tv Politics Public Policy Today CSPAN November 4, 2014 4:30pm-6:31pm EST
>> were purchase cards or debit cards used for that acquisition? >> no, sir. >> okay. that's what i wanted to know. let me ask our i.g.s. is it ever permissible to use a purchase card for a hair salon session, gym membership or personal gift cards? >> hair salons we didn't have in our transactions, but we did research on gym memberships and there's a decision that says in some circumstances, it is permissible to purchase gym memberships if it's part of some health and welfare program. >> authorized by your employer? >> right. >> let's put that aside for a
moment. let me refrain the question. is it ever permissible to go to a hair salon or your personal gym unrelated to that exemption for you or your family or to purchase gift cards in using a government-issued debit card, purchase card, credit card? >> not unless it has a government associated use, an approved use. >> and are the policies you look at epa explicit about that prohibition? >> they are not explicit about the prohibition. >> they are not? >> right, that was part of our recommendation in the report is that they be more explicit about the issues of gym memberships and gift cards, that they need to improve controls there. epa is in the process of improving their policies in that area, but they have not completed their policies in that area. >> that doesn't sound complicated. what goes through one one's mind if you have a federally issued
credit card and decide i need groceries tonight. why not just put it on the government card? i'm not saying anyone has ever done that, but clearly some alarm bell ought to go off in your head that's not a proper use of a government-issued credit card. >> normally, you would expect most people to think that, but there are people out there that think, no one is looking at this, let me use this. >> temptation is a different issue, that's right. and i look forward to the epa's prohibition. it's amazing to me, mr. chairman, they don't have one. mr. lewis? what about the department of labor? same question. >> i can't think of a case where it would be permitted. it would be very narrow. there would have to be some nex us is to government business in order to do that, and i don't know what that would be in the department of labor. >> i suppose if you were the
department of labor employee of the year and you were going to meet queen elizabeth, we might say, yeah, get your hair done. but other than that, i u can't think of an exemption for a hair salon. can you? >> no. >> are the policies at dol, department of labor, explicit in this prohibition? >> well, we currently have an audit looking at the general purchase cards across the department. so we're still looking at how well that's done. in terms of this audit -- >> that's not my question. is there an explicit prohibition in the department of labor's own po policy saying you can't use credit cards for those purposes? >> i do not know exactly what the policy says for the purchase cards in general in the department. that's what we're currently look ing at. for what we have looked at in the job corps program, it was explicit as to what you could
use the cards for. >> but not explicit in prohibited activities? >> no. explicit in terms of two only things. >> in my life i often will be engaged in various things and the question that always comes to mind that you ought to ask is what could go o wrong with that. so not having an explicit -- thou may not use it for personal purposes, i don't understand what's hard about that, but it's astounding they didn't have one. >> it's important in the general program. in the case of the debit cards where there were only two uses, baggage fees when traveling, students were traveling, and the allowance they give them for meals while traveling. in that case, it's very easy to stipulate there are only two uses. you don't need to stipulate you should not use it for. >> ms. richards? the department of homeland security. >> i can't think of an instance
where those purchases would be appropriate. but again, you'd have to look at the individual purchase to see if there was a nex us to government purpose. the department of homeland security's regulations do state that government purchase cards are to be used for government business only and not for personal business. >> so you have an explicit prohibition? >> we don't have an explicit prohibition naming those items but that guidance. >> mr. lyle, understanding that you can't speak for policy for the air force, we understand that, but can you think of a reason why we wouldn't want to include the pentagon and by extension the air force in a government-wide consistent set of standards mechanisms and
standard operating procedures with respect to the use of such cards? especially since you are, by far, the biggest user. >> the department of defense is the largest user of purchase cards. i can speak for policy for the air force, just not for the department of testifies. as you know, we are part of office of secretary of defense policy. they set the policy for all of osd. but from an air force perspective, the internal controls and i'm not saying that these internal controls would not -- would not need the government control act as far as the transaction -- as far as the government charge card prevention act. i'm not saying we wouldn't benefit from that act, but i can tell you a little bit about our internal control process that we
have now. in addition to that, we have six levels of control. we also have a separation of function, a requiring organization or a person that has a need. the card holder and then the payer. no one person can have all three of those functions and responsibilities and have one person to prevent those kinds of frauds. the only way that could happen is all three people would have to be in collusion to execute fraud of that caliber. it's not to say it's not impossible. so whether or not the card prevention act would prevent. that, that's something we could look at. as far as those six levels i was talking about the agency or the program coordinator does monthly reviews of every transaction -- excuse me, an annual review, but the approval official of the card holder looks at every single transaction. the separation of power and
control and functions so that no one person has all authority and control over the card. >> has the air force i.g. audited the use of these purchase cards for you? >> yes, the air force audit agency, i'm not aware of the i.g. looking at these particular cards. they usually refer that to the air force contracting organization if they suspect or if anyone reports a problem with a purchase card they refer those issues. >> it's just when you're spending $1.2 billion with 26,000 purchase cards in distribution in just the air force, it's hard to believe there hasn't been some misuse. >> we have documented 26 actions out of the 1.5 million. >> but you have heard the statistics here today. that would put you at radical
variance from other federal agencies in the civilian sector. >> yes, that's not to say we don't have abuses of the card or misuse of the card and we know about every single one of them and we do a check on those particular issues. >> if your numbers are accurate, then maybe we need to have the u.s. air force take over the issuance of all cards. >> give us the rours resources, we'd be glad to. >> transfer some of that management money. that's quite a record, mr. lyle. >> we're very proud of our accomplishments. i'm not aware of fraudulent issues other than the 26 i mentioned. i don't know what even and every one of those are, but i'm proud . >> you should be if the numbers are accurate. >> i have no reason to believe they aren't. >> let me ask again our three i.g.s. questions a layman might ask,
are there just too many cards in circulation for us to really get our arms around it? and are there too many employees authorized to use such purchase cards? should those numbers be more manageable and more controlled in terms of the number? >> within epa they do conduct an annual review to make sure we have the right number of people with purchase cards. the idea is also that they be at the local level and that they be supervised locally. whether or not 2,000 employees is the right number, i can't really say at this point. >> well, how many employees are there in epa total? >> 16,000. >> so what if i said everyone who is an employee, when you become an employee of the epa,
we're going to issue one of these cards to you because you might need it. they are working so well, why not everybody have one? what would be wrong with that? >> it would be wrong because you'd have to have quite a few controls. >> that's my point. do we have any idea about what is an optimum number versus too many? you withhold judgment in 2000 but exercise judgment on 16,000. >> i'm not aware the optimal number. >> when you looked at this problem, was it your impression that the epa is challenged with managing this number of cards issued to this number of people? is that beyond their management skill or do you think it's just right? >> epa was challenged in managing that number because they left it up to the approving officials to come up with their own standard operating
procedures. that resulted in a lot of variance. >> because there's a lack of uniformity. >> one of the things epa has done based on the audit report is now implemented standard operating procedures that will be instituted across the agency in the hopes of trying to level things out and institute more controls. >> that's a novel thought. i work ed for a very large company with 45,000 employees. when credit cards were issued, there was a standard policy company wide. we didn't just leave it up to local managers to decide how a credit card could be used or when it would be issued or to whom. we had standards and it worked for a worldwide company. mr. lewis, you indicated in your testimony that 98 of 104 job
centers had improper travel purchas purchases. is that correct? >> correct. >> ms. richards had a piece of testimony where she thinks the problem in dhs is not with the design of standards, it's with the enforcement of those standards. correct? >> yes, sir. >> how would you characterize it in the department of labor? do you think the design of standards is satisfactory or even exemplary or is there a problem with the design of standards itself? >> well, in this particular instance, i think it's the design of the standards or lack of design as well as enforcement or oversight over these. but again, this is a very kind of narrow and unique issue within the job corps program to utilize these debit cards. an answer to your previous
question, i think the conclusion in this case was one debit card was too many debit cards. they are such small individual purchases that were being handled in this manner that even if you put all the controls in place to ensure that purchases were proper, it would cost a lot more to administer that and it would be worth. the job corps centers were purchasing these cards from $10 to $60. they paid $6 a piece for a card. so a $10 debit card cost them $16. so no matter how you administer that, it was not going to be an effective tool. and the fact that they had so many of these debit cards on handmade it much more tempting to people to misuse them. so they have switched to either using the travel cards, which were available to pay for some of these expenses or the very
smallest things such as a $5 meal allowance, it would just be best to give the student cash for that rather than pay an $6 to provide the debit card. >> my final question, ms. richards, it's my understanding that your office has issued three previous reports on the department's use of purchase cards since 2010. is that correct? >> yes, sir. >> each report contained recommendations. has the department of homeland security acted on those previous recommendations? >> yes, sir, they have. i would have to get back to you with a list of the specific actions they have taken. >> i would like to see that because obviously we don't want to see recommendations ignored and it tells us something here in the oversight and government reform committee when an agency is making a good faith effort. thank you very much. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you.
