Remarks by Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the EU Sergei Kopyrkin at the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) Meeting. Brussels, 4 May 2017
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to extend our gratitude to the AHLC Chair Minister Borge Brende and High Representative Federica Mogherini for organising today’s meeting, which provides a timely opportunity to confirm our determination to assist the Palestinian economic and social development and capacity-building.
Russia has been traditionally active in this regard. Maintaining close cooperation with Palestine, including through developing various economic and cultural projects, remains among our priorities in the region. One of the recent projects of this kind is a targeted contribution of 4 million US dollars for reconstruction works in Bethlehem, in the historical city centre, namely the Star Street near the Church of Nativity. Last year a Multi-purpose centre was constructed in Bethlehem, which provides various facilities, among them a business-centre.
Another area of our attention is education. Russia provides averagely 100 scholarships for Palestinian students every year, over 500 Palestinian students are now studying in Russia. Besides, Holy Land is an important destination for Russian pilgrims and tourists (they account for nearly one quarter of all visitors), thus making tourism one of possible priority areas for investments that could have a positive impact on the Palestinian economy.
Among significant elements of our bilateral cooperation with Palestine is strengthening the Palestinian security forces. The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia annually provides advanced training courses for Palestinian policemen.
We also remain concerned about the humanitarian situation in Palestine. On a regular basis Russia provides humanitarian assistance, both through financial contributions to relevant UN agencies, and bilaterally. This year it is planned to provide humanitarian assistance amounting to 2 million US dollars.
It is vital to continue international assistance to the Palestinians in all fields. However, as all of us are perfectly aware, it often happens that when a concrete project comes to practical terms, its implementation faces a lot of difficulties caused by the stall in the peace process and lack of political horizon. The task of resumption of meaningful negotiations with the goal of two states living side by side in peace and security is getting increasingly urgent. Russia supports all efforts and initiatives that serve the purpose of advancing the comprehensive, just and lasting resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and works actively to this aim bilaterally, with the parties and key regional actors, and within international formats, including the UNSC and the Quartet. Negotiated peace on the internationally recognised legal basis, including the core principle of the two-state solution, is the only way to satisfy the aspirations of people for stability, and to make any international support really effective in a long term.