За кого вы бы проголосовали, если бы выборы в Госдуму прошли в это воскресение?
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Russian MPs offer divided response to NATO expansion
BBC Monitoring Russian MPs offer divided response to NATO expansion Source: RTR Russia TV, Moscow, in Russian 1010 gmt 14 Dec 02
The latest edition of Russia TV's "Parliamentary Hour" programme, broadcast n 14 December, focused on the likely impact of NATO expansion on Russia. The programme gave four senior MPs from the Duma the opportunity to air their views on the prospects for Russia's relationship with NATO. Opinions ranged from supportive of cooperation, in the case of Konstantin Kosachev, deputy chairman of the Duma's international affairs committee from the Fatherland - All Russia faction; to openly hostile, of Gennadiy Zyuganov, leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. Vladimir Lukin, deputy speaker of the Duma and member of the Yabloko faction, and Lyubov Sliska, first deputy speaker of the Duma and member of the pro-Putin Unity faction, were the other two members of the panel. The following is excerpted from the programme, with subheadings inserted editorially:
[Presenter Oleg Vorobyev] Good day! We're in one of the rooms in the State Duma where parliamentary hearings on the most important defence and security issues take place, sometimes behind closed doors. But today [14 December], we have gathered in order to discuss the issue of NATO expansion. Seven new countries recently joined this organization - Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. And so what we would like to find out is - at the moment, is NATO our ally or our enemy?
Taking part in our discussion are first deputy speaker of the State Duma Lyubov Konstantinovna Sliska; leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation faction Gennadiy Andreyevich Zyuganov; the deputy leader of the Fatherland - All Russia faction, Konstantin Iosifovich Kosachev; and deputy speaker of the State Duma Vladimir Petrovich Lukin, who represents the Yabloko faction.
Sliska: NATO neither ally nor enemy but "partner"
Lyubov Konstantinovna, what do you think, at the moment: is NATO our ally or our enemy?
[Sliska] I would choose a third option - partner.
[Presenter] So what's the difference?
[Sliska] The difference is that, over the last 10 years, let's say, we haven't particularly sensed that they are either an ally or an enemy, but the fact that NATO is drawing towards Russia's borders is, of course, worrying us. And, rather too easily, the NATO leadership hasn't wanted to pay attention to a great number of formalities, such as the fact that Latvia has territorial claims against the Russian Federation, and that human rights aren't being fully observed in Latvia. What also strains things, of course, is the question of why, if Latvia and NATO have no intention of threatening Russia, former Soviet military facilities on the territory of the Baltic states are being modernized.
We would really like an open dialogue.
Zyuganov: NATO "enemies who don't reckon with Russia's interests"
[Presenter] Gennadiy Andreyevich, what's your opinion?
[Zyuganov] I believe that NATO expansion is the greatest mistake in postwar history. In many ways, this is a criminal decision. First of all, it cancels out the whole of the world's postwar system, and all the agreements that had previously been reached.
Russia has been severely weakened, and no-one takes Russia seriously. In that organization, the very same Luxembourg, and the very same Estonia, will have the right to veto, and to take part and cast a decisive vote when issues are under examination. In that mythical 20 [the NATO-Russia Council], we have no vote, and all we can do is give individual pieces of advice. The most shocking thing -
[Presenter, interrupts] None the less, are they partners or allies or enemies?
[Zyuganov] Enemies, and enemies who don't reckon with Russia's interests, enemies who are enlarging their organization, just as Hitler did at one time. First there was the Anschluss of Austria, then the Sudeten [Germans in Czechoslovakia], then he gobbled up Poland, and then he unleashed a major war. And so, if you remember, after 1939 came 1941, and then there was 1945.
I believe the Americans view those who haven't been admitted into NATO not as partners, but as vassals.
Kosachev: "Relationship as allies"
[Presenter] Konstantin Iosifovich, what's your point of view - are we partners, allies, enemies? How should we describe our current relationship with NATO, and Russia's position in this type of geopolitical situation?