a couple of questions. first, ms. richards, we were looking through your testimony and then your report. it said you reported 925 million purchases totaling $439 million. that's in the testimony. >> that's from 2013. >> but when you divide that up it's about 50 cents per transaction. is that correct? >> sir, those are the numbers that i have. some transactions are smaller than others. >> an average of 50 cents a transaction. >> i would have to get back to you. >> we don't -- something is missing here. i just don't think that's accurate. but you repeated that in your testimony. >> those are the the numbers
that i have. those are department reported numbers. >> that's the report we have too. but again, something doesn't make sense there. if you could check that. >> yes. >> we will be leaving the record open for a period of two weeks, without objection, so ordered. so we will have additional questions e we will be submitting after this. okay, the 2012 law allowed -- and air force is not under this, but 2012 law allowed employees to be fired, dismissed, terminated, prosecuted. can you tell us, ms. casper, how many you know of terminated, disciplined or prosecuted? >> we recommended in our report that epa take action. epa was supposed to be taking action by september 30th.
we haven't done the follow-up review yet for those actions. >> do you have of any? >> i'm not aware of any. >> could you check that? >> would the chair yield? >> when you say take action, does that include, and if so how many, referrals for prosecution? >> that could potentially be among the actions that they could take. >> but you didn't make that recommendation? >> no, we just said that they take the appropriate action. >> leaving it up to them. okay, thank you, mr. chairman. >> well, again, we can pass a law, but the law has to be enforced and there has to be consequences. i remember we had rudy giuliani here on drug policy. and i was fascinated by his zero tolerance. man, they threw the book at you. and new york today has the residual effect of the zero
tolerance policy. people were taken to task, prosecuted, gone after. but we passed the 2012 law, we put tools in at epa. mr. looewis, you had cited several. that was in the miami instance. anyone prosecuted or discipline ed? >> so to my knowledge, there's no one prosecuted, but i have to get back to you on that. >> i'd like to know. >> we did refer all the instances we found in the job corps audit to our investigators. but to my current knowledge, no one was actually prosecuted. i'm not aware of any departmental employee that's been fired since this law has been in place for such actions. i think in this case, these were contractor employees and so they
already had more latitude in terms of addressing that and we would have had in the past with the federal employees. >> just for the record, i have to put put this in, in my own a in central florida i had housing authority and the director who came in after housing authority was taken over by hud. it was so mismanaged they brought in another director. when i came to office, the first thing was a housing authority director coming to me complaining that the state attorney was going after it. and part of it was credit card abuse, making false payments and asked me to weigh in for her. i asked her to find the door because the list of charges were just incredible. so then i go back to having hud take over the same housing authority.
they put in another housing director. when i found out about his reputation, tried not to get him appointed. washington overrode me. atlanta overrode me. i hired him. we had spent millions to bring the thing back. turned it back over. we took -- hud took control. and within seven, eight years he ran it down. i think there were thousands of dollars of credit card abuses. the -- i wish i had remembered this before we did this hearing today. i should have hud in here. but hud investigated the i.g. made a criminal referral to the department of justice and they never -- we asked justice, they never pursued it. so we have agencies who are
abusing the public trust. well, some employees. and we have mechanisms to go after them. and the department of justice refused to go after them. if you go in with a mask and a gun and they had taken 10% of what was gone. again, i have to recall that for the record. miss richards, you're next. anyone prosecuted, terminated or disciplined in dhs? >> sir, i'm aware that some employees have been disciplined and terminated for credit card abuse. but at dhs, those records would not be managed centrally, so i would not have the ibability to get the scope of all the actions that might have been taken. >> well, if you could review that, let us know for the record, too, we're leaving that open. we're trying -- we passed a law in 2012 to try to be better stewards of public money.
we can save money, the air force has cited in testimony that you can save money by using these for small transactions. and there's a lot of benefit. but there's also a lot of abuses. epa today. about half of the sampling abuse, the labor, 35% on the debit cards. dhs she hasn't come totally clean with us, but we'll get the information one way or another. we have our methods, miss richards, of extracting the information. just teasing. just teasing. we're relying on you to report to us. again, we would like to kind of get a better handle on on what is taking place, and if the law needs, my last question to, to east of you.
some of this is poor management practices. some of it is not having a proper protocols that are and can take the law to implementation. if there's any tool missing or anything we can do. the other thing, too, is they should possibly have a role in this or requiring at least that an agency come up with some set of protocols or the agencies or compliance. so any recommendations for myself? >> the law contains many of the control ls that are necessary
regarding purchase cards. they were not overseeing. >> again, it's a lack of compliance. >> right. >> okay. >> and we might look at some mechanism to ensure that. mr. lewis. >> we haven't found anything to address legislation. ours as well is a case of complete lack of oversight or attention to this. and the requirements are there for that to be in place. the focus that has put on it has been good. and that is working to start bringing these things. >> you have cited some successes in bringing about compliance and also implementing the intent and purpose of the law. mr. lyle, the air force has
cited what they have done to try to get the proper use of these cards. ms. richards, anything you see we need to do from the law or procedural stand point? >> no, sir, not at this time. the law very wisely puts in place the regular risk assessments and reporting to the oigs and the requirements for us to take a look back at what the departments are doing. i think as that plays out over time, it will better inform any changes you have to make in the future. >> okay, mr. conley, did you have something? >> yeah, can i just follow up on that? first of all, i'll answer your question. i certainly one thing that came out of this hearing for me is we need prohibition on the personal use of these cards, period.
