A.Вершбоу, посол Соединенных Штатов Америки в России

9 апреля 2004

A.Вершбоу, посол Соединенных Штатов Америки в России

A.Вершбоу, посол Соединенных Штатов Америки в России

9 апреля в МГИМО состоялось выступление посла Соединенных Штатов Америки в России A.Вершбоу.

U.S.- Russian Relations: Taking Relations to a Higher Level

Alexander Vershbow, U. S. Ambassador to Russia

Moscow State Institute for International Relations, 2004-04-09

Rector Torkunov, Professor Melville, Distinguished Guests, Students,

I am very happy to have the opportunity to speak with you today. As a career diplomat myself, I have long been impressed by MGIMO’s high standards and by its role in training many of Russia’s leading diplomats, government officials and more recently, business persons and media specialists. As I look around the room today, I have no doubt that many of you will follow in the footsteps of MGIMO’s most distinguished graduates, including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Of course, one of the secrets to producing successful graduates is to admit only the best and the brightest, a strategy that MGIMO mastered long ago.

We know also that MGIMO is distinguished by the high quality of its faculty, both in terms of its sheer intellectual force and its long practical experience in international relations. For this reason we are especially honored that MGIMO agreed to our proposal to have our own distinguished senior diplomat, Minister-Counselor Anne Chermak, join the faculty as a visiting professor of diplomacy this year. Your Rector, Anatoliy Vasilyevich, deserves great credit for helping MGIMO to evolve in an era of great change in Russia, and I congratulate the Institute for its 60 years of preparing leaders in the fields of diplomacy and international affairs.

I would like to begin by offering my perspective, as the U. S. Ambassador to Russia, on the current state of U.S.-Russian relations. And since a future Russian Ambassador to the United States may be in the audience today, I consider this a briefing among colleagues, rather than an academic lecture. I will not speak very long, however, as I want to leave lots of time for questions.

Before I focus on our bilateral relationship, however, let me say a few words about the single most important issue confronting the United States, Russia, and the entire civilized world — the spread of terrorism. Terrorism in all of its forms, including the nightmare scenario that terrorists may acquire weapons of mass destruction, is the greatest security threat of our time. The tragic train bombing in Madrid last month on the eve of the Spanish elections once again demonstrated the lengths to which terrorists are prepared to go to disrupt our free and democratic way of life. President Putin himself has called terrorism «the plague of the 21st century» and he has urged the international community to show resolve in jointly fighting these despicable acts. He is right on both counts.

I don’t have to tell you that Russia, too, has been a victim of numerous terrorist acts in recent years, including February’s horrific Metro bombing in Moscow. The United States and Russia have taken significant steps to cooperate in our shared war on terrorism. For our part, we have designated several groups active in Chechnya as terrorist organizations under U.S. law, and we have worked with Georgia to remove terrorist camps from the Pankisi Gorge. The Russian government has shared valuable intelligence on the situation in Afghanistan, and of course both the United States and Russia are far more secure after the fall of the Taliban regime and the destruction of Al-Qaeda’s base of operations there. Nevertheless, I think we can do more to break up terrorist networks and their sources of weapons and finance, in particular through closer cooperation among our law enforcement agencies and intelligence services.

The better part of my life has been spent studying and working to improve U.S.-Russian and U.S.-Soviet relations. I first came to the Soviet Union as a seventeen year-old exchange student in the summer of 1969, in order to study Russian. My first experience of Russian culture, Russian hospitality, and what Fedor Tyutchev called Russia’s «special character» left me intrigued — as did the many contradictions of the Soviet system. I have been seized with Russia ever since, first in college and graduate school, and since 1977 as a professional diplomat. My first overseas diplomatic assignment was in Moscow from 1979 to 1981, where I served as Vice Consul and Second Secretary at the old U. S. Embassy on Novinskiy Bulvar. (Or, as we used to call it in those days, ulitsa Chaikovskogo.) It was exciting to come back as Ambassador 20 years later, in 2001, to an entirely different country (and to a different Embassy building — even though it took almost that many years to build it).

I have been deeply involved in managing the many ups and downs in our bilateral relations over the past 27 years, which in many respects have paralleled the changes that have transformed Russia. I’ve been through the lows of the early 1980s, the era of high hopes that accompanied perestroyka and the break-up of the USSR, the unfulfilled expectations of the 1990s, the first tentative efforts to forge ties between Russia and NATO, and now the launching of a renewed strategic partnership under Presidents Bush and Putin.

