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2005 G8 Pre-Summit Conference

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Presentation at the Pre-G8 Summit Academic Conference
University of Glasgow

Michael Savostiyanov
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Russian Federation

It is my great honor to speak at the G8 Pre-Summit academic conference at the University of Glasgow. The final session of the Conference is titled “To Gleneagles and Beyond”. For me “beyond” first and foremost signifies the Russian presidency in the G8 in 2006.

Russia attaches great importance to the G8 activities and considers the Group to be one of the key international forums that allows the heads of the leading industrial and democratic states to develop collective approaches to solving central political and economic issues, as well as global problems of the world development. Of course, the G8 is not the world’s board of directors. However, the members’ economic strength and their responsibilities give this forum for free discussion between friends and allies a capacity for setting and mobilizing on shared goals.

We understand our responsibilities and, at the same time, difficulties in implementing coordinating functions in the G8 next year, especially taking into account that Russia will assume the presidency of the G8 for the first time. That’s why we are actively learning from the experience of our partners, in particular the experience of the British presidency. Our cooperation with the G8 Research Group of the Toronto University, headed by John Kirton, has also proven to be very useful with regards to accumulating necessary knowledge base.

To date, necessary organizational structure in support of the Russian presidency has been set up. In particular, it includes the organizing committee, chaired by Mr. Sergey E. Prihodko, Assistant of the President of the Russian Federation. Its main function is to ensure high-quality level of preparations for our presidency in the G8. Special working groups have also been created in the Russian ministries and agencies involved in the G8 activities.

As to substantive issues of our agenda, we are going to ensure the continuity of the G8 work. In accordance with the documents adopted by the G8 leaders in the recent years, it can be expected that the agenda will include, in particular, discussions on world economy, international finance and trade, assistance to developing countries, cooperation in solving environmental and other global problems, fighting terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, nuclear safety and security. The preparation of our drafts of documents for the G8 summit in Russia will be for sure built on the results of the Gleneagles summit.

Concerning the main themes for the G8 in 2006, I’d like to note that in accordance with the G8 practices they will be chosen by the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin. In the past, selection of the main themes was made in different times, generally three-four months before the country assumed the presidency, sometimes later. To my knowledge, such decision has not yet been made by Mr. Putin.

There is a wide range of possible themes. Some experts speak in favour of energy, education and health as my colleague, Ms.Panova, did yesterday. Other experts propose ecology and demography, among other topics. However, the official choice may very well differ.

As to me personally, I share the opinion of Ms.Panova. Why do I think that the themes of energy, education and health are quite possible and appropriate? I believe that these themes take into account not only interests of our partners in the G8, but they also have great practical implications for the whole world community. Besides, their elaboration will be made not from “zero level”, as they already have deep roots in the G8 activities.

Let’s take energy, for example. We can say that energy crisis of 1974–1975 to a great extent was one of the main factors, which had led to the creation of the G6. In Rambouillet (1975) serious energy problems were recognized as priority issues. The Declaration of Rambouillet defined main actions designed to overcome energy crisis. New energy crisis of 1979 put energy issues in the centre of the discussion in Tokyo and Venice. The Venice Summit Declaration says that “unless we can deal with the problems of energy, we cannot cope with other problems”. Next, the use of nuclear energy was actively discussed during the Moscow Summit on nuclear safety and security in 1996. In Detroit (May 2002) energy ministers of the G8 stressed the importance of energy security and established a number of directions of cooperation in this field. The Evian G8 Action Plan “Science and Technology for Sustainable Development” underlined the necessity to promote energy efficiency, stimulate fundamental research in renewable energies and develop hydrogen technologies. Finally, the Gleneagles document “Climate change, clean energy and sustainable development” is devoted considerably to energy issues. In particular, it states that “secure, reliable and affordable energy sources are fundamental to economic stability and development”. In summation, I think that during the Russian presidency in the G8 we could work out the strategy of global energy security with the overall goal of supplying world economy and population with different energy resources at affordable prices and with minimal damage to the environment.

The themes of education and health are also in my opinion very important. Investing in people could significantly improve the quality of human capital, contribute directly to economic growth and ensure the real progress in achieving Millennium development goals. The joint work on these directions could be the logical continuation of the implementation of previous G8 decisions. For example, in the field of education the Cologne Education Charter and the Okinawa Charter on the Global Information Society can serve as the basis for continuous work. In the field of health, the work can be built on the Evian Plan of Action on Health, corresponding parts of communiqués adopted in Okinawa, Genoa and Kananaskis on infectious diseases and HIV/AIDS, and the Sea Island Plan of Action on establishment of a Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise.

In conclusion, I would like to say that Russia intends to be a constructive partner and to facilitate consensus in decision-making. We are going to work in close cooperation with our partners and in a spirit of openness. We’ll do our best to consolidate efforts and define ways for further strengthening peace and security, achieving greater stability and social and economic progress.

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