there cannot be any circumstance of unjob related use of a credit card issued by the government. that is wrong is and we need to make prohibition it seems to me. and it ought to be required of any federal agency that issues such cards. at any rate, that would be one thing i would answer your question in terms of how we might update the law. other than that, i'm glad to hear the 2012 laws are helpful. >> does omb enforce the law or put out any guidelines? is that their role? i'm not sure. >> omb put out a circular a123, i think it was updated based to comply with the new law. >> you mean the 2012 law? >> do you think that's adequate? i'm not aware of the provisions. >> i'm not aware that there's any issues or problem. >> mr. lewis, anything? >> they have publishing reports where they are collecting
information from the departments and the i.g.s on what issues we're identifying with purchase cards and the status of recommendations. >> ms. richards? >> i agree with my fellow assistant i.g.s. omb has put out additional guidance and they are following up on publishing the results. >> but they really don't go back that much to check. have you seen them -- any compliance of their -- >> omb puts out the guidance and it's up to the individual departments to enforce it. >> you all oversee some of that as inspector generals. >> mr. chairman, the only thing that strikes me here, though, correct me if i'm wrong, in a sense, neither the 2012 law nor omb guidance give explicit guidance for criteria of who gets a card and when can a card be used. would that be fair? if i understood you, even within
epa, there was broad discretion about that guidance. that would suggest that isn't government wide. >> i'm not aware of any guidance as to who can get it or how many can be distributed. >> and both mr. lewis would agree with that? >> same here. and our current audit, we're looking at the utilization of these cards. some people have them and they don't use them. evidently they do not need them. >> we're also looking at it and it's a matter of in the department of homeland security because we're graphically dispersed. you'd want a card at a locate, but we want to minimize the number of cards out there. >> that's always a challenge for us up here too.
you don't want to have -- you don't want to codify things like guidance and unwittingly make it impossible to achieve the savings and efficiencies such cards can provide. on the other hand, the absence of any guidance does allow for even within an agency a myriad of standards that can lead to misuse, deliberate and nondeliberate. obviously, that's of concern to us. i would echo the chairman's invitation to all of you upon reflection, upon this hearing, if you've got suggestions for how we might improve the law, we would certainly welcome them. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. one final thing, a renowned tight wad and i try to get as much for my buck whether it's the taxpayer's buck or my own. just out of curiosity, i use
several cards. you get a cash back with one. do any of you have any detail in negotiating with these? because again, right now the federal government is broke. we're borrowing 40 cents on every dollar. our job is to not only see that fraud, waste and abuse are eliminated, but to get the most going out. you're shaking your head yes. have you found some good return for the government? >> in addition to the transactions we discussed earlier, we received $14.7 million in rebates this past year. we're increasing the use on the government purchase card for preestablished contract instruments, that are prepriced, so it will protect the taxpayers' dollars from that perspective. we wouldn't want government purchase card holders to go out
to negotiate cards, per se, but if it's prepriced, we're going to increase the use of the card up to the simplified acquisition threshold, $150,000 to take advantage of that transaction savings, as well as the rebates. that's what we're really going after is the rebates from u.s. bank. >> ms. richards, dhs 2012-2013, $2.6 billion in credit card purchases. just heard the success story of air force. are you familiar with any savings? >> i don't have the dollar figures available, but the department does receive a rebate when they use the purchase card. >> would you also make that part of the record? >> i will, sir. >> we're looking for waste, fraud and abuse, but we're also looking for savings. >> same, i know there are rebates, but i don't know the dollar amount.
>> ms. casper? >> i also know there are rebates. they get rebates depending on how fast they approve the purchase to be paid. but i don't know exactly what the amount of the rebates was. >> again, this is a small sampling of federal agencies. we appreciate your cooperation. we're looking to see how a law we passed in 2012 worked. there are a number of i.g. reports dating back to january of this year and subsequent reports that we have reviewed for this hearing. pleased that each of you would take time to come in today. our job is to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars and yours are too, particularly the inspector generals, well, all of us, as federal employees. any closing comments? i thank mr. conley and the staff
for working during this particular timeframe to make certain we did this. i think we have done a record number of hearings. appreciate your cooperations. many of them like this, meat and potatoes, but important to the people we represent. there being no further business before the subcommittee on government operations, this hearing is adjourned. thank you.
tonight on c-span 3. it's american history tv with discussions on u.s. strategy in vietnam at 8:00 p.m. eastern, and then the impact of the jazz age on modern america follows at 9:45. then america's role in the world as umpire or empire. and at 12:30, james madison's role in writing the u.s. constitution. american history tv begins tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern. a former russian foreign minister says both the u.s. and russia are at fault when it comes to current strained relations between the two countries. igor ivanov's comments came at a discussion at the wilson center.
>> good afternoon. welcome to the wilson center. i'm jane harman, the president and ceo, and very proud of the programming we do here, and extremely proud of this program. many of us came into this room for a lunch. some of the spartest people on u.s./russia issues are sittinging in the front several rows. they had a smaller conversation with mr. ivanov and it was enormously interesting to be part of the conversation. i was thinking about in my own life some of this things not available to today's children that were available to mine. my daughter went to a private school in this town.
she was part of an early summer exchange program in moscow. and she was there for about six weeks, and she ate every day at mcdonald's. not my idea. her idea. which rumor has it is very different from the mcdonald's here. and is a five-star restaurant. or was in moscow. so just thinking about some small things. my daughter would right now be able to go to moscow on an exchange program or eat at mcdonald's. which is so far as i know closed for health violations. anyway. the washington center is a living memorial to our 28th president. our only ph.d. president. and we think that matters because of his very deep scholarship on so many issues. certainly including the congress. we are chartered by congress, and our intention is to frame
issues, provide a trusted space for conversation about issues, and to develop and promote actionable ideas. not just for policymakers here, but for thinkers and policymakers around the world. we are very proud of the lead role that our kennan institute, which is 40 years old, has taken in shaping the dialogue on the topic today. u.s.-russian relations and the prospect for a better relationship. the kennan institute has more than 500 alumni located throughout the region. they're working on the toughest issues. building relationships and contributing, we hope, to a stronger understanding and relationship. today we are very fortunate to hear from one of russia's top foreign policy minds, to get his perspective on recent events in
ukraine and to hear, i hope, a positive vision for how our two countries move forward. our guest today, igor ivanov was russian foreign minister twice. fir from 2004 to 2007 he was secretary of the security council for the russian federation. he also served as ambassador for the usr in the russian federation and currently heads the russian international affairs counsel, and he cochaired the bosnia settlement talks in dayton, ohio. not an easy negotiation. his experience is vast. we just discovered he and i are the same age, and i'm not exactly sure what that leads to. except that we're not the youngest people in the room. my good friend henry kissinger, a very good friend of many here, wrote the forward to mr.
