ACTIVITIES OF SECRETARY-GENERAL IN RUSSIAN FEDERATION, 15-16 MAY
The Secretary-General and Mrs. Nane Annan travelled to Moscow from Brussels on Tuesday, 15 May. Shortly after his arrival that afternoon, he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin for an in-depth discussion of the Balkans, the Middle East and Iraq.
In the warm and friendly meeting which ran almost an hour and a half, the President said that Russia adhered to the founding principles of the United Nations and that he would like to see the world organization strengthened.
The Secretary-General then raised the question of the Balkans, and urged a regional approach in the search for stability there. They exchanged detailed views on the future of Kosovo.
They then touched on the current situation in Chechnya.
On the Middle East, they explored efforts to find a basis for the resumption of the peace process.
The Secretary-General briefed the President on his efforts to break the impasse between Iraq and the Security Council.
Finally, he thanked the Russian Federation for its contributions to United Nations peacekeeping, in particular for the helicopter units serving in Sierra Leone.
Afterwards, he had a brief encounter with the press.
On Tuesday evening, the Secretary-General had a working dinner with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov.
The Secretary-General's wife Nane participated on Tuesday afternoon in a debate on violence against women. The debate was organized by the Syostry Centre, an independent charity set up in 1994 to assist victims of sexual assault in Russia.
On Wednesday morning, the Secretary-General went to Manez Square in Moscow, where he laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
From there he went to the Duma, or lower House of the Parliament, for a meeting with Gennady Seleznev, the Speaker of the Duma. Also participating were the Deputy Speaker, Vladimir Lukin, and the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Dmitry Rogozin. They discussed the role parliamentarians can play in support of the United Nations. The Secretary-General then briefed the Speaker on the Legal Framework for Kosovo, which was made public the day before. The Speaker
asked the Secretary-General how he saw the Middle East problem, and the Secretary-General outlined his views, saying he thought that the Mitchell Commission report and the Egyptian-Jordanian peace plan provided a good basis for the resumption of peace talks. The Deputy Speaker then asked about the United Nations relations with the United States, in light of the latest Congressional action to withhold payment of arrears. And the Secretary-General asked the Speaker for his views on developments in Chechnya. As part of that discussion, Chairman Rogozin outlined the possible legal framework for a settlement in Chechnya.
As the Secretary-General was meeting with the Speaker of the lower House, his wife Nane met separately with women members of the Duma for a presentation on how women parliamentarians advance women’s interests in Russia.
At midday, she had a private lunch with Ludmila Putin, wife of the President, at which they talked about education issues and the two upcoming special sessions of the United Nations General Assembly on AIDS and Children.
At the end of his meeting with the Chairman, the Secretary-General had a brief encounter with Evgeny Primakov, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, who is now the leader of the political party Fatherland. Primakov is currently the Presidential Envoy for the Trans-Dniester region.
The Secretary-General then had talks with Russia’s Foreign Minister, Igor Ivanov. Expanding on the previous day’s discussion with the President, at which Ivanov was present, the Foreign Minister expressed Russia’s support for the goals set at the Millennium Summit and for the United Nations itself.
The Minister then went into some detail on a subject not yet touched on, namely the United States proposal to build an anti-ballistic missile system. He said he was leaving for Washington the next day and laid out Russia’s views on this subject.
They then touched briefly on Georgia, Nagorny Karabakh, Trans-Dniester and Tajikistan.
On Iraq, they discussed the latest policy reviews taking place in capitals in advance of the next phase of the United Nations “oil-for-food” programme, which would begin in early June.
Turning to the Balkans, they exchanged views on the legal framework for Kosovo and the security situation in the region as a whole.
They then dealt, more briefly, with Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
After that meeting, the Deputy Minister for Civil Defence and Emergency Situations, Yuri Brazhnikov, arrived to say that the scheduled meeting with his Minister, Sergei Shoigu, would not take place because the Minister had urgently flown to Siberia to deal with a grave flood situation there. The Deputy Minister gave the Secretary-General a letter from Minister Shoigu.
The Foreign Minister and the Secretary-General then gave a press conference. “Russia highly appreciates the personal contribution of Secretary-General Annan to the strengthening of the role of the United Nations”, the Foreign Minister said in
his opening remarks, “and Russia will support the candidacy of Kofi Annan for a second term as Secretary-General”.
In the afternoon the Secretary-General joined his wife’s programme for a meeting with representatives of AIDS/Infoshare and the Women’s Information Network, non-governmental organizations promoting awareness of HIV/AIDS in Russia, where, according to some sources, close to 1 million people are infected with the disease, most between the age of 18 and 25. They described their work among an estimated 100,000 prostitutes in Moscow, as well as homosexuals, intravenous drug users and schoolchildren.
Nane Annan then went to the Russian Academy of Fine Arts, where she was awarded an honorary degree. She accepted the tribute, she said, “on behalf of all the artists of the world, especially women artists”.
The Secretary-General went to a meeting with the Prime Minister of Russia, Mikhail Kasyanov, with whom he had an extensive discussion of the turnaround in the Russian economy and the growth of the private sector. In that context, they talked of the Secretary-General’s Global Compact.
Mr. Annan then went to the Federation Council, or Upper Chamber of Parliament, where he talked with the Chairman, Egor Stroev, and other members about the Balkans, globalization and terrorism, among other issues.
The Chairman then awarded the Secretary-General the Peter the Great Prize in a ceremony attended by many of the 100 members of the Federation Council. The Secretary-General told the press afterwards that he thanked the Chairman very much on behalf of the United Nations and all the staff who work for the Organization “because I think that through me he was honouring them”.
The Secretary-General was then rejoined by his wife for a visit to the United Nations staff in Moscow, whom he greeted as part of his extended family.
He left Moscow on Wednesday evening for Geneva via Amsterdam.
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