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Russian ministry defends right to have 'specific interests' in post-Soviet space

Moscow, 29 December: Russia has the right to specific interests in the post-Soviet space, but they do not clash with the interests of other states, Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Denisov has said.

"There is a certain suspicion that maybe Russia thinks the independent states on its perimeter are not actually independent. But it is probably too late to lecture us - we understand this perfectly well ourselves," Denisov said today at a press conference in the central office of Interfax.

"We may have entirely specific, entirely obvious interests on the territory of those (post-Soviet - IF) states. These interests do not clash either with the interests of the states in question, or with the interests of any third countries," Denisov stressed

This is how Denisov responded to a request to comment on a statement made by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who said Russia had no right to special interests in the post-Soviet space, and ought to remember that it is surrounded by independent states.

"If we lived together for many years (the generation which lived in the Soviet Union is still alive), then we can probably claim some kind of special characteristics in our relations with our neighbours, while fully and absolutely unconditionally respecting their independence and sovereignty," Denisov said.

"As our negotiator at talks with China said long ago, 'don't look for pips in an egg' (probably means making a fuss over nothing). So, that is exactly what I would advise some of our partners: don't go looking for pips in eggs, and oppose things which are already obvious," he added.