ivanov's book. henry warned then that troubled times were on the horizon for u.s.-russian relations. now the bipartisan, bilateral relation -- not bipartisan. the bilateral relationship is in, and i think most of us would agree, worse shape, possibly the worst shape it's been since the end of the cold war. and many are asking if there's anything that the partnership between the u.s. and russia can achieve or even attempt to achieve. but diplomacy is about maintaining working relationships even and especially when states don't see eye to eye. so i look forward, and i think this audience looks the forward to hearing mr. ivanov's take on how we can confront shared challenges. our own resident rock star scholar jill dougherty, who is now writing a book on vladimir putin, is here to ask the tough
questions and get actionable answers. that's a good sound bite. you probably know her best from her years at cnn. she is totally brilliant, and obviously, if we want to get the questions asked right we have to put a woman in charge of this panel. please welcome jill. [ applause ] >> thank you, president harman. really, i am really very glad and grateful that jane har man asked me to ask the questions of igor ivanov. i'm very glad he's the person in this trusted space jane referred to to be answering these questions. because i covered him, in fact, for your entire tenure as the minister of foreign affairs in moscow. and i always felt -- and this is
a very sincere comment -- that you were very moderate, fair, a top diplomat who really understood the challenges of the relationship and always had an idea of how things practically on a really practical basis, could be improved. and so -- i'm going to ask you some questions. and maybe i'll do a tv style question to begin, which will be very simplistic, of course. but we'll start us off in the right vein. i hope during the course of this time we'll feature questions from the audience as well, that we can get to something that is useful and could maybe spark improvement in the relationship, which at this point doesn't seem very hopeful. but let's begin at the wilson center. and i want to ask you, really, here's the question. the relationship, as we all know, is extremely bad right now.
you would say it wasn't just ukraine that pushed it over the edge. you would say it goes back further. i'm going to ask you a question in russian that translates quickly. as some of you who speak russian know "who is at fault?" "who's guilty?" >> well, first of all, thank you very much for inviting me. as a professional soviet diplomat, a prepared a long speech. [ laughter ] and only questions and answers. but i want to read all of the first page. and after this, i will try to
answer them. and i said let me start my brief introductory. thanks to president woodrow wilson's dream with policy for the common goal. the wilson center serves as a spectacular manifestation of the dream coming true by providing a critical in between the world of ideas, the world of promises by fostering research and discussion and collaboration. the model of the wilson center says it's a source of inspiration. for all of those who are trying not only to understand the complicated universe of national relations, but also to change it
for the better. i will change my joke from official position to government. and i don't know if it's more difficult before or now because i am also want to study, not to teach. that's why for me the experience of with wilson center is very important. now who is guilty? this is historic. i think that i think when there was a minister and had problems. not with the united states but in other issues. i was trying to start with myself. if we did everything well to avoid the problems.
if we did everything well to resolve the situation. i think all sides are guilty. because we could manage the problem as it was necessary. instead of trying to help ukraine, we started to push ukraine to west or east, saying you are with us. if you don't stay with us, then you cannot be member of european union association. if you are not with us you cannot be a member of our integrating system, economic system or custom. it was a big mistake from both sides.
that's why this is not the same example. in many different oexs. that's why when i said in our previous discussion that ukraine was the last point demonstrating our mistakes. for me it would be easier to say that mistakes were from the other side. all the least of the problems that we never understood well or we thought that steps were made against the interest of russia. and so on and so forth. but i think that also american side and european western side can approach russia.
and they understand that. and how would we avoid this? by dialect. through dialect. mechanisms of understanding between both sides because when you say you are unbrickable, if we don't speak, we don't understand where the reasons on the other side. we don't understand the suspensions. if you done understand, then you may commit mistakes in your judgment. or in your real political steps. that's why in the situation o today, which from my point of view is one of the worst in our bilateral history. and not only after the cold war. but i speak in general about the
the history of our bilateral relations. i think we never had the situation when we don't speak. we don't have real channels of dialect. we don't have dialect on the political level. we don't how we think we can understand each other. and i think that today that's why it's very important. today we're on a political level. for different reasons, it's not easy to restore quickly. the the society can can play their own. restore the dialect, discuss all the issues. i think there is no problem which we cannot discuss.
and try to find some kind of understand i understanding and to avoid this tendency which unfortunately make may create problems for everybody. >> mr. ivan ov, you mentioned everything is pretty much stalled. and every u.s. official that i speak with says basically nothing is happening in the relationship. the presidential commission is stalled. everything. you even mentioned ngos. you know. ngos, as we all know. some of them are being shut down in russia, et cetera. how far is russia willing to go to let that relationship deteriorate? in other words, is russia prepared at this point to let the entire relationship blow up,
or are there some crucial issues to exten shl to russia that russia will simply not let them be destroyed and that could be a way of finding a common cause or interest with the united states. what is essential? >> sometimes you can see russia can leave without the united states. and the united states saying without russia. and it's true. we can leave. but does it mean we will. we know that we have common problems. a lot of threats growing after the cold war, or problems in the region, they are growing without any solution. and it's clear that the -- the
international community needs cooperation and not to lean on their own countries. that's why i think that i totally -- i cannot agree with such a statement, but we can live without each other. we need each other. that's why this is not what i'm seeing here. this is the u.s. and russia need each other now more than ever. and we demonstrateded many times when we are together. for example, after september 11th we participated together in creating the coalition and went constructively together in afghanistan and other places copy righting the information of terrorism. and not only our countries and
many times after differences when people, for example, here in my country also krit siszici the research. i think it was it was good for both sides. it was good for both sides. unfortunately, we were in for different reasons. but we gain. we have new -- is it good or bad? it's good. we signed different agreements in different -- very important areas. we, the united states, helped, supported the integration of russia to wto. it's good or bad? it's good. and i cannot agree. it was good. what was bad, there was no continuation of reset. and i think that it's a big
mistake of politicians who think that we can leave creating wars in our country. politicians also saying we need to construct war. this is not the 21st century style of life. we need to construct bridges and not wars. and what i want, i think that we have together -- instead of discussing ukraine, we have to work together to help ukraine and to make ukraine bridge between us and build a new wall between europe and western countries. >> yes, but one of the problems in this town, as you know very, very well, is that there is a feeling, a theory, a belief that what russia is doing in ukraine is actually up ending the
international norms. the agreement between west and russia after the cold war. i mean, do you see any merit to that argument? >> well, if we speak about international norms and about international law and international principles. and the international law was established before and after the second world war. that's why this is why -- i don't want to be -- to be -- to start to change the answer from russia to others in saying it was not russia who started to undermine the international law and princeipleprinciples.
