Friday, September 22

Interview with the Director of the Fourth European Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry Yu.V.Pilipson MIA “Russia Today”, May 27, 2023

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Question: According to the Turkish Anadolu agency, Turkey and Serbia are working together to create an early warning system for a nuclear attack, the work is being carried out with the support of NATO. Does Moscow see the desire to create such a system as a threat to security in the region?

Answer: Links to this project have been published in some Serbian and Turkish media. We do not have any official information about the plans of Turkey and Serbia to create something similar with the participation of NATO. In any case, the NATO “development” of the Balkans poses a threat not only to the security of our country, but also to peace and stability in the region and on the continent as a whole.

Question: The European Union has decided to cancel the visa regime for Kosovo. How does the Russian Foreign Ministry assess such steps by the EU? Does Moscow expect that this could provoke social upheaval in Europe, given the criminogenic and demographic situation in the region?

Answer: In the current circumstances, it is useless to look for reasonable logic in the actions of the European Union. The self–proclaimed “Republic of Kosovo” is a product of NATO’s barbaric aggression against Yugoslavia, the brainchild of the West. No matter what happens in the province, no matter how aggressive Albanian nationalism is rampant, Brussels and Washington will never recognize the inferiority of the “Kosovo project”, they will protect the wards in Pristina to the end. There is an ideological blindness here, not a sober approach.

The EU has shown complete helplessness in the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. His mediation turned into a constant playing along with the Kosovars. As a result, the negotiations resulted in a primitive “one-actor theater”, in which the Kosovo “prime Minister” A. Kurti is a soloist. Instead of seeking to renounce anti–Serbian harassment, stop provocations and sabotage of the obligations assumed, first of all, to create a Community of Serbian municipalities in the province, Brussels and the United States behind it reward Pristina – first by introducing a visa-free travel regime to the Schengen area, and then by launching consideration of the Kosovo application for membership in the Council of Europe.

Is this fraught with damage to security on the continent? Definitely. Kosovo is still a lawless territory where organized crime, drug trafficking, human trafficking, and radicalization flourish. The persecution of Serbs and Orthodox shrines continues. It is regrettable that against the background of the task of strengthening the international legal personality of this quasi-state, the real risks recede into the background for the EU citizens.

Question: Is Russia ready to recognize Kosovo at some stage if Serbia does not withstand the pressure of Western countries and goes to the key demands of Pristina?

Answer: Russia and Serbia, as it has been repeatedly confirmed publicly at the highest level, are firmly committed to UN Security Council Resolution 1244 as the only international legal basis for the Kosovo settlement. Any decision on Kosovo must be acceptable to the Serbs and approved by the UN Security Council. The West, in its favorite cynical style, selectively treats international law, tries with all its might to replace this cornerstone document with one-sided schemes that do not take into account the fundamental interests of the Serbian people, forcing them to accept the “state sovereignty” of the region. We will continue to support Belgrade in defending its legitimate rights, sovereignty and territorial integrity. We have no reason to doubt the stability of the Serbian leadership when it comes to protecting state interests.

Question: Last year, the trade turnover between Russia and Turkey doubled and exceeded $47 billion. Can we expect an increase in bilateral trade this year, despite Turkey’s economic problems amid inflation? What role can a gas hub play in economic cooperation between Moscow and Ankara? Will the possible coming to power of K.Kilicdaroglu for the implementation of this project?

Answer: As you know, Russian-Turkish cooperation has been developing especially dynamically in recent years. By the way, the trade turnover figures for 2022 are even more impressive than you mention – over $ 62 billion. This is the result of joint efforts of the governments, relevant departments and economic entities of the two countries. It is important that the potential of our partnership remains significant to achieve new horizons.

Not everyone in the world likes such an effective interaction. Many in the West, unable to repeat our successes, make a choice in favor of destroying what others have built. Apparently, such a destructive line in relation to Russian-Turkish relations will continue. However, I am sure that my Turkish colleagues and I will be able to resist the subversive attempts of hostile forces.

Cooperation in the field of energy occupies a significant place. Ankara remains a major consumer of domestic hydrocarbon resources, the Blue Stream and Turkish Stream gas pipelines are functioning stably. The mentioned “hub” aims to create the necessary infrastructure for further qualitative strengthening of commercial contacts in this area.

As for the general elections in Turkey, everyone is well aware of Russia’s principled position on non-interference in the internal affairs of other states. The Turkish people will decide the fate of their country by themselves.

