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Ambassador McFaul: “We need the double-track approach!”

The ambassador of the USA in Russia Michael McFaul recently more than once was focused view of the Russian mass media. The occasions were most different … But it would be desirable not only to hear about “bribes”, but to understand how the high-ranking diplomat and one of most authorized representatives of the U.S. President Barack Obama estimates the today's relations of our countries and what prospects does he see? The meeting with Michael McFaul at the Moscow school of the political researches, taken place last week, just provided such possibility:

Six points of “restart”

I have our view that we call “restart”. In order to speak about the Russian-American relations, it is necessary to remember where we were! When I say “we”, I mean the president Obama, his team, our government. It is a controversial issue, how it was bad. I think that all experts would agree that it was quite bad time for the Soviet-American relations.

We sat with Obama, it was my first day on work, and discussed why our relations don't develop? Or it is the conflict of interests, or nostalgia of cold war? Or the issue of other culture, other experience? Obama told: let speak more specifically! For example, about our interests in Afghanistan. Our purpose is to destroy the terrorist organizations in Afghanistan. And he says: and is it unprofitable to Russia too? The next is control over nuclear weapons, the situation round Iran and he says: don’t the Russians want the same as we?! Therefore there was an idea of “restart”. There were six points of the most important for us – it is our view.

1. Russia and the USA have common interests. Perhaps, it looks banal, but it is a controversial issue for America: some consider that we have no common interests … And Obama looks for an approach: profitable for Russia – profitable for America. It doesn't mean that we can agree all the time, but means that we have common interests!

2. It is necessary to develop the many-sided relations. That is, it is impossible to speak all the time about the nuclear weapon – it is necessary to speak about communication between societies and to develop economic relations.

3. How to make it? How to realize the common goals, conclusions, tasks? For this purpose it is necessary to have contacts, cooperation. It is necessary to speak with the Russians!

4. It is possible to use “double-track approach”. What do we mean? As Putin and Obama have the contacts – it is the work on the state line and the contacts between our societies is just the second track.

5. It is possible to carry out the policy of “restart” with Russia, keeping thus our relations with other countries. We won't bargain: if it is necessary to improve the relations with Russia, it doesn't mean that our relations with Georgia will worsen. It is our position.

6. I should tell honestly, this is the most controversial point in America. Is it possible to coordinate the various issues? We consider it unprofitable for our national interests. It is unprofitable and inefficient to connect the issues of human rights and questions of national security.

What are the results of “restart”?

Safety. The new contract on the Strategic Offensive Arms – it is good for Russia, both good for America.

Afghan transit. It is quite difficult region. Before there was no cooperation, but now it is. It is very concrete result of “restart” which we made together.

We do very concrete things together to stabilize a situation in Afghanistan.

The safety cooperation in Afghanistan. Here I want to pay attention to fuel. Your country is very important source of fuel oil for this purpose, than we are engaged in Afghanistan. And we consider, it is very well both for you and for us.

Military cooperation between our countries: it develops very well, very effectively. The few know about it. This cooperation is very serious! Quite recently your special troops and our special troops in America trained together. It wasn't earlier – it is the concrete result of “restart”.

Iran. We consider that our positions and your positions on this problem coincide very much. Our cooperation on this subject is very serious.

North Korea – we consider that all we do together on this problem is very important for our national interests. Our cooperation on this subject is very useful for us.

Fight against terrorism. It is new, it wasn’t before. Also it is necessary to continue this issue!

Cybersafety is the new subject, new threat. We work together with you. This work is difficult, it proceeds, and, I hope, there will be something more concrete until the end of the year.

Protection of nuclear materials. It is very important subject for Obama; he is very anxious. Russia is our reliable partner in this subject as you have very wide experience too.

Russia -NATO. We consider that there is a success. And even the negotiations about cooperation in the field of ABM– we consider that there are prospects for the future.

Economy. Four administrations before ours said that we cooperate on this subject on the WTO – it tells about our readiness for cooperation, but we achieved the success together with you. There is the ratification in Duma. It is very good thing for our interests.

Commercial work in nuclear power. We signed it last year – everything only begins and there is a base for great work between our countries.

Good news: trade left on the highest level for the last year – more than 40 billion dollars; it is the biggest indicator in our relations, but it is not enough in comparison with volume of trade of America and China. It would be desirable, that it would be even more … The direction is chosen correct. Our investments become here quite large and your companies do large investments in America too. It means the new workplaces for the Americans. And we consider that it is very good! Come more often with more money!

Society. Our agreement according to visas is very important. We wait for approval by the Duma. And it will be a big difference and big plus for contacts between people … Space, free text messages to mothers - I don't read such things in your press. But it has very much great value for the specific person both in Russia and in America.

What do the Americans think of Russia? 93 % stated a negative assessment during Brezhnev and Reagan's time and now 37 % think so. 61 % have the positive relation and 70 % of the youth has a positive view of Russia.

What disturbs us on questions and on a tendency in general? Obama and Putin will have negotiations and it is necessary to have the program on these subjects. Also it is necessary to work in order to have the success. It is necessary to work every day not to return to former approaches – I speak about the American side. But it won't work without the efforts of the state and society support.

State department and opposition

The state department and America don't finance and don't give money to opposition. There are programs which keep the development of civil society. We don't consider that it is bad and we have the Russian programs too, by the way. It is a lot of! We consider that it is normal. The opposition is your affairs; it is your affair what you are engaged, but not ours! And we perfectly understand it. And we perfectly understand that to be engaged in it is unprofitable for you and for us therefore we accurately don’t do.

We consider that it is necessary to calm down slightly on this subject for all. And it again repeats – I hope that shortly it won't be a discussion subject in your mass media any more.

