Russian Senator Sums Up The Year

Chairman of the Federation Council's (upper chamber of parliament) international affairs committee Mikhail Margelov has said that Russia, obviously, managed to enhance its position in the international arena in 2001. The senator believes that, above all, this came as the result of domestic reforms. Margelov emphasised that Russia had demonstrated its impressive economic growth potential, consistently pursued structural reforms, taken serious steps towards guaranteeing intellectual property rights for foreign and domestic investors and made important moves towards settling its foreign debt. All this, he said was "better than any advertising campaign" for Russia's image abroad. Margelov pointed to the establishment of permanent and business relations with the new US administration and participation in the anti-terrorist coalition as being two of the year's foreign policy successes. He also highlighted the start to constructive dialogue with western European partners on prospects for economic co-operation and security, including in the form of EU-Russian interaction, as well as the signing of a fundamental treaty with China and the founding of the Shanghai organisation for co-operation. "I consider the dramatisation of the US decision to withdraw from the 1972 ABM treaty to be totally groundless," Margelov said, adding that "obviously, [we] need, in this connection, to change our foreign policy concept." In his opinion, after this step is taken "we can again give ourselves the freedom to determine the optimal structure of our nuclear forces. At the moment, the task is to continue to the negotiation process on arms cuts, which we are interested in not only from the military, but also the economic point of view." The achieved result should be augmented next year. This means, in particular, Margelov said, that the arms control system must be maintained, Russia's interests must be taken into account in the process of European enlargement, while the country should defend its positions in terms of WTO membership. Peace and stability must also be brought to Afghanistan and central Asia as a whole, the senator said by way of a conclusion.

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