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Churkin replies to Amanpour

Moralez III

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Russian ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin has issued a response to Christiane Amanpour after the CNN anchor lashed out at the diplomat over his inability to appear on her show and brought his daughter into the equation.
Churkin replies to Amanpour

In her Thursday show, Amanpour said:
"And one more note: we continue to reach out to the Russian government for their comment, including officials such as UN Ambassador, Vitaly Churkin. We haven't had much luck, but perhaps people like Churkin feel they don't really have to leave their comfort zone."
"Churkin's own daughter is the US-based reporter for 'Russia Today' in New York. She's shown here, quizzing US State Department spokesman, Jen Psaki, over this whole Ukraine crisis. And in the past, she's even reported on her own father."
The interview is conducted alongside Victoria Nuland's husband, Robert Kagan, who sits on the board of directors of the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI).


Moralez III

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Dear Ms. Amanpour,

I am taken aback by the personal attacks you resorted to in your show on March 20. I have known you for many years (including through a number of on-the-air interviews) and used to respect you professionally. So it was somewhat startling that my inability to give another interview provoked such an outburst.

As to my unwillingness, as you put it, to leave my "comfort zone” – you are absolutely right. After 8 meetings of the Security Council on the situation in Ukraine and Crimea (six of them in front of TV cameras) I feel very comfortable that the truth is beginning to come across.

If, though, you imply that I don’t want to answer tough questions, then you are mature enough to know that I spoke to the “full house” at the Washington National Cathedral in October, 1983, two weeks after the South Korean airliner was downed, and then testified at the US Congress in May of 1986 after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, not to mention hundreds of other media and “live” appearances. So I can explain to anyone what “leaving a comfort zone” means.

But I wouldn’t be writing to you if you did not also choose to personally attack my daughter – your younger colleague – a Russian TV journalist. I am very proud of her – not only is she a good journalist, but she strictly keeps her professional distance from me.

Incidentally, I recall you married the State Department Spokesman. How was your professional credibility in the course of your courtship?

Don’t bother to answer. I don’t really want to know.

Churkin replies to Amanpour


March 21, 2014
Source: rt.com

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CNN'S AMANPOUR TRANSCRIPTS

Reining in Putin; Missing Malaysian Airliner; Imagine a World

Aired March 20, 2014 - 15:00:00   ET

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour.

President Barack Obama raises the heat on President Vladimir Putin after he takes Crimea and redraws the map of Europe. Putin's closest circle, wealthy supporters, including his powerful chief of staff, Sergei Ivanov, who's seen here, as well as his personal banker, Yuri Kovalchuk, are now in the firing line as the United States slaps on another round of sanctions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've seen an illegal referendum in Crimea, an illegitimate move by the Russians who annexed Crimea and dangerous risks of escalation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: Indeed, NATO's secretary general calls Crimea a wakeup call and is sounding the alarm over Putin's possible next moves. Like the United States, European leaders meeting in Brussels are also talking of tougher sanctions.

But can all this rein in President Putin's ambitions and stop him from moving any further into Ukraine? A short while ago, Sweden's foreign minister, Carl Bildt, told me that Putin's eyes are fixed on getting a friendly government in Kiev and Crimea could be just his first move.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: Foreign Minister Bildt, thank you for joining me from Stockholm.

CARL BILDT, SWEDISH FOREIGN MINISTER: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: The President of the United States today has announced more sanctions on Moscow, Europeans are discussing and considering more sanctions.

What effect do you think this second round is going to have?

BILDT: I think the second round is going to be a significantly more powerful than the first one. I think the first round was meant to send a signal to Moscow that if they go on, go further, we are prepared to go further. They didn't take notice and now a second round is coming. What President Obama has announced just a couple of hours ago, that hits significant economic interests that are fairly close to the ruling circles in Moscow. It will be noticed, no mistaking.

AMANPOUR: So what do you make, though, of President Putin's intentions and his end game?

The NATO secretary general told me that he was very concerned. He sees no deescalation and that it would be very possible that Russia, President Putin, would move beyond Crimea.

