody wants to do what would be perfectly normal in a typical environment. Anyone who dares do this in the current atmosphere is bound to be stigmatized as a witch. People were intimidated in many respects but I think this will pass away. The situation in U.S. political life is absolutely abnormal today – some politicians are trying to revise the results of the elections without submitting a single proved fact. This cannot last long. American society, as well as the American political system has an instinct of self-preservation. I hope this will pass away. As for contacts via public diplomacy channels, different NGOs and politological centers, I think they continue up to this day, although our colleagues in Russian think tanks feel certain restraint from their US partners for the same reason. Nobody wants to be seen having any contact with our country today." ...

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