[Kosachev] We know that generals always prepare for victory in wars that have already taken place, and, in this case, Gennadiy Andreyevich's position reminds me of just that sort of general, because to believe at present that NATO is the main threat to Russia's national interests is no more than a reflection of the attitudes of the Cold War period, which has been left way back in the past.
In my opinion, it's been a long time since the main threat to Russia's national security came from the West. The threats come from completely different regions - Russia's unprotected southern borders, the constant regional conflicts in Russia's immediate vicinity, by which I mean the Asian region, the Middle East, and what may potentially ripen into conflict between India and Pakistan. I think that we will only be able to confront these new threats, and not in word but in deed, if we construct real relations as allies with NATO. In order to be allies, like in a tango, there need to be two of you. And this sort of relationship as allies undoubtedly requires a re-examination of a series of fundamental approaches, on the part of both NATO and Russia.
Lukin: Agrees with Kosachev, attacks Zyuganov
[Presenter] Do you agree with that, Vladimir Petrovich?
[Lukin] Oh, I agree more closely with Konstantin Iosifovich, which is hardly surprising given that both of us are, after all, professionals in international affairs. By the way, in his comments, Gennadiy Andreyevich very clearly outlined the position which belongs to what I would call the more inert section of our society, which isn't surprising - I can understand that.
In general terms, as Heraclitus once said, things that diverge come together. The sort of radical conservative position which the respected Gennadiy Andreyevich put forward converges with the most radical position. Why? Well, he said that we don't have any voting rights in this new organization, in this new structure, in the 20. Quite right - we don't. What do we need to have rights? What do we need to do in order to have them [the voting rights]? Enter into NATO. And so, in actual fact, he's in favour of Russia's entry into NATO, if I understood him correctly, so that Russia can have voting rights. I wouldn't be against that.
And, you know, the greatest paradox is that the USA, despite its current relationship with us, would be in favour of this, in the final analysis. But who would object? It would be these small states, which are still lagging behind in terms of the postwar system, and are entering into NATO in order to protect themselves from Russia. And who would meet them there? They would be met by Russia, which would be sitting in its chair between two NATO states, and which would address all the issues if there were any. There just aren't any there at the moment.
Zyuganov: Blasts NATO, upbraids USA
[Presenter] Well, Gennadiy Andreyevich would like to respond.
[Zyuganov] Well, first of all, I confirm that I am not a general, but a soldier of Russia, and I will serve here with good faith and fidelity. I have served in the army on three occasions. I served in Germany. I protected the corridors along which we travelled into Berlin from West Germany. I know the operational situation well.
NATO expansion cancels out all the results of World War II. That would mean that 27 million of our compatriots and grandfathers, who laid down their lives in order to liberate their country and Europe, have been betrayed and sold.
The appearance of NATO military facilities in the Baltic states would cancel out the whole of the Petrine period [the reign of Peter the Great]. He spent 20 years hacking out that window [onto Europe]. This would mean cancelling out the whole of Catherine the Great's period, and the conquests of [celebrated Russian army generals] Potemkin and Suvorov, when the Little Russians were defending their own national interests.
We are being pushed out into a cold continent, and they are suggesting that we fight the Arabs and the Islamic world, and there are 1.3bn of them. We have 40m of our own, in traditional areas of Muslim worship. And, for the future, they suggest that we become a trolley, an oil pipeline, and provide special forces for a new struggle against China, or somewhere else.
The Americans have now said that everything lies in their area of vital interests. They're now ready to launch a war in Iraq, which would mean a major war not against Iraq, but against Russia, whose economy can be brought tumbling if the oil fields of Iraq, and, God forbid, Saudi Arabia are seized. They would also dictate terms to the whole of Europe.
[Lukin] The problem here is that this has got nothing to do with NATO. As we know, two of NATO's pivotal members, France and Germany, are adopting positions which are diametrically opposed to the US position. What's NATO got to do with this? We're talking about NATO.
[Zyuganov] Two of NATO's countries are bombing Iraq every day.
[Lukin] Understood - two for, and two against.
[Zyuganov] If the Americans capture the oil, and then tomorrow lower the price from 25 dollars per barrel to 15 dollars, and they could do that in a jiffy, the Russian economy would collapse within three months.