What is -- what do you think?

BILDT: I think that Crimea is the opening game. I agree with that. It is not that President Putin is primarily interested in Crimea. He's interested in Ukraine. And it is really where Ukraine ends up six months, two years down the road, five years down the road, that is going to determine the outcome of this particular issue.

So I think what we need to do is, of course, we need to make clear to Moscow that there's a price to be paid for aggression. But secondly and more important, support Ukraine, support viable economy that's going to take some effort, support the democratic system, support the politicians who are struggling in a very difficult situation in Kiev. That is what is going to be decisive.

AMANPOUR: And what about the pain that Europe is going to be willing to bear now that you've gone down this sanctions route? First of all, do you believe Germany, which is Russia's biggest European trading partner, will be -- go to the end with these sanctions wherever they go?

And how can Europe be weaned off its trade dependency and its energy dependency of Russia?

BILDT: I mean, the energy dependency is significant for certain countries. There's no question about that. I think you will see that changing, but that will take a couple of years to change, because we talk about infrastructures and pipelines and those things. But the process that is already underway since 2009 will be further accelerated by this.

Or the other cost of sanctions, I mean, the European Union is not particularly dependent on Russia. Russia is highly dependent upon the European Union. The vast amount of his exports, his trade is with European Union. The overwhelming part of the West investment that Russia needs so desperately is coming from the European Union.

And this is going to be heard. This is going to hurt, irrespective of sanctions, because what is happening now is that we see Russia emerging as an unpredictable power. That's extremely worrying from the security policy point of view but also from the business point of view. If there's one thing that business men want, they want predictability. And now Russia is one of the most unpredictable places that you can find around the world. That's got to have a significant economic impact over time.

AMANPOUR: And what about the cost to Russia of having annexed Crimea?

Crimea is entirely dependent on Ukraine. I read you a couple of statistics. You know, it's dependent for 90 percent of its water, 80 percent of its electricity, 65 percent of its gas comes from Ukraine.

How does Russia absorb all of that -- or does it?

BILDT: I think it does. I think they are prepared to pay that particular cost. As you indicate, there's an infrastructure dependence on the rest of Ukraine that is significant. Prime Minister Yatsenyuk in Kiev has said that they're not going to cut those supplies. But there is, of course, a risk here that Russia will move on militarily from Crimea. If you read carefully what President Putin said in his big speech at the Kremlin the day before yesterday, what he says about (INAUDIBLE) those sorts of things apply not only to Crimea, but also to southern parts of Ukraine. And that is where we should be extremely alert to the risk of President Putin moving further even militarily, beyond Crimea.

AMANPOUR: Well, that is really --

(CROSSTALK)

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BILDT: -- yet.

AMANPOUR: That's a really scary scenario. You say he hasn't done it as of yet. But what is going to stop him if that's on his agenda?

BILDT: We don't know. I would suspect that he makes up policy as he goes along. So I think the measures that we are taking now and the very clear signal that either goes further, further measures are going to come, I hope that we'll be able to deter him. And I hope that he will see their enormous costs to Russia if he goes to aggression against virtually all of Ukraine.

He's not to be excluded. He has shown that he's willing to do things that most of us didn't think that he was going to do. So we have to be very alert to the risks that are there.

AMANPOUR: You know, you say you hope that he will not go further from Crimea, but hope doesn't have any battalions, no brigades. You all hoped he wouldn't do what he did in Crimea. So am I to understand, is Ukraine to understand that if President Putin decides to go militarily into Ukraine, there is not much anybody can do to stop him?

BILDT: But in that particular case, there would be no question about that. Then you would have very significant sanctions coming. And those sanctions will have a significant destabilizing effect on the Russian economy. Then I think you're into a completely different ballgame. And even if -- look, if you look at opinion polls in Russia today, there's no question about the sort of nationalist rhetoric that we saw in the Kremlin the day before yesterday. Yes, it does have its audience. Yes, it does increase support for him short-term. But there is significant unease in the elites of Moscow, in those that have responsibility for the future of the country, in those that are thinking about the future economy and economic development of the country. And I don't think very many of those are keen on entering such a scenario. That might not stop President Putin at the end of the day. But I think the costs will be very significant if he does.

