Impression about Yemen [Archives:1999/44/Law & Diplomacy]

November 1 1999


H. E. Alexander Kalugin
Ambassador of Russia

I was appointed as an ambassador of Russia to Yemen on December 1998. That was the first time for me to come to Yemen because I did not have any chance before. I knew a lot about Yemeni civilization of culture. I also recognized the importance of the relationship between Yemen and Russia, before and after Unification. I handled the Middle East affairs, the vice-secretary general for Yemen and Middle East affairs. This is what made me close to Yemen. I worked in Egypt and Iraq, and I have visited a number of the Arab countries. There is a close relationship between me and the Arab Countries and me for over thirty years. So, I am closely familiar with the Arabic customs, culture and policy, but Yemen for me is something different.
I would like to express my own impressions about Yemen during this period. I would like to present them under three categories. The first one is the historical relationship between Yemen and Russia. Russia signed a friendship treaty with Yemen in 1928. There was a relation between Yemen and Russia during the period of Imam, and after the revolution in 1962. Russia also kept friendly relationship with the South and the North before the unification. At present, we are making sustained effort to improve relationship with the united Yemen. We are promoting our relation with Yemen. I can not speak Arabic, but I do not find any difficulty to deal with the Yemen people in general.
More than 30,000 Arab students have completed their studies in Russia. They studied in different fields. If you talk with those students in Arabic, they would talk in Russian because they want to express their respect for Russia. We have not on this quality in students of any other nationality. Recently, we offered fifty scholarship to Yemeni students in order to continue their higher studies in Russia.
The second point is that Yemen is passing through transition because Yemen aims at political and economic reforms. We, in Russia keenly observing this trend, but unfortunately, the result of this reform has not been quite encouraging. People face a lot of problems; They expect the government to fulfill its commitment. We find that the problems of Yemen and Russia are the same, but for us, we have been able to come over our difficulties. Yemeni people should depend upon their own abilities to come over their problems, and to ensure development. This needs cooperation and sacrifice from all sectors.
The third point is the characteristic features of the history of Yemen. Yemen has an ancient tradition. Yemen has a distinct architectural pattern buildings. I admire Yemeni traditional buildings. My wife too expresses her own admiration. She visited a number of the world countries, but she had not seen any as Yemeni interesting architecture. The Yemeni architects are professional. They use the old traditional means in building windows and Kamarias. Bab Al-Yemen market contains different handicrafts. My wife is always fascinated to see these handicrafts because she appreciate the originality and excellent in the tradition of the Yemeni people. Regarding the relationship between Yemen and Russia, I am not quite content as far as the economic relationship. We can develop this relation in spite of the difficult conditions we face. Russia has an economic problem, while Yemen is passing through a difficult phase.
We, in both the countries, Yemen and Russia have to develop the economic relation in order to face the challenges of economy. We must cooperate in the field of health. There are about 400 Russian doctors and nurses who work in Yemen. We aim at developing this cooperation. In addition, there are a number of experts working in electricity sector in Al-Heswah station in Aden. Concerning the cultural field, there will be a Russian festival the next year in Yemen. This is a good step in the Yemeni and Russian relationship. The vice-minister of Ministry of Foreign, Mr. Abdullah Al-Saidi has visited Moscow. He has made substantial contribution to build a strong relationship with the Russian Ministers. We share a view point concerning the international and regional policies. We know the strategic importance of the Yemen geographic location of the South of the Arabic Island. Finally, I would like to call upon the Yemeni press that it should cover the events which is happening in Quosqaz, Pakistan and Kashmir faithfully and objectively.