[Sliska] The Russian economy won't collapse from that. Could I ask Gennadiy Andreyevich Zyuganov a question? What could he [Zyuganov] do in order to stop NATO pushing eastward?
[Zyuganov] That's a good question.
[Sliska] But just give us a short answer, because you're dragging out this discussion, as if you were telling us your whole life story.
[Zyuganov] If we hadn't supported Gorbachev and Yeltsin, this would have been sorted out with a sub-machine-gun. We liberated Europe - we were there for almost 50 years. We would have said that we were raising the flag, and that we were going to leave all the garrisons over the next three years. In order to do that, we need to sort out A, B, C and D. And we ask you to sign just one clause - that, after we leave the territory which we liberated from fascism, none of those states take part in any military bloc, and none of them threaten us.
I assure you: then they would all have signed word for word. They were dreaming that our army would leave.
[Sliska] But that didn't happen, Gennadiy Andreyevich. What can we do now?
[Zyuganov] The same thing could have been done in the Baltic states. They were all being chucked out, and now they're spreading their hands in helplessness and asking what is to be done...
I'd like you to show this close up [shows a report to the camera - the front page reads: Pavel K. Bayev - Russia in 2015 - Could the Former Super-Power Turn into a Battle-Ground?]. I gave this to Vladimir Vladimirovich [presumably Putin] along with a letter.
This is a strategy devised by NATO institutes, and it views Russia as a potential enemy. You can open up sections of it which show that, if disorder breaks out in our country, it's very easy to organize it. It's just a matter of [national grid chief Anatoliy] Chubays switching off a few facilities in the cold of winter, and the unrest will break out, and they will start seizing the facilities they consider to be the most dangerous - nuclear ones and others as well.
It sets out the scenario in detail. I wasn't the one who wrote it. It was written at a Norwegian institute, which is under NATO's aegis and is dealing with this.
[Presenter] Is this a new document?
[Zyuganov] This is a new, very recent document.
Kosachev: "No new immediate military threats" with NATO expansion
[Presenter] And now to Konstantin Iosifovich. I would like to ask you: after all, NATO really is a military structure, and it would seem to have military plans for all of life's eventualities -
[Zyuganov] Yes, you said the right thing - for all of life's eventualities.
[Presenter] For all of life's eventualities. In this situation, how should Russia behave, and what can we do in order to, let's say, break the barrier of distrust?
[Kosachev] Well, first of all, I would propose that we return to the topic of our discussion. Today, we're discussing NATO. We're not discussing the position of individual research institutes. The position of this organization certainly hasn't been approved and accepted as part of the [NATO] programme of action. This is an improper reference on the part of Gennadiy Andreyevich. And we're certainly not discussing the US position here, because the US position - those times have also been left in the past - the position of NATO, thank God, is not symmetrical, and we are happily becoming convinced, time and time again, that, within the framework of NATO, Europe is acquiring increasing independence, and its voice is being heard more and more in times of crisis. And that, in my opinion, is a very healthy basis for our relationship with the alliance.
I am convinced that, at the moment, NATO is rapidly moving towards intra-organizational collapse. And, in fact, the USA came to understand this a lot sooner than many other NATO states. Since 11 September, it is as if all the USA's objections and inflated demands have dissolved in the air. Now, a considerable wave of expansion has taken place, and I am getting the impression that the USA has quite simply given up on NATO's possibilities, and has no intention of making real use of it in its foreign policy actions.
I believe that NATO's expansion poses Russia no new immediate military threats - military, I stress - but for one exception. There is the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe [CFE], and until new states and members of the alliance, and the Baltic states in particular, join this treaty, there will indeed be a so-called grey zone in the immediate vicinity of Russia's borders, where we would be fulfilling our obligations on flank restrictions on conventional armed forces - tanks, aircraft, combat helicopters, artillery, armoured equipment - while our neighbours on the other side of the border could, purely in theory, withdraw from these restrictions.