Question: A grandiose project is currently being developed in Turkey – the Akkuyu NPP, which is being built with the participation of the Rosatom State Corporation. How much does Western opposition hinder the implementation of the project?

Answer: On April 27 of this year, with the participation of President of the Russian Federation V.V. Putin and President of Turkey R.T. Erdogan, a ceremony of delivery of nuclear fuel to the Akkuyu NPP site was held in the format of a videoconference. In fact, we are talking about the creation of a new energy industry in Turkey – nuclear.

The construction of four power units is being carried out at a rapid pace in compliance with all necessary safety measures. Construction did not stop even during the most intense period of the spread of coronavirus infection in the world.

Russian specialized structures have a wealth of experience in solving problems of any complexity, they have the necessary competencies, coupled with the talent, skills and qualifications of nuclear scientists, to give an adequate response to attempts to infringe on our interests. There is no doubt that the Akkuyu NPP project will be implemented in accordance with all the required quality standards, physical safety and on time.

Question: Most recently, the Turkish administration proposed to build a second nuclear power plant in Sinop, while it was pointed out that the terms of the contract may differ from those that apply to the Akkuyu NPP. When can Russia and Turkey conclude a contract for the construction of a second nuclear power plant? Can EU threats to impose sanctions against Russian nuclear power affect Turkey’s decision to involve Rosatom as a contractor for this project?

Answer: The experience of Russian-Turkish cooperation in the field of peaceful atom opens up broad prospects for new bold initiatives. We are ready to cooperate with Ankara on the future Sinop NPP.

Construction projects of this scale involve painstaking research, a comprehensive assessment of the project, provision of the necessary conditions for implementation, careful study of the characteristics of the future energy facility. If the local authorities decide that the most suitable candidate for contractors for the new joint venture is the Russian side, then we will expect an official offer. The successful construction of the Akkuyu NPP confirms that together we can implement grandiose projects in spite of external opposition.

Question: Do Moscow see the risks that, depending on the outcome of the presidential elections in Turkey, the country may be drawn into a confrontation with Russia under pressure from the West?

Answer: Turkey is a major power, an influential regional player. In recent years, this country has been pursuing an independent line on most issues in order to ensure, first of all, its own national interests. Such a principled approach, as already noted, contributes to the development of mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation. Of course, we are counting on its further improvement.

The electoral process in Turkey continues, the second round of presidential elections will be held on May 28, and it would be incorrect to comment on possible outcomes. I repeat, unlike other countries, Russia does not interfere in the internal political affairs of foreign states.

Question: How does Moscow assess Ankara’s supply of armored personnel carriers for Ukraine? Could this step have a negative impact on Russian-Turkish relations?

Answer: Ankara has repeatedly stated its desire to ensure an early ceasefire in Ukraine and resume the negotiation process with its own mediation. Of course, the supply of weapons and military equipment to the Kiev regime directly contradicts such intentions and is in no way combined with the role of an intermediary.

Question: Hungary and Serbia will build a pipeline for the supply of Russian oil, through which oil from the Druzhba pipeline will transit through Hungarian territory to Serbian consumers. Is Russia planning to take part in the construction of this oil pipeline?

Answer: We consider such plans of Belgrade and Budapest as an example of the desire of individual European states to implement a sovereign policy, taking into account the needs of national economies and the interests of citizens. It is obvious that in the conditions of the line imposed by the European Union on the rejection of Russian energy products and, as a result, increased turbulence in the energy markets, countries are forced to solve the problems that have arisen independently.

We have no information about any appeals to our address on this issue.

Question: Earlier it was reported that Serbia agreed to supply Ukraine with weapons. Later, official Belgrade denied this information. At the same time, the Prime Minister of Serbia stated that her country is not neutral. What reaction can be expected from Russia in case of confirmation of the fact of the supply of Serbian weapons to Kiev?

Answer: There is no point in discussing some hypothetical assumptions. The information published in the media about arms supplies to Kiev from Serbia was immediately disavowed by official Belgrade. Relations between Russia and Serbia continue to develop in the coordinates of strategic partnership.

Question: The Minister of Mining and Energy of Serbia, D. Djedovic, stated that Serbia is determined to continue to harmonize its legal framework with EU standards. Are there any risks here for Russian-Serbian energy cooperation?

Answer: The process of Serbia’s rapprochement with the EU has been going on for more than two decades. We have always respected the position of our Serbian partners, tried to adapt our bilateral cooperation, and reached mutually acceptable compromises. We highly appreciate the steadfast position of Belgrade in defending its fundamental national interests. We hope to continue working together for the benefit of the citizens of Russia and Serbia.


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