AMANPOUR: You keep saying Putin may not be stopped.

Do you all believe, as you sit around and talk about this, that that might be on his agenda, that that is on his agenda?

BILDT: We don't know. I'm pretty convinced that his real ideal is not Crimea but Kiev. Whether -- and I think he's prepared to play this long . I don't think that's necessarily going to be decided over the weekend or weeks. I think it's a question of months rather. And I think he is prepared to use both economic measures, subversion, destabilizing issues, economic issues. But at the end of the day, what we have seen during the last few weeks is that he's also prepared to use military instruments and that is what is scary and deeply worrying.

AMANPOUR: And finally, one of the leading Ukrainian leaders, Petro Poroshenko, told me this week that they demand that Crimea be, as he said, "deoccupied," and return to Ukraine.

Is that even in the realm of the possible now?

BILDT: I don't think that's going to happen within the next few weeks. But I think --

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: What about years?

BILDT: -- that we -- well, could be; could be. I don't think it's entirely unrealistic and I think it's very important that we stand very firm on the principle that military -- that sort of borders between states cannot be changed by military means, because if we cave in on that one, I think we open up Pandora's box. That is going to be the detriment of security and stability not only in Europe, but as a matter of fact, across the world.

AMANPOUR: Carl Bildt, Swedish foreign minister, thank you very much indeed for joining me.

BILDT: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)


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AMANPOUR: So you see all these worries from Europe and the United States, NATO, about possible future military moves.

And meantime, still we ask, who are these masked men? Russian President Putin says they're not his troops, but nobody believes that. And as this photo shows, armed men in balaclavas surround a Ukrainian naval officer after the takeover of naval -- takeover of naval headquarters in Sevastopol.

These masked militia or whoever they are have now been made into the famous matryoshka dolls. And one more note: we continue to reach out to the Russian government for their comment, including officials such as U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin. We haven't had much luck, but perhaps people like Churkin feel they don't really have to leave their comfort zone. Churkin's own daughter is the U.S.-based reporter for "Russia Today" in New York. She's shown here, quizzing U.S. State Department spokesman Jen Psaki over this whole Ukraine crisis.

And in the past, she's even reported on her own father.


After a break, 1,500 miles off the coast of Australia, the most compelling aviation mystery of our time. Is there a lead at last? The narrowing search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 when we come back.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program and the fate of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and its 239 people on board remains a mystery. But today, 12 days on, the Malaysian government says that it has found its most credible lead yet, and it came all the way from Australia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TONY ABBOTT, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has received information based on satellite imagery of objects possibly related to the search. Following specialist analysis of this satellite imagery, two possible objects related to the search have been identified.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): And here is that satellite imagery, showing debris floating in the southern Indian Ocean, 2,500 kilometers off the coast of Perth. Four airplanes were scrambled to the area, but bad weather has hampered their search.

So attention is now turning to this Norwegian merchant ship, the St. Petersburg. It was on its way from South Africa to Australia when it received a call to divert and join the search effort.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: The ship is part of a voluntarily international search and rescue organization called AMVER. It says that more than 7,000 boats around the world make themselves available every day to help out when needed. And if you want to know what that looks like, just take a look at that image behind me. It shows the location of AMVER ships around the world.

And the director is Ben Strong, who joins me now from New York.

Mr. Strong, welcome to the program.

Let me first ask you how recently you've been in touch with the Norwegian vessel, where it is and what it's been able to see; I know that it's nighttime right now and the search is off until the daylight hours.

BEN STRONG, DIRECTOR, AMVER: Thank you for having me, Christiane, and Australian rescue authorities sent me an email just within the last hour about the vessels that have been transiting the location of the -- the last known location of the debris.

But the Australian rescue authorities will be in contact with the ship's crew almost on an hourly basis and once search conditions improve with morning, they'll give very specific instructions to this -- to this crew of mariners to be on the lookout for anything at all, debris, rafts, anything at all that may -- that may indicate it's a piece of the aircraft.