To be honest, I believe that this situation of stagnation won't last long, because it's a lot more important for the NATO leadership and the USA to have a normal relationship with Russia than to provoke a crisis by deploying an additional quantity of tanks on the territory of the Baltic states.
And so Russia is quite right in firmly raising the issue that the Baltic states must join the regime of the CFE Treaty, but I hope that this won't lead to so serious a crisis.
[Presenter] So a solution to this problem is a realistic possibility?
[Sliska] It's realistic.
[Kosachev] Finding a solution to this problem is realistic, and I think it will happen in the coming months.
[Lukin] Within two months of the Baltic states officially joining NATO, they will definitely enter into the CFE Treaty. But I would just want to add that the Baltic states are the Baltic states. After all, however much you inflate a hare, you won't turn it into a bear, you see. Their armies have 500 people, 300 people, and, if there is any sort of increase connected to NATO, it will be a similar number again. And that ignores the fact that this wouldn't make any sense, because Russia is a nuclear country, and only if someone has a superhuman imagination can he believe that one of the Baltic states, whether they have NATO's help or not, would start waging war against Russia, while believing that Russia wouldn't react. In one way, Russia remains the same as the Soviet Union, and that is as a major nuclear power. And no-one would raise a hand - neither NATO nor the USA would do anything.
[Zyuganov] With that sort of policy, soon we won't even be a nuclear power. I'd just like to add something on the subject of inflated hares. In two rounds of admission, NATO's aviation potential alone has increased by 1,000 units. For next year, and Konstantin won't let me lie, the budget for our military aviation contains orders for one aircraft and not even a single helicopter.
[Sliska] I support Konstantin Iosifovich, in the sense that the USA has long since understood that NATO is the sort of structure where you can't reach decisions quickly. It really does require a major transformation. They acknowledge that, and, as far as the CFE Treaty is concerned, when the seven countries were accepted as members in Prague - in other words, they received official invitations - it [NATO] said that they must join this treaty. And this is already prescribed there. Vladimir Petrovich was right to say that, within two or three months, this will be a compulsory procedure for all seven participant countries.
[Kosachev] We have now touched upon the issue of budget funding. This really is an issue which matters to us as parliamentarians. It's no secret that the Russian budget's ability to finance its military expenditure is extremely limited, whether we like it or not. And it is my deeply held belief that the only conclusion one can reach from this is that this expenditure must be planned with the utmost intelligence. At the moment, we can't afford the luxury of all-round defence, irrespective of the real threat which we face from one direction or nother.
It seems to me that those resources which Russia has within the budget must be used in order to address tasks such as illegal immigration, strengthening the southern borders, demarcating borders in those areas where this is yet to be done, arranging cooperation in the fight against terrorism, which we have already spoken about at length, organizing those servicemen who actually perform the most important missions in protecting the borders of the Russian Federation.
Zyuganov: Russia NATO's "cannon fodder"
[Presenter] A recent survey of public opinion [word indistinct] in 2002 yielded some interesting results. Sixty per cent of Europeans surveyed said they were in favour of Russia's entry into NATO, while, in the USA, 68 per cent of Americans said they were in favour. So we're viewed not as an enemy, but as an ally. That surprised the Europeans and the Americans themselves, but, nonetheless, it remains a fact. How would you comment on the results of this survey?
[Zyuganov] They look upon us as cannon fodder, cheap labour and one big quarry - I've already mentioned this. As far as American colonels go, if they were to hear that they're no longer in NATO, they would quite simply be incensed. But they're sitting in Tbilisi, in Central Asia, although they will leave Afghanistan. But they will remain in Central Asia, the Baltic states and the Caucasus, and you won't be able to flush them out with a stick.
Lukin: NATO "falling apart"
[Lukin] You see, the whole time while we're talking - and that's Gennadiy Andreyevich, in particular - it's not clear what he's talking about. What, that the West is bad? Or are we talking about NATO? That they'll drive us into the plantations and use us as labour? I don't think you mean NATO. You mean the bad, horrible, nasty West, one that isn't very clearly defined...
I would say this to you: if they really did want to use our workforce, they would have made investments, because the corresponding enterprises over here would have been a lot cheaper and would have produced quality goods. But, in actual fact, they're investing in China.
