Russia

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25th November 1992.

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Photo of Dr Harold Elletson Dr Harold Elletson , Blackpool North 12:00 am, 25th November 1992

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he had with President Yeltsin, during his recent visit to the United Kingdom, about the changes in Russian foreign policy which were announced in his speech to the Collegium of the Russian Foreign Ministry on 27 October; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister discussed a wide range of current international questions with President Yeltsin on 9 November. Various foreign policy issues were also discussed during my meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister on 10 November.

Photo of Dr Harold Elletson Dr Harold Elletson , Blackpool North

Will my right hon. and learned Friend make it clear to the Russian Government that any toughening of Russian foreign policy in the Baltic states, such as was envisaged in President Yeltsin's speech to the Collegium of the Russian Foreign Ministry, will be viewed with grave concern by Her Majesty's Government? Will he also assure the House that the Government will continue to press the Russian Government for the complete withdrawal of Russian troops from the Baltic states as quickly as possible?

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

I always pay considerable attention to what my hon. Friend says about Russia. He is one of the few Members of Parliament who speaks Russian and has a long-standing knowledge of that country. The answer to his question is yes. We attach great importance to the early withdrawal of Russian troops from the Baltic states. That matter was raised on several occasions by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and others. We shall continue to press the Russian Government on that point. Their response is that they intend to withdraw and the process of withdrawal has only been suspended.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Walsall North

Is there common agreement between Russia and the United Kingdom on combating racism and fascism in Europe? When the Minister meets hi; colleagues, including the Russian Foreign Minister, will there be an opportunity to demonstrate our horror at what happened in Germany at the weekend? A 51-year-old woman, a 10-year-old child and a 15-year-old child were burned to death for no other reason than that they happened to be Turkish. Is it not necessary for us to demonstrate once again that fascism and racism must be fought from the start, or we shall pay the penalty, as we have done recently?

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

The events to which the hon. Gentleman refers were indeed dreadful. That fact is fully appreciated by the German Government, who condemned the events as strongly as the hon. Gentleman does. Fighting facism and racism are major priorities of any civilised Government, including the Russian Government. Those principles are clearly enshrined in the CSCE agreements to which the Russian Government and, I am glad to say, the British Government fully subscribed.

Photo of Mr Anthony Coombs Mr Anthony Coombs , Wyre Forest

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that one of the most potentially destabilising regimes in the middle east is Iran, which is building up its military arsenal, especially with submarines, which come primarily from Russia? Does he agree that Boris Yeltsin must take every possible action to ensure that that flow of arms is stopped, so that what is already a hotbed in the region is not further destabilised?

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

My hon. Friend makes an important point. There is no doubt that the Government of Iran have ambitions to become the dominant power in the Gulf region. It is also certain that they are in the process of acquiring arms to foster that strategic objective. My hon. Friend referred to the sale of Russian submarines. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister explicitly raised that question with the Russian President, Mr. Yeltsin.