Some say that today’s relationship is too dependent on the strong personal bond between our two Presidents, and that is to some extent true. Your own studies should have shown you numerous examples throughout history of the remarkable power of personal relations at the highest level to influence the course of world events — Roosevelt and Churchill come immediately to mind in this context. The friendship of Presidents Bush and Putin, based on a recognition of the common interests between our two countries in the 21st century, as well as mutual respect and trust on the personal level, is the model for the kind of relationship we need to develop at all levels between our two governments and, indeed, between our two great countries as a whole. The Presidents' relationship has shown itself to be strong and capable of withstanding periodic differences of opinion, even on such profound issues as the military campaign in Iraq. Moreover, we have succeeded in cooperating across an extraordinary range of geopolitical and economic issues. But the relationship is still more broad than deep, and it is still vulnerable to unexpected shocks and crises that could knock us off course. We need both to institutionalize cooperation to a greater degree among our two bureaucracies, where Cold War thinking and suspicion may still linger, and to broaden the agenda so that both countries have a more concrete stake in our partnership.

This was the goal of the last face-to-face meeting of our two Presidents last September, at Camp David. They not only reiterated their rhetorical commitment to our new strategic relationship and to expanding cooperation across a broad range of issues. They also issued detailed directives to the two governments, with deadlines for their implementation, aimed at taking cooperation to a qualitatively new level. This «checklist» included moving forward on implementing the radical mutual cuts in strategic arsenals called for by the Moscow Treaty; enhancing operational coordination among our intelligence services in the war on terror; removing trade barriers and expanding cooperation on high technologies; and more closely coordinating our positions on nuclear non-proliferation. The latter has resulted in more closely aligned approaches to Iran and North Korea, the two greatest threats to the existing nonproliferation regime.

At Camp David, the Presidents also agreed to expand our cooperation on fighting the scourge of HIV/AIDS, which Secretary of State Colin Powell has called «the greatest weapon of mass destruction today." As the AIDS epidemic struck the United States long before it threatened Russia, our doctors and public health experts gained valuable early experience in treating and controlling the disease. For its part, Russia has outstanding scientists and medical professionals who can contribute to the global search for a vaccine and a cure. And as the HIV/AIDS virus is spreading more quickly today in Russia than almost anyplace else on the planet, our bilateral cooperation on this issue — including support for the efforts of non-governmental organizations in education and prevention — is vital to preventing a catastrophe here.

Both sides recently took stock of progress in implementing the Camp David checklist. They concluded that the results were good — but that more could be done. We are now working on a new set of goals and deadlines that the Presidents may endorse when they meet at the G-8 Summit in June.

Even though it’s probably fair to say that our relationship has never been stronger, there is clearly lots of untapped potential. Yes, we are cooperating successfully on a number of specific strategic issues — some of which used to be very contentious — and that is, in itself, quite an achievement. But I believe that given the serious shared threats our countries face today, and the many interests that our nations share, we ought to set our sights higher and aim not just for cooperation on specific issues, but for a broader partnership similar to what the United States enjoys with such long time allies as Britain, Germany or France. Such a relationship will not be built overnight — it took us years to develop such relationships with some of our closest allies — but given the seriousness of the threats we both face, the sooner we begin working on it, the better.

One area where there is room for improvement in our relationship is the need for closer military-to-military cooperation, including joint training and exercises that produce real interoperability, both bilaterally and in the NATO-Russia context. Such cooperation would prepare our two countries to carry out future peacekeeping and counter-terrorism operations together, and also dispel Cold War-era suspicions in those institutions in which they are most deeply entrenched. As befits a relationship based on trust rather than suspicion, our future focus should be increasingly on cooperative activities outside the borders of our two countries, rather than on disarmament regimes.

Russia also needs to realize that, as with the rest of our relationship, America’s relations with the countries of the CIS do not represent a zero-sum game, in which a gain for the United States represents a loss for Russia, or vice versa. The United States has no interest in crowding Russia out of areas in which it has historical interests. However, we do have an interest — an interest that we share with Russia — in promoting stability and prosperity among Russia’s neighbors. The resolution of «frozen» conflicts in Georgia and Moldova, and encouraging economic and political reform in Belarus, the Caucasus and Central Asia, will help ensure that Russia’s neighbors become stable and prosperous countries, rather than exporters of instability, crime and extremism. Failing to see this only sets back Russia’s own development and hurts Russia’s interests. I am pleased therefore that Foreign Minister Lavrov, in a recent op-ed piece published in The Wall Street Journal, specifically rejected any linkage between Russia’s definition of its «vital interests» and the right to exert pressure on its neighbors.

Our economic relations also have the potential to expand. The United States supports the full participation of Russia in the G-8 and fully supports Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). We have a strong interest in seeing Russia develop a balanced and diversified economy, fully integrated into the global trading system. This will make Russia a stronger and more stable partner on the international stage, and will benefit U.S. businesses as well. I am convinced that Russia’s work toward WTO accession has already encouraged vital internal economic reforms and made your country more globally competitive. The United States will continue to work with Russia to negotiate good terms for accession that take into account the interests of U.S. exporters while providing Russia with the benefits that come with WTO membership — market access for Russian companies, and a rules-based system within which to settle disputes.