AMANPOUR: So they have not as yet got close enough to find anything?

STRONG: Not as of yet. And it's such a challenging and complex search and rescue case. The rescue authorities are using essentially science and then every tool, as we say, in the rescue toolbox in order to find anything from the aircraft.

AMANPOUR: Now this is a merchant ship and as we said, we've got this amazing diagram that shows a spider web of all your routes around the world.

It's a merchant ship. So I know it's sort of commandeered to go and do this rescue. But are they also trained to do that? Do they have the special whatever, technological equipment, scientific knowledge, to do that?


Audit Corps


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STRONG: And that's one of the partnerships, the United States Coast Guard has this incredible partnership with commercial vessels from around the world. The crews are trained in search and rescue, should they have to go out and take part in a search and rescue mission. They'll take direction from the rescue authorities; in this case, professionals in Australia. But there are a host of different technologies that are being employed from beacons that can be launched from aircraft, provide wave height, temperature, drift, to just good old-fashioned seamanship, where you've got crew members on the bridge and on the sides of ships looking, using binoculars, employing their radar, anything they can do to stop something at sea.

AMANPOUR: Earlier, when we woke up, our morning, the news was this incredible lead, this first credible lead. And then people started to doubt whether or not it actually was part of the plane.

Do you have any further information that you can share?

Is this still an active search for bits of the plane?

Or could it be unrelated?

STRONG: It could be any number of things, and I won't speculate as to what the pieces of debris that were seen by satellite. But these merchant ships aren't -- this isn't the first time commercial ships have been used in search and rescue for aircraft that have ditched or been lost at sea. In 2009, we had over four commercial ships searching for parts or survivors from Air France. So these crews, again, are skilled. And search and rescue isn't for everyone. You know, these skilled aircraft crews, search and rescue controllers that are on shore, utilizing these satellites and SAR data buoys and then the seamen, many who come from the countries of China and Indonesia and Malaysia themselves, they're very eager to participate and hopefully to bring this to resolution.

AMANPOUR: You just mentioned the Air France disaster, and I guess that is the closest example that people have been pointing to and your company dealt with that as well. You were the first, your ships, on the scene.

Give us an idea of how long it took to find anything credible from that disaster and then how long it took to piece it together and how difficult it was once you got there to actually find debris.

STRONG: You know, our seafarers that were underway at the time and searching for Air France pieces, you know, they described it as challenging conditions because there aren't necessarily beacons that are emitting a signal that you can home in on or radar reflections on a bridge radar.

So, again they're relying on their eyes; they're looking for pieces, depending on the size of the ship and hauling things aboard or coordinating with countries, rescue vessels, Australia happens to be sending rescue vessels, in this case. As I mentioned, it's incredibly complex. But the partnership between all of these entities works very, very well together.

AMANPOUR: Earlier today we heard that there were pings detected after we -- after we were told about this debris, the satellite imagery and that was then being analyzed. Then planes were sent over and we heard that there were pings detected.

Is that -- is that true? Did that hold up?

STRONG: I wouldn't know about the pings but I know if there was something heard, the rescue controllers in Australia who essentially are the -- you know, in the United States, we would say the 9-1-1 operators, but they're the folks that are in charge of coordinating this array of aircraft and ships and rescue buoys and things. If they do receive that ping, they can use that to quickly divert aircraft or the commercial ships, in the case of this car carrier, directly to that site. And hopefully they will and this will come to resolution quickly.

AMANPOUR: And how long has it been since the satellite imagery was first detected, first picked up on, until we, the public, have been told about it?

And how does that distance of time affect the search or where that debris might be?

STRONG: The Australian rescue authorities would have the detailed information on when the satellite imagery was captured and interpreted. But there are special buoys that you may have heard about that can be dropped here in the United States; we call them search and rescue data locator marking buoys. And they will transmit drift information back to the search and rescue authorities shoreside, who are using mathematical equations to determine drift.

