This past year has been very fruitful in terms of developing broad political dialogue between Russia and Great Britain. President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev met Prime Minister David Cameron at the G8 and G20 summits and during the Olympic Games in London.
Our Foreign Ministers have been in regular contact. In May 2012, William Hague visited Moscow, where an agreement was reached on establishing a new bilateral mechanism for high level strategic dialogue and on holding seasons of culture in 2014. Both ministers have been regularly exchanging views on topical international issues, last time at their meeting in Dublin early this month. We also saw a number of consultations and other forms of contact between departments in the MFA and the FCO.
It has been a difficult year in international affairs, with crises in various parts of the world reflecting the transitory and transformational nature of our time. Russia and Britain have been busy cooperating on a host of international issues in various international fora, including the UN Security Council, G8 and G20, OSCE and Council of Europe, the Middle East Quartet, and the “3+3” on the Iranian nuclear program. Britain is also a party to Russia’s relationships with the EU and NATO.
We witnessed an increase in the levels of parliamentary contact. Lord-Speaker of the House of Lords Baroness D’Souza visited Russia in autumn. Her visit was followed by a series of exchanges between Russian and British MPs. There has been a rise in the traffic between our legal communities, judiciaries and law-enforcement bodies.
This renewed political dialogue has provided active support for the further strengthening of our economic co-operation. On October 29, the 9th Session of the Russia-UK Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Investment took place in London, with a broad involvement of the business communities. It addressed new trade and investment opportunities opening up within the framework of the Russia-UK Declaration on a Knowledge-Based Partnership for Modernization of 2011, that provides for the further diversification of our economic partnership and its stakeholders through the wider engagement of small and medium-sized businesses supported by credit and export guarantees, an expansion of the regional dimension, joint hi-tech projects in production and research, as well as strategic initiatives in gas and nuclear energy.
According to the understanding reached between our leaders in 2011, British and Russian veterinary authorities have worked together, and thanks to this cooperation British meat exports could resume by the end of the year.
The Russian Direct Investment Fund, the Rusnano Corporation, Skolkovo Innovation Center, and Russian regions have been advancing their co-operation with their British partners throughout the year, concluding new agreements and investment deals. The Joint Liaison Group on Moscow as an International Financial Center continued its expert work, holding two meetings in Moscow and London. A landmark strategic partnership was agreed between Rosneft and BP in November that would allow them to expand their co-operation in Russia and in third countries.
Overall, the trade and investment ties between our countries are on the rise. Bilateral trade grew to pre-crisis levels last year, and reached $ 19 bln over the 10 months of this year, an 8.3 percent increase. Accumulated British investment also recovered and stood at $ 25.7 bln, or 7.7 percent of the total accumulated foreign investment in Russia as of July 1, 2012.
Cultural cooperation has also enjoyed an upswing. This eventful year saw a rich exchange in various cultural missions, such as the British exhibition “The Golden Age” of the English Court: From Henry VIII to Charles I” at the Moscow Kremlin and the Russian exhibition “Catherine the Great: An Enlightened Empress” at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. Specialists from the State Hermitage and the National Gallery worked jointly on a unique restoration project on Titian’s Flight into Egypt. The masterpiece was then exhibited in London. That was the first time the work has been on display outside Russia since 1768. World famous Russian maestros Valery Gergiev and Denis Matsuev were also regular guests in Britain.
Our national teams performed extremely well at the London Olympics and Paralympics. The Olympic legacy is a major area of our partnership, particularly in view of the Winter Olympics to be held in Sochi in 2014.
In 2012, London saw a series of events commemorating the Bicentenary of Russia’s victory over Napoleon. They were organized by the Russian Embassy, with support from British enthusiasts and members of the Russian community in the UK. These events emphasized our shared legacy of being on the right side in European and world history at critical junctures. On December 19, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the Arctic Convoy Star would be awarded to the surviving British participants of that heroic chapter of our alliance in WWII.
Overall, the year’s events hold the promise of our moving towards a fuller use of our two nations’ potential in a genuine partnership that rises to meet the requirements of our time.
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