LUZHKOV DOES NOT WANT TO IMPOSE HIS VIEWS ON THE PRESIDENT

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LUZHKOV DOES NOT WANT TO IMPOSE HIS VIEWS ON THE PRESIDENT

Russian Television, April 8, 2000, 20:00

Fatherland will not try to get its representatives into the new Cabinet, says Mayor of Moscow Yuri Luzhkov. He added that the president himself must make decisions regarding the members of the government.

Yuri Luzhkov: “I make decisions regarding the staff of the city administration independently. And I am responsible to Muscovites for these decisions. I am convinced that the president must be absolutely free from any influence when forming the government, because in accordance with the Constitution he is responsible for the work of the executive. That is why I think we should not impose our views on him.”

JACQUES CHIRAC HAS CONGRATULATED VLADIMIR PUTIN

Independent Television, April 8, 2000, 19:00

On April 8 Vladimir Putin spoke by phone with French President Jacques Chirac and thanked him for his congratulations on the victory in the presidential election. He also noted that this summer France is to head the Council of Europe. This talk proves that the Western legislators may make different decisions, but the heads of state continue to maintain good relations. They are above all squabbles.

Vladimir Putin: “Mr. President, thank you very much for the invitation and for your congratulations. Our work connected with facilitaring cooperation between Russia, France, and the Council of Europe, especially France is to chair the Council of Europe from July 1, is an absolute priority.”

Moscow seems to have heard what it expected to hear. According to ITAR-TASS, President Chirac told Vladimir Putin that a Russia which is stable, democratic, and open to the world is a necessary component of stability in Europe and worldwide.

AN INTERVIEW WITH FOREIGN MINISTER IGOR IVANOV

ORT, Analiticheskaya Programma Vremya, April 8, 2000, 21:00

The consequences of the decision made by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) have been discussed with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov.

Question: Igor Sergeevich, I believe that there are negative and positive sides in any political affair. The PACE is mocking Russia. What are the positive aspects of this mockery? I wonder why we should put up with this. Why should we fight for membership in the Council of Europe?

Igor Ivanov: You know, the process of joining the Council of Europe was very long and difficult. There were heated debates over whether to join it or not. The Council of Europe is the oldest European organization. What is the essence of this organization? We want to build a united Europe based on common principles in various spheres, including the humanitarian and legal spheres. This means that within the Council of Europe, European countries are developing the concepts and standards on the basis of which other European countries must continue their activities. That is why I think that the four-year experience of our cooperation with the Council of Europe has convinced everyone in the necessity of this organization. I’d like to note that there were a lot of deputies who doubted in the usefulness of our membership in the Council of Europe. But later everyone agreed that it is useful.

We have held a lot of seminars and meetings devoted to the problem of federalism. The process of forming the Federation components in Russia was very difficult. And the experience accumulated by Europe in this sphere was very useful for Russia. This concerns various spheres. Education, for example. In signing an agreement on education, we gain the possibility of Russian diplomas being recognized in other countries.

Q: When you say that we build, or we hope, or we intend to build a united Europe – you always use “we”. Does this mean “we and they”, or only “we”?

Ivanov: I mean all countries which are considered European.

Q: But they don’t think so…

Ivanov: I would not say so. I have not heard such statements yet. I do not think they do not consider us a European country.

Q: The parliamentary delegations which arrived in Strasbourg demand in an offensive manner that Russia stop the counter-terrorist operation in Chechnya.

Ivanov: The Parliamentary Assembly is an advisory body which can express a point of view or its recommendations. It consists of representatives of various factions, who hold a variety of views. The PACE does not play a very important role in the political life of Europe. I think that some deputies of the PACE decided to use the events in the North Caucasus in order to boost their role in the history of Europe. I think they have made a serious mistake and perhaps they will understand their mistake soon.

Q: Even the West criticized these decisions, but only formally. Did you notice that no one criticized the decisions of the PACE seriously? Isn’t it a sign that the West is prejudiced against us?

Ivanov: I think it is solidarity between the representatives of the Western parliamentary organizations. At the same time, the ministerial committee of the Council of Europe said yesterday that it would be a great mistake to isolate Russia from the world.

Q: As I understand, the parliament is an independent organization. And this organization should not discuss its decisions with you. But when the country is exposed to scathing criticism by foreign countries, you must cooperate. Do you coordinate your activities with the parliament?

Ivanov: Of course. We have been working together during this difficult period and were in touch even during the PACE session. It is evident that no one will solve the Chechen problem for us. This problem must be solved by the Russian leadership together with Chechen people. At the same time, we do not prevent international representatives from participating in settling this problem. Perhaps all influential international organizations have sent their representatives to Russia. We have spent much time with the PACE delegations. But we still count on them…

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