So depending on when that particular piece of debris was discovered, if there's a buoy close by to that location, they can then determine the speed that it may have moved, the location that it -- that it -- that it traveled and they can -- they should be able to pinpoint with fairly decent accuracy where it may have ended up and then direct whatever resources are available to find it.


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AMANPOUR: Give me an example of some of the search and rescues that your ships have been called to do. Obviously there was the Air France. But what are the other sort of instances of distress that your ships are called to try to fix?

STRONG: Yes. Ships that participate in the AMVER program rescue on average a life a day, within the last week, several yachtsmen have been rescued off the United States coast. One of the biggest cases that we were involved in was Achille Lauro back in the '90s. The cruise ship Prinsendam, which sank in the -- went down in the Gulf of Alaska in the 1980s

But there was also a tall ship with Canadian students on board that sank; 64 students were rescued by multiple AMVER ships. Seafarers really care about people that are lost at sea and will -- they'll risk their lives to save people and to -- you know, to help out when there's an emergency. So we're indebted to their service. And they're doing a fantastic job here.

AMANPOUR: You mentioned the Achille Lauro. That was such a famous ship, if I'm not mistaken, it was hijacked. It was a case of terrorism. It was in the '80s.

Walk us back through that amazing moment there and what did your ships do?

STRONG: Well, when -- you're correct in the Achille Lauro was involved in a hijacking. But subsequently in the '90s, it caught fire off the coast of Somalia. And additional cruise ships, commercial ships will use any ship that's available to assist in the rescue. The participating AMVER ships were able to come into the Achille Lauro and rescue the passengers, bring them off life rafts and ensure that they were safe.

So I mean, it's just an amazingly complex search and rescue case, any of our cases, even if we're picking up one or two yachtsmen, we may be rescuing hundreds of migrants that are in the Mediterranean or in the Caribbean. Again, every day, at least one life is being saved somewhere in the world. It's just an amazing program.

And again, without the world's commercial shipping community volunteering for this, it's difficult to say what would happen to folks at sea.

AMANPOUR: But finally, you don't really expect to be saving lives from the Malaysia Airlines disaster, do you?

STRONG: You know, this is proving to be a very long and complicated rescue. My hope is that the dedicated seamen and crew members that we have out there in whatever capacity they can -- will help bring this -- bring closure to the families that are involved.

AMANPOUR: Ben Strong, thank you very much indeed for joining me.

STRONG: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

AMANPOUR (voice-over): And after a break, imagine a respite from bad news and bad weather. "Don't Worry, Be Happy" is now a United Nations resolution. We'll explain when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, with all the bad news that we've been reporting recently, imagine a world where happiness isn't just a smiley face; it's an international imperative. March 20th marks the first day of spring after a long freezing and wet winter for most of the planet. It is also the start of the Persian New Year, Nowruz, which is celebrated from Iran to Afghanistan.

And two years ago, the United Nations made it official, Resolution 66/281 proclaimed this the International Day of Happiness -- really. And according to the U.N.'s latest World Happiness Report, these are the top five happiest countries on Earth, based on a variety of merriment metrics and while long winter nights don't seem to bother happy Scandinavians, Danes are the happiest Europeans. And there is one country, the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, a veritable Shangri-La that eschews its economic GDP and touts instead its GNH or Gross National Happiness index. Really.

Grouches everywhere point out that happiness is difficult to quantify and indeed studies show that money doesn't necessarily make you happy and no surprise, poverty doesn't either. Still, as the famous cherry blossoms reappear from Tokyo to Washington at the Jefferson Memorial, let's let Thomas Jefferson have the last word.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are empowered, endowed by their Creator, with certain unalienable rights that, among these, are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

And today, he might have added all women, too.

That is it for our program tonight. Remember you can always contact us at our website, amanpour.com, and follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.

END

March 20, 2014
source: CNN

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CNN'S AMANPOUR TRANSCRIPTS

Ambassador Vitaly Churkin

Aired November 28th, 2013 04:01 PM ET

EDITOR'S NOTE: Below is the transcript of Christiane Amanpour's full interview with Russian Ambassador to the U.N. Vitaly Churkin.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Welcome to the program, Ambassador. Thanks for joining me.

