Extracts from the BBC's Steve Rosenberg's exclusive interview with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, which tackled a range of issues from former Soviet states to the Western media.
ON EU-RUSSIA RELATIONS:
Well, I think they have progressed, they acquired a new very practical
dimensions. First of all, this relates to the beginning of the implementation of the process of the road maps, each of the road maps is different from the point of view of instruments that were applied to promote them.
For example the economic space, we use the format of the dialogues, all in all about nine of them: energy, transport, environment, and so on.
During this six months of British presidency we finalised important agreements on visa facilitation, and readmission which would be signed very soon after the technical work is done. And then next year hopefully the process of ratification will get on.
I hope you listened to the press conference when [UK Foreign Secretary] Jack Straw said there is no gap between us and our positions.
Neither Russia nor the EU want Iran to have nuclear weapons. And Iran repeatedly stated that this is not its goal. If this is the case then of course the peaceful uses of nuclear energy should be allowed under the IAEA rules and IAEA control.
Everything that Russia is doing in Iran on the nuclear side - the construction of the nuclear power plant in Bushehr - causes no concern whatsoever in any European or American or any other government. This is all done in strict compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and with IAEA rules and under permanent and quite tough IAEA control.
Uranium enrichment is the right of any country who is a member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. But in the case of Iran, as I've said, there was a long period of non-reporting to the IAEA which was in violation of Iran's obligations under the NPT.
And until and unless the questions which emerged during that non reporting period are verified and until the trust is restored, we strongly advise our Iranian colleagues not to use this right.
Many of those governments who have the relevant resources know the facts... That this is related to the international network of terrorists and that what we have here is not a problem of fighting terrorism inside Russia only.
It's a problem of fighting the terrorism which is a threat to European and other countries. It's all interrelated, the networks which we have in this region.
The members of these groups go quite actively between uncontrolled areas of Afghanistan, some areas of Pakistan, central Asian areas, especially in the Fergana valley. And the Chechen terrorists are closely involved in these networks. I would say that today at the discussions with the European troika our colleagues stated that they see improvement in economic and social life in Chechnya which is a result of the political process under way.
And the last phase of this political process will take place at the end of this month, when parliamentary elections will be held in Chechnya on the basis of the Chechen constitution which was adopted a couple of years ago at the referendum of the Chechen republic of the Russian Federation.
ON FORMER SOVIET STATES:
[Russia's] interests are to see this place stable and of course the countries stable, democratic, participating in the economic co-operation and prosperous at the end of the day.
And we are certain that we can usefully co-operate with the European Union, with the United States which also has its legitimate interests in the area, related to fighting terrorism and related to access to energy resources. We co-operate quite closely, we have a dialogue.
There are differences as to by what means you achieve the goals which we all share. We believe that you cannot just demand from these countries, from many of these countries, to take a law which would pronounce them full democracies, Western style.
There is no such thing as a single democratic model, as you know. And there is no experience in world history where you can achieve democracy overnight. It took in some cases centuries, in some cases many, many decades.
Don't forget that some 25 million ethnic Russians live in the countries that are now independent and neighbouring the Russian Federation.
ON WESTERN MEDIA CRITICISM:
I do think that in the Western media there continues something which very much resembles a campaign, playing again and again the same tune on the issues which have been long ago closed: like the new method of electing governors whereby the president would suggest candidatures and the local legislature, elected directly by the people, would accept this candidature or don't accept this candidature.
And this has been with us for one year, this system is already working but again and again it appears as a problem in the coverage of the developments in Russia by the Western media.