PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, friends, it is a pleasure to welcome you to the XI meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club.

It was mentioned already that the club has new co-organisers this year. They include Russian non-governmental organisations, expert groups and leading universities. The idea was also raised of broadening the discussions to include not just issues related to Russia itself but also global politics and the economy.

I hope that these changes in organisation and content will bolster the club’s influence as a leading discussion and expert forum. At the same time, I hope the ‘Valdai spirit’ will remain - this free and open atmosphere and chance to express all manner of very different and frank opinions.  
25 October 2014
Question: Did you hear about Canada? A terrible story. Prime Minister Stephen Harper hurried to say that it was an Islamic State inspired attack. This is becoming a fashionable subject.
Sergey Lavrov: Yes, it’s become smart to formulate accusations without conducting an investigation. The Islamic State is a real threat, but it has not grown out of nothing. Already at the beginning of the crisis, which was dubbed “the Arab Spring” for some reason, we warned that a reckless policy of using any means to replace legitimate secular governments, even if authoritarian governments, would result in nothing good for anyone. There were protests, but the protesters were soon joined by extremists and terrorists, who our Western partners, unfortunately, accepted as allies, for example in Libya. We should not fight terrorism through unilateral accusations and the selective appointment of “bad” terrorists who must be routed and others who should be helped to overthrow unsuitable governments. We must abandon this approach and instead take a comprehensive look at the situation, primarily in the Middle East and North Africa, with due regard for all available factors without exception and use the same approach for all – if an organisation resorts to terror, it must be outlawed.
21 October 2014
We have noted the latest in a series of anti-Russian statements made by Deputy Secretary General of NATO Alexander Vershbow.
It appears that the continued manipulation of public opinion has been caused by the apprehensions of NATO ideologists that Russia’s active contribution to international efforts aimed to resolve the crisis in Ukraine, as well as Russia’s promotion of a positive agenda in international relations in general, can undermine a myth about the alleged Russian threat to the security of NATO member countries. Essentially, this postulate is used to justify the need for uniting the alliance on the basis of rigid discipline in the spirit of the Cold War, as well as the current policy to advance the NATO infrastructure eastward and build up NATO’s military presence near the Russian border. At the same time, European security risks contained in these plans are being disregarded yet again.
20 October 2014
Mr Nikonov, friends,
First of all, I’d like to thank you for the invitation, which I was very pleased to accept. It’s in our interest to discuss in as much detail as possible the issues that directly affect the Russian people and the national development plans, as well as issues that concern the international situation and the future world order with representatives of various political forces, primarily, the leading party, United Russia.
In many ways, the current international situation is defined by the fact that the world is going through a transition period. We are dealing not just with the beginning of another historical stage, but, it would seem, with a change of eras. Such pivotal moments are usually characterised by a substantial increase in instability and unpredictability in international affairs, which is what we see today in individual regions and globally.
The realignment, or, I would even say, the deconcentration of the global balance of forces, is a hallmark of our time. Most clearly, this can be seen in the greater economic power and increasing political clout of the Asia-Pacific Region.
19 October 2014
Question: How would you assess your talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Paris? Were there any tense moments?
Sergey Lavrov: Our relations have been tense because of the basic issues, which we seriously differ on, but which we have been discussing and trying to settle, and also because of the current situation that has developed for obvious reasons. However, I again sensed that Mr Kerry was willing to search for positive issues that would boost our relations, and also solutions to the issues on which we differ. It’s another mater that the proposals our US partners make are mostly designed to suit their unilateral interests, whereas the proposals we make to our colleagues usually take into account their approaches to the issue at hand and are aimed at finding a balance of interests. This is challenging work that includes, of course, the current situation in the Middle East and North Africa. We are cooperating on the complicated issue of Iran’s nuclear programme, participating in the organisation that was created to resolve the “frozen” issue of the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, and are negotiating all issues that are on the UN Security Council agenda. It’s logical that Ukraine invariably comes up in discussions with all our partners. In short, the issues on the international agenda are very contradictory and call for compromise solutions. We’re ready for this.
Permanent Representative
Alexander V. GRUSHKO
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