but for me, as i told you. in my discussions, for example, during the war, what i was saying to my wisdom partners, including americans, exactly what they're saying now to us about international law, about territorial integrity. about the right to protect all the principles, including all ten principles. they were related in several occasions. that's why this is not -- this is not that you may justify other relations because somebody related. this is the other story. but that's why it doesn't mean that this is is -- you may do this, but the other side cannot do this. that's why what we need when i started to say we need an open discussion about
international -- declares on international community. about what international principles we are speaking. right over. >> or sovereignty. >> we have to agree between us. we cannot use the principles in one region and don't use in the other. we need such a discussion. serious discussion on political level. i think next year we have very important anniversaries. the anniversary of the u.n. from the united nations. we have 40th anniversary over
helsinki final act. this is an occasion to discuss what we need to do now in the 21st century to reinforce the principles. >> well, let's take something specific, dealing with -- speaking of principles, dealing with ukraine. one of the principles that president putin talks about is, in a sense, his responsibility to protect. his responsibility to protect russians. russian speakers in other countries. mostly in the former soviet union. but i think the essential question, and i don't know that anybody here knows the answer to it, and that is why there's so much concern, which is how far does that extend, does it extend to the baltics? does it extend to central asia? does it extend to brighton beach, new york.
>> i don't think that in brighton beach, there will be killing people other people. innocent people bombing cities. i don't think so. you have quite strong authority to protect these people. >> but help us to understand. >> but coming back to responsibility to protect. this is a very serious issue. we started to speak about the responsibility to protect. and after the war with the the -- in africa. in many other places. and you know in some countries the force was used. in mali, the last examples.
and this is not what i am saying. about the observers. they are there and clear concerns. the other question is how to use the responsibility. it has to be one country or organization. or who has to authorize this, to use this right? and this is what twef to discuss. the most simple answer would be the u.n. security council. sometimes the u.n. security council is not very active with taking urgent measures.
that's why, i don't think that you can -- you can speculate that you can continue. i suppose in both countries there will be no such violation. >> which violation are you talking about? >> killing people. innocent people. children. you know how many people were killed? >> well, i've seen figures of 3,000 so far. >> yeah. around 3,000. do we think this is a humanitarian catastrophe or no? >> i know we're in theoretical territory here. but this principle of russia. >> i remember, i remember, i remember. i was there. how many people were killed there to use the military force? you cannot compare what happened
in kosovo with what is happening. >> let's take the initial violence and take it out of the equation. does russia at this point believe it would have a right to somehow intervene, and i'm not sure how they define that, but intervene in the baltics to protect the rights of russians who are living in those countries? >> today, this morning, i read the newspapers that pro-party this is the best solution. you don't need it. >> elections. this is now party number one in latvia. give them the possibility to vote and decide their future.
they want to respect their history and their language. let us see it in november what they want. they want to live separately from spain. now will use missiles. you will use planes? you will use force to stop them. no? you will say let us find political solution. that's why here you need also a political solution. >> let's talk about sanctions. >> we'll go onto other subjects in ukraine. right now the prospects are not very good. it's projected a 0.5% growth. basically flat growth projected. you have capital flight. you have lack of investment coming from the outside. how far is russia willing to
take its retaliatory measures, which seemed -- seem aimed at, you know, existing -- you mentioned this in the beginning, existing by itself because i have heard there is dissension among putin's inner circle about how russia should deal with these sanctions. >> well, first of all, sanctions is one of the measures, according to the u.n. chapter. that's why sanctions thi theoretically are possible. now they can be useful. this is the question. we have large experience of sanctions in different p places of the world. for example, the united states used sanctions against cuba for many years.
and he's that's why we have to define why you want to use and for what reason. from my point of view, not a good example, is with the case of iran. we have political settlement, how to settle the issue of iran. we have very clear political agreements between countries with the support of security council. u.n. security council. and our reason from the community of iran. if you don't do this, we will need to adopt amgss. but if you do this, the
sanctions will leave. and that's why now we are in the posz process. if erg goes well, maybe we can close this issue. it's very clear linkage between a political settlement and sanctions. but when you introduce sanctions without clear political platform, then sanctions, you have also different interpretation on the sanction. in the case of russia, the -- protect. if russia played a construct i have kroel in the ukrainian settlement. but any professional knows well there is no easy settlement. not everything is from russia. it's mainly from ukrainians.
that's why if you say, you may it will be a long process. you may maintain sanctions for many, many years. that's why this is the political side of sanctions. from my point of view, in this case the implication of sanctions demonstrate the incapacity of split call solution and lack of political dialogue. it's not good for russia, sanctions. it's not good. you have figures in europe and many other countries. the world economy is not so good. but i repeat, if sanctions don't work with the small countries, cuba, i don't think they can work in country as russia with
capacity and without it. but it will be for everyone. and i don't say that we don't suffer. we suffer from sanctions. it's clear we suffer in mainly financial area, in energy area. in new technologies and modern technologies. it mustn't mean russia will not survive. it will affect everybody. it will affect russia. it will affect europe. not just the united states. but also political consequence. >> let me ask you. how concerned you are. there's talk now about russia's nuclear capability that comes up a lot in the russian sources that i'm reading. i was talking with one expert who said it's not inconceivable that russia and the united states could be on the brink of
war, which seems really shocking at this stage. how worried are you that the situation is that bad? when it comes to nuclear disarmamen disarmament. >> i read the book of the memories memories and he said that in '86 in the headquarters. of the soviet army they analyzed different possibilities to use nuclear weapons. and they come to the conclusion that it was impossible to use the nuclear weapon. that's why they proposed the nuclear weapons. i think if it was impossible to use nuclear weapon at that period and that time, i think today it's also impossible. i think this is a speculation
for different reasons here and elsewhere. that nuclear weapon can be used. i don't see any possibility. nobody wants to be killeded. if you use nuclear weapon, it's clear you will receive the answer immediately with all kwenss. >> let's turn it to our process towards nuke las dclear disarma >> i think one of the very important strategic interests of both countries so to restore the dialogue and reduction of nuclear strategic weapons. if we really want stability and to guarantee regimes in the world and countries, we need to have those among us. we don't have dialect, we have
less possibility to ask other countries not to develop their nuclear projects. >> i want to ask you -- >> and during the cold war, on the negotiations are strategic weapons, where one of these basis of our relations. and finally long-term interests. and i don't see any reason why we don't speak about this issue. >> you were talking about young people in russia. and kind of the disturbing thing, a growing anti-americanism among younger russians, you know, that generation in their 30s, maybe their 20s, whereas people in their o 40s or 50s are more positive towards the united states.