VITALY IVANOVICH CHURKIN, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: So here we have again the attempt to get a peace process on the way for Syria. But we don't even know who's actually going.

Is that a little alarming? Even the special envoy couldn't say who's actually going from all the parties involved.

CHURKIN: Well this is precisely the problem and this is why it has not been possible to convene the conference until this point and only yesterday the secretary-general was able to announce January 22 as the date for convening the conference, but still work needs to be done about the opposition because there is no unity among the opposition and various opposition groups do not recognize the right of a national coalition which is usually referred to as the logical representative of the Syrian opposition, as they are representative.

And of course for the conference to be successful not only the opposition groups need to be constructively engaged but also there must be acceptance among them that they are well represented – some work still needs to be done and we are participating in this work because even though the United States said that they were going to bring the opposition to the table, we are also in the process of talking with various opposition groups in order to make sure that they do come to Geneva, they do come as united as possible, and they talk constructively on the basis of the Geneva communique of 2012.

AMANPOUR: Well, if you had to bet right now, this peace conference is scheduled for about two months away, do you think it'll happen?

And do you think it'll be meaningful?

I mean, uniting the opposition has been attempted for the last 2.5 years.

Do you think there will be a meaningful conference?

CHURKIN: I - you know, my gut feeling is that it is going to happen this time unless there is a major provocation. And what is disturbing is that we hear again a return to this conversation of changing things on the ground before the conference takes place.

So the danger now is an effort by the opposition to reverse the military situation and to have some military gains and then things can go badly and in the absence of unity among the opposition, then the convening of the conference may be at risk.

So now everybody should act with extreme responsibility and prudence and focus on the political track, preparing themselves for the conference rather than on the military track.

AMANPOUR: All right. You talk about the military track and the opposition will obviously also President Assad has very powerful friends, including you and Iran. And there is a lot of military activity on his side as well.

You just heard - we've just been reporting about the terrible humanitarian situation there.

Do you think that the Geneva communique with you and the U.S. and world powers agreed had to see a transitional government, is President Assad expected to be part of a post-conference reality?

Or does the peace proposal envision him leaving power somehow after a peace deal?

CHURKIN: Well, of course, there is nothing about him leaving power in the Geneva communique. But which is going to be the basis of the negotiations.

But our answer to your question is that the Syrians must decide that themselves. They know that there is a Geneva communique; they know that. They need to talk about political transition. They know that they need to put together a transitional body by mutual agreement, including agreeing on the personalities.

What is going to happen after that remains to be seen after they have had a chance to get into the negotiations with the support, hopefully, of key members of the international community. Russian support is going to be there, both for the government and for constructive participation of the opposition.

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AMANPOUR: But do you agree that Assad's role is up for negotiation?

Or do you think that, you know, if he wants, he can keep staying there?

CHURKIN: This is - this is something the Syrians will decide. You said that - you referred to his military power and this is true, he does have strong military at his disposal. But also it's a fact of life that many Syrians, many Syrian population, a large segment of the Syrian population is supporting President Assad. And that also has to be taken into account.

So let's have the dialogue started and let's allow the Syrians to decide what kind of a path they need to take to ending this conflict.

AMANPOUR: Well, as you know, the FSA, the nominal Syrian opposition forces, are basically saying we're not going; we're going to keep fighting. We're not going to this conference.

The Syrian National Council –

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: - yes. But the Syrian National Council has dropped its former opposition to Assad stepping down before such a meeting. So they're saying we can go ahead. So that's a movement from them.

But they also say that one of their conditions is to have proper international access in a humanitarian way.

Can your government at least use its good offices to make sure that happens?

There's a desperate situation in Syria right now.

CHURKIN: Well, first of all, I do not like the word "conditions." Let's not make any conditions; let's focus on the talks in Geneva because one can set up all sorts of conditions.

But the humanitarian situation is certainly of grave concern. And the Russian government has been working very closely with the international community and with the Syrian government in order to improve things.

