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All our lands and priorities will remain with us: Former Russian PM on Kuril Islands

Former Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev during an online meeting with youth. Image: YouTube. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

YUZHNO-SAKHALINSK, Sep 2, 2020, Pan Pacific Agency. Amendments to the Constitution of the Russia on the inadmissibility of alienation of territories facilitate negotiations with Japan on the fate of the Kuril Islands, Dmitry Medvedev, the former PM of Russia (2012-2020), the Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council, said communicating via video link with the participants of the Russian nationwide youth patriotic meeting “OstroVa 2020”.

Mr. Medvedev recalled that in 2010, being the president of Russia, he first visited the Kuril Islands “after Japan’s tough statement that it wouldn’t tolerate a visit to the islands by a top Russian official.” The four islands of the Kuril ridge are called Japan’s ‘northern territories’. Challenging Russia’s sovereignty over the islands is the main obstacle to the signing of a peace treaty between two countries. “In this situation, I had to ‘press a button on the remote control’ and say: well, that’s it, gather a team, prepare a visit to the Kuril Islands. Action is only one way to respond to such statements. So for the first time, thanks to the inflexible position of the Japanese Foreign Ministry, I got to the islands,” the politician said.

Russian authorities “have always been supporters of the fact that such a peace treaty was prepared, but not as a result of the alienation of Russian territories,” he said, as it quoted by the RIA Novosti. According to Dmitry Medvedev, “it was impossible before”, but now, in the new part of Article 67 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation “it is said that actions aimed at alienating the territory of our country are unacceptable”. “And not only actions, but also discussion of these issues is also unacceptable, that is, there is a ban on this on pain of criminal liability, in all likelihood, such norms should be adopted in the near future,” Medvedev stressed.

Answering a question from a forum member about whether Japan is legitimate “reacts sharply to any activity of Russia in the Far East, especially on the Kuril Islands,” Dmitry Medvedev said that “it’s in vain.” “We will still remain (with Japan) neighbors. And at the same time, all our lands, all our geopolitical and national priorities will remain with us, we will not change them. Of course, we will follow the course that has been formed in recent years,” he said.

Dmitry Medvedev also noted that the situation in the Kuril Islands is changing for the better. “When I flew to the Kuril Islands for the first time in 2010, there was no normal airport on any island. Now airports there operate in an all-weather mode. They weren’t there before. I remember when I flew there for the first time, the aircraft commander said: I cannot fly because it is foggy. We went to rest. At 7 am aircraft commander told us that the ‘window’ had opened, and within an hour we had to fly out. Now it’s much more convenient to fly to the Kuril Islands,” Dmitry Medvedev recalled.

The “OstroVa 2020” youth patriotic meeting opened in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk on August 31. Russian President Vladimir Putin was invited to hold a patriotic forum for youth on Sakhalin Island at the Eastern Economic Forum in 2019.

Russian version of this article is available here.

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