it sounded like a disturbing trend. i read about it myself. tell me about the tparticipants here. what is happening? why is this growing anger, whatever thes, against the united states? >> maybe it would be better to ask somebody younger than myself. >> well, put yourself in their boots. >> sometimes i don't understand my children. but i can handle it. this is true. i participate in that. after september 11th, the sympathy was very high. it was real. solidarity. it was a real sense of support from the american people. and i think it was impressive
and important. and sometimes i ask myself, how in this period there may be such dramatic changes in the attitude. and i think that sometimes this is the -- the first point is not understanding well the other side. sometimes the idea from young people is the americans want to be super men, to teach everybody, and young generation don't like it. they want their model of life, their style of life, their understanding. and the curious situation many young people in university, my university also, they are thinking to find an interesting job outside the country. but many of them now, not in the
united states, but in other places in europe or china or some other places. because maybe this is wrong perception about the american style of life. that's because also we don't have enough exchanges. >> and one exchange was just ended by russia. >> where do you see any type of cooperation with the united states or the west or the world in fighting isis, the terrorist organization? we had discussions and sometimes
my colleagues are saying, well, we have to define several points where we have interesting with you. and usual iran, iraq, afghanistan, and two more points. and what i was seeing and believing, you cannot select here i have an interest and here i don't have interest. here we will copy right and here we will not. if you have a high level of political understanding, you will copyright. today you have not only some american visitors, but also european visitors. today the main problem is the islamic republic of iraq.
and if we start to cooperate here, we shall easily restore the trust and you will see how well we will work in other areas. this is not true. this is not true. it's easy to destroy, but not to restore the trust. and we know very well. that's why we need to get the continuation in our corporation. if you ask me how to stop, first of all, on the political level, to decide. we need each other. we need cooperation on a political level. if you don't have such a decision of political and high political level, you cannot do anything in other areas. after political, we need strategical understanding. where the big areas and the area
of other challenges including terrorism. including drugs. including many others. we know. we know all our problems. we green between us we know what problems we had. we know what threats we had. the problem is we need to create cooperation together. this is what we don't have. and to have this, we need political will and political decision. nothing to do with elections here or with elections with russia. this is long-term strategical interest. >> you made a very interest comment a few minutes ago when we were at lunch. you said the impression now is things really went south after
ukraine. ukraine is the reason that everything is falling apart. but you actually said it was one in a series, that this has been coming for a while. could you explain to the people here, what do you mean by that? >> well, as i said to my good friend ambassador collins, i think that our common mistake was thinking that cold war was over and everything, our problems were settled. after the cold war, we never seriously had serious negotiations about our strategic bases, the bases of strategic cooperation in new era after the cold war in the 21st century. that's why we never created real mechanism. we created something. for example, commissioner, presidential commission, some groups. but it was mechanism, not principles.
we never defined our commonality. for example, we are saying yes, between the united states and china they have -- they maintain relations because they have a lot of economic interests. yes, we cannot have such interests, for different reasons. our commerce is very small. but we have strategic interests in many other important areas. where you don't have the united states, such strong interest with the united states. mainly starting with nuclear balance and the interest of strategic nuclear issue. the struggle against terrorism. struggle -- cooperation in the settlement of important regional conflicts to see what is happening in the middle east, afghanistan and many other places. we have a lot of areas to work together. that's why -- but unfortunately i repeat, without creating such
a strong basis for our cooperation, we failed in different -- we started to fail in different areas. weenlargement on nato, with self-defense and the last point was a grade. that's why if we understand well that it's necessary to change the direction of our relations, ukraine, we have to study the lessons of ukraine crisis and to study lessons means we have to seek together and help ukrainians resolve their crisis. and only helping them to resolve we will start new kind of dialogue and we shad understand how to work with such a difficult problem. and in middle east or in other place places if we don't do so, the
problem with which we will undermine our trust in our population. >> you mention china. a couple seconds on china. we're going to get to questions very soon, but just a china question. in the context of ukraine, you hear a lot of this, the west is pushing us toward asia and the answer to western sanctions is china. that, at least, is one i'm hearing from a number of russian sources or the russian media. is that -- is there a pivot the way the united states talks about? a pivot to asia, a serious one? or this running to china to try to have an answer to the sanctions with the danger that china might just use russia as a source of raw materials and
not -- its economy is so much bigger than russia's. >> i don't know your sources in moscow. if you ask me i will tell you, in 2000, when president putin was elected he signed the concept of russian foreign policy and in concept of russian foreign policy in 2000, we said that we want multilateral foreign policy. we want equal relations with west and with east because russia is euro asia state. we need good relations. we need good relations with asian countries. we started to engage with all big asia-pacific organizations and those who were trying to create -- construct our relations with european union.
i'm not businessman but maybe here you have business people. it's not easy to change from right to left immediately in business and foreign policy. that's why you cannot change if you sell oil and gas to europe you cannot change the direction immediately to china or to other asian countries. and i personally think that if somebody thinks so, it's big mistake because if you don't have strong relations it will be more difficult to have strong position you need strong position with the west. this is very simple and i'm sure this is the interest of russia. >> we have about a half hour, a
little bit more for questions and i think we have some microphones, at least i do. there they are. yes, sir, i think you're the first one to raise your hand. and if you would please identify yourself and actually ask a question be to the point. >> stewart rosenblatt, i work with eir. may questions follow up on what you were just leading to which is there's a few phenomenon, i think in the world the bricks development, brazil, russia, india, china, etc., the conference this summer, there's going to be meeting next week between the prime ministers of china and russia, 30 trade agreements, big ones i think on energy rail, etc. two questions on that. one, i'll -- what do you think about the bricks development as a development approach to get the world out of this crisis and, secondly, would you suggest
or propose to the government that the united states be invited to join bricks and leave the kind of dying imf system? >> you want me to answer now or -- >> yes, i think now would -- we'll open up to questions from the audience. >> okay. first of all, i think the 20th century is the century of multilateral organizations. and i'm sure you know the history. we started with russia/china when we invited india we wanted, as russia, to the normalization relations between india and china and we started on the level of ministers of foreign
war. after that the level was higher, the level of the presidents due to the general assembly of the united nations and it's clear when you start the dialogue you start to speak about different areas. the first area was coordination of international affairs and after that also we started to speak about possible economic cooperation, mainly in the regional far east and siberia and then it seemed the possibility of structure. this is, you know, the organization of -- it's not formal organization in organization of countries who has the common interest in
different areas about the united states. i don't think so because the countries of bricks are the developing countries and the united states is super developed country. that's why i don't think this is the good company for them to stay but i don't know, maybe sometime there will be different opinion but let us see what they can do. i assure you this is not, as some people say here, against somebody, against the american way, against west, against the contradiction. this is not true. i think countries for different reasons they have common interest interests with some countries there would be more possibility, for example we have a long bord
border. with south africa, i don't know. maybe some projects but maybe not so ajtive. that's why there will not be a similar level of corporation. but i think it's good. the other thing i will tell you why you see more and more ad hoc organizations. maybe because we have slow reform of u.n. system all countries want to be members of security council. brazil, india, south africa, all of them as they don't see the possibility because the reform is very slow, they create different other structures to have influence on the international affairs or on the international problems where they have interests and they want to have their voice.