But if we're talking about NATO, then a very normal story is being played out. NATO is falling apart. NATO doesn't have a mission. This isn't because every single NATO gun is falling apart -
[Zyuganov] How did you come up with the idea that NATO is falling apart?
[Lukin] Well, first of all because -
[Zyuganov] After all, it's expanding!
[Lukin] But at the same time NATO has reduced its military power by more than a third over the last few years. Second, because, whenever something expands, it starts falling apart, starting with the Roman Empire and ending with the Soviet Union, apologies for the expression. So there. That is why -
[Presenter] An interesting point of view.
[Lukin] That is why - it is not just interesting, it is a historical point of view.
[Zyuganov] You are just trying to lull us into a false sense of security.
Sliska: Policy of engagement
[Sliska] Various points of view on NATO expansion can be offered. However, we cannot influence the wish of a state to choose for itself a system of national security. Indeed, the Baltic states have made their choice. They have now, in effect, already been invited to join NATO. Our mission, really, is now to oblige everyone to join the CFE Treaty, which is what is now being pursued by the Russian State Duma, and our diplomats, who are also working to achieve that.
If, on the other hand, all we did was criticize NATO all the time, as of old, to the effect that it is an enemy, public opinion would continue to be formed on the lines that never can agreement be reached with anyone on anything.
In July this year, I was in Italy. I very much liked what Giulio Andreotti said. As a Russian citizen, you know, it was music to my ears. He said: Why do we need NATO at all? After all, the Warsaw Pact has been disbanded. So let us disband NATO. That was what an Italian said.
So, for that to happen, we must do some serious work in that direction, so as to prove this point: Is there any need for such a military-political structure as NATO, what will it give us and what will it not give us? The fact that some things have become apparent on the minus side, to some extent we view it as normal. On the other hand, given that we have now adopted [the principle of] European security, and have all become in favour of the preservation of that European security, will NATO's sluggishness not harm us, too?
So here, too, points of view to be discussed could be diametrically opposed to each other. And were we to invite to the studio four more representatives of our groups of deputies, the opinions that would emerge would again be very different.
So I believe that the aim is that any treaties and any talks are always more productive than criticism alone.
Kosachev: No nuclear deployment in NATO's new member states
[Kosachev] The Russian Federation's defence doctrine is clear on this point: We defend our territory, our country with reliance on strategic nuclear forces. That is the foundation of our defence. With all responsibility, I can tell you that when NATO adopted its strategy of expansion eastwards at the beginning of the 1990s, in 1993 to be more precise, it was written down in black on white that NATO shall abide by unilateral voluntary limitations and shall, without any coordination with Russia and anybody else, not deploy nuclear weapons or means of its delivery on the territory of its new member states. Nobody has reneged on those limitations. So there'll be no new nuclear weapons or strategic bombers on the territory of its new member states, be it the first wave - the Poles, the Czechs and the Hungarians - or a future wave. If there are any, that will constitute a breach of NATO's own decisions and the spirit of cooperation that is undoubtedly now manifest between Russia and the USA. So, from the viewpoint of the national security of the Russian Federation, let me repeat again, NATO expansion does not pose any new threats. Forgive me but I absolutely do not seriously consider the deployment of any additional number of tanks in the Baltic states to be a threat to Russia's national security.
[Zyuganov] I again want to -
[Kosachev] Gennadiy Andreyevich, as for you, I -
[Zyuganov] I don't want him to confuse our viewers, particularly from within the State Duma.
[Presenter] In what way, though, does he contribute to confusion?
[Zyuganov] Just a minute.
[Kosachev] Gennadiy Andreyevich, as for you, I could -
[Zyuganov] In this world, and in a theatre of war, one recognizes the number of tanks, ammunition, precision weapons, the operational situation, geography and many more like things. But the rest is nonsense. You will do well to remember that. Any military man who has taken part in any, however small, conflict, knows that.