Who doesn't like the normal relations between Russia and America?

Subject of the Russian-American relations is not a subject for discussion in America at all … People don't think of it. There was the poll recently and every year this organization asks: who is the most important enemy for America in the world? Also there was time when not Russia, but the Soviet Union won this competition every year and today Russia is considered as the most important enemy only by 2 % of people! Moreover that the statistical error makes 4 %... That is, practically nobody consider so!

Still the same poll: 11 % of the Americans consider that the main enemy of America is America. There are 20 countries ahead of you. What does it mean for us? It means the cold war” … we remember it sometimes. But, unfortunately, also it is the big tragedy, between history of “cold war” and today there are two real wars. Our soldiers were lost there, therefore it is simply strange for the Americans to speak about something abstract in the past when there are serious, real enemies and serious, real wars; it at not the subject. And for me personally too, I should tell. There is the attention to foreign policy subjects in America, but it is many times less in Russia.

Putin - Obama: there are big expectations

I badly know your president. Seriously … I know your prime minister very well because Obama met him very often during three and a half years. And I was the adviser for the Russian questions in Security Council. Therefore I am obliged to be at such meetings on work. Therefore I well knew his position, style. And Obama met mister Putin only once and it was three years ago. And, therefore, there are big expectations to the following meeting: this is the big event for our government and for the president Obama.

The matter is not in persons – I want to emphasize it very accurately. Our policy has no relation to personal contacts. I’m here to protect and realize our national interests! It is my work as the Ambassador.

We consider that more contacts are necessary! But there was time in our history when people spoke: the more contacts – the more evil! It is better not to have contacts to the Soviet people … Also there was an approach that Russia isn't important; it is good to meet and talk, but it isn't important … It was other approach of other administrations; there were both democratic administrations and republican which thought so, but we think differently! We consider that the contacts and understanding help to realize our national interests. And even then, when we will have a disagreement, we want, that this disagreement was on the basis of understanding, instead of on the basis of misunderstanding, not on the basis of stereotypes and incorrect information.

I should tell openly that I read things which I consider as a lie. It is simply the lie. But let's have this disagreement on the basis of the facts, instead of any stereotype from the past and so on. That is why Obama wants to meet Putin and the more often – the better.

Elections shouldn't influence …

Now it is the period of lifting of our relations, but not the peak. Pre-election processes, of course, influence our relations. Our presidential election is in November and therefore, I don't speak about a subject of Russia in ours pre-election process: may be, there will be a subject, maybe not …. And we should stabilize our relations that they wouldn’t worsen. Every day the contacts between our countries become more than was earlier: even three years ago the level and number of contacts weren't such. We consider that it is very good and it is necessary to continue it, despite the elections which we have in America.

To destabilize the Middle East? There is no such plan.

I worked in election campaigns during two years for the senator Obama. That is, actually six years I work with him – I was with this team from the very beginning. And when we prepared the policy after a victory in a transition period, there was no subject of an unstable situation in Syria, either in Egypt, or in Tunisia, or in Libya! I mean that we did nothing to stimulate these processes there – they did it by themselves: the citizens decided to live differently there. We spoke nothing, taught nothing and it wasn't a part of our policy. Therefore, and it is very important, we react to events which began from there.

As the Secretary of State Clinton speaks correctly, we choose between bad and very bad conclusions there. Sometimes I read here, as if there is a strategic plan of America to destabilize the Middle East. But let us assume, Mubarak: this is our ally for 30 years so why should we do it? And we don't want to destroy the state of Syria. And as to opposition, so we know these people bad too as you. We want to create conditions that citizens of Syria could choose the president, the system and so on. It is very difficult!

The Americans see people who perish in Syria every day. Assad is considered very bad dictator for us. Our mass media show all the time that Russia supports Assad. And the Americans ask: why is it so?

Who does “color revolutions”?

Let's remember, where we were four years ago? The word “restart” - whose is this word? Whose is idea, strategy? It is me! And Obama used firstly the word in December before he became the president. It is our concept and I was very included in these questions as the adviser of the president.

Let speak about concrete affairs and to forget simply propaganda frivolous things. I know who does “color revolutions” - usually it is done by people who live there, by the way! But not the state department! As the expert I can tell – I know that we aren't engaged in it here. It is our accurate policy.

Other administrations were engaged in it and it is the truth, mean it. Read your history, guys! It there is the administration change in America, it means the change of foreign policy. Condoleezza Rice is my friend, she is the professor of Stanford University too, couldn't be the author of “restart” - she went in for other foreign policy during eight years before us. Therefore, read the history ….

Optimism about ABM?

I am a big optimist about ABM and that is why. The first is that we have the general interest in this respect. If you speak actually: do you afraid of nuclear war with America? Certainly, it is the imagination, it is frivolous. We want to win nuclear war with Russia? Certainly, it is the imagination, it is frivolous. We are ready to it? Certainly, no! It is frivolous.

And even if we would want, we physically have no possibility to do it. It is the issue of physicists, instead of politicians.

Now about the details: why SM-3 rockets disturb you? In the future these rockets will be in Poland. And here is the debate: their rockets will be in Poland and it is bad for Russia … But SM-3 has no possibility to face with your rockets – they have no such possibility. You are closer to Russia have possibilities to attack these warheads worse and it is the issue of physics. The best place to have these rockets is California and New York in order to attack your warheads: not in Poland, but namely there.

I’m very serious optimist in this poll. When you will know what we can do, that we want to do and that we do not want.

Viewed : 1743   Commented: 4

Author: Vladimir Kuzmenkin

Publication date : 18 June 2012 17:48

Source: The world and we

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