that's why also it would be -- it will go in parallel with -- from my point of view with the more active reforms of u.n. system. >> you know, i have to apologize. i have to jump in and this question may come up but it leads right into the customs union. and there is a near tri customs union is basically reconstituting the soviet union. set us straight, is it? >> well, i don't know again. you are speaking about theories. tell me your sources. >> well, right here are in washington, d.c. first of all, if you want you cannot reconstruct soviet union. the problem is that new countries which disappeared
after the disintegration of the soviet union, they're very proud of their independence and they want to be independent countri s countries. you may like, don't like, that's why i think it was a mistake of some people in moscow saying you are small brothers. they're not small brothers, they're equal brothers on internation relations. that's why it ee's impossible. first of all, if you see the custom union, it's economic organization, not political organization. what i was trying to explain to european union is why to reward such ideas, what they need is to establish relations with cus on the union. and then everything will be clear. their interests, their ideas, i repeat, its economic
organization. you ask me why you need custom union. and i can ask you why you need common market with european union. it's clear that it's the time of integration and not disintegration. all countries, they want to have more markets, more space for their economy. that's also why russia because on one side kazakhstan, on the other side bellow rusch russia. why russia cannot have custom union and to understand this, you have to work to get those structures and you will know about what we are speaking about. >> back to questions. sir? reach for the microphone, please. and if you would identify yourself first? >> i'm a retired epa scientist. what is russia's cooperation
with chiover solving the north korean situation? >> well, we have received the final intention to have korean peninsula without nuclear weapons. we copy rate on bilateral level and in the framework of six countries working together it's clear that unfortunately still we here in the process but our kopgs is very clear in this area, we want to reach. we are trying to do what we can. it's not easy to speak with north korean leaders. i have experienced with previous two leaders with the last one i
never had any contact but it's not easy. i think it was good we created group of six and it's very important to restore the work of this group because we speak with one voice it's not china separately. we need the voice of the united states, of south korea or japan, all countries interested in this area and i think it's possible because there's some kind of positive movement the main thing is not to block that positive movement as it was before. >> yes, sir, there's a man right -- yes, with your arm right there. yes. . in the blue shirt. green/blue shirt. >> thank you for talking to us. i'm a student at george
washington university. you mentioned earlier in the context of the former yugoslav conflict that people in the west were telling you what you are telling people in the west today in regards to ukraine. why do you think what you're saying in 1994 doesn't apply in 2014? >> well, i compared yugoslavia with only one reason, trying to give example that the violation cannot be accepted in one case and not accepted in the other case. if we don't have the continuity and we don't have the same rules 60 game for everybody, there will be violations.
now about the agreement of 1994 which was agreeing between the countries. it was to give you guarantee of the country of their security and i think that today nobody wants to undermine the security of ukraine. it means they -- it was -- if you remember it was related with nuclear weapons. if ukraine having nuclear weapons, maybe this crisis would be more dangerous for europe and for everybody and ukraine without nuclear weapons because when you have irresponsible politicians and nuclear weapons in the hands of irresponsible politicians, it's very dangerous. that's why i think this is political speculation of some ukrainian politicians saying maybe we will create again nuclear weapon and then it will
be -- we will be stronger. it's not so. they need political settlement and political solution and russia is ready to help. but my opinion is i agree about minsk, i think russia alone cannot help and i will tell you why. because we have so high level of mistrust between all of us that anything with russia may be presented in other countries as something against interests of ukraine. russia also doesn't trust west countries thinking that -- what western countries are doing in ukraine. that's why as we were doing with the case of iran and the case of south korea nuclear problem or in middle east we sit together and we prepare road map for how to settle political stability,
economic issues, language, constitutional reforms, all of the issues which we need and we will help ukrainians to implement such a road map. then we can first of all help ukrainians and second help us to restore some kind of contrast. >> there's a question down here in the second row. >> thank you. i'm a scholar here, i'm reviewing this book and in the forward henry kissinger said that it's a rare opportunity for the two countries -- u.s. and russia -- to develop new international order. but when i read this again and i didn't see anything happening that way, is how much do you think that the road is
developing you are predicting of doctor kissinger predicting and some people say there's a russia/china axis. how do you comment on that? >> well, some people say about russia and china, some people about policies, american chinese system. i don't know. i can assure you first of all that unfortunately international community didn't do a job to create principles of -- foundations of a new world order. that's why we have this order. second, what we know is that there will be no -- we know we failed. we know that there will be -- this is the history. it has to be i don't like the multipolar world but i was one
of the people who created it. but we never developed what does it mean multipower, what about what powers we are speaking? the combination between them. in the other book i wrote about this buck, unfortunately we only now understand how the problems all -- we have all have without new understanding in what world we have to live. we are putting -- we started to put under the question international organizations including u.n., international alone. not only you may blame russia but i can blame other countries. all of us, international community in general have participated in this destruct n destruction -- destructive
exercises. and what's happening in the middle east, we need to see them. we have to stop. and next year maybe it will be good year when we will celebrate the victory in second world war where we were allied, participated together and the world created the u.n. system. now we have to understand, we have the same challenges, we have danger. we will unite our forces to create this new world order. how it will be, i don't know. it's clear that we need principles. we need to respect international law. we have to create multilateral. this is the century or multilateral mechanism. only together we can not impose -- during the cold war it was easy to impose in the middle
east. it was possible the united states and soviet union can stop the war only speaking by phone, kissinger with his -- deciding how to stop. today who is listening? are we listening to the united states or russia or somebody? nobody's listening to nobody. that's why it's necessary to creato tally new system where everybody will participate. will respect the order and will work together. it's not easy, i understand. maybe you will think i am something in the other world. i don't see any other possibility for otherwise to avoid the more difficult period. >> and a question of the head of the canon institute.
>> you already introduced me. thank you. there's an opinion that often times the reason why we can't get started on this approach to a new system, to a new type of dialogue, to putting our trust in a new set of rules is fear, deep latent insecurity my question is when it comes to the countries particularly on russia's periphery, and we know from the latest crisis in ukraine but others those are often the locuses of the biggest problems for russia's relations with the west. why do you think that there is so much fear of russia? and is that fear justified? >> during the soviet period with when somebody's saying there is opinion -- very high level.
i don't know very high level or not. but maybe there is opinion. i will tell you, in '90s, russia was struggle to survive. we never had the capacity to create problems for anybody. but in the 1990s, nato started the process of enlargement. it means that it was not fear, it was speculation about fear. what fear have the czech republic or hungary or pole land? what fear? it was the intention to enter nato as the first step to the members of european union and other countries. you are coming to both countries
they are members of -- now they members of nato. fear, what fear? russia is a stupid country to start the third world war? i think that mainly they are trying to let us see -- i said about results of our elections, i think that they are also reasonable people. they wanted to gain the -- creating this impression of the russian threat. russian threat what? i was --i will tell you, in latvia, you know perfectly well 30% of the population, i was speaking with european union.