The USA's SDI [Strategic Defence Initiative] system is ready today. It can incapacitate our group of satellites. Today, two small needles can be thrown to pierce a porthole, and render you deaf, blind and unable to launch any of your missiles from any of your silos. Those preparations are nearing completion. Tomorrow, NATO's hordes, if deployed and even if armed conventionally, would get you just like that.
Zyuganov: Dialogue with Europe
[Presenter] To listen to you, one is disheartened. We really have no way out and no chance of survival.
[Zyuganov] There is a way out allright. To be in contact with all power centres, with Europe. I am in favour of the best relations possible with Europe, where neither Germany nor France want an even stronger America.
[Lukin] NATO's members, NATO's members, -
[Zyuganov] They don't want it to become stronger. After the bombing of Yugoslavia, the euro shed 25 per cent of its value. In the four years, it has barely recovered. They categorically do not want that. And that should be taken advantage of.
[Presenter] However, whether we wanted it or not, NATO has expanded, It has now become reality. How can Russia use - and benefit from - the fact that is NATO's expansion? What can we gain from cooperation with NATO?...
Sliska: Russia's "niche"
[Sliska] Russia, with its territory, so vast, and its military potential, so considerable, is not yet needed in NATO. Let us not labour under any misapprehensions or fool ourselves here. Russia is an independent, major power, to be reckoned with. The result of Putin's activities in the international arena in the past three years has been that the attitude to Russia has become fundamentally different. It can be felt even during those visits at which we are now present and hold talks.
So I would not like us now either to seek benefit from or harm in it. Time will show. A mere five months has passed since a new format, the Russia-NATO Council, came into being. Since 11 September, little more than a year has passed and no real results have been seen, either. So what Russia should do now is precisely to occupy that niche where something has been left undone or has not gone beyond declarations, and fill in the gaps there. Russia has the opportunity to do so, and should not miss it. That is the task of all our agencies without exception.
Lukin: Balance between USA, EU
[Lukin] I would say that the main issue is that we have to find the right relationship between America and Europe.
Contrary to what may seem to be the case at first glance, Britain's leadership is not so silly. They are trying to manoeuvre between continental Europe and America, and sometimes - as a result - they rise to positions in the world that are greater than anything Britain could achieve otherwise.
Perhaps, Russia ought to look at that point of view closely. In some things, we should be with America and work with it when it suits us, for example in Afghanistan, where we have put up a barrier with the help of the Americans, a barrier to a Taleban attack on Central Asia, which really would be very bad news for us. Sometimes, strategically, we should work more with Europe, to contain America, whose policies are in reality far from sweet. I mean precisely America, rather than NATO. The former reminds me of a young lad with bulged biceps who can, if he so wants, take action unilaterally without regard for anyone else. It should be contained, but contained in a subtle way. And it can only be contained if we are part of the system. If we are outside the system, we shall not be able to do anything.
Kosachev: Warning to Russia against return to Cold War
[Kosachev] NATO, again whether we like it or not, is effectively the whole of Europe. At any rate, soon it will be most European states. And if we were knowingly to place ourselves in a situation where we remained hostile to the whole of Europe, the consequences of that for Russia would be most lugubrious. The result of that would be that we would not be able to supply it with energy, as we plan to do with gas and oil, which is now under discussion. Those restrictions on Russia that are still in place in the EU would, in that case, stay. We would not be able to supply it with consumer goods, as we would continue to suffer the press of sanctions, as an enemy. And, paradoxical as it may sound, we would once and for all be deprived of the possibility to preserve military-technical cooperation with European states.
So, if we now try to kick NATO and return ourselves to the times of the Cold War - and in the studio just now the times of the Cold War all but came back - we shall hoist ourselves with our own petard big-time, which will be felt in the future by our industry in its evelopment, and Russia's military-industrial complex as it seeks to establish and further strengthen itself.
Zyuganov: Cooperation with NATO "will not be successful"
[Zyuganov] Let me answer that. As you understand, here he more condemns me than NATO. NATO is the USA's military fist with which to impose its diktat. Those who don't realize that will see the whole scenario in the next two to three years. In this case, the USA does not always listen to its European allies.