I would be remiss if I did not note that the United States still has concerns about recent trends with respect to the consolidation of Russian democracy and civil society, including the gradual but steady erosion of press and media freedoms over the last several years. Secretary Powell, National Security Advisor Rice, and even President Bush have voiced these concerns in recent months.

Although the future of Russian democracy may seem like an internal issue, in fact it has profound implications for U.S.-Russian relations and for Russia’s ability to assume an international role befitting a great country. As Secretary Powell noted in the article he published in Izvestiya in January, «Russia’s future greatness lies in its achieving stable democratic institutions. Political, economic and intellectual freedom form the gateway to prosperity, strength and social development in the 21st century." We believe that economic and political freedoms, and the rule of law, are the foundation of the prosperity of the United States and our western allies. We doubt that Russia can achieve similar prosperity for its people without the checks and balances that one sees in other democratic systems. Moreover, the American people consider the issue of democratic values to be an important factor in U.S. foreign relations. There will be public pressure to limit our relations if Americans perceive that our Russian partners are not guided by the same democratic values that underpin our relationships with our traditional allies.

One way of helping to build shared values is by increasing people-to-people exchanges between our two nations, and the United States has made it a top priority to foster exchanges that allow Russians to see our democratic society in action, with all of its strengths and weaknesses. As students, I encourage you to take advantage of all of these opportunities and explore the various programs available to you, including the Fulbright and Muskie programs. We are also working with Russia on a new initiative that would enable young people to spend time as volunteers in the other country — whether working for an NGO, at a public health organization, or on a cultural restoration project. Exchanges should be a two-way street and I hope we also will be able to increase the number of American students who come to Russia to work or study.

Expanding trade and investment will also help strengthen our relationship as it will give average Russians and Americans a direct economic interest in the success of our relationship, as well as provide additional shock absorbers when political disagreements between our governments occur, as they inevitably will from time to time. Before our true potential on trade and investment is achieved, however, Russia must do more to ensure that investors feel that there are clear rules of the road for all companies, both foreign and domestic. Protection of property rights, the sanctity of contracts, and a predictable and transparent legal system are all necessary elements of an attractive investment climate and it is in Russia’s interest that these principles be promoted.

We already have taken some important steps in expanding our trade relationship. One of the accomplishments of our economic partnership with Russia has been our Presidents' establishment of the Russian American Business Dialogue and the Commercial Energy Dialogue. These business-led initiatives have offered the private sectors in each country a greater role in shaping our economic relations, by empowering them to identify and propose remedies for obstacles to trade and investment. The opportunities are especially significant in the energy sector, where there is potential to cooperate in the development not only of traditional projects like oil and gas production pipelines, but also of new energy resources such as liquefied natural gas (LNG) and hydrogen fuel cells. The Commercial Energy Dialogue has led to much more active discussion between U.S. and Russian energy companies on a variety of potential projects. While much of this potential for cooperation still remains unrealized, I am optimistic that with active support from both governments, real results can and will be achieved.

One of the issues with which I am particularly concerned is the protection of intellectual property rights. While your government has enacted some promising legislation, it needs to take more effective enforcement action to end rampant piracy in all intellectual property spheres, and in particular the illegal production of CDs and DVDs. Lack of effective action could block Russia’s WTO accession, scare off future investors, and even invite punitive action. The losers in this battle are not just Americans, but also Russian musicians, filmmakers, drug researchers, and software designers. So, the next time you feel tempted to run out to Gorbushka to buy a pirated version of the latest Britney Spears or Tatu CD, think again!

To sum up, since the end of the Cold War, our two countries have built a very positive partnership that enables us to cooperate on a range of shared strategic interests, from fighting terrorism and nuclear proliferation to controlling the spread of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The challenge we now face is to move beyond these areas of cooperation where our common interests are readily apparent, to more sensitive and complex issues, where cooperation can benefit both countries, but also requires new thinking and a less rigid worldview. To do so will require strong leadership on the part of our Presidents and hard, skillful work by our diplomatic services. As future international affairs specialists, I hope all of you will bring that new thinking to your work on behalf of Russia. I look forward to meeting many of you one day at conferences, negotiations and receptions, and I can assure you that challenging and highly relevant careers await you.

I think I have covered a lot of ground and I would like to use the remaining time to take your questions. Whenever I speak to university students, the event organizer frequently assures me that the students have been advised in advance not to ask provocative questions. In fact, I welcome an open debate of issues, and being able to handle controversial issues in a tactful way is a key diplomatic skill, so I encourage you to ask about any policy issue that interests you.

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