And some things have improved. For instance, there have been complaints from the humanitarian community about overly complicated bureaucratic procedures from the Syrian government and that has been corrected.

The Syrian government has approved the setting up of new hubs within Syria to simplify the provision of humanitarian assistance.

Today we are participating in Geneva, in the high-level group, which has been convened in - by U.N. humanitarian agencies. And we hope that - all the participants in that group, which incidentally includes Iran and Saudi Arabia has been invited. I don't know if the Saudis are going to attend. The Iranians are certainly going to attend, they assured us.

That that group can also deal pragmatically with the situation on the ground because we have the - some influence with the Syrian government, but nobody knows who's influencing those hundreds or dozens at least of powerful armed groups on the ground, who are preventing from - from preventing or making very difficult humanitarian activity.

And we need to identify those countries. And they need to assume responsibility for dealing with those groups so that they would not prevent evacuation of population from besieged areas, for instance, because over the past few months, there have been a number of situations when the Syrian government was agreeing to evacuation of the population, but the opposition groups prevented that from happening.

And incidentally, an interesting note: whenever the population is leaving various besieged areas, they move to territory controlled by the Syrian government. So I think it tells a lot about whom the population is relying on for providing humanitarian support.

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AMANPOUR: Given the fact that in Geneva the world powers just signed an interim nuclear deal with Iran, is Iran invited to this Geneva 2 conference on Syria?

And is that presence accepted by the United States and the other parties?

CHURKIN: This is - this is - this is one of important issues because we believe that Iran should be invited. Kofi Annan, when he was special envoy with the secretary-general believed that Iran should be invited.

Now both Ban Ki-moon and Lakhdar Brahimi, secretary-general of the United Nations and special representative of the secretary-general for Syria, believe that Iran should be invited.

But the United States is against, we think it makes no sense because now the nuclear deal has been made; and we are - United States engaged Iran both multilaterally and bilaterally. And then, you know, whether Iran is in the room or not, in - of the conference - is going to be a player in Syria.

So it's better to have it in the room; it's better to have its support, the deals which we hope will be reached in Geneva rather than alienate Iran once again. That mistake has been made a number of times before; let's not repeat it in the context of the Geneva 2 conference.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you then on the specifically the nuclear issue, as you can see, this deal has been signed, has created a storm of opposition in Israel, in some parts of the Arab world, in the U.S. Congress.

What can you say about your confidence that this deal will be kept to, that Iran won't break out, that there is sufficient verification?

Do you feel that?

CHURKIN: Yes, we do. You know, it's because it's not a rhetorical deal. It's something which is setting in train (ph) very important steps from Iran and the international community and cooperation with Iran.

The nuclear program of Iran, the enrichment program will essentially be not stopped but sort of not developed any further. And in some cases, turned back, what I'm referring to is the intention of Iran to dilute some of the uranium which was enriched to 20 percent.

New verification measures are being put in place. A joint commission is going to be - is established between the six and Iran involving IAEA and its inspectors.

So this is - I mean, the paper has been released. It's a pretty detailed and very serious deal which I believe is a great achievement, both for the six and for Iran and it's particularly important that we are finally talking in practical things and there is a real opportunity here to get rid of this specter of Iranian nuclear weapon. And if this is - if it were to happen, and we believe that there is a very good chance of that, then this threat to Israel, which has been hanging over their heads for such a long time, will be taken care of. So I think that the Israelis and other doubters should give everybody an opportunity, those who are involved in the actual negotiations, to move ahead on this deal. And that might turn around the entire situation in the bigger region. It will have a positive impact on Syria; will hopefully have a positive impact on the Israeli-Palestinian track and the entire situation of the Middle East.

So we're at a crucial point now. And we are very pleased and encouraged that we are beginning to turn away from the logic of confrontation on the use of military force to dialogue and involvement. This is something which Russia has been advocating for a long time.

AMANPOUR: Ambassador Churkin, thank you very much indeed for joining me.

CHURKIN: Thank you, Christiane.

November 28, 2013
source: СNN

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