Remarks by Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at “Partners in Orbit” Symposium in Washington, DC

April 19, 2016

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to thank the Smithsonian Institution and the National Air and Space Museum for hospitality that you provided for all these young people who are sitting now and are hearing for the first time that this kind of cooperation exists. It is phenomenal what is happening on the obit in terms of technology employed and the special knowledge brought by the countries participating in it. I would dare say that Russian and American contributions were the most crucial in order to make it happen.

I would like to thank Susan Carmel Lehrman and the Carmel Institute of Russian Culture and History for the initiative to have this kind of conversation. What is important and is sometimes lacking - and most probably today is lacking even more than in other periods in Russian-American relations - is the sense of partnership that brings good to both Russians and Americans. As far as I am concerned, the kind of cooperation that we saw on the screen in the NASA movie is exactly the model we need to strive for in building serious and long-term positive relations between our two countries.

We are not there yet, but I still hope that someday we will be there. In the meantime, we can look at the history of space exploration, especially today when we celebrate the 55th anniversary of the first manned space flight by Yuri Gagarin. We have just had a small ceremony where we presented the Museum with a bust of Yuri Gagarin. We hope that this gesture of friendship is going to stay here to remind that all the good things that are happening on the orbit today started with the first man on the orbit. It was a Russian man and a Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.

There were many first steps. There was the first handshake on the orbit in 1975; there was the “MIR” mission, joined by Shuttle program afterwards. Now we have something more mature that brings together countries not only in order to complement each other in the capabilities they made. This cooperation is what made it possible for both US and Russia to have this kind of station in the orbit, and to have it for as long as we do.

Most probably, this station will survive - I do not know for how long, we have the real specialists talking after me, and probably they will explain to us what awaits us in the future. However, I always believed that space exploration, being phenomenally interesting and phenomenally important area for the humankind, is destined to be the area of cooperation between our two countries. Even when this particular space station is over we will see many more projects that will develop irrespective of the difficulties of the day that we experience today and sometimes in the past.

One of the interesting features of this joint project - and I am looking at it from the political point of view rather than technological - is that both Russia and the United States have been able to isolate it from the crises and disagreements that we had on a number of issues that do exist between our two countries. Instead, we chose our ability to be wise and looking into the future. For me, lessons from the cooperation in the Space Station were just about that - our mutual ability finally to be wise.

Thank you!