i was speaking with -- please, do you think that this is acceptable? what is the reason? why they don't have nationality? because they are not from latvia. but this is not -- this is not their problem. they -- all their life they are living there because they're russians only. and i said we don't want to impose them, please, impose them only. the rules of council of europe, the rules of oec an nothing else and then there is no problem. that's why this is what we have to discuss. there will be no threat and no -- but it's easier to say this is the threat from russia. threat what? we need countries, we have a lot of territory, i can assure you. why we need more? we don't know what to do with siberia where there are only six
or seven million people and we don't know how to develop that we need dialogue, we need to sit together and then you will see that everything is possible. >> there's a woman back here. yes. >> >> thank you, i'm a retired american diplomat. mr. minister, you said that if i understood you correctly that without a strategic framework there's not much point in talking about smaller issues because these don't really lead to dialogue. but apropos of that and also your last comments, do you think it's really possible for us to agree on a set of principles? i think there are so many differences in the way we view the world and what we think is
permissible and not per miss to believe start with nato, whether it's a threat to russia or not. i -- and isn't it sometimes better to start with the small issues? i remember in the soviet period we spent a lot of time thinking about what are the small issues we can discuss because we're never going to agree on the big ones. >> if i say no it means that we have to say that our generation is stupid. if it was possible in '75 during the cold war period and it was possible to agree ten important principles or stability in europe, why we can not do it now what is the reason? at that moment we have total incompatibility between our systems. we have two military political
boards preparing the nuclear strike against each other and the cold war we signed against the agreement at the highest level. that's why i think if somebody says today it's more difficult than it was, this is only to avoid from the work and only to cover incapacity of the people to -- i am sure that it is possible. i am sure that it is possible. the other example which i can give you is that after the war in yugoslavia then nato bombed yugoslavia. in two years we agreed with -- between russia and nato and if you read the paper or the statement of -- it was ratified by all nato countries and by russia and we agreed principles,
also, how to corporate between nato and russia. unfortunately, we failed -- we got cooperation later but we agroed to the principles. that's why it is possible. the main thing is not agreeing principle, the main thing is to agree how to implement principles and this is the everyday job not only to see them to sign beautiful documents. >> question down in the front. >> thank you. i'm from afghanistan and my question is, minister, how do you assess the security situation in the region when the nato combat operation by the end of this year while we clearly see that the taliban are not completely dismantled, we have
iss or isl and we recently see khorasan coming up. how do you see the region will come up with all these security concerns? >> well, the topic of our meeting with russia and u.s., is a real partnership still -- i think if we have a partnership, real partnership it will be with stability in the region because for different reasons it's important for the united states but not less for security situation and we cooperated quite well during different periods. it was period of taliban and
after september 11 and that's why we helped nato and the american troops to receive transit of weapons through russian territories because it's in our interest even without dialogue we were helping american troops in afghanistan. this is the demonstration understanding the real situation of how we have to cooperate. unfortunately, as i said before, you cannot select point and say here cooperation is okay, here i trust you, here i don't trust you. you know as normal people i trust you, i cannot trust you, today and tomorrow i don't trust you. i think the future of afghanistan will depend mainly from international cooperation. india has an interest, china has interest, all regional countries, we have as you remember the group of eight, the border countries and the main other players working very
closely, iran -- with iran also it's necessary. it means we owe that country who has the capacity and stability. and if we cooperate we can avoid the negative consequences. if not, there will be again -- you know what will be. >> gentleman here and then there's one in the back, i believe. let's start with this gentleman here in the middle. >> thank you. i'm from the center from initiative from belarus. as a belarussion i was delighted to hear your call to respect independence of former soviet union countries. at the same time, since the end of the cold war russia insisted it has the right to interest of the former soviet union. can you specify what does this mean "privileged interest" and could it be the reason why
ukrainian crisis has started that russia wanted to employ this -- some kind of veto power over decisions on national development with ukraine? thank you. >> >> look, i am a professional diplomat, 14 years and i know how to read papers and i know how to read statements. give me one statement, i was minister for four years and then i was three years secretary of security council. give me one statement, my statement, speaking about some privilege interest of russia in that country. if you give me, i will answer. but you cannot give me this is you reading mass media. let us use statements, documents and then i will answer you. we don't have any privilege in
those countries. we have to respect -- i was presenting the so-called treaty in russia and ukraine saying that we are equal players of international -- in international arena. only equal on the basis of equal rights we can construct new kind of relations. with belarussa we're trying to give such an example. i that's why i think if you ask me in theory we don't have any privilege interests. we have national interests, this is true. this is different. national interests national interest because we are -- we have a common border.
it's clear that we have more interests, national interests there than many european countries or even the united states because we have the common history. we have the common recent history, we have common economic interest, we have common security interest, we have common humanitarian interests because many families living there here, that's why we have national interests and we're recognizing but national interest and privilege interest is a big difference as we say. >> so that is -- that's why explains why russia is worried about nato on the border. you're saying it's not a privileged interest in those countries but you are worried about your own strategic defense interest in that region along that border. is that correct? >> we started to speak with nato and i will speak with four secretary generals of nato.
we've -- well i didn't speak with one but trying to understand what is the policy of nato, of the enlargement of nato. what is the policy of enlargement of nato? if i don't understand your policy i cannot believe you because i suspect you, i mistrust you because if you don't explain it, what is the reason. i've told you before, this is not a political organization. we were not intense the enlargement of the european union. this is an economic organization and each country decides where they want to be. but nato is not a political organization. it's military organization. and if it's military organization it means that you
want to assure your security. and if you have enlargement towards russia, which means security is coming from russia. l in political documents they -- russia is not enemy from nato but the enlargement is coming to russian borders. where is the logical -- logic of this decision? that's why we created the russian/nato council precisely not to stop the enlargement because we -- it was clear that it was not our possibility to stop the enlargement but we wanted to create new mechanisms trying to say let us sit together. what what was the russian nato council? all countries in national capacity. it was not nato countries and russia but it was countries, each country in national capacity sitting around the table discussing common problems and trying to find common
solution. but unfortunately we can't. >> okay, so we have about eight, nine minutes to go. let's get the gentleman in the back who's been waiti ing patiently and then move to the fron front. >> dick rosen with the council for community and democracies. mr. minister, in your remarks you said we should study the lessons of ukraine. the president of ukraine, poroshenko, has studied those problems and he thinks the solution is to correct a situation which is politically corrupt. that kind of reform, is it the basis for a part anywhereship between russia and the united states in advancing it or to return to the question do the russians fear such resnowstorm. >> what set -- >> i'm not sure i understand --
that either of us understands the question. reform in ukraine that poroshenko is talking about? reform in ukraine? and the question is that would be the basis for some type of cooperation? >> well if you want to -- i -- i did recently give the speech of poroshenko in the congress that's why maybe i don't know the details of his plan of settlement. but you spoke about corruption. yes or no? about corruption. well, corruption i think is one of the problems which in which was reasonable explosion one year ago. that's why it's clear that you have to -- corruption is one of the problems, but i think that
it's not only problem. corruption is one of the problems but unfortunately for different reasons after the disintegration of the soviet union the disintegration of ukraine as independent state, not only corruption but the principal appeal of democratic count country, new institutions, parliament, judicial system and economic system. that's why i don't think it's so easy to say only with corruption. first of all, if you don't have the old system you cannot struggle against corruption because to have corruption you need institutions. without institutions you cannot get corruption. that's why when i said before we need
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