If all of the planet's resources are divided per capita, in Russia the ratio is 160,000 dollars, in Europe it is six - only six - and in the USA it is 16. For so long as this ratio remains, Europe will continue to reckon with Russia, and we should develop good all-sided relations with it. I don't want and don't intend to fall out with the USA, but it will listen to no-one today. Not properly, anywhere in the world. We should energetically develop our relations with China and India. With India in particular, we have never had any problems. Nor have we ever in our history warred with Arab states. That is why, pursue a different policy, form a strong government and run the country as it should be run. Then, no doubt, you will be reckoned with.
[Presenter] And yet, Gennadiy Andreyevich, can we still derive some benefit from cooperation with NATO?
[Zyuganov] Our cooperation with NATO will not be successful. The only benefit to be derived from it will be for them, that they will use us in all the hot spots and, in the short term, conflicts.
Lukin: Russia's democratic development
[Presenter] And my last question, which concerns the role of the Duma. What position should the State Duma take, what can it do in the situation, in order to raise Russia's profile in the international arena and, above all else, in the relationship with NATO?
[Lukin] First of all, first of all, and as regards the strategy I have just outlined, a highly important precondition is for Russia to be a democracy; for parliament in Russia not only to be called parliament, but for it to be just that; for there to be independent courts in Russia not only because that's what they are called - independent - but for them to be independent; for the leadership of Russia to be truly strong and for an executive vertical truly to exist, when the executive decisions of the centre reach every region and every locale, but for it at the same time to be controllable. So if all that is in place, then Russia will be able to form part of what could be termed the Euro-Atlantic community, which is developing faster than any other community and which is joining the 21st century more quickly. If that is not in place, Russia will not form part of that community and, therefore, will not be a dynamic developer.
Kosachev: Economic self-sufficiency
[Kosachev] I believe that Russia will take its due place in the international community, one that befits it, only when it becomes self-sufficient economically, when we are no longer dependent on foreign loans. It is only then that Russia will be able to be on equal terms both with the USA and NATO, and all the other states, attempt as they might to adopt a superior attitude towards Russia. It is only in that way, and not by military means, that Russia will be able to secure the place that rightfully belongs to it.
[Sliska] What I would like is for the Russian parliament always to express the interests of the state, and for those interests never to be criticized. Let us criticize them here, internally, but not there, publicly, as is done today - what is good and what is bad here.
Let me repeat my question to Gennadiy Andreyevich. He may choose not to answer it. Why did he refuse to become president in 1996? After all, back then you clearly won a victory. It was recognized. You, however, did not want to become president. That means that, in some way, you feared responsibility. There is documentary information to that effect. You, however, chose not to fight for that post to the end. You knew that you had won a victory then. A victory. But, Gennadiy Andreyevich -
[Zyuganov] That one is below the belt.
[Sliska] Gennadiy Andreyevich, that is not below the belt.
[Zyuganov] Six years ago, you kept silent. Why is it that you mention it only now?
[Sliska] Not so. I did not keep silent. I knew what the situation was. You, too, knew.
[Zyuganov] You kept silent.
[Sliska] But you chose then not to fight even for yourself. Now, however, you lambast the government, you lambast the president, although, forgive me, in a comparably short period of time no secretary-general of the CPSU Central Committee managed to achieve the degree of influence in the world that the current president and the current government have achieved.
[Presenter] However, back to the subject of the State Duma. What can be done?
[Sliska] I think that, here, our position should be balanced, once again. Above all else, it should be balanced. No sudden movement is allowed. All that does is irritate our partners. As much as possible, everything should be built on trust. But, as the Russians say, trust but check. In absolutely everything, Russia's interests must take precedence. It is not all that difficult to seek to secure them by any diplomatic means.
[Presenter] Perhaps, what our discussion has shown is that, in any event, Russia should assess the geopolitical reality of the day and build new policy in a constructive and well-thought-out way, to ensure that we are reckoned with as a great power and that our interests are taken into account, including in the regions that have now come to be in NATO's sphere of influence. Thank you for taking part in our discussion. It is now time to end our programme. Good bye and all the best.
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